It’s been just under a week since Turtle Rock Studios served up Back 4 Blood, and to say its online platform isn’t currently booming with players from all corners of the globe would not only be a lie — but also a massive understatement and a total slap on the cheek to those who built it. The fact is, Back 4 Blood is pretty much dominating the market at the moment, with traffic amplified thanks to Microsoft bringing it to the Game Pass frontline on day one.
Of course, having a few weeks to trial its first edition before launch day, we’ve been able to draw up some ideas — mainly the good, the bad and the ugly counterparts of the game itself. And while the game is mostly great, and an overall perfect homage to the earlier Left 4 Dead series — there are a few things that we wouldn’t mind casting a light over. So, without further ado, here’s what we think about Back 4 Blood.
5. Left 4 Dead 3 (The Good)
Let’s call Back 4 Blood for what it really is: Left 4 Dead 3 — the one that we wanted for years but never managed to receive. With that familiar template that made the former incredibly famous, Back 4 Blood really is, in a nutshell, a spiritual successor to it. And you know what? We absolutely love that. Heck, even if the enemies are the same, only with different nicknames and bulging red spots glued to their limbs — Back 4 Blood is still a fantastic homage to its cousin franchise.
Right from the moment you plunge into the first act in the campaign, you’re immediately reminded of all the times you had with your friends from way back when, using teamwork in order to hop from one safe house to the next, seeing who can rack up the most kills in a single run. That’s all alive and present, just as the dialogue is that became a series of memes back in the day. So, although tapping in to the same vein, Back 4 Blood somehow manages to make the novelty of hearing “PILLS HERE” a million times over still feel fresh. Who’d have thought?
4. A Lonely Trophy Room (The Bad)
After spending a solid few hours sludging through room after room and slaughtering endless hordes of zombies (or Ridden, in this case), one would at least expect to hear the blissful sound of a trophy or achievement popping. The bad news to that, I’m afraid, is that solo players simply do not receive their fair share of well-deserved points for just playing the game. You must play online with strangers in order to reap the rewards.
Of course, this isn’t great for people who just want to experience Back 4 Blood without having to matchmake with three other strangers on the other side of the world. Some, believe it or not, just want to complete the campaign solo and collect the rewards for doing so. Sadly, without achievements or trophies being involved, it sort of takes a small part of the fun out of the equation. And while we know Back 4 Blood is ideally built for a multiplayer-loving audience, it’s sad to see Turtle Rock Studios leaving the remaining players with diddly-squat for their efforts.
3. Bot Mayhem (The Ugly)
We’re certainly no strangers when it comes to batting off mindless NPCs in video games, and a lot of the time we tend to just brush them off of our shoulders without giving it much of a second thought. But having said mindless NPCs make up for three-quarters of your team, however, is another story altogether — and one that has one too many negatives than we’d like to see in a team-based game.
It’s fair to say that not everybody enjoys playing with strangers. Well, the good news to that, thankfully, is that Back 4 Blood can, in fact, be played with three other bots in their place. However, seeing how useless they are in most gunfights just doesn’t make their presence enjoyable in the slightest. They often spiral into oblivion, throw themselves off of obstacles, and even lash out and start spraying bullets at vehicles, triggering alarms in the process for no apparent reason. And so, from that, it’s probably best to stick with the online multiplayer option when sinking in to the next campaign. It’s not worth the stress, trust me.
2. Online, Always (The Bad)
One of the biggest flaws Back 4 Blood suffers from is its online counterpart, which players must have enabled if they want to actually play the game. That goes for solo players too, unfortunately. Because without a strong internet connection, Back 4 Blood just won’t boot up and let you enjoy its bullet-riddled rollercoaster of a journey.
Of course, most of us tend to have an internet connection in this day and age — but that isn’t to say we’re all graced with lofty download speeds. I mean, it’s nitpicking, but it does raise a few questions from players without the capacity to handle such a thing. It’s 2021, so at least offer an offline mode. Just a thought.
1. A Day to Remember (The Good)
All in all, Back 4 Blood is an excellent and perfectly-suited successor to the Left 4 Dead series, only with a few major enhancements that ultimately give it that standalone experience sensation. Campaign-wise, the nine or more hours it provides is a genuinely riveting experience, with or without actual players running it with you.
It’s also designed in a way that will keep speedrunners fighting back and forth over who wears the crown on a throne of sessions and statistics. And if there’s one thing we love doing — it’s being able to speedrun a game that both compels and excites us. And in my honest option, right from the moment you plunge into the first act, Back 4 Blood effortlessly manages to deliver both of those qualities like a fine-tuned, blood-soaked beverage.