When Valve let the Left 4 Dead series rest with an uncertain future, I was worried that we may never get this style of game again. Being some of my favourite co-op games of all time, they provided tons of hours of entertainment with friends. So I was ecstatic when Turtle Rock Studios finally unveiled Back 4 Blood, a spiritual successor to the Left 4 Dead series that had all the makings of a potential third entry that we never got. While it's certainly no Left 4 Dead 3, Back 4 Blood still provides good fun in doses but struggles in other departments.
Back 4 Blood is set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity is on the brink of extinction from zombie hordes called Ridden, who have infested the planet and taken control. You assume the role of a Cleaner (up to 8 can be unlocked in the game), a hardened and skilled fighter tasked with literally cleaning up Ridden and providing aid to other bases or societies in need.
The story of Back 4 Blood is told over four unique acts, with the first two being the meatiest and longest. The fourth and final act funnels players into a single boss battle, but it ends on a satisfying high note. Across the various acts, players will be given tasks to collect supplies, protect bases, or secure resources, ensuring humanity's survival. It's not the most original narrative and you can get through each act in a couple of hours (a peg down from Left 4 Dead's weighty five-act structure), but it serves its purpose if you're just here for some good old-fashioned zombie-slaying.
Back 4 Blood offers three modes of play: Campaign, Solo Campaign (which is the same campaign but with AI bots for squadmates) and Swarm, a 4v4 PvP mode. Almost immediately, you'll run into the game's major issue here: the solo campaign offers no meaningful progression. You won't be awarded achievements or Supply Points, the in-game "currency" which is then used to buy Supply Lines that unlock new card decks for abilities and skills (we'll get to that in a bit). Add in the fact that the AI bots you're partnered with are pretty awful and aren't the brightest bulbs in the shed - it unfortunately makes for a painful single-player experience.
Almost immediately, you'll run into the game's major issue here: the solo campaign offers no meaningful progression.
The star attraction is the Ridden...
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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Turtle Rock Studios
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series
14 October 2021
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