Back 4 Blood – First Impressions

So, as part of the Back 4 Blood Beta, I was able to playtest it a little bit and I figured I may as well write about it. Back 4 Blood is a game that is very much in the vein of Left 4 Dead, mostly as it’s the same studio that developed it, with some tweaks to the gameplay formula in the form of skills/cards. Essentially, you and three other players band together to fight off a Zombie Apocalypse. Due to some stuff about the IP and all of that, the Zombies in Back 4 Blood are called “Ridden” and your team is called the “Cleaners”, which is kind of ironic since you’re covered in blood after a successful mission.

The minor tweaks of the gameplay formula that I mentioned before consist of a card system where you can use “supply points” that you receive from successful runs to unlock cards that help you in your runs. In your decks, you essentially add a bunch of different passive and active cards with drawbacks, benefits, and unique interactions that basically add a lot more customization to the player experience. What I really liked about this system is that you can create interesting synergies using that. My bash (V) turned into a knife attack that counts as a melee attack thanks to one card. Another card gave me the ability to heal on melee kills and essentially, I survived for a long time and could use my healing items on my teammates to keep them alive. Other cards influence your damage, reload speed, health, stamina, or ammo capacity. There is one that gives you a charge attack on melee hits: Simply hold the button to charge forward and strike, dealing double your damage! On top of those cards, there are also team skills that you can purchase in the runs as well as a bunch of character-specific skills that effectively add a lot of depth to the game.

Sure, Left 4 Dead was never the most strategic franchise. Generally, you’d play it with friends (like NorthstartUK over here who played it with me) to kill hordes of Zombies and bond over lots of blood and gunsmoke… but I personally dig this more strategic approach. I really would have liked it though if the game actually explained this stuff a bit more. There are some issues with the clarity here where I didn’t know if a card was activated or not or what my choices did. That’s something that they’ll probably work on later down the line, though. Another thing that Back 4 Blood adds are weapon grades (Uncommon, Common, Rare, Epic) and weapon upgrades akin to Apex Legends where you upgrade the barrel, scope, magazine, etc. to customize your weapon and increase the range, damage, accuracy or fire rate. I liked this way of customization but I would have liked it also if I could have removed some parts. I used a gun at one point that I was really happy with but a scope I added later on “ruined” it for me as it zoomed in too close for me to actually be able to use it. I would have loved to be able to remove that scope. Oh well. 

To make every run more unique, there are also bonus goal cards that make the game harder. The game will throw these at you, making enemies faster, stronger, or just more dangerous. On top of that, there are three difficulties: Survivor, Veteran, and Nightmare. And on top of those, there are also special Ridden that can make the game a lot harder.

Pair those special Ridden with different events like having to reload, shoot and empty a Howitzer to destroy a tunnel… or having to barricade a church’s windows to create a safe room… and you essentially have a great experience for you and your friends. I personally had a lot of fun with it and it certainly required a bit more coordination overall compared to Left 4 Dead 2. I’m quite happy with how the game plays in its current state and I’m looking forward to the Open Beta as well as further updates down the line… and the actual full release. 

Have you gotten your hands on a key? How did you like the Beta so far? I’m personally quite excited and I’m really looking forward to the full release!

Cheers!

This post is part of the Blaugust 2021 event. For more information on that, check out this post!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

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