Back 4 Blood Review [PC/Xbox] – Back 4 Blood carries the spirit of the Left 4 Dead series and delivers pure joy in killing zombies with your friends
The hype for Back 4 Blood has been high since its announcement back in 2019. Multiple minds behind the beloved Left 4 Dead franchise came together and formed Turtle Rock Studios to bring gamers the spiritual successor to the incredible cooperative zombie-killing series. This time around, the zombie-esque menace and known as the Ridden, and players have a choice of Cleaners to play as to clean the world of this apocalyptic threat. In the standard game modes, players can team up and run through a series of levels/acts to progress the campaign story. To vary gameplay, each level has a Corruption Card that augments the game in a variety of ways, including stronger enemies, power outages, more opportunities to call a horde, etc. To help combat Corruption Cards, players are able to build a deck of cards that help their characters and playstyle. But with added features and systems, does the spiritual sequel of Left 4 Dead deliver after a 12-year wait? Not to spoil this Back 4 Blood review, but it does! The game is available to play now on Xbox and PC as Xbox Game Pass has included it as a day one launch, or continue reading the rest of this Back 4 Blood review for further convincing.
Back 4 Blood takes place after a worldwide outbreak by a newly discovered parasite that has infected most of humanity and turned them into The Ridden. This parasite is implied to have an alien origin and functions very similarly to most zombie viruses. In the US, there is a group of survivors who have come together to fight the ridden and save what is left of humankind, this group is known as The Cleaners. Players play as one of the eight cleaners through the levels as they comb through the apocalyptic world trying to survive and find a way to permanently rid the world of Ridden. Each cleaner has a unique personality and skill set which greatly alters playstyle giving players options to match their playstyle or master others.
Storywise, Back 4 Blood is more of a premise and backdrop for the gameplay. It is not an epic narrative that brings players through numerous arcs of development, it is more of snaps of huge action pieces. This is not to say the writing is shallow or lacking in any sense, as the players and NPCs do have captivating dialogue and very interesting things to say. While there may not be much in way of control in what the characters say, the composition of the team does determine which lines of dialogue and spoken. And while it may be sparse compared to more story-driven games, each line delivers a plethora of information about the characters and their relationships with each other. The story is rich and is in complete service to the gameplay. Assuming the majority of players share the sentiment of this review, expect the story of the Cleaners and world of Back 4 Blood to be expanded upon and explore through additions to the game and other mediums such as webcomics.
The reason to get the game and rejoice is the incredible gameplay. Back 4 Blood captures to crisp and engaging gameplay of its spiritual predecessors and enhances it. The connection of gamers to their character is as flawless as can be. Once players set their bindings and sensitivities to their liking, full immersion into the game is instant. Players will feel the pressure of a horde enclosing in on them, the added intensity of the lights going out, and the full-body righteousness of completing an incredibly difficult task, like sinking a cruise ship to prevent a horde from crossing a river, to get to an act break.
A huge improvement from Left 4 Dead, at least from a personal standpoint, is the effectiveness of melee weapons. There is something incredibly gratifying about being able to kill hordes of Ridden up close and personal with the risk of death instead of the guarantee of it. It adds a lot of dimension and depth to the gameplay that is not the traditional and expected run and gun. Players who are not expert snipers and prefer the up close and personal methods do not have to feel like they are a burden on the team as Back 4 Blood is able to cater to the players’ preferred style of play.
This improvement is in large part due to the differing abilities of the characters and the card system. Characters having different abilities/specialties is generally a great aspect that improves the gameplay and replay value of a game. No examples of this being a bad thing come to mind. This variety allows players to cater to their preferred style of play and also develop and master others. The variety allows players to create uniquely capable teams and the game is uniquely developed to allow every and any type of gamer a chance to shine. There is also an equal, and increasingly likely, chance players fail which really just adds to the game’s enjoyment.
The card system is a brilliant mechanic that not only prevents stagnation in replaying the levels and increases replay value, it also serves as a great goal system that does not feel contrived. It is supplementary and necessary without feeling forced. It is a very hard line to toe, as many games that have similar systems can alienate new and casual gamers. But Back 4 Blood‘s card system is perfectly needed and unneeded to the gameplay experience. Players are given a set that allows them to play the game with as much dedication as they want, rewarding them for increased dedication, but never penalizing them for not. It is a true masterpiece of catering to the masses as well as to the most ardent fans. It also does not feel as if players can pay to be better, which is always a great benefit to any game.
What really takes the game over the top, is the cooperative experience. Playing offline or solo is still a perfectly fun experience. However, the bot support, while vastly improved from Left 4 Dead 2, is not perfect. They are great at supporting you, but lack to ability to divide and conquer. Also, sometimes, they stand directly in front of your turret… Playing with others, greatly enhances everything about the game. Sometimes you play with Leeroy Jenkins, other times you play with dead weight, or sometimes you find that perfect complement that makes every run-in with the Ridden feel like a perfectly choreographed action sequence. The co-operative experience, and cross-play functionality, allow players from everywhere to connect and conquer the Ridden in whatever way works best for them.
The multiplayer is fun, however, we did not get a chance to play it enough to give it a fair shakedown. What we can say is that coordination is a must, but we did not play enough matches to really explore the mode. It is incredible how even on day one of the open beta, there was already dedicated lingo to locations, enemies, and tactics. Most of the time in multiplayer was spent attempting to understand the level, and not enough to really grasp the entirety of it. So, this Back 4 Blood review is primarily about the campaign/cooperative play.
Back 4 Blood is truly the spiritual sequel and worthy successor of Left 4 Dead. It captures the greatness of the franchise and updates it for an even more zombie (Ridden) killing fun. The magnificently intuitive control and feel of the gameplay fully immerse players in the Ridden-filled world, heightening the fear, drama, and righteousness the game has to offer. Multiple characters and customizable card decks add new dimensions to the gameplay, increasing replay value and incentive without penalizing players who do not invest the same amount of time. While it may lack an epic narrative told through beautifully rendered cutscenes and focused character arcs, the incredible gameplay and mechanics fully engage players into the story of a Ridden-infected world, making the players’ experiences the story. Plus, the entire experience is only enhanced when playing with others. Back 4 Blood is a perfect cooperative first-person shooter that is equal parts fun, funny, and frightening. This Back 4 Blood review gets a 10/10
Back 4 Blood Review [PC/Xbox]
- Story - 10/1010/10
- Gameplay - 10/1010/10
- Mechanics - 10/1010/10
Back 4 Blood is truly the spiritual sequel and worthy successor of Left 4 Dead. It captures the greatness of the franchise and updates it for an even more zombie (Ridden) killing fun. The magnificently intuitive control and feel of the gameplay fully immerse players in the Ridden-filled world, heightening the fear, drama, and righteousness the game has to offer. Multiple characters and customizable card decks add new dimensions to the gameplay, increasing replay value and incentive without penalizing players who do not invest the same amount of time. While it may lack an epic narrative told through beautifully rendered cutscenes and focused character arcs, the incredible gameplay and mechanics fully engage players into the story of a Ridden-infected world, making the players’ experiences the story. Plus, the entire experience is only enhanced when playing with others. Back 4 Blood is a perfect cooperative first-person shooter that is equal parts fun, funny, and frightening.