LifeisXbox’s ‘Back 4 Blood’ review | When Turtle Rock Studios announced the spiritual sequel to Left 4 Dead, many of us decided to take the news with a grain of salt, it would not be an easy task to try to retake the legacy of the legendary cooperative shooter, not even for the original developers themselves. Two and a half years later, between trailers and a rather mediocre beta that lowered the public’s expectations, Back 4 Blood was officially launched and let me anticipate that the final product is much better than what could be expected. From the first moment, we will be surviving waves of zombies, cooperating with other players and, after a brief learning, sweeping our way. Although the formula changed, geared more towards frantic action with a dose of strategy and survival, the essence remains intact, so the fun is guaranteed.
ℹ️ | We played Back 4 Blood for about 40 hours on Xbox Series X. This game is also available on PlayStation & PC.
What we liked!
- A frenzied story | The story presents us with a post-apocalyptic scenario in which a parasitic infection transforms most of humanity into Riddens: the zombies of Back 4 Blood. But far from playing as mere survivors, the Turtle Rock Studios game puts us in the shoes of eight “Cleaners”, professionals who are dedicated to cleaning infested areas and helping the last stand. This change in tone makes our characters look more confident, thus justifying that each one has special abilities and that they are not surprised to see a teammate destroy thirty enemies with a clean machete. Through a handful of strategically placed cutscenes, we’ll get into context and, in a matter of minutes, be on the rampage.
- An incredible variety of levels | The campaign is developed over 4 acts, made up of 33 chapters of different lengths, and will take us through a fantastic and disparate variety of landscapes. From a seedy hotel room, through a collapsed tunnel, an abandoned catamaran, a swamp made up of oiled containers, and even the classrooms of a devastated high school. The scenarios are well differentiated, some are claustrophobic and corridors, others open and as disconcerting as fighting a horde of Riddens in the middle of a huge cornfield. At the climax of each act, we must overcome a final wave, always generating an epic situation and leaving us with the satisfaction of the duty accomplished. The levels are designed with suspicion and the small details add a lot to the immersion, but they are also full of nods to both the original franchise and movies and series of the genre that will make us smile in the midst of this shower of guts.
- A familiar gameplay | If you are a fan of the Left 4 Dead saga and have played its previous installments, this will seem like the continuation of both, but with some new features that make it even more attractive; like your card system. When we start a act, we can choose the difficulty, character and about three cards plus one contaminated. At the beginning of each mission we will expand our repertoire of cards and they will always offer us a new challenge that will give us more money, resistance or health improvements, etc. These challenges are tainted cards.
- Cards add diversity to the game | At first, I have to admit that the effect of the cards is very soft, but as we progress, this will not be the case, also within each map we will be able to find active cards that will offer us an extra improvement without taking up space in our mission deck; which is different from the one we choose when starting an act with our character. That is, at the end of an act we will find an inventory full of them, where some are even repaired and a deck created by ourselves in advance that will complement those chosen in each mission.
- A good variety of enemies | The enemies are quite varied. We have from the typical human that comes in herds, but they are very easy to kill, some others that are bullet sponges, explosives and even some that will engulf us and release us in another part of the map. Of course you will not get bored with the types of zombies and their mutations, all of them have their peculiarities and weak points to defeat them efficiently while suffering as little damage as possible. However, if they still seem “simple” to you, you can always add new features with some contaminant cards. On the other hand, in each act we will face bosses that are not very complicated, but you will have to coordinate well with your team to finish them off. As before, you can add new bosses with some cards.
- Multiplayer is the heart of the game | The true magic of Back 4 Blood is present in multiplayer, whether playing the campaign or Swarm, but it also has a mode to play alone. For now, it serves to familiarize us with the cards and the levels, but Turtle Rock Studios is considering expanding it’s functionality. In fact, one of the most popular requests on the studio’s official channels is that progress in solo mode also grants Supply Points, or that the campaign can be played directly with bots. The third game mode is called Swarm, it focuses on PVP and proposes us to face another team of 4 players while we take turns between the roles of Cleaners and Riddens. The former can build independent decks from the campaign decks, in fact the unlocked cards are already coming, while the Riddens have skills that can be improved before each round. Swarm is entertaining when you already have a team armed, playing it with randoms can be frustrating, and it still doesn’t offer the pace and fun of the campaign. It’s still a welcome addition, ideal for breaking the routine or changing the mood after a couple of failed runs.
- Some very rare decisions about the game | There is no perfect game and we are not facing the exception, some users reported all kinds of bugs and personally I have come across a couple of annoying bugs. There are certainly things to improve, from the inexplicably low supply of cosmetic items, to some bugs that abruptly shut down the game, to design decisions that sometimes make it difficult to fully enjoy the experience. Publishing a multiplayer game, which invites us to play with randoms, without the option of kicking people out of your team is something that I still can’t understand. However, they are details that pale in comparison to the long hours of fun that the game offers us, without going any further I played 40 hours in less than a week and I don’t stop insisting that my friends are encouraged to play it as a team.
- An acceptable artistic and musical section | Back 4 Blood isn’t a marvel to what it’s technical section refers, however, it has certain characteristics that stand out above the others, such as the musical accompaniment in some battles or the design of the creatures and bosses to which we we will have to face. It’s artistic and graphic design is original, it has a mixture of realism and fiction that is pleasing to the eye, not to mention its excellent setting in some areas of the map. Each of the areas has a different design, some like those in the city can be similar, but it always has new buildings and locations, so as not to tire of the same type of map in some acts.
- Acceptable performance | The performance is more or less as expected, although the game need some graphic options; such as prioritizing performance over quality and vice versa. This may be more subjective than anything else, but it gives an added bonus for new generation consoles that allow us more diversity when it comes to setting. However, if it’s optimized for Xbox Series. On the other hand, I advise you to temporarily disable Motion Blur, which suffers from serious problems
What we disliked
- Very poor artificial intelligence | Something that I would like to highlight is a very negative point, and is the artificial intelligence. In my case, I had to play with bots at all times, since the game was not on sale yet and there were a few days left for it’s launch. On more than one occasion, I have had to restart a series of missions because of them, so I advise you to play in groups of four with some of your friends; I assure you that it will make you much more fun and you will not despair on more than one occasion.
How long to beat the story | 10-12 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 80-100 Hours.
Similar with | Left 4 Dead 1 & 2
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