We hate zombies, always jawing on our jugulars. But we love Left 4 Dead, playing it almost exclusively for a couple of years. 8pm Fridays is L4D night. And not only is it probably the definitive zombie shooter, it’s an incredible teamwork experience, whether you’re playing co-op or competitive.
There’s not much we’d change about the game – from the balanced multiplayer to required strategic thinking, we absolutely love taking control of survivors and infected. The lack of traditional shooter mechanics like rank ups, perks and the HUD, which immerses us further and keeps the playing field level.
But we’d love to see Valve get around to making a third Left 4 Dead (or third anything – see every article about Valve ever). If the rumours are true, this is what we’d like to see
when if Left 4 Dead 3 is released…
Heading into online co-op is daunting enough, but competitive mode is like a roller-coaster without the safety belts, the attendant or the rails. We spent hours playing, and researching online, how to get the best out of a Boomer (Aim up for great spread, by the way), the best locations for a Spitter, and just why the Jockey wears those green shorts. But a dry run playing as a Special would be a fine addition for plotting strategy and tactics; an area where we can practice attacks alone and with a team, and trial new ideas and potential attack points.
Improved Ally AI
Ok, the AI characters in the Left 4 Dead games weren’t the worst we’ve ever seen – but they weren’t anywhere near as responsive as they could’ve been. If two people are downed, your AI helpers will struggle to decide on who to save first. Cue confusion and cuss words. But they’ll still probably play better than most +1’s.
We were playing L4D over the weekend, and as the dreaded lag kicked in, one of the team said: ‘All part of the Left 4 Dead experience, isn’t it?’ But with such a focus on the online experience, that just doesn’t cut it now – we’ve spent almost as much time watching load screens and the ‘retrying connection to server’ message as we have slapping zombie brains across the asphalt. Time to make sure connection is smooth, reliable, and not dependent on the host rage-quitting.
You may not realise it, but Valve’s style of story-telling is a work of art – the world and characters built through bold, accessible visuals and precisely deployed in-game dialogue, without ever taking away from control from the player (compare that to the movie-with-game Call of Duty style). And we love how we were still hearing new dialogue lines months after caning the hell out of the game, keeping it fresh. But that strong narrative design only has us wanting to discover even more of the universe, and the mystery outbreak. More characters, more world-building, more memes in the way only Valve inspires.
New and Old Faces
It was a stroke of genius to release the original L4D maps and characters as DLC for the sequel. Since the old maps now included all the updates of the newer game, including those bastard Specials. That gave it a freshness, rather than feeling like a cynical cash-grab (even if it was). There was also something pleasant about controlling the original survivors after a year apart, so we’d love to see the return of familiar faces and areas that doesn’t feel like a tacked-on fan service. We’re looking at you, ‘The Passing’.
We’re conflicted. While we would hate to see just how many hours we’ve killed on Left 4 Dead 2 (we’re guessing we could’ve learnt ice-sculpting, became a piano virtuoso and written an NY Times bestseller in the same space of time), we’d also love to discover everything we’ve done in the game. Not for ranked match purposes, just for the L4D love, like seeing how many molotovs we’ve thrown, and how many were on target. So Left 4 Dead 3 should have statistics on kill totals, win-loss ratios, highest Specials damage, even our favourite characters to play. These sort of stats pop up during level load screens – time to make that a dedicated section.
The Left 4 Dead community completely embraced mods on PC. From maps to graphics, this is some of the most creative work you’ll ever see in a video game. With the advent console mods on Fallout 4 and Ark: Survival Evolved, now is the perfect time to unleash custom maps and mods feature on Xbox and PS4. We’ve already seen potential with the fan-made ‘Cold Stream’ DLC, but imagine the possibilities with a full, curated modding catalogue.
Kill 100,005 Zombies
Look, we’re not going to lie: Left 4 Dead’s ‘Zombie Genocidist’ was one of our favourite achievements ever. Kill 53,595 deadites? Challenge accepted. It kept us working towards something long after we’d cruised every map. We were big fans of the pseudo-rivalry between L4D and Dead Rising’s own ‘Zombie Genocide’ achievement (kill 53,594 zombies) which kick-started a game of one-upmanship between the two. So far, though, the highest stakes are with Dead Rising 3’s ‘Left 100,004 Dead’ achievement. Seriously, Valve, you’re not going to take that, are you?