back4blood
Follow Genre: FPS, Survival
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

Back 4 Blood – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Good variety with a reward system that makes you stronger over time
Bad: Does not feel like there are enough cards to make the levels truly "roguelike"
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

With a beta, that we also took part in, that was blown wide open by 5.6 million players, it was abundantly clear that Back 4 Blood was going to be one of the most popular games of the last quarter of 2021. While the game was already enjoyable, we did, however, have our doubts about the length of the full game, the variety of the card system that would randomize your playthroughs, the A.I. of enemies, and the overall bullet impact. Now that we’re finally at the point of a full release, let’s see how much the game improved.

back4blood

Story

Back 4 Blood uses the same type of stories as introduced by the Left 4 Dead franchise. You start on an “act”, aka campaign, with a team of four “cleaners”, aka survivors. There are a total of four acts available at the moment, and each of these is divided into multiple levels. Through all the acts you get a couple of cutscenes, but besides that, it’s just you and your real-life buddies, or A.I.-controlled buddies, against tons of “Ridden” (zombies). The acts themselves take quite a bit of time, more so than in Left 4 Dead 2. If you get the annual season pass, you can expect three expansions over a year’s time as well. These will include even more levels and other content.

Graphics

Back 4 Blood is full of slick, atmospheric environments. These include all sorts of countrysides and cities, places with water, and more. While the zombies aren’t as fast as in the Left 4 Dead series, they still provide a decent challenge, which you can often derive from their looks alone. The special zombies are often clad in armor, and together with (stronger) regular Ridden, with glowing eyes and all types of gore surrounding them, the air is thick with murder and fear. It’s also an amazing difference how much more dangerous the enemies suddenly seem when you don’t play on the easiest difficulty. Then you truly experience the way the graphics are meant to be, as the gameplay fits the looks. The only graphical downside we found so far was that cutscenes (at this moment) don’t always load well on the PC version.

Sound

Zombies are supposed to sound scary, and they do in Back 4 Blood. Special Ridden each have their own sounds implying they are close, attacking, or dead. Normal infected and hordes of zombies also often sound like they are growling around you, though there is a variety of fierceness to be found across the game. Music in the background is often dark or mysterious when present, though it’s mostly heard in menus, between acts, and upon completing an objective. Throw some voice acting on top of it for each Cleaner, including bad jokes and witty lines, and you got yourself a true successor of the Left 4 Dead franchise.

Gameplay

Back 4 Blood is basically divided into two game modes. You’ll have the option to choose between the campaign mode, where you can play solo or with friends to play through the acts with four cleaners, or the “Swarm” mode, which is Back 4 Blood‘s PvP mode. In both, the game is essentially a first-person shooter, though in the Swarm mode you also play as the infected, meaning you sometimes just run and stomp players. The game’s offset is quite clear. You run and gun as good as you can, and try to protect yourself from harm and save your allies from attackers. The higher the difficulty, the more teamwork matters. Teamwork can make or break your session, as getting pinned down by a special zombie for too long without any help may already cause you to die.

Where Left 4 Dead gave everybody the same weaponry, in Back 4 Blood it’s slightly different. Each character you pick has different perks, for one. This means you can run faster, do more damage with bullets, and more, depending on which character you play. Each character also has different starting weapons, and which weapons you obtain after that is entirely dependant on your run. At the start of each level, you can spend the copper coins you’ve amassed during prior levels. You can of course also find random weapons out in the field. This gives Back 4 Blood a bit of a survival edge as well, as looting and searching can be an advantage; if you do it right. When you have a weapon that suits you, you can also try to upgrade it by finding the right attachments for it.

On top of these things, there’s the card system. The card system works a bit like a deck builder. As you play, you unlock more cards to put in your deck. When playing, you can pick a card from a small selection of your deck each time you start a new level. These cards help you with buffs such as more ammo or stamina, or better healing for your teammates. The game also gives you “bad” cards that provide a level with fog or upgraded enemies. During our preview, we wondered how much the cards would add in the long term, as the random events seemed limited. Sadly, this has not changed. While you can get a whole bunch of cards to make your own deck, the game’s strongest and most versatile mechanics (the bad cards) barely exist and do not contribute as much as we had hoped.

Aside from some small bugs, such as a teleporting zombie in the distance every now and then, the game works pretty well by now. The bullets seem to hit their targets well, and most importantly, we had fun while playing. The only other thing there’s to be said about Back 4 Blood is that it could be balanced out just a little bit more. If you can have a heavy machine gun that deals tons of damage, then why would you want to play with an extremely slow sniper rifle as your main weapon? The same goes for the PvP mode, where some zombies you can play as just seem stronger than others. Perhaps when people are playing on expert levels this all makes a difference, but for inexperienced players, some choices seem just too obvious, and others seem to be left for dead.

Conclusion

Back 4 Blood did a good job in continuing the Left 4 Dead franchise, be it under a different banner. The atmosphere is good, the sound is good, the graphics are good, and the gameplay is fun. We would have liked to see a better balance when it comes to the available weapons, but also in the PvP mode. Even though the game could use some more random events, it still has a solid and entertaining foundation. We’ll be on the lookout for future updates for this one, as this could be the next best zombie shooter for years to come.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Back 4 Blood - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | Back 4 Blood’s future outlined!
    November 9, 2021, 22:38

    […] Bros Games and Turtle Rock Studios have unveiled their post-launch content roadmap for Back 4 Blood today. Various free updates and a season pass for the first-person co-op zombie shooter will arrive […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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