Back 4 Blood Review – I am an avid fan of Left 4 Dead 2 and as of this moment, Steam has recorded that I’ve been playing the game for 795.8 hours (last played in 2019). I played mostly with friends back then and to be honest, it offered one the best zombie shooting games experience in many years.
There were lots of rumour about Left 4 Dead 3 but everyone knew the franchise was dead. That is, until we saw a glimpse of Back 4 Blood long ago at its early stage and now that the game is out and published by Warner Bros. Games, I’m really happy to say that this is definitely one of the best online, cooperative, zombie shooter games ever made.
The game is well polished, has great and modern visuals, cross play (you can play with others on different gaming platforms), and most importantly, really fun to play.
My friends were playing the open beta to try it out but being an avid fan of Left 4 Dead 2, we stopped playing after trying a single mission to get a feel of the game. Some of us uninstalled the beta after, refusing to embrace the changes. I decided to persevere and continued playing the other missions and also on harder difficulty.
I was then really surprised to find that Turtle Rock Studios have definitely nailed us on the head with this game. It is good and once you at least know how things work (trauma damage, ammo sharing, get better cards, knowing how different tools work), you’ll enjoy the game to the fullest.
The game does get challenging at times (depending on the acts and missions) and the new cards system is definitely the core of the gameplay. As you unlock more cards in the game, you can create different decks to specialise yourself – which means you can replay the missions again with a different character (or Cleaner) and experience a different kind of gameplay.
Want to specialise in long range sniping to take care of the special zombies (Ridden) while being able to use an SMG? You can with a special card that allows you to equip two primary weapons. Want to go all melee? You can too as there are cards that actually reward you for bashing those Riddens with a spiky baseball bat or machete. Want to focus on a pure medic and support the team? You can as well, and is needed in harder difficulties for sure.
The choice is plenty and there are cards to suit how you want to play the game. There are also Corruption Cards in play which give bonuses to the enemies, much like when players have cards in play.
You earn the cards by unlocking them with supply points – which you’ll get as you finish each mission. If you are playing in harder difficulties, you’ll earn more supply points as rewards but beware, they are quite tough and require coordination, skill, communication, and better cards at your deck.
You can create a new campaign and wait for other players to join in, resume your campaign (and wait for other players who happen to be on the same mission as yours – or if not, you’ll play with bots until someone joins in), or join anyone’s game for a quick play.
You can play Solo if you’re really scared of playing with strangers and all cards are unlocked for you. But honestly, I’ve been playing cooperatively online and mostly I’ve had great games. When you find a good team (happens frequently, thankfully) you’ll have more fun than playing with bots.
I’ve finished the Recruit difficulty which is supposed to be the “Easy” difficulty – but it’s more like Normal difficulty. The harder mode, Veteran, is definitely how you should play the game and show how important to have specialised decks. You’ll also find to conserve ammo a lot more and that you should equip a variety of weapons in the team so you can share ammo together.
There are different types of weapons that use different kinds of ammo: SMG, Rifle, Sniper, and Shotgun. You can drop ammo on the ground and share it with everyone (and you can also find ammo in chests or through a Cleaner’s perk), but imagine if everyone is using a rifle – there just won’t be enough ammo for everyone especially during harder missions.
And in harder difficulties, trauma damage also plays a big role and can be quite punishing as you can only heal them through First Aid Stations (or if you equip a card that can heal trauma damage). This creates tension, panic, and a more careful approach that brings dynamic to the game.
Overall, Back 4 Blood has many things that you’ll love in a modern, first person shooter: characters that specialise in different things (like classes), different types of weapons, weapon attachments & mods, different types of utilities (offensive, support, defensive), looting system, great graphics and UI, great sound, great cooperative elements, and more.
However, let’s address the big elephant in the room (if you are a Left 4 Dead fan or player, that is). There is no Campaign Versus in Back 4 Blood and I know many people who are going to miss playing this game or have cancelled their per-order just because the game does not come with one.
The only reason why lots of people are still playing Left 4 Dead is the Campaign Versus because once you’ve finished with the Campaign and have unlocked all the cards and items in the game, you’ll most likely get bored. Sure, Back 4 Blood comes with a PvP mode called Swarm upon launch but I find it not as fun.
I believe I read or watch a video somewhere that Campaign Versus is not in the game (at least upon launch) because gamers won’t have the time to play for hours with that mode, considering how long the missions are. The Swarm mode is a short, quick burst of multiplayer fun that you can jump in and out quickly.
And it’s true. I don’t think many people can finish a Campaign Versus within an hour or two. I was still single when I played Left 4 Dead but becoming a Dad now means I can only spare up to 2 hours a day to play. It’d be frustrating to play Campaign Versus when you can’t even finish a single campaign – but I don’t know, I still want it and there must be some clever way to have this in a future update.
Nothing is more fun than playing a Campaign Versus with your friends and I really wish it’s coming. Sure, it’ll be hard to balance and possibly require a lot of mechanics change, but who cares. Let’s hope that more multiplayer modes are going to be added while Back 4 Blood players are playing the campaign and still busy unlocking the cards.
There will surely be future updates and contents, but we don’t know yet what they are.
Back 4 Blood Review Conclusion
I haven’t had this much fun with an online, cooperative, first person zombie shooter game for a while. World War Z was probably the closest but it’s somehow not as addictive as Back 4 Blood. This is probably because you get lots of modern & fun elements in the game like the looting system, cards and decks, the good feel of Left 4 Dead 2, and a great polished game overall in terms of graphics, sound, and gameplay.
If you are going to buy Back 4 Blood, you won’t be disappointed – as long as you are looking for a fun and great cooperative experience. If you are solely looking for the PvP elements though, you might want to wait a while to see what future updates are coming. And don’t buy Back 4 Blood hoping that there will be a Campaign Versus, because there’s never a promise of one yet.
Back 4 Blood is available now for purchase at Microsoft Store, Steam and Epic Games Store. It’s also available at all major gaming platforms like Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One consoles, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Disclosure: Back 4 Blood review license was supplied for reviewing
Back 4 Blood Review
A well-polished, fun, cooperative, zombie shooter game from the developers of Left 4 Dead.
- Great visuals, great UI
- Great sound design and effects
- Well polished
- Lots of replayability elements
- Has all the modern first person shooter things we love in the game (quick ping system, attachments and mods, skills/abilities, etc)
- Only 1 PvP mode upon launch
- No Campaign Versus that all Left 4 Dead fans are craving for (maybe there will be, maybe there won’t)