Tuesday, November 22, 2022
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Back 4 Blood Sucks

MGN was given early access beta keys for the new co-op zombie shooter game Back 4 Blood…and it sucked.






More? Oh, alright.

I’m going to start by disavowing some of the more common beta version excuses like: “Oh, it’s just a beta. They can fix that.” or “What can you expect, it’s just a beta.” These are just cop-outs and don’t really apply to Back 4 Blood.

Why? Because this is something that the studio has released, basically saying that “This is a version of the game that we feel is at a point where it’s playable enough for the audience to sink time into and provide feedback on.” If a studio feels comfortable releasing a game for testing and review, even without it being the final product, it deserves to be assessed as such.

Anyone on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, or Xbox Series X will be able to try the Open Beta that runs from August 12 until August 16

So, let’s start with the cards system. This is obviously something that Back 4 Blood wants to be its key differentiator from its competitor, Left 4 Dead. It’s the hook that the developer hopes will be the reason that you select Back 4 Blood instead of Left 4 Dead when you boot up your Steam library. And it is absolutely awful, for a lot of reasons.

The first being that, the beta has absolutely no introduction or tutorial for the card system, which is ridiculously convoluted and unintuitive. Having the key feature of your game beta-tested without a tutorial, or any sort of in-game guidance, is inexplicable for me. Expecting players to provide valuable feedback on a new system, that you did not take the time to explain at all, is stupid to a ridiculous degree. It lends credence to the accusation that the beta for Back 4 Blood was more about marketing than getting and acting on user feedback.

Here’s a hot take: If you want to release a demo of your game that looks and plays like shit, don’t pretend it’s a beta that you’re going to gather actionable feedback from when this is obviously not the intent. Just call it a demo (that looks and plays like shit) that you’ve released to generate some buzz on YouTube or Twitch.

Now, let’s move on to how the gimmick actually functions. Like I said, it’s supposed to be something that is going to be Back 4 Blood’s point of difference from Left 4 Dead. You get cards that are meant to change the gameplay (very) slightly, so that each playthrough can be done a little differently, optimized with certain rolls and card selections. Truthfully, the core idea isn’t bad.

Turtle Rock Studios clearly needed SOMETHING to help with the longevity of their game because the quality angle clearly isn’t going to be a factor with Back 4 Blood. So, they’ve opted for providing that longevity and replayability with the card system. Fair enough.

Graphical content and quality of this level is a concern two months from launch.

The problem, however, is the execution. The card system could have absolutely been fun and exciting, and something that would make you want to continuously do runs of the game’s levels, but instead becomes something devoid of interest almost instantly. If you want a mechanic to affect the gameplay to the point where players are coming back time and time again, they need to be impactful, they need to be interesting.

Something that alters the run and makes it more challenging or more fun like:

  • Enemies will only die due to headshots
  • Shooting allies will heal them at the cost of your own health & ammo
  • Allies can only be revived by throwing grenades
  • this level is melee only but your movement speed is doubled
  • enemy pathing is reversed and friendly fire is increased

You get the idea. Those are just some examples, off the top of my head, that would add an extra layer to the game once the fun of playing through the levels starts to wear off and players start losing interest over time.

Instead, we get watered-down, cookie-cutter, generic-ass augments that really don’t feel impactful whatsoever. Sure, they’re there and they’re going to give your character a slight leg up. But they’re simply not going to sell copies of Back 4 Blood. Considering that this system is supposed to set apart Back 4 Blood from (the infinitely superior) Left 4 Dead, this is probably a bad thing. I’m going to put a few of those cards here so that you can see exactly what I’m talking about:

  • +5 health and +3% movement speed
  • +10% speed
  • +50% fire resistance
  • +20% healing efficiency and 1 more item slot

Boring.

The spiritual successor brand is unavoidable, if not a little insulting, to the predecessor.

That’s the card system in a nutshell. That’s about all that’s done different from other examples in the genre. The elements don’t necessarily have to be new, but they do need to be executed better in order for players to choose your game over others. Graphics have come a long way since Back 4 Blood was launched and this would’ve been a good opportunity for Turtle Rock to provide a modern alternative with preen and polish.

What they came up with instead is a game that looks and runs like shit. The models for the zombies ridden are so uninspired, I’m shocked that they’re not stock art from a creative commons Google search. There’s nothing original or interesting about the special enemies either. They grab you. They spit on you. They explode. If you’re looking for a point of difference here, the enemies or playable characters aren’t it.

To top it off, the animations for all this are woeful as well. Even for a beta.

Specifically, you’re going to notice, if you’ve watched any beta footage for the game whatsoever, that the ammo drop animations from killing a ridden can be measured in frames per hour. Animations for the game look more like a Power Point slideshow rather than something that’s supposed to be at a point in its development cycle that the studio is releasing it for public beta testing and feedback.

I know that this is something that can be fixed pre-launch, and my judgements are based on a beta version of the game, but…damn, son. This should not be the benchmark for public testing. The game would need a full year, with a gigantic development team, before it would be in a suitable state to be released to the public. Considering that this version is the beta, and that the game is expected to launch two months from now, you can likely look forward to a lot of the same issues once the game is shipped.

Two months simply isn’t enough time to fix the game for it to be as good as Left 4 Dead, let alone better. Right now, it’s undeniably worse and there’s no reason to buy or play it. I could keep ranting, but the TL;DR is that Back 4 Blood is a bad game with a bad name; don’t waste your money and boot up Left 4 Dead if you feel the urge for playing a game in the genre.

Credits

ProgramFounding Writers
AuthorLuke Cowling
PublisherMGN
GameBack 4 Blood
L. P. Cowling
L. P. Cowlinghttps://www.amazon.com/L.-P.-Cowling/e/B07YW8744R%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share
Luke Cowling was born in beautiful country New South Wales, Australia. And now lives in rural Victoria with his wife Rosemarie, four boys, two cats, and their dog. His debut novel, Owenoak, brought together Cowling's love for the fantasy genre, mixing with his passion for the written word. Their byproducts, The Notes Series, brings this universe alive in a library of creatures and critters. Some of Cowling's inspirations include Mark Lawrence, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. RR Martin, And Phillip Pullman. Lovers of these authors will find Cowling's work teaming with likeness! The latest Cowling novel 'Gearpox' on sale now!
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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you!!! Ive been so confused how anyone could enjoy this game at all. It. Is. Awful. Embarassingly awful. The only thing this game has going for it is that they didnt outright name if Left 4 Dead 3. That would have been a slap in the face. Personally, i play video games with the intent of having fun. Back 4 Blood is not fun. Not even a little bit. Every time i finished a level i was just glad that it was over. And yeah, i knew it wasnt just because it was the beta. But now that the actual game is out it is confirmed garbage. I cancelled my preorder and promptly bought l4d2 and all dlc on my new system. Which i think is the 3rd copy i have bought. Even 11 years later that game still kicks ass. Amazing replayability and always satisfying. I REALLY wanted to love Back 4 Blood. I actually took time off to play the beta. And after an hour I was more than over it.

  2. Test drove this game with the xbox game pass for $1!!! I am so happy I only blew $1 to find out this game sucks. One friend dropped out as well. Any game with a card system is an instant no for me. I hated fallout 76 and the cards sucked there too. Such a bad game design mechanic. I’m not looking for a gacha crap game.

    Your review is true. The game wasn’t polished in my opinion. It’s a cash grab.

  3. I just beat Back 4 Blood about 10 minutes ago on Recruit difficulty. This is easily one of the hardest games I have ever played… this game is so unreasonably unbalanced for no reason. In the beginning acts, there were points where I had a little fun, but to be honest the campaign, storyline, characters, dialogue, and special infected were all lame as shit. I would suggest it to anyone that really wants to challenge themselves… and you will get frustrated, but the fact is that it’s not a very good game at all. If maybe the developers named it something else without the “4” in it I feel like people would respect it more… but honestly this was embarrassing. You get 0 big rewards from completing all of the acts in the campaign either. Since this game was so hard, I figured we’d get a dope prize at the end, but nope… nothing. Plus, I didn’t even pay attention to the storyline because it was that bad. I skipped a few cutscenes because the writing was that cringeworthy. These characters have such a lack of personality it is absurd. The only thing that keeps me on the game honestly is the weapon camos and outfit customization… that’s it. Terrible game. If you’re looking for a game similar to Left 4 Dead, this would be the last game on the list. It’s as if the developers had no idea how to write a decent story and just focused only on shooting the zombies; shoot shoot shoot shoot. That’s what you do in this game. Complain, complain some more, and shoot.

    Usually I get a sense of pride when I finally finish a game that I play, but I don’t have that same pride after beating this. I’m just glad it’s over for Christ sake. I really hope they fix this game in later updates… this needs a TOTAL revamp… like… a No Man’s Sky level of revamp. Meaning, a change in the mechanics, the writing, the special infected, the character VOs, difficulty, etc. The only thing that is reasonable is the card system and cool weapon camos. But you can’t even change the cards in your deck in the middle of an Act. You have to wait until you FINISH the act in order to do that. AND, the game plays “corruption cards” that counter-act your deck, and then you’re there wasting 3 entire mags on 1 “special infected”, such as the “Tall Boy” (ridiculous name by the way), because it’s that difficult. I shouldn’t even call them “special” because they are EVERYWHERE. They aren’t uncommon at all… they just make the game harder for you. Maybe it would be different if they actually looked/sounded cool. No musical cues, no good names, no recognizable screams, totally lame. Nothing memorable.

    Please someone fix this game… this shouldn’t even have been released yet. How did this get passed in the studio??? Glad I beat this to get it over with. The game is so bad that no one will care in about a year. It is bound to be dead at some point, perhaps soon even.

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