Back 4 Blood is a fresh new multiplayer FPS by Turtle Rock Studios. After their success on Valve’s Left 4 Dead franchise, and Half-Life 2 Deathmatch., the company published a fair list of unpopular titles.
Valve abandoned Left 4 Dead 2, even when the game has a very loyal fan base. And, sadly, Valve kept the rights of the franchise, so Turtle Studios had to re-establish itself as an independent developer.
Now, under Warner Bros publishing, they released Left 4 Dead’s spiritual successor. The newer game has identical features, gameplay, and setting a decade after Valve’s zombie-apocalypse series.
We know Turtle Studios hasn’t forgotten about their old hit: even the names are similar. So, lets see if the newer game managed to get out of the shadow and stand with their own two feet.
Back 4 Blood debuted worldwide on October 12, 2021.
The game is available for PS4, PS4 Pro, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox One X, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows.
The game does allow cross-play; you can team up with your friends no matter the platform.
If you play Back 4 Blood on the console, you’d need 40GB of available space.
PC players require at least a 5-year old computer with a discrete GPU, plus a 6-core processor. See, the minimum specs are:
- Settings: 1080p / 60fps / Low-quality graphics.
- OS: 64-bit Windows
- CPU: Intel Core i5 – 6600 (3.3 GHz) / AMD Ryzen 2600 (3.4 GHz).
- RAM: 8GB
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti / AMD Radeon RX 570
- Storage: 40GB HDD
- DirectX 12
On the other hand, recommended specs are:
- Settings: 1080p / 60fps / High-quality graphics.
- OS: 64-bit Windows}
- CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 (2.8 GHz) / AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (3.6 GHz)-
- RAM: 12GB
- GPU: Nvidia GTX 1 970 or AMD Radeon RX 590
- Storage: 40 GB SSD
- DirectX 12
As you see, the game does not rely heavily on the GPU. Instead, it depends more on the CPU and the RAM. That means players with an Nvidia 1060 or an Nvidia 2060, both very common for Steam players, can run the game easily.
What is Back 4 Blood?
Back 4 Blood is a co-op multiplayer first-person shooter with rogue-lite features. You play against zombie hordes on campaign runs, and you can repeat the runs with increased difficulties, bonuses, and debuffs.
Co-op may be online or with AI companions. Playing with AI is often more challenging. It’s called “Solo Mode.”
You play as a warrior against the Ridden, a race of deadly parasites who use humans as their hosts. They roam the land as terrifying creatures, aiming to devour what’s left of civilization.
It’s…zombies, but okay. The game covers its lore bases.
Moving on, you tag along with a group of warriors to prevent humanity’s extinction. Your ultimate goal is eradicating the Ridden.
So, the setting opens up 4-player squads fighting against zombie hordes. I mean, Ridden.
Therefore, the game is very much Left 4 Dead’s spiritual successor. Back in the day, Valve’s series was a slam dunk, a massive success in the multiplayer co-op genre.
The team behind the old success had another shot at the genre and added several modern enhancements, aside from graphics. And while it can’t deliver the magic of being something new, it does offer what it means to provide. It provides fun, frenetic, and hilarious co-op FPS gaming.
I think I understand the name of the game. Other than taking inspiration from the older title, it hints at what you’ll experience as a player every time you launch the game again. “Back for more? Yes, I can’t stop. More explosions.”
Here’s a game trailer. Check it out before we go on.
The gameplay feels a lot like Left 4 Dead. If you were looking for more of that, you have it.
Let me explain for those unfamiliar. You play on a first-person perspective as part of a 4-player squad. There’re no RPG mechanics, no powers, and not much of anything aside from shooting and running.
Squad avatars are on the left of the screen. Each one indicates their HP bars as well as some key information. On the lower-right, you’ll see your weapons, ammunition, and utility slots.
You can have two weapons simultaneously (a long one and a short one, like a pistol). On top of that, you have three throwable/utility slots.
Now, your initial loadout depends on the character you pick, otherwise known as Cleaners. There’re eight available Cleaners, each one offering three perks. In essence, Cleaners provide a team bonus, plus two individual bonuses. These can be, for example, extra damage, stamina recovery per kill, or extra healing efficiency.
You can loot ammo, utility items, and weapons on crates, boxes, and general exploration. The weapon variety is nice, and every gun feels robust, amazing, and responsive.
Moreover, there’s a significant weapon recoil plus ballistic calculations. These systems make the shooting challenging but also highly addictive. So, for example, you can shoot most weapons from the hip and be okay with it.
Aside from weapons, you also need utility items. These include medkits to heal, defibrillators to revive characters, tools to open locks, and more. Inventory is limited, though, so you and your squad must think carefully about what to carry.
Another extra the game offers is the ability to mount defenses. For example, you can mount wires and mini-guns to hold a position.
You need every advantage you can get, as the game is tough and ready to spawn special enemies on every corner.
Here’s a gameplay video:
Performance and graphics
The game is up-to-date on the visual category, although it doesn’t quite feel like a new-gen game.
Most people won’t care about that, though: good graphics can’t make a bad game good. But what you need to know is that the game lacks features like zero loading screens, ray tracing, or proprietary graphic techs.
Aside from that, it has stable performance, stable servers, and beautiful visuals. More importantly, the gore is top-notch: you may be in first person, but you’ll still see bloodstains everywhere, even on your guns.
The game also has a nice amount of graphic details. For example, zombies and weapons have original and detailed designs.
Lastly, the game’s lighting and shadow systems are quite dynamic. Each light source reacts differently to the world, delivering cute eye-candy moments.
Aside from the graphical and server stability, we should mention players have reported some crashes on the Xbox Series. We expect the studio will fix the issue on a further patch.
Is there a main campaing?
The game does follow a main campaign, and you play it as part of the squad. It’s humorous, full of explosions, and with a creative spark.
Like previous games in the genre, the campaign comes with multiple linear chapters, each happening in various areas and scenarios.
The whole campaign is about defeating the Ridden. It’s chaotic, frenetic, challenging, and spontaneous.
For example, suppose you fortify an area because you already died there. In that case, the game might spawn zombies on the opposite location, thus leaving you vulnerable.
The randomness and level design make the action sequences lengthy and varied. You go to collapse bridges, wide-open farm fields, dark hallways, and much more.
For instance, a game sequence has you and your squad protecting a bar while a Jukebox plays licensed music. The music sounds until the monsters break the machine, but you can fix it to get the music back.
So, overall, the story mode feels both entertaining and terrifying.
Enemy variety is fair and capable of keeping your attention all the way through.
There are tons of filler zombies. They can spawn anywhere and rush to combat. If they surround you, that means trouble, but they are generally easy to defeat.
The challenge comes from the special enemies. There’re 8 special enemies in the game, plus mutations and boss NPCs.
For example, the Snitcher can screech to command a horde against you. The Tallboy is a massive zombie that uses a giant club to smash the enemies. There’s the Reeker, a large and slow-moving Ridden capable of exploding on death. Or the Stinger, a fast monster capable of hiding in the shadows or trapping you with a web-like trap.
In essence, special Ridden enemies can grab you, pull you, trap you, or kill you with a single hit. You need strategy and teamwork to defeat them.
How long does it take to beat the campaign?
Back 4 Blood has 33 missions. Some are shorter than others, requiring you to walk to an area, kill a special monster, and walk back to another room.
So, on average, the main campaign can take about 5 hours. However, that’s just a single run on the easiest difficulty. There’s more.
The Card System (replayability value)
Turtle Rock Studios added some rogue-lite features that add replayability to a short campaign. Rogue-lite games are where you run the same areas repeatedly, with increasing difficulty.
Back 4 Blood has “cards.” The Card System allows you to customize your experience for every run. And most of the game revolves around the card system.
See, you build and customize a deck that may add buffs, debuffs, or challenges. Cards may also add equipment and abilities. The cards can, for example, make levels darker, add more enemies, special enemies, time limits, or fog.
Check the Card System trailer:
How to get cards?
You can get new cards by completing quests and Supply Lines. Particularly, you get Supply Lines tasks on Fort Hope or the menu if you’re outside the campaign. Supply Lines are linear and simple missions that reward you with 4 to 7 new cards.
The amount of Supply Line tasks available depends on Supply Points. You get these points by completing Campaign chapters. Greater difficulties reward extra points, and there’re three difficulties (Classic, Survivor, and Nightmare). You’d want to start playing in Classic, though.
Particularly, both Survivor and Nightmare have permadeath. You can continue the game on Survivor 2 times, but you can only resume after death a single time on Nightmare.
Moving on, another way of getting new cards is by completing achievements or unmarked tasks. Remember the Jukebox I mentioned? Well, if you complete the bar chapter without zombies breaking the Jukebox, you get a very special card (Lucky Pennies).
Lastly, the third way to get cards is by killing enemies with different weapon types (like SMGs, assault rifles, or snipers). You can unlock these cards naturally as you play and enjoy the game.
Then, you have a Deck Manager menu to customize your deck. There’s a “Solo” menu for those playing in Solo Mode.
Overall, the Card System adds both character customization as well as rogue-lite features. There’re no micro-transactions involved. I would prefer a standard loot-based approach, but I appreciate the innovation.
Game Director AI
The Game Director AI comes straight from Left 4 Dead’s AI, The Director. Both work similarly.
So, the newer AI reacts to player actions to properly adjust the difficulty. This is how the game “randomizes” enemy spawns, enemy behavior, loot, cards, and more.
The Game Director ensures every run delivers exciting fights, gameplay diversity, and tougher enemies. That includes mutated special Ridden enemies, like a 20 feet tall Tallboy.
That means no run is the same. The Game Director can change environments, hazards, enemy types, enemy spawns, and everything in-between.
Back 4 Blood has a PvP mode. It’s a team-based 4v4 system where a team plays as Cleaners, and the other as Ridden.
As a Cleaner, you must defeat the Ridden and survive as long as you can. As the Ridden, you can use unique abilities to destroy your opponents as quickly as possible. Both sides have special abilities, weapons, and specialties to keep the gameplay balanced.
Things that could improve
Right before our conclusion, we’d like to add the areas the game could improve:
- Once you play the game for hours, you may find the arsenal is not as big as you thought during your first run.
- The campaign is too short. Even with the Card System, we would hope Turtle Rock Studios adds more content on future patches.
- There’re only a couple of skins per Cleaner. Now, we don’t care about this, but we know there’s a glaring market out there for character skins and customizations. We believe these will come out as micro-transactions, though.
- The game’s hub (a camp) is empty. There’s nothing to do there. Developers should add some options or even NPC dialogue to deepen the lore.
- It would help to add new multiplayer and campaign mode scenarios. There’s also the possibility of adding a Horde mode for extra content variety.
Back 5 Blood is pure, raw entertainment. It features a challenge-based gameplay loop with an AI capable of reacting to your actions.
That means playtime is always fresh, frenetic, and fluid. All we have to say is Back 4 Blood stands tall from the shadow of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. It’s bloody great, and bloody, and great.
Yet, we can’t help but say the content is not very generous. The game sells for a full AAA price, but some players who don’t like rogue-lite features may get bored quickly.
We don’t need Left 4 Dead 3 anymore but…Please add more content?