Back 4 Blood Review – A Familiar Fright

Back 4 Blood’s concept is a slam dunk. Give the team responsible for trailblazing the zombie co-op shooter with Left 4 Dead another shot at the genre, adding a plethora of modern trappings and a new wrinkle to differentiate it from Turtle Rock Studios’ past work. Back 4 Blood needs to recapture some of the magic that was lost after many tech testing and a large number of responsibilities. Back 4 Blood, while not perfect is still a fun game with friends. It also has enough tricks to keep avid first-person shooter gamers coming back.

Back 4 Blood’s gunplay is a major highlight. The weapons should be familiar to anyone who’s played titles like Left 4 Dead before, but the thrilling moment-to-moment battles with the undead are satisfying. You can crush Ridden craniums using your nails-covered bat or mowing down zombies with an LMG. The weight, controller-rumble and sound effects will immerse yourself in an exciting experience.

Back 4 Blood is a difficult game, particularly at the beginning. I was also surprised by how persistent and vicious enemy mobs it became. The difficulty balance is not right. I enjoyed the time when victory was in doubt. The Game Director is responsible for the difficulty changes. This system tinkers with players’ experiences from level to level, throwing everything from fog to flaming infected at you, meaning two playthroughs of the same level can be completely different. Too many times, I’d get to the end of a level without any major hiccups only for it to be overpowered in minutes. My squad could easily navigate through levels with no more than minor hiccups after the zombies got too much oppressive. While the game does strike the perfect balance, it could have been more consistent in offering a better experience.

That difficulty curve is more manageable thanks to the card system, Turtle Rock’s wrinkle on the classic formula. Players can earn supply points as they progress through the campaign. These supply points can then be used to purchase Cleaner upgrade cards. They can be used to give your team a minor boost of 10 percent or vital skills like gaining back health from killings, and even an additional life in the event that you fail to achieve your objective. When I started creating classes to match my circumstances, the experience began to make sense. Act 3 was when I had enough cards assembled to make a tank-wielding shotgun-wielding tank. It could run into battle, kill dozens of zombies and return without much HP loss. Thanks to a card giving me health to land hits with my boom shot, it also allowed me to gain additional health. Another time, my team and I were failing to finish off a boss, only to roll over him when we all added a card that added 20 percent damage to the special Ridden’s weak spot. The more my team varied our decks and loadouts, the less we’d have to drop ammo for one another, and we became a more efficient unit. Even though I had to face the boss, there were still many cards I could unlock and reasons to go back to earlier levels.

B4B is the most fun co-op game because you can have your whole team working through Ridden. Whether we were yelling orders to one another or laughing as someone shrieked after being tackled by one of the wall-hugging Sleepers, Back 4 Blood reminded me why I spent so many hours fighting the undead in the past and why I’m excited to do it all over again in 2021.

However, solo players have less to look forward to. Back 4 Blood’s AI companions are competent and helpful when you need an extra health boost or ammo. I was unable to enjoy the solo experience due to a lack of supply points and stat tracking. For players who love the game, this is disappointing.


Finally, I enjoyed Back 4 Blood’s Swarm mode, which pits Cleaners against the Ridden in sub-sections of the campaign to battle in round-based encounters. Each team takes turns as Cleaners or Ridden, with the winner being the one who lasts longer than the human race. I enjoyed playing as the undead, but I don’t love how some of the special Ridden like the Tallboy control and longed for the intense matches of the campaign. The mode isn’t offensively bad but pales in comparison to the rest of the game’s engrossing co-op package and after a few rounds in this PvP mode was content to put it down to go back to PvE.

Back 4 Blood has been one of my favourite comfort foods games in 2021. It is an excellent time with friends that scratches an itch I’ve had since the glory days of Left 4 Dead. While it never reaches the heights of its inspiration, the addition of cards makes me hungry to play more, even when the game isn’t at its strongest.

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