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If you’re the team behind the classic co-op zombie-shooter Left 4 Dead, why not go with what you know best? That’s exactly what Turtle Rock Studios is doing with Back 4 Blood, due out this fall on PC as well as current and last-gen consoles. But Turtle Rock isn’t just playing the hits here. The studio has devised some fun new twists on top of the expected multiplayer mayhem. Let’s take a look at everything we know about Back 4 Blood so far.
Like Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood will thrust gamers into a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies — the “Ridden” in this case, after exposure to a parasite called the Devil Worm that probably doesn’t originate on Earth. The only hope for humanity’s remnants lies in the hands of the Cleaners. A collection of skilled fighters, they want to not only survive but carve out some safety for the remaining uninfected. How? By gunning down the hordes of undead in their way.
Originally revealed at The Game Awards 2020, Back 4 Blood created an immediate buzz and left gamers hoping its release wouldn’t be too far away. As it turns out, it won’t be — Back 4 Blood is due to launch on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.
If even October seems too far away, Back 4 Blood is available for pre-order now in three versions: Standard Edition ($59.99), Deluxe Edition ($89.99), and Ultimate Edition ($99.99). Each comes with their own bonus goodies:
As you might expect given Turtle Rock’s pedigree, the undead meat of Back 4 Blood’s experience is in co-op play, with the studio saying it has “a heavy emphasis on multiplayer and replayability.” It will support up to four players for online co-op, and eight for PvP. In the latter case, one team will play as the Ridden, which have their own unique perks and abilities.
Don’t anticipate having friends to team up with at launch? No problem. Turtle Rock says the game’s campaign is fine to play solo thanks to three AI teammates. It’ll even allow up to three drop-in co-op players to join in on the fly. You’ll likely want to check it out either way, as the devs have claimed Back 4 Blood tells a bigger story than their previous work — one that presents a more hopeful tone than many zombie stories.
Yes, Left 4 Dead’s AI Director concept is back, ensuring you have a more cinematic gameplay experience by altering events on the fly in response to the players’ choices and health. Back 4 Blood’s Game Director will do this utilizing a Card System, dealing a set of Corruption cards at the start of each mission. These can include things like environmental modifiers (like a loss of power which plunges the whole level into darkness) or specially enhanced Ridden bosses to serve up a challenge.
But the Director doesn’t get to have all the fun. Players have their own cards to play in response, with weapons, special abilities, stat boosts, and more. Back 4 Blood will offer a selection of pre-made decks as a starting point, but you’ll be able to delve deep into the customization options for your deck should you so choose. By knocking out optional objectives during missions you’ll earn supply points and unlock new cards, meaning the replayability factor should be very high.
If all this talk about confident characters and a positive outlook has you thinking this is some kind of sanitized apocalypse, let’s just say there’s a reason the Back 4 Blood trailers are age restricted on YouTube. Expect to see massive swarms of Ridden — whose bodies don’t disappear when defeated — tearing apart and exploding as you gun them down. Body parts and buckets of blood will splatter the ground, walls, and just about everything else as you fight for humanity’s future. Back 4 Blood is still a zombie game at its core, with all that entails (and plenty of entrails). It should make quite the impression come October.
Nick Tylwalk is a longtime writer and editor who wants everyone to remember that mobile games are games too. He's also a fitted hat aficionado, and a racing and combat sports enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @Nick_Tylwalk.