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Back 4 Blood (Xbox One Series S) Review

October 14, 2021 | Posted by Stewart Lange
Back 4 Blood Image Credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
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Back 4 Blood (Xbox One Series S) Review  

Back 4 Blood is the long awaited zombie shooter from Turtle Rock Studios, the team most recently responsible for eventual free to play flop, Evolve. The reason Back 4 Blood arrives with so much more hype behind it is that spiritually, it can be considered as Left 4 Dead 3, as Turtle Rock is made up of most of the team responsible for the first two games. While the formula may be showing its age a little at this point, there is huge amounts to do and enjoy in a thrilling return to form for the developers.

While the story doesn’t matter a great deal in a game like this, it’s still important to know that there’s been a worldwide outbreak of an origin of mystery origin, leading to the majority of humankind becoming what the game refers to as “Ridden,” possibly to keep the game as separate from Left 4 Dead as legally possible given the rights still belong to Valve. You take up the role of one of an eventual 8 “Cleaners,” with 4 playable within the level either through co-op or solo with 3 AI bots. The Cleaners are not just hunting for somewhere safe to hide up for the night, but are based out of Fort Hope and are creating safe spaces for humanity to start rebuilding. As a result the conversations between characters come across as more confident and less scared of their enemy than they ever did in the Left 4 Dead games- as much as I’ll always proclaim “grabbin’ pills” when finding some medicine.

Fort Hope acts as your main hub for the game, with a practice zone and all your important hubs within both the menus and set up as tents within the camp. The main ones are the matchmaking hub, which should be fairly self explanatory, and the supply run and deck building hubs. These are linked together as the big change from the Left 4 Dead games is the focus on cards that play during each run, much like the Halo series Skulls. You unlock these cards through completing supply runs and finishing objectives, which are then available for you to use as needed to combat the AI’s own cards or to build a deck of modifiers that can be saved for quick application within the matches themselves. I should note that as of writing, achievements and progression can only be unlocked by playing multiplayer. Cards are unlocked easier via solo play which does still give an incentive to dive in, however it’s not quite the same as having a full team running with you.

Thankfully, the AI in the solo mode is very competent, from my experiences so far. Little issues with their Left 4 Dead counterparts seem to have been ironed out, which makes playing solo feel a lot less lonely than it did previously. While you are still very much leading the charge in this mode, the AI will focus more on taking out threats- seemingly in order of importance, or, threat, as it were- and less on healing you from 70% health in the middle of a firefight. Even the rush to resuscitate you is gone, as so far it seems like the AI will wait until it’s safer to do so- a nice touch rather than rush like Lemmings into danger and end up dying on top of your defeated corpse. The Ridden AI is also a bit more clever than just running right at you, with the director back in full effect. For those unfamiliar with Left 4 Dead and the director, this was an auto AI to make sure the game stayed interesting, throwing threats at you as you play, to make sure that not only every play through is different, but also as exciting as it can be. Given the addition of the card system and the replayability should go up even higher as the levels will never play out the same way twice.

While the formula has aged slightly, with triple A games now favouring open world or progressive level based gameplay, Back 4 Blood does feel slightly behind the times but that doesn’t make it bad in any way. It’s definitely a formula that works and the levels being structured the way they are rewards multiple playthroughs just as Left 4 Dead before it. Given just how much more there is that in it’s predecessor I think this will dominate the multiplayer and Twitch charts for months to come, especially on Xbox given it’s addition to Game Pass. If the co-op bores you then jump into the Swam mode, which is in essence the PVP mode however due to early access for this review the servers were struggling to match make so I had limited time to really get my teeth into it. Given the sheer fun and quality of the couple of rounds I was able to get on to, I think that this is the game we’ve been waiting for and thankfully, its structured as one for the long haul not just a 10 hour playthrough and clear it from your hard drive.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Back 4 Blood is the Left 4 Dead game we've been waiting for and it doesn't apologise for this, but at no point should it need to. While certain aspects of the formula do show a little bit of age, overall this is what so many gamers have been waiting for.

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Back 4 Blood, Stewart Lange