‘Back 4 Blood’ game review: The zombies return in this potent, adrenalin-filled rampage

As good as the original, Back 4 Blood offers hordes of gory monsters, an in-game AI that keeps you on your toes and a game-changing player-versus-player Versus Mode that lets you play as a zombie

In the world of multiplayer gaming, before the Battle Royale genre took over multiplayer gaming, there was Left 4 Dead, positioned as a co-op four-player survival-horror game that unleashes zombie hordes at you. Given developer Valve’s track record of leaving great franchises by the wayside — say Half-Life 3 — the wait for a Left 4 Dead 3 was worth it, and it came in the form of Back 4 Blood, a spiritual successor in everything but name. The best part is that Turtle Rock Studios, the team responsible for the original, is behind the new game.

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The story is as simple as it gets: due to the outbreak of a mutated virus the world if overrun by zombies known as ‘Ridden.’ You and your friends play as survivors who have designated themselves as ‘Cleaners’ to wipe out the infected and make the world habitable again. There are eight of them, four of which you can unlock and play as — all come with their own unique stat books and are fully customisable.

Back 4 Blood

  • Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
  • Price: ₹3,999 on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One

Fun game mechanics

However, it is not as simple as you would think; while your team is constantly overwhelmed by terrifying zombies hordes, you also have to fight off larger mutations. Thankfully, you have many guns and melee weapons at your disposal to go ballistic on. As a looter-shooter, you get even better guns along the way, so be vigilant during your fights. The game also features a rogue-like card system that lets you earn cards and customise your characters by creating decks to upgrade your killing streak and style. We suggest you go all-out melee, buff up your defence and become that close combat tank or make your shotgun strikes more impactful.

At its core Back 4 Blood is essentially Left 4 Dead, but with snappier first-person shooter mechanics in line with today’s world, dominated by the Battlefield and Call of Duty games. Guns feel comfortable and satisfying and the enemy designs are impressively gory, especially when they spatter in the wake of your fire and fury. Look forward to the club-armed Tallboy, the long-necked Snitcher that alerts hordes, the explosive Reeker and rather agile, four-armed Stinger.

A screenshot from video game ‘Back 4 Blood’, with the human players known as ‘Cleaners’ | Photo Credit: Turtle Rock Studios

There is one thing that Back 4 Blood does well: the AI called the Game Director, which randomises encounters with zombies hordes, allowing more replayability. Coupled with a diverse series of locales and you get a mission structure that is worth revisiting.

While the game is quite fun in co-op, it gets fairly repetitive in Solo despite a solid companion AI… in fact, the added companionship through adversity works here. Outside of the main co-op campaign there is a PvP Versus Mode; you can play as either a Ridden or a Cleaner in a sandbox-style arena. Though, it is wildly unbalanced with the overpowered Ridden and feels like Turtle Rock needs a bit more work on it.

A screenshot from video game ‘Back 4 Blood’ with human players ‘Cleaners’ ready to fight a special Ridden zombie known as ‘Reeker’ | Photo Credit: Turtle Rock Studios

Back 4 Blood looks decent with simple graphics to make sure your system’s GPU can rack up maximum body count. It is impressive how it is able to render so many zombies on-screen. While there is diversity in the levels, the environments feel a bit too boxy. The zombie designs have Resident Evil-ish elements though they do the job pretty well. The game gets it right with the eight heroes that straddle the line between gritty and stylish in a post-apocalyptic way. They are all dressed to kill, no weird Blizzard-esque Victoria Secret zombie couture here.

Whether or not you have played Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood offers variety to your multiplayer repertoire; it is a potent, adrenalin-filled rampage that keeps getting better if you have a regular group of friends with which you can enjoy.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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