When Left 4 Dead 2 was announced back at E3, there was a hugely mixed response. Some were excited to see a new Left 4 Dead installment, and of course, the huge install base that decided to boycott it. Either way, the game is still launching on November 17, just one day short of the one year anniversary of the original. The playable demo at E3 featured the campaign, The Parish, which showed off new characters, special zombies, and even melee weapons including a chain saw.
The first difference is the characters. Coach who is a defensive lineman turned gym coach, (hence the name), and for an unknown reason Coach has “a great hatred for a few of the zombies – the witch in particular.” Rochelle, the equivalent of Zoey, a producer for a cable news network who came to Atlanta to get her big break with the news of the outbreak. Then there is Ellis, a native and mechanic of Savannah, who is almost too enthusiastic and cocky. Finally there is Nick, a drifter of sorts who is came to Georgia looking for some easy money playing poker.
The original game modes, Versus, four boss infected players versus four survivers, survival, where you try to survive as long as possible against an endless amount of infected including multiple tanks, campaign, and one unannounced gamemode. The game will also ship with five campaigns immediately playable on all gametypes, compared to the original which shipped with four and had to be updated to support Dead Air and Death Toll, along with Survival. Three of the campaigns have been announced, The Parish, Swamp Fever, and Dark Carnival.
There are also some new weapons including an AK-47, a single-shot grenade launcher, a new assault rifle, a new silenced SMG, a new semi-automatic sniper rifle, a reworked pistol, and explosive and incendiary round. Personally, we think that the grenade launcher will be interesting, the video on GameTrailers showed it with 30 grenades, might be too much in my opinion, but then again it is single-shot. There is a new equipment option as well, an adrenaline injector, which allows you to plow through zombies, which eliminate those moments where you are frantically running and one zombie from behind slows you down. Of course you can’t forget the melee weapons, a cricket bat, axe, chainsaw, baseball bat, frying pan, katana sword, and Valve has said they are working on more “heavier melee weapons”, such as the just revealed guitar. Left 4 Dead shipped with four boss infected where L4D2 will ship with seven, the tank, boomer, smoker, hunter, and the recently announced charger, which, well, charges and knocks survivors far, and pins a single survivor down, repeatedly slamming them into the ground with it’s one massive arm. Also announced was the Spitter, the first playable female infected, who spits fiery acid on the ground which can single-handedly ruin the survivors plans, because a few seconds in this can bring a survivor down. This, in our opinion is one of the biggest game changers announced so far, no longer will plans be set in stone, if one person gets a spitter, they can single-handedly ruin the survivors plans, therefore players will need to be able to make on-the-fly adjustments to their plans, and the revealed Jockey which jumps on the survivors back and “rides” them around until and team member assists them, the player can struggle and move around which means less damage. This is rumored to be the last of the new special infected, however, this is always subject to change.
The game itself takes place just days after the original with the infection arriving, literally, just as the first campaign starts. The Parish takes place in New Orleans and is the final campaign in the game. The goal is to is to battle your way through the city to reach a military helicopter for extraction. The first difference is that it takes place in the daylight. The biggest difference this makes is in the witch. During the night the witch sits down and cries. But during the day, she likes to wander around. It has been pointed out by Valve that she always seems to show up at the worst time possible. The “uncommon common” as they are called now, in this level are infected in fire suits that are not affected by fire or incendiary ammo. Also new are some crescendo moments, where you now have to hit a switch to active something which attracts the horde, however now the horde keeps coming until you hit another switch that is further away. This should eliminate the corner camping that is so common in the original. The finale of this campaign features the survivors battling their way across a highway bridge that’s cluttered with cars, trucks, and infected. This makes a great ambush spot for charges and tanks, one hit and off the bridge you go. The director also now has control over more of the environment, where before it was only in control of weapon placement, now it can change the layout of the map. The example Valve provided was a graveyard full of crypts and a maze of cars, each with an active car alarm mistake leads to a horde, which leads to more mistakes, these can be rearranged based on how you are doing, from a straight line to a complete maze. This should mix things up a bit, as you can never plan for the level to work out the way you want.
The next campaign that was revealed was Swamp Fever takes place as the survivors come upon a small “enclave” where the inhabitants attempted to keep the infected out, as well as the government and any outsiders, who obviously failed and now the place is overrun. There is one minor difference in which the campaign only has four levels compared to every other campaign so far that has five, however, Valve’s testing has showed that it is just as long time wise. The swamps in this campaign change things quite a bit, there are wooden walkways above the swamp which allow you to move faster, but the possibility of being dragged or knocked into the water is still there. And being in the water, is not good. You move slower in the water, and in a survival game, slower is bad. This is truly a match made in heaven for anyone playing a smoker in versus. After this, you head into a shanty town, where it feels more safe, but its not. The shacks can fall apart, infected and weapons fire tear them apart. The “uncommon common” infected in this level are now being dubbed as “mud-men”, who lurk in the swamp’s waters, and, when on land run on all four appendages. When they hit you they spray mud all over your screen, obstructing your view.
The third and final of the three campaigns that have been revealed, which is the second campaign in the game, is called Dark Carnival. Survivors will start off amid a traffic jam, work there way to a fairgrounds, complete with a working merry-go-round. The “uncommon common” infected is a clown. But what can a clown do? A lot actually, the clown walks around, with the classic squeaky shoes, which attracts the horde until it is killed. Other than these three, nothing else has been mentioned of the other two campaigns.
So as you can see, Left 4 Dead 2 is definitely worth the sequel, contrary to the boycott. This is just one of the two games that I’m buying this fall, and I’m sure that I’ll get my moneys worth.
Left 4 Dead 2 is in development by Valve and is being published by Valve as well. It releases on November 17, 2009.