How Back 4 Blood sets itself apart from other co-op zombie shooters

Kenneth Williams • July 7, 03:18

Back 4 Blood is an upcoming co-op zombie shooter made by Turtle Rock Studios, the original developers of Left 4 Dead.

Although their genres and gameplay loop are extremely similar, Back 4 Blood is not part of the Left 4 Dead franchise. The games are connected beyond just their genre conventions. Turtle Rock Studios was the original development team for Left 4 Dead and its sequel. The company separated from Valve in 2011 and re-founded itself as an independent games studio, losing access to the Left 4 Dead franchise in the process. If Turtle Rock was able to, Back 4 Blood’s title might have been Left 4 Dead 3.

Back 4 Blood will compete against an incoming tide of cooperative zombie shooters in late 2021. The highly anticipated Dying Light 2 will be followed by World War Z: Aftermath and The Day Before. Instead of relying on the tried-and-true gory formula, Turtle Rock has pulled from other genres to spice up the expected experience. 

Back 4 Blood took some inspiration from ability shooters like Valorant and Overwatch with their characters. A player’s special abilities will be determined by their chosen “Cleaner.” World War Z has a similar class system, but Back 4 Blood’s perks and upgrades are distinctly tied to the characters themselves. This will make it easier for Turtle Rock Studios to create cosmetics, updates, and downloadable content after the October 12 release.

Back 4 Blood introduces looting and upgrades to zombie genre

Back 4 Blood also places a heavier-than-normal emphasis on looting during quiet moments. Abandoned barns or parking lots often hide valuable resources that take time to sniff out. A slower pace is generally rewarded, but unseen threats always look just over the horizon. Doesn’t that sound a bit like the first few minutes of a battle royale?

Back 4 Blood’s card system for upgrades provides a touch of roguelike to the co-op zombie shooter. Players collect cards and draw opportunities when clearing levels. The catch is that the gameplay director also gets card upgrades that are viewable by the players. Cleaners are able to use their own cards to counter the director’s strategy. A shake of Risk of Rain 2 or Hades provides a big replayability factor for a very developed genre. 

Special zombie types are a mainstay of the zombie shooter genre and Back 4 Blood doesn’t stray from that convention. The special zombie types greatly resemble the special infected from the original Left 4 Dead. The Bruiser is a clear transplant of the Charger down to its grotesquely swollen arm. The Snitch is a horde-summoner that’s common in the genre, but the Hocker can climb on walls and sling immobilizing webs at the players. A player-versus-player will release with the game.

Back 4 Blood will be released on October 12, just in time for Halloween. The game will be simultaneously released on Xbox Games Pass for both the Xbox Series, Xbox One, Steam, and Epic Games Store. The Back 4 Blood pre-order beta will begin on August 5. 

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