Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: WB Games
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available on: PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Release: October 12th 2021
Let me preface this ‘first impression’ review by saying that I didn't get to play nearly as much of this Beta as I would have liked, however I feel I played enough (around 6 hours) to get a good feel for the game and be able to give my first impressions.
Back 4 Blood is the latest release from Turtle Rock Studios and WB Games. Turtle Rock Studios are the former developer of the Left 4 Dead series and are back with what many believe to be it’s spiritual successor.
The first thing I want to mention is that for a beta, Back 4 Blood performed very, very well. In the 6 hours I spent slaying zombies, I didn't encounter a single glitch. That was until my final game, when mid battle with a horde of zombies, I was somehow replaced by another player and only able to watch on as the action unfolded. Can anyone say rage quit!? Considering it was a game that I had created and just had a few random players join my party, it was super annoying and frustrating to be replaced somehow.
Other than this annoying AF moment, my entire time playing Back 4 Blood was extremely fun, super satisfying, and all sorts of engaging. Back 4 Blood is the game I was hoping World War Z was going to be back in 2019. Unlike World War Z, there is much more going on here than just simply killing zombie after zombie. There's a seemingly good storyline, there’s collectibles and side missions within the levels that add another dimension to the gameplay, there's unlockable areas and many hidden items that make exploration a must. Every round starts and ends in a safe room. From the get go, there is a vendor case in each safe room from which you can purchase things such as weapons, attachments, grenades and even perks and upgrades for your entire team. Then the mission is clear, make your way from point A to point B, with occasional extra objectives along the way.
Each round your weapons and ammo etc carry over, and with the currency you find along the way you are able to further upgrade these weapons and perks at the beginning of every round.
As for the maps, I absolutely loved them! They do a fantastic job of directing you where you need to be, while giving the feeling of being much bigger and much more open world than they are. This is down to the draw distances and the detail in those distances, but also the many unlockable doors and explorable rooms just off the beaten track. All the while it's very clear in which direction you need to go.
As well as your “regular zombies”, there are multiple different sorts of “mini-boss” type enemies. Below is a full list of enemy classes thanks to Windows Central
This family of Special Ridden delivers an agile assault on players. With shocking mobility, intimidating speed, and the ability to attack from a distance, these nasty Ridden pose a real threat to isolated characters. Thankfully, they don't have much in the way of health and go down quickly with proper team coordination.
Hocker: A melee-focused attacker that can pin down targets with a sticky projectile.
Stalker: A fast melee attacker that can pounce on players and drag them away from the group.
Stinger: A mobile ranged attacker with a nasty projectile that obscures the target's vision.
Anyone who's ever loved or hated The Boomer from Left 4 Dead 1 and 2, will be uncomfortably familiar with this family of Special Ridden. These intimidating beasts use their toxic insides to damage and debilitate players. From acidic vomit to exploding corpses, you don't want these Ridden getting near you or your teammates.
Retch: A melee attacker that uses a vomit stream to cover an area in a pool of caustic liquid.
Exploder: A melee attacker that can charge forward and manually trigger a large explosion that deals a significant amount of damage.
Reeker: A melee attacker that can charge forward, knocking cleaners away and dealing damage. It explodes on death, covering players in sticky pus that slows them down.
This brutish family of Special Ridden shares some similarities to the Chargers from Left 4 Dead 2. With generally low movement speed, these tanky enemies are easy enough to run away from, but for Cleaners unfortunate enough to get caught in their mighty grasp, these towering creatures deal massive damage and require some serious firepower to take down.
Bruiser: A powerful melee attacker that can use a deadly smash attack with a large area of effect.
Crusher: This is the fastest in this family of Special Ridden, and can grab and squeeze a nearby player, rendering them helpless and dealing damage over time.
Tallboy: A large, slow melee attacker with a dangerous overhead attack. Can charge forward in short bursts to cover distance quickly.
Snitchers are rather obnoxious Ridden that act as an alarm for other enemies. If a Snitcher sees you or receives damage from a player without being killed, it will let out a blood-curdling scream that will call a horde of Ridden upon you. If you see one of these Special Ridden, quickly and quietly take it out.
While Back 4 Blood is undoubtedly filled with terrifying and disgusting creatures, the Hag might be the most nightmarish of them all. This imposing Ridden will grab Cleaners with its lengthy arms and attempt to swallow them whole. Be sure to aid your teammates as soon as they're grabbed, otherwise, they'll end up as a nice snack for the Hag.
Sleepers are strange Special Ridden that lay dormant in fleshy pods attached to walls. If you make the mistake of walking underneath a Sleeper, it will burst from its pod and pin you to the ground. From here, it'll be up to one of your teammates to rescue you from its clutches.
The Breaker is Back 4 Blood's answer to Left 4 Dead's Tank. This gorilla-like Special Ridden slams the ground with incredible force, creating a powerful shockwave that damages and knocks players back. With high health and defense, your entire team will want to focus on this enemy and defeat it as fast as possible.
Ogres are bigger and more intimidating than anything we ever saw in Left 4 Dead. These gargantuan monsters emerge from the ground and destroy anything in their path. They deal enormous amounts of damage and in most circumstances, it's best to just run from these encounters. These beasts can be slain, but it'll take a whole lot of ammunition and explosives.
Turtle Rock Studios has yet to officially unveil all of the Ridden that will be featured in Back 4 Blood. This is simply a list of enemies that are available in the Back 4 Blood Beta.
One part of the game that I struggled with a little at first was the card system, either I missed something, or the beta gave almost no explanation to what the card system was all about. Having said that, after a few games I was quite aware of what it was and it ended up being in fact one of my favourite aspects of the whole thing. Basically, each card is a different perk; some cards grant the player bonus ammo, some speed and some even grant you an extra life etc. This gave every run a slightly different feel and allowed me to really personalise my entire build and loadout as I saw fit.
Back 4 Blood is the co-op zombie shooter I have been wanting for, for a long time. I can't wait to play next weekend's open beta and in fact the full game when it's finally released on October 12th 2021. If you like zombie shooters, and I mean, who doesn't? Back 4 Blood is absolutely one of the best I've played. Do yourself a favor and at least play next weekend's open beta and see for yourself. Starting at 5am on 12th August this open beta is available for everyone, so do not miss out.