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
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. Back in August I spent some time playing the Back 4 Blood beta, you can check out my full thoughts on that here. Well with the full release just hours away, Back 4 Blood is a solid improvement on this already stellar beta.
You play as one of 8 characters known as “cleaners” ; you're naturally immune to the virus that is plaguing humanity. Exploration is key as you travel in a group of 4 moving through the zombie riddled maps. These maps range from city blocks to countryside and even include locales such as libraries and ferries, as mentioned earlier, exploration is a must if you wish to find better gear and upgrades to the gear you already have.
More than anything else, the full release differs from the beta in terms of just how many zombies there are to take on. The beta sometimes felt a little too controlled and just a bit easy. The full release is absolutely an improvement here. Compared to the 1 or 2 “boss enemies” featured in the beta, the full game has you pitted against many, many more. Sometimes even 4 or 5 at a time meaning strategy and teamwork are much more important.
Just like the beta, one part of the game that took me a little time to get reacquainted with was the card system, I once again found myself with little to no explanation as to what the card system was or how it worked, luckily I had experienced it before otherwise I would have found it very confusing jumping in blind. 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.
Playing with a group of friends is the perfect way to play, that exploration and upgrading is much more expansive when doing so. Certain cards add “Team Abilities” or “Team Stats” such as extra team ammo or team damage upgrades etc, this doesn't really make much difference in the solo campaign as the bots seem to scale to the enemies, but online it's super important and can be the difference between life and death.
Back 4 Blood is obviously best played online with a few friends, however it's just as easy to play alone. Unfortunately though, this does remove the ability for any real progression which is a huge bummer. All achievements, Supply Points and stat tracking are locked behind the multiplayer campaign. Meaning that while solo is fun, it's rather pointless at the moment. There are reports online however that suggest that this is something TurtleRock are looking to rectify.
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.
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.