Crowd control should be the real name of Turtle Rock Studios’ multiplayer genre-redefining entry. While the number of Ganados doesn’t match the other entries here, the skill required to deal with a huge mob of skilled, weapon-wielding gamers and some dudes with burlap-like costumes and melee earns Back 4 Blood its rightful place at the top.
There have been so many multiplayer games by several studios that they almost defy comparison by this point. There’s even a strong argument to be made for labeling them as an everywhere- genre rather than a series – which only makes it stranger to say that Turtle Rock Studios newly-announced entry in their action splinter rooster owes a serious debt not to previously built multiplayer games, but the predecessors like Left4Dead.
In our short time with an early version of the game, we’re initially shown the Left4Dead action we’ve come to know and palm off on younger siblings – outsiders-tag-teaming their way across architecturally-suspect abandoned cities throughout in order to find an escape from the zombie-infested city.
After blasting off, though, things take a turn for the weird. Following a lengthy cutscene showing a consortium of zombies taking over the cities now infested with a new virus. Our new team of superheroes, no less than the Caped Crusader, detaches their harness from the aircraft and initiates a multi-wave shoot-’em-up section set along a perfect, orbit-like circle around the various sections of the city, coupled with a heavy lodge of ammunition tied to them.
The newest installment turns the process into part-hacking, part-platforming, asking you to step into a Resident Evil-like world to solve different pathway mazes and find weapons to kill off zombies. The game, Back4Blood comes up with an all-new armory designed to kill off the zombie and clear the city of the virus.
Let’s be honest. This really shouldn’t work. We’ve all played games like Left4Dead and Plants Vs Zombies on every device imaginable and possibly already bought the T-shirt, yet somehow here we are with a first-person, online-only shooter that not only manages to feel fresh (as a daisy!) but is also quite addictive.
Previously over on the zombie games, weapon on-ground warfare has been on other consoles forever which, if nothing else, probably means they’ve ironed out any bugs for us. Utilizing the Unreal engine, Back4Blood offers up different chlorophyll-packed multiplayer modes: Stretching from a Morgue-like city to Graveyards all with the infamous team of zombie-killing soldiers. Back4Blood is a zombie-wave, four-player co-op affair where you fend off hordes of zombies from your favorite city’s backyard as one of the many level classes.
A new team is back on the deserted city in utterly chaotic deathmatch mode where the first to kill is the winner. Combat is surprisingly satisfying, with headshots sending undead skulls rolling and shooters shriveling under artillery fire from the heavily-armed All-Star zombies. Plus, leveling up to gain new abilities is also a speedy affair so you won’t be grinding for XP to overcome the zombie attack to slow enemies down or the Zombie Foot Soldier’s Rocket Jump.
STALK ‘N’ LOAD Just like real-life Panini addiction, it’s the sticker packs that are the key to success. Bought with coins that you earn with each kill – and now with actual money if you’re into that sort of thing – these give you extra character variations with upgraded weapons, more health packs for protection during survival mode, and customization options for your classes.
Back4Blood’s two huge USPs center around comically overboard brutality of new soldiers finding their way through the rough zombie terrain and a mass weapon system with a little bit different loadout permutations, according to the developer. Having graduated from Left4Dead’s practical university, adding up all those years of nasty zombie-killing training, we’re sure you’d have no trouble killing the zombies. Still, Loadout has been reviewed pretty favorably on PC, with specific praise given to the breadth and depth of gun customization. Better yet, the game comes to PS4 as a console exclusive, giving the foot soldiers time to tailor the experience to the strengths in this new-gen hardware.
Weapon crafting and choosing are exhaustive, allowing extensive tinkering of your firearm’s stock, trigger, scope, and barrel. Such is the openness of the system, you’re entirely free to bolt a scope onto that semi-automatic grenade launcher, which also spews missiles painted with beastly shark chompers. The actual gun types themselves are less imaginative, spanning rifles, launchers, pulse, and beam weapons.
Although it feels a bit unnecessary picking on the game when it lets you build a shotgun from scratch. In a market clogged with overly serious shooters, it’s undeniably refreshing to see a title openly embrace the silly as wholeheartedly as a loadout. Skin gets seared like burnt toast, holes are punched through chests to reveal still-beating organs, while entire limbs go bye-bye from the cartilage to which they’re attached. Character designs are as evocative as the grisly fates that befall them, ranging from blood-ridden big-boned lasses to muscle-bound afro owners who grab their weapons steadfastly with the star-spangled banner.
Among the various deathmatches, it’s strange to note the current standout mode seems to be a spin on capture the area. A vanilla afterthought in most shooters these days, loadout makes its interpretation stand out, through a man-sized mallet. Instead of a useless pole with a piece of billowing cloth attached to it, the soldier’s mode charges you with ferrying the massive melee weapon to your base.
It all means there’s a reason to turn our cynicism levels down a notch. The mantle of a first-person shooter will always hang heavy, but in this case, the majority of weapons and actions are accessible for now. If you want to pry open your purse strings to speed up the game’s unlock system, that’s up to you. But in the meantime, it looks like Unreal Engine is getting a genuinely worthwhile, daftly deft shooter to stand out among the throngs of miserable military death fests of zombies.
Looking like a feisty cross-function between Resident Evil and Evil Dead, Back4Blood is filled with all punch dialogues, aggravated gore scenes, and weapons upgrades that fulfill the gamer’s fantasy. Although the endless running should be a mundane genre on its own, the stylish graphics and cutscenes reflect the genius of Unreal Engine and how well put together the Back4Blood is!