Today at Microsoft’s E3 press conference, Left 4 Dead 2 was announced and I couldn’t be more excited. The sequel to the blockbuster zombie apocalypse trainer of 2008 will be here November 17, 2009, according to the just-released teaser trailer. And to celebrate its announcement, I’m going to share five things I’d like to see in the second iteration of this incredible game. Unlike the similarly themed five suggestions for Dead Rising 2, which suggested necessary fixes, this is more of a wish list — there’s nothing that really needed fixing in the original.
- Give us four more interesting characters – One of the great strengths of the original was its excellent and iconic characters. They weren’t all equally well conceived (frankly, old-timer Bill was hands-down cooler than the rest) but all were definitely a lot more realistic and engaging than your average game character. Without these personalities, Left 4 Dead would have still been the same kick-ass killfest it was, but it would have lost half its charm. Giving us four more great characters to root for will go a long way toward ensuring the new game is as good as the first.
- Give us more of the back story – Another of the great strengths of the first game was the back story, delivered largely through innovative storytelling devices such as messages scrawled on walls and the details of the settings themselves. Give us more, and give it to us the same way (no cutscenes, please!). Word is one of the new characters is a cable news reporter — why not have her drop a few words about what she saw before all hell broke loose as part of the in-game chatter during quiet moments? And I think we’re all wondering how the boss infected get that way…
- Connect the dots a little better – As far as I could discern, there was little or no connection between the campaigns in the original. Without any sort of narrative arc the game seemed like a series of unconnected incidents that left me wondering, “Why do these people keep leaving the safety they reach at the end of each level?” I’m sure you can think of some reason and some clever, in-game way of giving it to us (radios maybe?).
- Don’t tamper too much with the bosses or add a bunch of new ones – I think the boss infected are just fine as they are. I’m curious how they got that way (see item 2) but I don’t want to see four new bosses in this game, with no explanation given as to how they appear. That is going to push it in the direction of the Resident Evil franchise, where the various letter viruses (T-virus, G-Virus, whatever) can create any kind of googley-eyed demon the developers dream up without breaking a sweat. It makes the whole thing too video game-y (yes, I know it is a video game, don’t be pedantic) and unbelievable to be fun.
- Give us more, period – Arguably the one real flaw in the original is the small number of campaigns (four) and limited gun loadout. Given that the engine is already tuned to perfection, would it be too much to ask for to give us a few more campaigns, an extra mode of some kind (at least give us Survival mode from day one) and maybe a couple of extra weapons, simply for variety’s sake? A real grenade, for example, and maybe an RPG that’s hidden near the end of each campaign, for the end game, would be frigging sweet.
That’s it! Readers, I’d love to hear your ideas for what you want to see in the next one, or what you think of mine. And don’t forget, you can see the teaser here if you haven’t already (embed screwed the site up, sorry!).