Five steps to a better Left 4 Dead 2

Posted by Cory Casciato On June - 1 - 2009

left4dead2Today 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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…
  3. 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?).
  4. 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.
  5. 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!).

12 Responses to “Five steps to a better Left 4 Dead 2

  1. RonnyGunz says:

    It’s funny you should mention number 3. If you play the director’s commentary version, they explain that the original intention was to show people that they weren’t safe at the end of each campaign, but eventually in testing, found that it removed the reward involved in completing the campaign.

  2. Cory Casciato says:

    @RonnyGunz Yeah, I need to find some time to play with commentary turned on. Just not enough hours in the day…

  3. Levi Fleming says:

    As well, the grenade thing and the gun loadout was also explained in the commentary. It takes ten to twenty minutes, certainly worth your time if you’re going to make development requests.

    I’m going to disagree with the “explain how the boss infected get that way” part. I don’t think it’s relevant to the experience. As well, I think it will have all the satisfaction of the time Lucas explained The Force.

  4. Cory Casciato says:

    I have no doubt that the commentary is worth the time, but I haven’t had the time yet. Is it really only ten or fifteen minutes to get through it? If I’d known that, I guess I would have made the time.

    And while I do frequently argue that explanations are overrated — and concede that it wouldn’t add much to the game experience to know the origin of the boss infected — as a scholar of zombie tropes, I can’t help but be curious. I acknowledge I may be in a severe minority here — perhaps a minority of one, even — but it is a list of my suggestions, so I will stand by it.

  5. [...] I posted my wish list for Left 4 Dead 2, then I saw this early preview of the game. Shit, looks like I am getting most of my wishes [...]

  6. William says:

    I agree with most of what you said, pretty general stuff but #4 is half-half for me. They are keeping all the familiar boss infected which is smart because they all are well done and it gives infected players (in Versus) some common ground in between testing out the new ones. However I’m hoping the total number doubles, at least in the common department (e.g. Boomer, Hunter, Smoker, _____ , _____ , _____ ). Like how you said the gun load out was kind of boring because they simplified it to the bare essentials I think the bosses have the same problem and they need at least three to five new ones to keep it fun for us infected lovers. They should steer clear of Resident Evil style outlandishness but there are plenty of good ideas out there for semi-realistic ones to use.

  7. Thomas K. says:

    btw… why is it only the humans who are infected? =) Dogs? Birds? ans so on… maybe make a “Ripper” ;) an infected animal that can rend you from 100hp to 1 over some time … ofc it will have a recharge cooldown like the smoker ;D

  8. Cory Casciato says:

    @William You know, since I don;t much care for playing against random people, and don’t have eight L4D playing friends, I haven’t delved into Versus, so that hadn’t occurred to me. It makes sense though, and I am slowly warming up to the reality that there will be new “boss” infected. If I had to rewrite this today, I’d probably switch that to “Don’t go overboard and make the inevitable new boss infected too silly.” The already announced and briefly shown “charger” boss seems okay and makes sense. Let’s hope the other two do as well.

    @Thomas K. Interesting idea, but could be hard to play (for people to play them the animal would have to be plausibly as intelligent as a human, right?) — I will say that most (but by no means all) zombie mythologies restrict zombification to humans.

  9. Joseph says:

    I watched a L4D2 game play today and it was totally awesome .The WITCH can now freakin walk while crying and there’s a new boss zombie in town the CHARGER the one with the big arm or his right and the other one is smaller I’m so exited to play L4D 2

  10. Benny says:

    I can’t wait for this one, my idea for a boss infected is like, it can take your med pacs and pills to heal other infected infected and it would be sorta a smart zombie that has pistol withh limited ammo and if it runs it inastaly dies to keep fair to surivors. And Thomas, a animal zombie would be sweet like a replacement for the hunter, or a super lion tank, or a smoker bird.

  11. A. C. Lucius says:

    I agree with all except four. New special infected and boss infected will help to vary the strategies used when boss infected are use. As it is, we basically just have to get a boomer on at least two or three of the survivors and have the hunter/smoker get the others while the tank goes in after the boomed ones. This means for most people, it’s easy to kill the plan just by killing the boomer. New infected means new strategies.

    For Thomas K. the infection is actually a form of rabies, which is what makes the entire idea of an actual zombie more realistic as rabies is the closest virus we know of to resemble a zombie virus. However, much like a raccoon is a carrier of rabies and not affected by it, or like how vampire bats can carry dumb rabies and not be affected, I would imagine they had the idea only humans would be affected and mutated by this virus.

    Infected animals though would be more of an annoyance than anything else though I would imagine. Besides, it would put this too closely related to the RE series, as basically every animal, from spiders to crows to dogs, is affected.

  12. [...] day Left 4 Dead 2 was announced, I posted a wishlist of five things I wanted from the game. Now, in light of my recent post rounding up everything known about the game thus far, I thought it [...]

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