Left 4 Dead 2: What we know so far

Posted by Cory Casciato On September - 23 - 2009

l4d2It’s been more than three months since Left 4 Dead 2 was announced at E3 and it’s less than two months now until we get it in our hot, little, zombie-killing hands. Since its announcement, Valve has given us a ton of info about the game — a little here, a little there. To make things easier on you, I’ve gone through and compiled all of the available info into one place. And that place is this site, so without further ado, here it is: everything we know so far about Left 4 Dead 2.

Overview: Like most sequels, it hits the “bigger, better, more” target. It will have five campaigns to the original’s four. This time it’s set in the South and we get four all-new characters (more on them below). The three gameplay modes of the original — co-op, versus and survival — will be present, as well as a fourth, yet-to-be revealed mode. Additional new touches include dynamic weather, the addition of daylight fights – and a more aggressive, agitated horde during those daylight fights — and, perhaps best of all, a much more realistic and gruesome damage model. So we’ll get severed limbs, shredded torsos, decapitations and all the other good stuff a proper zombie game should have.

Perhaps the biggest improvement is the improved AI Director. Valve are promising it will not only be smarter, but also able to do plenty of new things, such as changing the layout of a level to make it more or less difficult depending on the players’ skill and the aforementioned dynamic weather. It will also reward players who explore levels and take the longer, more difficult routes with perks such as special ammo. The original game’s “crescendo events” have been tweaked, too. Now, some of them happen on the move — so backing into a corner is no longer a viable strategy. Back to the drawing board…

Some of the original bosses are being tweaked. Most of these are minor and/or transparent, such as a different costume for the Hunter (turns out, it’s too hot for a hoodie in the South). The most significant of these is the new Witch behavior — during those daylight levels, she’ll be wandering around all agitated-like instead of sitting and crying, so slipping by her gets a little harder. Not to mention, now she can sneak up on you…

The story is getting beefed up this time around. It starts in Savannah, Georgia and ends up in New Orleans and this time we get a better idea of how the survivors get from one place to another — it should be a zombie-infested road trip through the deep South. Valve aims to tell the story of the characters and the world this time — so we should have a much better idea of exactly how things got so fucked up. We also get to see some of how it starts: the initial level, Savannah, is set before the zombie infection hits…

New Stuff: Okay, on to the new stuff. I know it’s what you’ve all been waiting for anyway.

Characters: Once again the characters will have some snappy dialog. Everything I’ve seen so far indicates it is at least as good as the first game’s. Word is they will progress as characters throughout the game, growing more confident, for example.

  • Coach – A black high-school football coach. Kind of a big, fat guy. Voiced by Chad Coleman.
  • Rochelle – A black, female, cable news producer. Hot and apparently likes Depeche Mode. From Cleveland, in the area to do a story on the outbreak. Voiced by Rochelle Aytes.
  • Ellis – A white, redneck mechanic good ole boy, but supposedly smarter than that stereotype might imply. Voiced by Eric Ladin.
  • Nick – A white con man and gambler. Cynical and not too sure of his compatriots. Seems to cross Lost‘s Sawyer with GOB from Arrested Development, which instantly makes him my preferred character. Voiced by Hugo Dillon.

Campaigns: There are five of them this time around. You’ll start in Savannah and end in New Orleans. As mentioned, they will be connected with an overarching narrative. Only three of the five have been revealed thus far. In brief, these are:

  • “Swamp Fever” – As you might gather from the name, this is set in a swamp, which is awesome. Murky water slows you down, spooky trees add to the atmosphere. Somewhere in there is a ferry you need to cross and a downed airplane you’ll defend, both of which are crescendo events.
  • “Dark Carnival” – A semi-operative amusement park full of fun-turned-creepy elements. Some of the carnival games will actually be playable, which is a nice touch. A merry-go-round plays a role in one crescendo event.
  • “The Parish” -  New Orleans, daytime level and the end game. One crescendo has you crossing a mass of cars, trying not to trigger the alarms.

Weapons and Items: You can hardly have a first-person shooter sequel without new guns, can you? And you get melee weapons too, plus some other fun stuff. Total will be more than twenty new weapons, including more than ten melee weapons. Here’s what’s been seen so far.


  • A silenced SMG based on a MAC-10. Supposedly no gameplay difference from the original SMG but it looks and sounds awesome.
  • New assault shotgun modeled on SPAS12
  • Magnum (A bigger pistol? Not entirely clear)
  • Multiple assault rifles including the AK-47 and FN SCAR
  • Grenade Launcher – a one-shot-at-a-time monster that can destroy a horde of zombies in one shot — or take out your entire team if you aren’t careful
  • New semi-auto sniper/assault hybrid. Thirty round capacity, fires 2 rps, scoped

There will also be incendiary ammo, to set things on fire and explosive ammo, to make them explode. These will presumably be among the “perks” the Director offers for exploring and taking the hard way.

Melee Weapons: All of these are very powerful, capable of taking out a common infected with a single hit. Despite this, they are somewhat awkward and require you to forgo guns while carrying them. They also have some sort of fatigue system built in so you can’t just hammer away indefinitely. These vary by level, contextually – so the swamp level might offer axes stuck in trees, but a nightstick is something you’ll find in the city levels.

  • Crowbar –can knock a zombie’s head off
  • Katana – good for limb and/or head severing
  • fire axe – good versus groups, can one-shot kill a Witch from behind!
  • frying pan – good at batting your way through crowds plus it’s comedy gold, especially the sound effect
  • chainsaw – it’s a freaking chainsaw. What else do you  need to know?
  • baseball bat
  • cricket bat
  • night stick
  • electric guitar – Impractical perhaps, but I bet it makes a great sound effect too.

All that plus two new items. Adrenaline injectors give  a 25-point temporary health boost, reduce melee fatigue and prevent infected from slowing down your movement. Good for escapes, then. There are also ammo packs that you can choose to carry in place of a first-aid kit. These allow you to refill your ammo supply wherever, whenever.


Bosses: There will be three new bosses for sure, and maybe a fourth which could come later as DLC. The new bosses address some specific tactics popular in the previous game — specifically, camping — and help the old bosses work more effectively against disciplined teams.

  • Spitter – spits a wad of flame-type goo that does continual damage over time to the area it hits. Should be very effective at ending the “pile in a corner” strategy for crescendo events, and make it harder to help downed foes in some circumstances.  Incredibly freaky looking, to boot.
  • Charger -  It’s like half a Tank. This bad boy runs at groups of players and knocks them down/apart and stuns them. It can breaks up even the most well-disciplined groups. Oh, it also can pick up survivor and pile drive them repeatedly. At least it’s easier to kill than its Tank brother.
  • Jockey – This fun guy jumps on a survivor and “rides” him away from the rest of the group, towards other zombies or environmental hazards (like, say, Spitter goo!). It takes partial control, and the player can resist it. Presumably good against that guy that insists on wandering off, much like the Hunter is.

Uncommon common: Each campaign has specific infected that fall somewhere between the common and special infected. There will be six of these, one for each level except “The Parish,” which has two. These aren’t any stronger than the base infected, but have special abilities that can make the survivors’ lives more difficult.

  • Mud men – You’ll find these guys in “Swamp Fever.” They crouch down and the low profile makes them hard to hit. That crouching hides them under the waters of the swamp for sneaking around purposes. Oh, they can also fling mud,  partially blinding players temporarily.
  • Hazmat – These well-dressed zombies can be found in “The Parish.” The Hazmat suits they were wearing before the infection makes them fireproof.
  • Riot gear – Former riot cop gone zombie in “The Parish.” Their kevlar makes them bulletproof from the front. You’ll have to  get behind them to do the job. Or knock them on their ass with a melee attack, then shoot them in the back.
  • Clown –Where else would you find a zombie clown but in a “Dark Carnival”? Their squeaky clown shoes alert and attract other zombies. Also, there’s nothing more terrifying than a freaking zombie clown.

That’s pretty much it! If I’ve missed something (and I am sure I have), please leave a comment or e-mail me at cory.casciato[at]gmail.com and I will add it. All the info for this came from the sources cited in and linked from this handy Left 4 Dead 2 Wikipedia entry and the press page of the official Left 4 Dead site. I just compiled it all and offered minor analysis here and there.

10 Responses to “Left 4 Dead 2: What we know so far”

  1. Will says:

    *Sighs* The “Clown” uncommon common infected brings me back to the days to Dead Rising. Such an awesome zombie game that was.

    Oh, and I find it awesome that I live less than five miles away from Valve’s headquarters, ’cause they rock.

  2. desing says:

    Sounds like great fun! But I think Ill just wait for L4D 3.

  3. Scott Roeben says:

    Awesome overview! Thank you for pulling all this info. together in a way that’s bound to make fans of this game even fannier.

  4. psy says:

    You forgot Austalia misses out on all the fun :(

  5. sigh says:

    forEgo. not forgo. dictionary please.

  6. @Will – I wondered if that was a nod to that game — or perhaps to the long history of clown zombies. Anyway it is awesome and so is Dead Rising. I reviewed it here, a while ago.

    @desing – fair enough. We’ll miss you.

    @Scott – Thanks!

    @psy – I reported on that in a news post. I didn’t include news stuff, just content. Bummer for you Aussies though.

    @sigh – No, forgo. It means to do without. Forego means to go before and is an archaic word. A dictionary is an excellent idea. You should try using one before you attempt to call someone out next time.

  7. AKBrothers says:

    owned… can’t wait to pick up this game

  8. rmlumley says:

    I’ve been following Left 4 Dead 2 for awhile, doesn’t look like you missed anything.

  9. Zombielovin says:

    The 2 new remaining campaigns are Dead Center (takes place in a mall) and Hard Rain (takes place in a warehouse). Hopefully Dead Center pays homage to Dawn of The Dead or at least Dead Rising…

  10. […] 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 was a good time to look at my original list and see how well Valve succeeded in […]

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