++++++ ++ PC GAMER MAGAZINE ++ AUGUST 2009++ ++
LEFT 4 DEAD 2
eft 4 Dead
told stories.Whatever innovation ortireless replayability youfound from the game’sfour-person co-op and asymmet-rical versus, the hours we spentwere well-invested because wecame away with incredible watercooler moments: the perfectSmoker pull off a precariousledge, pouncing on the lastsurvivor inches from the saferoom, heroic sacriﬁces to saveincapacitated teammates andlast-second “Get to the choppa!”leaps into rescue helicopters.But there’s always room forimprovement. As we gainedfamiliarity with the levels’apocalyptic crannies, some ses-sions felt like we were runningdrills—routine exercises on hud-dling in a corner and other techniques weadopted to deal with the game’s challengingcrescendo events. These not only felt cow-ardly, but they hampered the spirit of thecooperation and improvisation that makes
worth playing. In a game where themost memorable experiences can emergefrom player error and taking chances, pre-dictability is an enemy.
“We deﬁnitely looked
at theproblems online—what are bad behaviorsthat we want to cure people of?” Faliszek starts. “We updated
so the Tank couldhit multiple survivors if they were groupedin a corner, and one of the new boss in-fected, the Charger, works along those lines.We’re also going to have variations in bossinfected, where a Smoker or a Boomer hasmutated, and has slightly different abili-ties.” Variety. Brilliant. Faliszek continues,mentioning a new ﬂavor of Witch thatshambles around, a “wandering Witch.”But that’s not the most signiﬁcantupgrade, says Valve’s VP of MarketingDoug Lombardi. “The biggest change,really, is introducing the notionof melee combat. There’s anaxe, a frying pan, and a coupleof other pieces that are beingadded in.” Faliszek eagerlychimes in: “There
bea chainsaw.” Lombardilaughs. “And that’s moreways to slaughter zom- bies, number one, butalso a different style of combat that hope-fully reduces friendly ﬁre in close quarters.”Adding more weapons, new specialinfected and longer campaigns is a strongstart to solving predictability and boostingthe materials available to the director,
’sAI orchestrator technology. But we’re mostexcited about the new setting.
is adoomed tour of the American south. ForgetBill and Zoey—they won’t be showing up.Georgia, Louisiana and the region betweenis a zone miles away from the ﬁrst game’scliché horror movie settings—replaced bylonely farms and abandoned cityscapes rifewith all the eeriness inherent to the south’ssweaty climate, secessionist ideals, agedplantations and muddy alligator dens.“I’m kind of surprised it hasn’t beenpicked dry already. As soon as we startedsketching concepts of zombies runningdown the streets of the French Quar-ter, you see them and you’re like‘Okay, that totally works.’ Andyou see another with zombiescoming out of an oldplantation house—‘Yeah, that really works too.’Savannah and New Orleans,there’s the occult and voodoo,and everything’s haunted;there’s crypts above the ground.That’s creepy in and of itself,”says Lombardi.
Faliszek goes on to explainhow story and characterdevelopment will be more of afocus in
. “The world itself is just more alive and morechanging. With
Left 4 Dead
1,we kind of kept the charactersindividual and just ran with it.But in
, they meet the secondthe game starts outside a mall,”Faliszek teases us, indicatingthat the starting point is anobvious nod to classic zombieﬂicks. “…and go from there.They get to learn about eachother as we learn about them. We have alittle bit more interaction between them,they have arcs that happen across thegame. It’s not just about their travel, but theentire world. We see the FEMA-like friendlyorganization reacting, and more of themilitary in New Orleans, and we show thecollapse. You see the way different groupsdecided to interact with the infection—some people holed up and tried to do it ontheir own, some people are just ﬂeeing—it’sa more epic story of what the infection isdoing to the world and the people.”
Being thematically distinct from
’s hos-pital hallways and Pennsylvania farm pathsis nice, but the south fashions new takes onthe base gameplay. The muddy bayou of thethird campaign (there’ll be ﬁve total—onemore than
) is a ﬂooded forest with onlytraces of civilization—rustic plank shacksﬂoating in algae pools. Get ankle-deep inone, and your running speed slows to awalk, making it harder to ﬂee. But tacti-cally, you’re put in situations where get-ting your socks wet can help: In an earlychapter, we opt to patrol the river bywalking in it, allowing us a betterview of any oncoming infectedin the open stream than we’dget by jogging along the dense,tree-lined shoreline. The mudis unnerving—more thanDead Air’s baggage-claimmaze or Blood Harvest’scornﬁeld—and that’s agood thing.
Aim for the kneecaps tostop runners or climbersin their tracks.