“If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” is certainly a belief that Back 4 Blood adheres to. Unfortunately this comes at the expense of the game feeling like worn shoes as it is essentially Left 4 Dead with a few extra steps. In some cases, it actually does poorly in comparison to its spiritual predecessor. While Back 4 Blood can provide for a fun zombie killing time, it has an abundance of flaws that hold back the experience. Let’s talk about it.
Back 4 Blood is developed by Turtle Rock Studios, the same developers who made Valve’s Left 4 Dead. So essentially, this game is its spiritual successor. So there can be justification as to why the two games feel so alike. You won’t be able to avoid comparisons between the two.
I had a relatively lukewarm experience with Back 4 Blood. And on this review, I’ll be tackling what I believe the game does right and what the game could potentially improve on.
Starting with what Back 4 Blood does right, it’s amazing as a multiplayer experience. Even as I played with friends on different consoles, we have had no trouble communicating and playing together. Its crossplay feature is certainly not lacking. So if you have friends on other platforms, you needn’t worry.
However the connection was finnicky at certain times. Even though communications were solid, the zombies I fought often skipped a few frames and the people I fought with also teleported around the environment. It made it difficult to keep up precision. This is paramount as higher difficulties introduces friendly fire and the game really does need to be a smooth experience.
Firing guns in the game felt stiff. I can’t quite put my finger to it, but when I compare it to other games there was something about aiming and shooting that generally felt awkward which was especially noticeable on semi-automatic weapons. I’ve tried out multiple guns on the shooting range and while the gunplay is passable it does need improvement and a bit of tweaking.
Zombie designs also feel a bit uninspired. They can be larger than your average undead, with some being even behemoths large enough to be considered buildings. There isn’t anything out of the ordinary here for a zombie game. You got your special zombies that will do something out of the ordinary, but they’re nothing to write home about.
I have mixed feelings on Back 4 Blood’s card mechanic. They are essentially buffs which can customize your character to perform better. You can pick them as the round progresses and they each add a benefit to your playthrough. Some cards alter your behavior significantly, such as changing your punch melee to a knife attack instead. There are also challenge cards at the start of each round that add a modified difficulty to the game, such as a fog that obscures vision or a more crows that alert hordes scattered throughout the environment.
I would’ve preferred a more customizable character progression. Cards were a bit difficult to get used to and just added more confusion to an otherwise simple zombie killing experience.
Speaking of which, there are different characters in the game to choose from. And they each have their own additional benefit to the squad. While this can influence your team to behave more cohesively as a unit, it’s clear the Back 4 Blood prioritizes its multiplayer experience. It may go without saying, but if you’re planning to play alone the artificial intelligence is rather lackluster. I experienced being downed and need to be revived, with my AI companion not being able to find a way around a car to do so.
Each Act has separate rounds. Rounds are short and are over pretty quickly. There’s quite a few of them in each Act to compensate. Throughout these rounds, I found issue with how the game balances its difficulties. There are three of them in total. Playing on the easiest difficulty, Recruit, was too much of a breeze to be any fun. But go one level higher and there’s suddenly a spike in difficulty that makes each run an uphill battle against the horde. It couldn’t hurt to balance difficulties a little better.
It’s clear that Turtle Rock Studios intended for players to first go through Recruit difficulty, but that’s unfortunately a bad first impression. It requires no teamwork and lacks any sort of real challenge. Rounds are over much too quickly before you can really enjoy them.
I feel that Back 4 Blood is a decent zombie killing games with some great moments that feel spectacular. However, I’m having trouble recommending Back 4 Blood as it already doesn’t stand out from this already saturated market.
On its own, Back 4 Blood isn’t a bad zombie game. I can definitely see people enjoying it with friends. However it’s difficult to give a confident recommendation when it offers such a mediocre experience. Should they be able to balance the difficulty a little better, that could be paramount into improving the game.
Back 4 Blood – Review
You better have to choose if it’s worth spending your spare cash, because it might not be the game for you and it might be for others.