Back 4 Blood first impressions – Almost Left 4 Dead but not quite there

Nick Farrell
Turtle Rock Studios

Turtle Rock Studios’ homage to the classic Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood has left a positive note among players since the beta has released. But, some glaring issues may hold it back from eclipsing the nostalgia.  

In the later 2000s, the Left 4 Dead series was one of the breakthrough titles that captivated gaming fans worldwide, primarily due to their unique concept of cooperative zombie adventures.

Now, some of the original developers are back to develop the new Back 4 Blood title, and with the beta now in full force, there’s been a lot of positives surrounding the game.

But, not all the grass is green on the side of Back 4 Blood, as there’s some blunders throughout that may hold it back from replicating the memories Left 4 Dead instill in us over a decade ago.

Towering foes like this make revives a living hell.
Turtle Rock Studios
Back 4 Blood features a lot of the zombie types seen in Left 4 Dead!

Back 4 Blood is close, but not quite Left 4 Dead yet

Throughout our time with Back 4 Blood, there’s been a lot of fun to be had. After all, the game is basically following the same premises as the original L4D series, which is linear levels, based around four characters in their efforts to defeat the zombie horde.

Towards the end of every level is typically some sort of mini-boss battle, which is captivated by a flurry of zombies, along with some special ones such as the Bruisers. The developers have done a phenomenal job at replicating the feeling of L4D in these missions, as sometimes it does truly feel like we’re back in the late 2000s playing the original games.

Modern textures and a key focus on weapons and the new Card system does a lot for the game, as these innovations and improvements have made the gameplay feel vastly smoother. But, this is also where B4B falters first, as the game for the majority, is widely unoptimized for PC so far.

Turtle Rock Studios
Players will find their frame rate bouncing all over the place while checking out Back 4 Blood.

For some context, I am playing the game on a pretty beefy rig for 2021, a ASUS KO 3060TI paired with a Ryzen 5600X CPU and 32GB RAM is nothing to scoff at for games these days. But, even with Nvidia DLSS enabled, and most of the non-essential settings turned to low or off, the game’s frame rates bounces from around 250 to 60 for no apparent reason.

Since this game is only in the beta stages, this issue can glance over, but if it isn’t resolved for the games full releases, there’s bound to be some criticism towards Turtle Rock Studios, as it can be a mess when a large horde of zombies is running towards you and your crew.

Crows, Cards, and weapons all contribute to the games excellence

While the concept of the game is the same as the L4D series, some of the new additions they’ve added into B4B have propelled the game like not just a modern-day replication of Left 4 Dead.

For starters, the Card system is fantastic, as it allocates certain ones to specific characters within the game, and there’s also some available for all characters. This combined with environmental factors such as the dangerous Crows will decide how your team’s run is going to play out.

Shooting these Crows will trigger an immense wave of zombies to rush towards you, causing a series of chaotic moments, which will more than likely result in your death.

Turtle Rock Studios
One of the earlier missions in Back 4 Blood pits you against a strong boss!

One of the gripes we’ve had with the beta is the lack of ammo/health available to loot within these missions, but this can also be how they’re trying to separate the game from L4D. Even on Veteran difficulty, the game feels drastically more challenging than most titles, and it’s a welcomed challenge that players should embrace.

With just a few months until B4B hits players consoles/PCs worldwide, there’s some notable optimization and mechanical issues that they’ll need to address before the game’s full release. But, on the ground surface, Back 4 Blood has captivated a lot of the notes that made Left 4 Dead so successful, and were eager to see the full game come October.