We've been waiting a few years for Turtle Rock Studios to resurface after the middling performance of Evolve. That game promised to make the asymmetrical multiplayer shooter a force to be reckoned with, but quickly got bogged down by monetisation and balance issues that saw player numbers dwindle. In the end, even making it a free-to-play game wasn't enough to right the ship.
Arguably the best card, and one which may well be nerfed in the final release, is particularly useful for Holly. A melee expert, Holly has access to a perk for 25% boosted damage with hand-to-hand weapons, but her killer skill is a card which grants two health regen for every kill, allowing her to mindlessly swing away and survive almost indefinitely.
In addition to melee weapons, there are tons of ranged firearms as well. Guns in general are a mixed bag. There are the usual archetypes – shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and light machine guns – but on top of that is a series of attachments which don't seem to make a huge change by themselves, plus there’s no way to remove them. The lack of explosive launchers in the standard weapon set is a shame, but throwables and stationary turrets are also thrown into the mix.
B4B’s levels follow a similar structure to L4D, though a single campaign run probably takes a little longer. Levels are split into two groups of four chapters with a midpoint climax, as well as a challenging culminating chapter. In the beta, the ending didn't wow us as much as the midpoint (as Liam noted in Team Talk), where the freedom to split up the team made the mission particularly memorable.
We'll need more time with these characters to see if they make a similar impact to the ones in Left 4 Dead, though in the beta, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
In order to leave a lasting impression, Back 4 Blood’s campaigns need to have players asking questions. Currently it’s all very surface level, though simply providing reason to scour graffiti for clues as to what prompted the Ridden apocalypse could elevate it to the next level.
On a similar note, we need to care about the characters. The likes of Bill and Zoe in L4D weren’t capable of doing anything special, rather the conversations and camaraderie between them is what made them so likeable. We'll need more time with this group to see if they make a similar impact, though in the beta, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
In all, after only a few hours spread over a few days, Back 4 Blood has established itself as a shooter which delivers on its premise. There's plenty more still to be revealed, but so far it feels as though the team has played it safe in a few areas, which could end up negatively impacting replayability. Xbox Game Pass could be the boost it needs to really take hold, though with similar titles like Redfall and The Anacrusis also coming on day one it’s staying power will be put to the test.