Strangely, up until last night I had never played Left 4 Dead in versus mode (wherein 4 players control the survivors and 4 control special infected zombies). I guess I thought it would be annoying and would take all of the fun out of co-op play. Silly me. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it made the co-op survivor play an entirely different game. Instead of Hunters being mostly avoidable nuisances (who can be easily dealt with), they become a constant, undermining threat. When three Hunters spawn at once, and everyone is down, you realize how good the class can be. The Boomer is less useful than you would think: he calls the horde, sure, but experienced versus players normally don’t have that much trouble with lots of infected enemies. Then there’s the Smoker. Like the Scout in TF2, the Smoker can be a very dangerous opponent, when used the right way. The best smokers are always dragging you into hidden spots or hiding behind the edge of a building: it’s tough to get them off. As you can see, you have to be prepared for all kinds of wily human strategies. You quickly learn where the good choke points are, and where he less likely, surprise attack points are. The Tank of course is still a beast, but he’s best used to knock players around (hopefully down), and it’s a mistake to beat on one enemy alone when playing him.
All in all, the survivor experience is great. Not better, necessarily, but it’s fun, and forces you to think, not react (as the Director more often forces you to do). Playing as the Infected is really great. It can be very annoying (I can never do long range smoking… Why can everyone else?), but when you time a Hunter ponce perfectly or spray every g survivor with bile, it’s really amazing. Why exactly, do we not get Death Toll and Dead Air as versus maps? Maybe they aren’t structured well for versus play? Who knows. I’m sure we’ll get more versus maps, or that those two will be updated. I’m secure in my knowledge that Valve supports its PC customers like no other company. Obviously, for the 360 L4D players, the situation is a bit grimmer. Who knows then they’ll be getting all of the updates that I’ve been getting a few times a day. Everyone says this, but I’m going to say it again: its more expensive, and the chances of free updates are nigh-impossible. Then again, I’m comfortable playing this game at ass-resolutions, with half of the effects turned off. I bet a lot of people won’t settle for that. Or don’t have a computer. Either way, it’s a shitty deal, I hope Valve gives them some content, for $60, what they’ve been given is almost criminal. It seems to me like for the 360 this should have been packaged with something else. It’s a great game, I really love it, but I love it in part because of the assured post-release support and new features. We’ll see.