Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Awaken the Horde

Posted by deckard47 on January 31, 2009

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.

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3 Responses to “Awaken the Horde”

  1. Jonathan said

    In my experience, the Boomer is the linchpin of any good Infected ambush. While they are very ineffectual on their own, the chaos and interference they create enables Smokers and Hunters to kill their prey uninterrupted. If a group of Survivors is doing a good job of sticking together, Hunters and Smokers alone cannot effectively isolate individuals, but if the Survivors are surrounded by the Horde they often lose sight of their defenseless allies. Moreover, when a Hunter’s victim has also been covered in Bile, he will die significantly faster. So far, nearly all of my sessions as a survivor have involved heavy cooperation, but I have yet to experience the same thing while playing as an Infected.

  2. deckard47 said

    That’s definitely true, Infected players tend to do heir own thing, hopping around and waiting for their own moment. I’ve played a couple of games where people worked in teams for the Infected and it makes a huge difference. Like I mentioned, if three people make a concerted Hunter attack, or the Smoker drags a survivor through a Boomer-called Infected horde (thus trapping them for a ton of damage), you really come to appreciate your teammates.

  3. Simon said

    @Jon – Yup. I’ve gotten into good Infected teams that consistently take out the Survivors right when they step out of the spawn. The hill at the beginning of Dead Harvest is the easiest place to do this. And yes, Booming three out of four of them is the key to a successful spawn wipe.

    @Tom – The situation on the 360 is even more dire than you fear. Valve has already stated that they wanted to give DLC to 360 players for free – but Microsoft won’t let them. I don’t mind much, because the only other Valve purchase I’ve made is the Orange Box. So I feel like I can spend more money on them without feeling screwed. I want Valve to make as much money as possible, because they’re the standout hope for a future of thoughtful mainstream gaming.

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