Back 4 Blood review: Underneath Left 4 Dead’s shadow?

Title: Back 4 Blood
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publishers: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 5 (reviewed),Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: October 12, 2021

Back in the early 2000’s zombies were everywhere. You couldn’t swing a machete without hitting something undead in movies, TV and video games. Most people were sick of it all, but zombie genre lovers like myself were (and still are) all about it. The zombie games of all zombie games was the Left 4 Dead franchise. Those two games were hours of fun and filled to the brim with blood, weapons, snarky dialogue and tense situations.

The second game was even better than the first adding sillier achievements and melee weapons to the mix. Since 2009, we have been waiting for more Left 4 Dead to fill the zombie-shapes hole in our hearts to no avail…until now? That’s the big question, isn’t it. Is Back 4 Blood just Left 4 Dead 3? Well, considering Turtle Rock was a developer to the first Left 4 Dead…kind of, but not officially. An even bigger question would be, does it hold up to the game’s legacy?

In similar Left 4 Dead fashion, Back 4 Blood is a 4-player co-op game that you can play with friends, strangers or bots. You can pick one of 8 characters to play, each having their own strengths and boosts. There is also a card deck system that allows you to build custom perk decks with things like extra stamina, extra health, increased ammo capacity and more.

As you progress through the acts, you gain both Corruption Cards which can add elements to the game such as mist covering the map, Quest Cards which are small challenges within chapter and Perk Cards, which give a boost on top of your established deck. There are also Supply Lines which allow you to unlock stickers, cosmetics and new cards.

Back 4 Blood - Xbox Game Pass

Turtle Rock Studios

The story follows Walker, Holly, Evangelo, Mom, Doc, Karlee, Hoffman and Jim. All eight of them are “cleaners” or people who are tasked to terminate the Ridden. The Ridden are humans that have been infected with a parasite and have become zombies. There are your common undead, but there are multiple mutations as well.

You have your hulking beasties like The Tallboys and Ogres. Then you have your acidic dudes like Reekers, Exploders and Retches that will cover you in bile one way or another. There are the shrieking Snitches that will call the horde to your location, so killing them quickly is ideal. Next up you have your wall climbing Stingers, Stalkers and Hockers that will incapacitate you from high up the walls. Speaking of walls, that’s no decoration on the wall, that’s a Sleeper and it will mess you up. Last but not least are the Hags and much like the Witches in games of yore, it’s best to avoid them and not call attention to yourself.

Back 4 Blood is definitely longer than Left 4 Dead with more acts and more chapters within those acts. The environment changes from chapter to chapter but it actually looks like a progression and not the same place over and over again. The graphics look great, creating creepy atmospheres, detailed character models and zombies that actually have a little variation if you are able to stop and take a look.

The weapons aren’t too adventurous but they do offer a ton of variety. No matter your weapon of choice, your favorite is probably available, but they aren’t the fun guitars and frying pans I was hoping for. There is a fun nod to past games with the Bar Room Blitz challenge where you need to start up a Jukebox and it calls the horde. I do wish the Special Ridden has awesome musical cues.

If games like Dead Before Dawn or Phasmophobia stress you out, then Back 4 Blood is a fun alternative. It’s really fast-paced and the monsters are only as crazy difficult as you make them. If you want a game that’s simple, go for Rookie mode but if you want a round that’s going to really challenge you and put a hard focus on teamwork, you have Nightmare difficulty that will really test you.

Will Back 4 Blood get old? Sure it will for most people. It’s a party game and one that you play with friends on a Friday night but it’s not one of those games you grind for hours because there’s not a whole lot to it unless you really like those kinds of games, which I did.. If you liked Left 4 Dead, I think that Back 4 Blood is a nice little entry to satisfy old fans and new fans alike.

Back 4 Blood (PS5) Score: 8

Back 4 Blood is a fun spiritual successor to the Left 4 Dead franchise. It’s entertaining, graphically well-done and offers a lot of customization for all kinds of players. While the game will get old for some, others will find ours of entertainment cleaning things up with their friends.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.