Looking Back on Left 4 Dead

Would be nice if uh…Valve would go on and finish Half-Life 3.

Won’t happen, but its wishful thinking.

A few years ago, there were leaks regarding job postings that were supposedly for Left 4 Dead 3.  I was excited for a few seconds and then realized this is Valve we’re talking about here and if they weren’t going to release the third episode of Half-Life 2, then Left 4 Dead 3 is probably not coming anytime soon…or ever.

Left 4 Dead is one of my favorite game series.  A co-operative shooter set in a post-apocalyptic world in which you control one of 4 survivors as you fight your way through the infected horde to escape to safety.   Simple in its premise, Left 4 Dead is an absolute blast.  It was one of the first games I had remember being genuinely excited for when it had released for the Xbox 360 in 2008.   In fact, this was a game that I had brought with me on my second deployment because I wanted to share the experience with others.

While you would think that the action would eventually get stale, you would be wrong as the AI director would scale the difficulty based off your progress.  It was a dynamic feature that made every playthrough unique.  I loved and loathed the AI director because as soon as you were getting into a groove, the director would spawn more infected or drop in numerous special infected to help liven up the proceedings.  If you were playing with AI teammates, it always felt like the director was taking pity on the player and making proceeding through the level feasible.  If you played with human teammates however, then all bets were off, you would go from one section with ten infected to another with 50-60 because why make things simple?

A year after the release of Left 4 Dead, its sequel, Left 4 Dead 2 hit store shelves.  Initially, it was met with some pushback from fans who felt that it was too soon to release a follow-up.  Those voices were soon quelled as soon as consumers got their hands on the game.  It featured more weapons, new characters, new infected, while maintaining the non-linear spawn points of the first game.  Set in the southern United States, it featured more open environments, which meant that the player had more opportunities to get swarmed by the infected.

I felt that the AI director in Left 4 Dead 2 was far more aggressive than the first game.  Not only did it spawn more infected, but the levels felt far more procedural; walls and barriers that did not appear in a previous match would then show up to hinder the players progression.  Like the first, the unpredictable nature of the game was one of its primary selling points.  It also featured a PVP multiplayer mode in which players could assume the roles of the infected.  This allowed you to take your trolling efforts to a new level.  Overall, I felt that Left 4 Dead 2 was an excellent follow-up and while it was supported with DLC up until 2012, there has been no official support since.

The Left 4 Dead series lives on through Steam as there are various mods that can enhance the playing experience.  Modders get really creative with the in-game content; introducing new weapons, new skins, customizable modes, and making various tweaks to gameplay.  While it is unfortunate that Valve has not mentioned any word about a third entry, there is always the chance that they could revisit the series later on.  But I am not holding my breath.  This year, Valve will be releasing a new IP in Artifact, a digital card game.  Upon reveal, fans announced their displeasure as people really want Valve to return to their established franchises.  As a fan of Left 4 Dead, of course I would like to see a third entry for the series.  But I am fully aware that Valve, like other gaming companies, tend to work with what is trending.  E-sports/competitions are a hot commodity right now and I can’t blame Valve for making these moves.   There is a lot of money to be made.

So if you want to play Left 4 Dead…Steam is where it’s at.   However, if you would like to play a series that is similar in elements but with a fantasy setting, I recommend the Vermintide series.  Set in the Warhammer universe, it plays like a love-letter to the Left 4 Dead series with far more melee action.  There are special enemies to fight, large open maps, diverse characters, unique objectives, the series thus far is pretty great.  Vermintide II released March 8 this year and can currently be found on Steam with a console release slated for later this year.  It’s as brutal and gory as Left 4 Dead and the AI director can be just as unrelenting.  You won’t be disappointed.

But you’ll still be disappointed that Half-Life 3 will never return.


3 Comments Add yours


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ken D says:

      You aren’t lying. I’ve been waiting for what feels like an eternity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. RIGHT?? at this point maybe they are just taunting us


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