Thoughts On Left 4 Dead 2


Months of boycotts, Australian bans, callouts and a $25 million advertising campaign later… and here it is. Valve is so close to dropping the bomb that is Left 4 Dead 2 and before it hits, I’d just like to voice my opinion on it. I’ll talk about whether Left 4 Dead is sequel worthy or not, if Valve is making the right move or even if Valve is slipping up. I’d just like to say, before you even go ahead and start ragin’, that all of this is purely my opinion. You can agree or you can’t agree, I’d like to hear your comments too. Oh and as always, be sure to check out the review a few days after the zombie bad boy hits.

Let’s start with Valve. Now, I love Valve to absolute bits. Their Half-Life series has stayed in my mind along with other greats such as GTA and Call of Duty. They’re also infamous for their consistent delays on titles. Half-Life was delayed years, Team Fortress 2 took over a decade to ship and even L4D was feared to slip. They’re also not the type you’d see pumping out sequels every year or so. The Half-Life 2 episode series is still without a conclusion, after four years, and Team Fortress 3 isn’t anywhere on the horizon. But I think Valve’s philosophy, entertainment as a service and not as dotted releases, is going to be put to the test.

Team Fortress 2 receives regular content updates every few months or so. Ranging from new unlockable weapons to maps to achievements. Left 4 Dead hasn’t exactly gotten the exact same treatment, with only two major content releases. But Valve are a bunch of crafty people, and they have released the tools you can use to build your own campaign with. That’s why it seems odd that Valve is promising to keep updating Left 4 Dead… but still push out Left 4 Dead 2. Some of the community think it will split the gamers apart and leave the first game behind.

This is where Valve will be tested, division. You can import all maps from L4D into L4D2 but then it appears like you’re just importing a huge expansion pack. L4D and L4D2 are entirely different experiences, and it’s obvious that L4D2 is the better experience. There’s no real point in the whole of L4D once the sequel hits… but is it $60 wasted? That’s what the boycotters are arguing. I don’t think so, I had an enjoyable experience with the previous title and am looking forward to tearing zombies up again. I can see why people are angry but I just tell them something.

Year after year after year, sports games and well loved franchises pump out installments. Madden, Call of Duty, Battlefield etc. are all guilty as charged. Yet are any of them bad? You can call out sports games but I think when you invest $60 every year on nearly the same experience, you’re doing the right thing. Every year, we get football seasons and whole leagues end and such. I don’t know much about sport but I’m pretty sure it changes so often that developers can’t just update their titles. A few games have tried updating in real time but just fail.

Call of Duty, one of my favorite series of all time and I get to play it every year, but I don’t get that with Valve games. I expect quality every time I visit their little worlds and I get it every time. So why can’t we have this level of Valve quality every year, but with the same investment that we give to other games. Should we be expecting it to be lower quality or something that Valve shouldn’t be doing? I don’t think they could do it with Half-Life, that’s for sure, but with an experience like Left 4 Dead, then maybe… just maybe. We’ve still got to take the content updates into account too. Left 4 Dead 1 won’t die that easy.

I can also see why the community is also raging. The Spitter and all new special infected have been designed to stop some aspects which ruined the original title (such as corner camping or grouping). When I heard about these new infected, it was a no-brainer that Valve would put them in the original title. Right? Well, a year later and nothing has changed. I still go into games and epic fail thanks to silly tactics like corner camping. I don’t know if Valve will update the original title with the new special infected or the new toys, but it would definitely help.

What I see with Valve is that I see them trying to create two separate experiences. They will still continue to update the original, but still want to give a more refined version. It’s bad in the sense that we might not see the fixes in the sequel come to the previous title, but it’s also good that we’ll still be having fun. At the end of the day, they’re both fun experiences, and I’d happily lay down my money next year for L4D3. Time will tell whether or not Valve will stick to their promise, and maybe create an example for other developers to follow.

I just can’t wait to tear up more zombies.

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  • The whole boycott, in my eyes, was a lesson to companies. That lesson was “don’t be awesome, because the second you do something that can be thought of as not awesome, even if it is just continued awesome, the hardcore will turn their backs and over-react.”