PS5 Preview: Back 4 Blood Open Beta

Open 4 Business?

Back 4 Blood’s Open Beta began it’s Early Access last week and I’ve been playing the PS5 version since it came out. I was a big fan of Left 4 Dead 1 & 2 in the past, but I honestly never thought we’d get a third title since Valve seems to be allergic to making games with that number in it. I can understand the team wanting to recapture that magic, but how is it looking?

First of all, Back 4 Blood is definitely Left 4 Dead in all but name. It does however have a number of changes that I think actually improves things. The major change is the card system which works like a perk system that you equip before tackling either campaign or competitive matches. You’ll amass cards by playing and there are even bad cards to select that will make things harder for your team like covering the map in fog and so on.

The beta gave access to 2 sets of 4 campaign missions, set at different parts of the overall story. You can pick from a number of characters, not just 4 and they each start out with a different weapon. You will hopefully connect with 3 other online players, but if not then you’ll be lumbered with AI companions. Now, I know this is a beta, but the AI did have a number of issues like assigning themselves to turrets and not leaving or getting themselves killed in ridiculous situations. It was actually pretty funny, but I hope it is improved by launch as it will definitely be off-putting if you can’t find online players, or if one drops out and is then replaced by an AI.

The core gameplay of L4D runs through Back 4 Blood’s campaign as you each make it through hordes of zombies to find the next safe room or hold out for an extraction, certain actions will attract the hordes your way and there’s a nice variety of the undead, including some rather large monsters or some that will fuse you to the ground until you are rescued. It’s definitely no walk in the park, that’s for sure.

Competitive matches work in a more isolated area where one team has to survive as long as possible before switching over to trying to take out the other team as quickly as possible. As the undead, you can pick from a number of different types of monsters/zombies to attack, though you need to be hidden to spawn. This too is also pretty tough on both sides, but highly addictive and I can’t wait to see what else they have up their sleeves.

The DualSense triggers and haptic feedback were functional during the beta and worked well. The game also looks impressive overall, running at a mostly solid framerate and the amount of blood that your players can get soaked in is nasty and impressive at the same time. The voice-acting of the characters is also well done with some witty one-liners, plenty of sarcasm and definitely nails the L4D vibe.

The game has now gone gold, and the beta is now open for everyone over the weekend. I was overly impressed with what I’ve seen so far and while it needs tweaking in the AI department, I can say I think it has what it takes to surpass its spiritual predecessor.