The Best Of The Left 4 Dead 2 Workshop

By Craig Pearson on February 4th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII Willl Always Love Youuuuuuuuuuuuuou!
I have a proposal. We all have things on our PC the world shouldn’t know about. When the inevitable happens and Death beckons, we all have the our power to help each other out. What I need is someone to sneak into my Steam account (password: abetterpasswordthangaben), load up the Left 4 Dead 2 Workshop, and delete all my subscriptions. If anyone found out what I’ve been doing to Valve’s zombie shooter, why I’d die all over again. I’m happy to do the same for you. Just email me your Steam passwords and I’ll make sure whatever needs doing is done.

L4D2′s workshop is an interesting place. You can add models and sound files that only you can see, and won’t appear to others on the server. Your own, personal apocalypse. But before I get to those terrifying tweaks, there are a few mods that will build a better world’s end.

Things like NeunGUI. It’s a build-your-own HUD, one that simplifies the screen noise with a selection of add-ons. You just subscribe to the main file, and if it doesn’t quite work you can grab some additional tweaks. I added the MinimalPanel, to reduce the survivor bar to a series of icons.

There are a few mods that will change things that other mods rely on. The game will usually inform you of an incompatibility. NeunGUI clashes with the Improved Bots mod, so you’ll have to disable one or the other. Improved Bots gives solo Left 4 Deaders more reliable buddies, as well as enabling them to use melee weapons, open and close doors, and take the lead. It also adds a command wheel. Pet bots! The other way to deal with bots is to just get rid of them, and Lone Survivor mutation means you’ll be the only gun in town. There are no Special Infected to worry about, because they mostly aim to incapacitate you, but there are twice the number of normal zombies. And all they want is love.

“Wait”, you’re probably thinking. “There’s nothing sick and wrong with that! Where’s the filth?” Patience, people. You’re currently at the vegetables of the article. Now it’s time for the meat. We’ll get to Heston’s wobbly desert soon enough. What is the meat of L4D2? Campaigns. The Workshop now has a fair pile of user-created madness for you to explore. Because you’ve been good and ate all your greens, you can have a peek at one of the sillier scenarios. Wan Li is a campaign that starts on a plane. The survivors fight their way through the well-realised cabins (the seats in first class look very comfortable) to grab parachutes for the next sequence. On the Great Wall of China! Weren’t quite ready for that plot twist, were you? How about this? Look down, now look up. You are now on the Titanic!

Custom maps are the best. Yes, they’re slightly unpolished, and you might lose your way when playing those two, but they are interesting attempts at taking Left 4 Dead’s infection to new places. I particularly like the chilly air of China, and the dapper clothes of the Titanic’s passengers. For angry traditionalists, Diescraper is a more traditional Left 4 Dead 2 scenario, sending the survivors spiraling up from the bottom of an infested skyscraper. If you’re scared of heights there’s Blackout Basement. It’s a hefty custom campaign that leads you underneath Philadelphia, where a lot of the time you’re reliant on your flashlights to see. It has a smart addition of optional crescendos, which will allow you to light your way, but the noise and light will bring extra undead.

One of the most atmospheric campaigns is Back to School. It’s huge, taking place over several custom-built locations, and with non-linear routes through the town of Borden. Though the name implies there’s a school, the whole town is present. The cinema is one of the best Left 4 Dead levels I’ve ever played, taking place in the flickering light of a broken projector.

While those campaigns are an attempt to expand Valve’s world, there are others that go further afield. Left 4 Dead is nothing more than a skeleton to prop up some of these radical ideas. The most impressive is this Minecraft inspired collection of weapons, models and maps. It’s a pitch-perfect recreation of the blocky blockbuster, even replacing the special infected with Minecraft equivalents. I love the Enderman Smoker. The snow can be a touch overwhelming at times, but it’s worth experiencing.

Other themes you might like: this mod replaces the common infected with the Xenomorphs from Aliens, while this mod imports the M41A pulse rifle into the game, the only gun certified for killing Giger’s ghouls. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you can swap out the infected for either the Droids from Star Wars Eps 1-3 (boo), or the Storm Troopers from Eps 4-6 (yay!). I’m sure Disney won’t mind. After all, they hired JJ Abrams and he’s a friend of Valve. Hell, it was probably him that made this light saber mod. There are no Lucas-troubling maps up on the Steam Workshop, but White Hole, an Aperture Science inspired UFO map, has the cold aesthetics of sci-fi movie. It’s also great fun in its own right.

The Workshop is also strewn with oddities. Mods that only make sense if you have a fetish. Like Funky FX, the mod that adds colourful trails and comic words to your attacks. I can at least understand the drive for making the game a bit sillier, which Funky FX does with aplomb. But there’s no call to turn the Tank into Donkey Kong. Even if the animation is perfect, and the concrete is replaced with a barrel. Does it make you feel strange? That idea you might be playing a game of Left 4 Dead 2 and while you’re seeing a Tank, another player is seeing Nintendo’s aggressive gorilla? If so, then don’t click this Stay Puft Tank replacement. Don’t even think about – you thought about it, didn’t you? RAY!

But we can go deeper. If you’re willing to modify the special infected to your own sick ends, you’re probably willing to do it to yourself. The Velociraptors mod replaces the survivor character models with gorgeous dinosaurs. The detail is stunning: the way they hold the weapons is particularly pleasing, and just as Spielberg has shown, the damn things can use door handles. They’re a lot more pleasing to look at than the crippled GLaDOS thing in this Portal 2 survivor mod. She’s still alive, but she’s probably in hideous pain.

Are you full, yet? How about a wafer-thin mint? There are music mods that change the cues of special infected events. You know that dramatic music that pops up? This mod turns the Witch’s piano plinks into Whitney Houston. It gets worse. So much worse. Deep down in my hard-drive is a mod that takes the Boomer notification noise and replaces it with “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom” by the Vengaboys. So help me that makes some sort sick, twisted sense. I think I’ve gone too far.

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39 Comments »

  1. Saul says:

    Looking forward to getting back into this with the addition of easy-install extra maps. Still one of my all-time favourites.

  2. HermitUK says:

    Benny Hill Witch/Tank music. Nothing else really compares:
    http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=121090522

    • tehfish says:

      I was just about to post the same thing :D

      Confuses other people though when a tank appears and me and my friend end up laughing at the music ;)

    • Slade says:

      The French Can-Can theme is unbeatable. You know the waltz is going to be gruesome when your hear the first notes.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      I decided against it. I’m a purist.

      • Cara Ellison says:

        This made me weep with laughter. How do I get a full time gig researching only mods with Whitney Houston in them

        • Craig Pearson says:

          whitneymods.com could be a thing.

          • Cara Ellison says:

            Dear Jim Rossignol, I am writing to you to inform you that I am willing to sacrifice most of the hours of my day to researching and making mods that employ sound clips of Whitney Houston. It will be a hard task, and sometimes, I might not want to go on – but this should, nay MUST be done, and my time and efforts will be sacrificed at the altar of Whitney Houston’s melisma.

            Cara

            PS Craig can come too. But I want all the money
            PPS willing to substitute Whitney Houston for MC Hammer

  3. sd4f says:

    Meh, too little, too late. After not playing L4D2 for about 8 months, i went back in the last couple of days, and yep, whiny kids, ultra noobs, are all that are playing the game, too many ragers, and it’s very hard as a result to finish a game or have a fair game.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Hopefully, the workshop has you covered as well: Improved bots mod, to play with smarter teammates!

      (I haven’t actually tried it, but it can’t be worse than your average kid)

    • Outright Villainy says:

      Wait, there’s people who play with randoms online? What sort of mad masochism is that,just play with a few friends and fill in the rest with bots, that’s the only way you should ever play.

      • Craig Pearson says:

        I actually did to test out a few of these mods. Each time I was voted off for tiny infractions, or just because.

        Assholes.

      • Slade says:

        Try the Scavenge mode, there is a handful of players doing regular games on the Car Atrium (Dead Center) and the well-known “Don’t go on your own because a charger might smite you through the air” Rooftops (No Mercy). Some players may welcome your arrival and tell you how to act on such levels, others may be less persuasive, verbally speaking, and will try to kick you out because you didn’t manage to save the cans from the Spitter’s burning goo.

        As for Versus games, yes, it is possible to achieve a long and thorough campaign with the same people that started with you. They even add you as a friend if the game has been successful, yay !

        Note that the only way to be efficient with random people in Left 4 Dead is to use a microphone, so don’t be shy.

      • deadly.by.design says:

        Like mescaline, it’s the only way to fly.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        I have 700 hours in L4D2. All versus and all in random pub games. In my experience pub games are usually fine. And I’ve played a shit ton of them. Sure you’ll get a bad one every now and then, but that’s life.

        Some people love to bitch about L4D, though. Their fragile egos can’t handle it if they get kicked once so they immediately go to the forums and whine.

        • Nick says:

          sounds like you are one of the people he/she was talking about.

      • sd4f says:

        All my friends that used to play L4D and L4D2 have moved on. The game is quite good, but i think it needs the blizzard treatment in fine tuning balance and ai director in the game, they need to look at some imbalanced strategies (such as rushing, or when a tank spawns in a bad area, to wait for it to time out) and look into improving the matchmaking, it appears that it’s just random, where i think it should reward people who don’t rage or punish rage quitters, like dota 2 does.

    • Lemming says:

      Then use the bots mod you miserable sod.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Let’s be honest, the NPCs are pretty useless. Improved Bots improves their survivability a bit, but they’re still not anywhere near on par with even a vaguely competent set of humans.

    • Vandelay says:

      Funnily enough, I played last night and was about to post the opposite experience. Had a really great time playing Realism Versus, which I don’t think was available when I stopped playing a couple of years ago (my mates had stopped playing long before me, so I might not have bothered trying it.)

      We had one random on our team that did leave, but everybody else (2 of my friends and an opposing team made up of randoms,) stayed through the entirety of a No Mercy campaign. We then decided to all play on, moving to Dead Centre. Once again, no one left. Hi was a completely different experience from when I used to play, where I completely gave up on Versus mode, sticking to the shorter bouts of Savenge, which suffered far less from the ragers and had far more team wipeouts on certain maps. That later issue is mostly resolved in Realism Versus (the Jockey is actually useful an not just near ledges!).

      They still have the issue of sprinting Survivors being too powerful though.

  4. Innovacious says:

    This probably was not the best time to post this. Valve have been having a few issues with the workshop and everything attached it it (market, greenlight) for the past few hours. If you browse, nothing exists on any of them.

  5. airtekh says:

    Some of these look very interesting.

    Haven’t played L4D2 for a while now, this has given me an itch to get back into it.

  6. Syra says:

    WHERE’S HELM’S DEEP?!

  7. Barts says:

    I’m sorry, but on the first image it looks like the witch is holding something in her hand… I’d write what, but it would pro’ly get me banned, so I leave it to your imagination what it might be.

    • Kitsuninc says:

      Oh gawd. I never would have thought of that if you hadn’t suggested it, you monster.

      • Syra says:

        Oh god this. The horror… But now I’ve seen it… I always thought of the witch as an old hag in game, this image is of a sexy zombie chick in her underpants. I’m having strange conflicted feelings now. What have you done. You monster.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      It won’t get you banned, but it may spawn a 400-comment misogyny thread.

  8. RoAE says:

    Watching the Star Wars Style makes me wish there was a new Dark Forces game soooooo badly.

  9. karmafarm says:

    Thanks for the Python ref. =)

  10. The Dark One says:

    Doesn’t the Diescraper finale involve a rooftop rescue?

  11. Hardmood says:

    oh l4d2 workshop? waiting for gangnamboomer mod…