Left 4 Dead Tweakathon

I love this shot.

During the night the beaver slaves at Valve have been adding all sorts of fixes and features to Left 4 Dead. At this difficult time of year, we at Rock, Paper, Shotgun are asking you to think of the beaver slaves, held by the tyrannical Valve because of their dedication to hard work and comical teeth. To find out what this cruelty has resulted in for the game, look below.

At the bottom is the complete list, but first the bits I venture are most interesting. I’d say the best bits are the Tank and Witch changes. The chances of a Tank or Witch spawning have been increased, and are now the same for both teams, which does away with those crazy matches where one team finds themselves facing three in a row while the other breezes through. Plus they will both now spawn directly on escape routes. Ha ha. Sadly, the ability to trigger the Witch on the Survivors has been declared an exploit and prevented.

Hunters are getting more power to their pounce, with increased damage, and an easier time jumping on meleeing Survivors. Smokers are getting more powerful too. To break the tongue you’ll now need to either kill the Smoker, or destroy his tongue completely, and it’ll be doing damage every second when dragging a Survivor. Tanks are more resistant to shotguns, and will have a clearer idea what to hit – that which can be bashed will glow red. Meanwhile, their frustration timer will now only be reset by hitting Survivors with rocks or fists.

Most of the rest of the changes are exploit fixes or tweaks for balance. Of course, both these factors will affect how the most dedicated play. All these updates will appear by auto-magic when you run Steam. Here’s the complete list of what’s been done:

– Fixed Survivors being able to climb surfaces marked for versus infected only.
– Fixed a class of SurvivorBot bugs dealing with rescuing downed players.
– Players can no longer grab ladders while flying through the air after a Tank punch.
– Shooting near a car with an alarm that has already fired the alarm will no longer make chirping noises.
– Improved loading time.
– Fixed mini-gun physics exploit.
– Fixed propane tanks (and other physics objects) causing players to fall through elevators.
– Fixed rare achievement bug issues.
– Fixed several map exploits.
– Fixed various match making issues.
– Fixed NAT traversal issues.

Versus Changes
– Added HUD elements to show status of other infected players.
– Changed color of infected player name in chat to red.
– Fixed exploit where players could spawn infected bots
– Fixed instance where a Survivor changing to the infected team would be attacked by infected bots.
– Normalized special infected melee damage.
– Made the following client commands cheat protected: “Kill” and “explode”.
– Fixed exploit where infected players could run away and teleport back to gain health.
– Players can only change teams once per map.
– Players can’t change teams while other players are still loading.
– Tank spawns at the same % through the map for both teams in versus mode.
– Made the Tank and Witch spawn directly on the escape route.
– Increased chance of getting the Tank or Witch.
– Fixed team swap issue.

– Easier to pounce a Survivor who is meleeing.
– Increased Minimum damage a Hunter pounce does.

– Fixed Smoker tongue tolerance.
– Smoker now has to be killed or the tongue destroyed for the tongue to break.
– Survivor’s cannot bash someone off the tongue until the Survivor being pulled is paralyzed or hanging
– Tongue attacks that fail to paralyze or hang a Survivor will use the shorter ability delay timer.
– Fixed cases where the ability timer was not using the correct time.
– Fixed case where you could point at a Survivor but not register a tongue hit
– Fixed Smoker tongue not targeting and landing properly through PZ ghosts.
– Smoker tongue does damage every second while dragging paralyzed Survivors.

– Bashable objects now appear with a red glow.
– Tanks hitting a car with an alarm disables the alarm permanently.
– Tank frustration timer is only reset by hitting Survivors with rocks or fists.
– Reduced autoshotgun damage against Tanks.

– Witch spawns at the same % through the map for both teams.
– Avoids spawning within a certain % of the tank.
– Fixed an exploit where the Witch could be woken up and tricked into attacking Survivors.


  1. Ian says:

    I have (sadly) not played nearly enough of the game to know whether I like these changes or not, so I’ll just assume that they’re basically a Good Thing.

  2. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Since my usual partner in crime has lost both his job and internet access I’ve not been playing so much L4d, but I’m glad to see the smoker changes. It did get annoying that you’d have to get a really good hit, on an isolated survivor to even get a chance, and even if you did it did barely any damage.
    Also, I never saw the exploit to wake the witch, but the tactic as an infected of standing right next to the witch and waiting for the survivors to miss you and hit her should still work :)

  3. Hermit says:

    Having played plenty of Vs I can say this patch sounds awesome. Looking forward to trying this out this evening.

    Especially the Smoker fixes, they sound ace.

    “Increased chance of getting the Tank or Witch.” Though. Really? The Director is enough of a dick as it is :p

  4. Aubrey says:

    They all look good to me! I didn’t even realize some of them were an issue.

    Certainly, it got to the point where I had no hunter fear anymore, because the entire length of the melee animation could block their attack… effectively meaning there was only a split second of vunerability if you were constantly meleeing. Didn’t feel unfair if you were the one using it. Felt terribly unfair if you were a hunter, and were left with almost no way to pounce.

    Then again, getting timing right with any amount of latency connection… not so fun. Lucky, then, that it’s not an absolutely central part of the game.

  5. Dzamir says:

    Yeeah! :D Finally a lot of bug/exploit fixes! :D

  6. Mr Pink says:

    That looks like it addresses the vast majority of my problems with the game. Well done Valve. Now they just need to change the vs scoring system for finales, so that you get credit proportional to the amount of time you survive (currently if you get to the final defence point and die immediately, or if you all die running for the escape vehicle you get the same points).

  7. Guido says:

    I really like the hunter and smoker changes. Early on, it was easy to pounce with the hunter, but eventually people learned to randomly melee whenever a hunter was near. That’ll take more skill now I hope :)

  8. Aubrey says:

    I would argue, though, that now the team playing as survivor second gets an extra advantage (though they always did). Previously, they got a refresher of the level layout from the infected PoV before trying to get through as a survivor, and now they get that, PLUS they’ll know when and where the tanks and witches are coming, and be able to prepare.

    You know how Go has that score modifier against the person who went first (since the first move carries a little advantage)? With valve’s excellent stat watching tech, you could totally come up with that value (I can’t remember the name of it).

  9. Wurzel says:

    Aubrey: Handicap?

  10. Guido says:

    @Aubrey: I’m not sure “PLUS they’ll know when and where the tanks and witches are coming, and be able to prepare” is correct … they do know how high the probability for tanks and witches is, but the patch doesn’t say “they’ll spawn in the same spot”, just “on average, as many tanks and witches each will spawn for both teams”. It talks about spawn probability percentages, not spawn positions.

    So if one team has two tanks, the other very likely will have two tanks as well, but that’s all that can be concluded.

  11. StalinsGhost says:

    Excellent. Things should be far more playable now as a smoker. Can’t wait to try things out later today.

  12. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I was getting tired of spawning as a Tank and getting hosed in the first ten seconds.

    Sadly, these fixes can’t fix the fact that I’m rubbish.

  13. Fede says:

    @Aubrey: Komi. In Go it also prevents ties.

  14. Lu-Tze says:

    @Guido : “Tank spawns at the same % through the map for both teams in versus mode.” is pretty explicit that it refers to the exact location the Tank will spawn at. And so yeah, going second is a big advantage.

    They should flip flop which side you are first as you go through the game so you always end up playing Infected twice in a row then Survivor twice in a row.

  15. Lilliput King says:

    Guido – No, it doesn’t. It talks about “the same % through the map for both teams in versus mode.”

    If it meant probability percentage it would say so. It doesn’t. It means the percentage of the way through the much, much in the same way the survivors progress, if they don’t make it all the way through a map, is measured in percentage.

    Aside from that, really happy with these changes. I never wanted to complain when one team would get a tank and the other wouldn’t because it makes me sound old and grumpy, but it really does mean the difference between making it through and failing.

    One other thing though… “Normalized special infected melee damage.” Does this mean the hunter’s slap will no longer do 10 damage? Incapping low-health survivors with a slap to the back then scampering off giggling to my self is literally the most fun I’ve had in any game.

  16. Heliocentric says:

    Looks like my weapon of choice is the hunting rifle again. Ever catch the tank in the open the 15 round clip can really hurt the poor sod. Its my favourite way to deal with witches too, even better than motlov. Hell it even excels at crowd control if you can get them to line up. Did anyone make the l4d vs tf2 mod yet? I want to use a heavy or better yet a tech 3 turret on the undead. Also! “That boomer is a spy!”

  17. Lilliput King says:

    Sorry for the (almost) double post but wow! Four heavies against hundreds of scouts with 30 health and baseball bats, and spies as the special infected. It would be incredible.

  18. Hermit says:


    “Tank spawns at the same % through the map for both teams in versus mode.”

    Means % as in distance to the safe room, so Aubrey is spot on.
    You could, I suppose, alternate which team gets to play survivor first on maps 1-4. Doesn’t matter on the finale since everyone knows when the tanks show up.

  19. Richard Beer says:

    These changes sound great. I must make some time for a few good sessions. There are few things more satisfying that making a long-range leap and landing on a Survivor with a bone-crunching thud.

    Is % developer language for location? I assumed it was percentage chance, but reading it as location makes more sense grammatically.

  20. Richard Beer says:

    Ah ok, percentage distance. Got it.

  21. Rei Onryou says:

    I likey. I likey a lot. Finally I may be able to get my expert achievements (4 completions, none have registered). Plus, I’m going to enjoy super pouncing a lot more now. I hadn’t realised just how easy it was to melee a pounce.

    Also, finally, Smokering should be powerful. I’m awaiting versus survivors crying a lot about these changes. I don’t think many teams will hit 100% on every map.

  22. Guido says:

    Oups, sorry :P

  23. Cooper42 says:

    Smoker was always my favourite infected to play, and I like these changes a lot. Apart from the no-melee to free survivors until paralyzed. That seems a tad unfair. Up-close melee stops hunters, and pushes boomers away. No reason it shouldn’t be the same for smokers. This might make it a bit too easy to drag someone away from the group, rather than needing to pick on stragglers.

  24. MacBeth says:

    Generally delighted with these changes… I play a lot and I would say my main complaints/whinges up until now have been:

    – Unfair tank distribution (e.g. one team gets it before the generator room, one just after – the difference being one team gets healthpacks and ammo, the other doesn’t)
    – Overpowered melee defence against hunters
    – Smoker tongue failing to hit, or do a reasonable amount of damage
    – Tank being owned too easily by a team with multiple autoshotguns

    So those are all fixed. Slightly concerned that Hunter slashing will be markedly less effective, as it was frequently the only way to inflict damage on a team that were too good at melee defence and reacting to knock pounced Hunters off their targets, but then if melee defence is nerfed a bit and pouncing does more damage then it ought to balance.

    I’m awaiting a lot of complaint about smokers becoming overpowered though – they are going to become massively more influential now. Hopefully ‘closeting’ will be significantly reduced with Smokers able to haul Survivors right out.

    Still on the wishlist:
    – knockback stumble when melee’d is too much, making a Hunter helpless until killed – should be able to still melee back and get a few hits through
    – fix blocking on ladders
    – server selection/filtering in the lobby system

  25. Aubrey says:

    Guido: you son of a bitch! Suck on! I was right on the internet! I am so fucking cranked right now!

  26. Andrew Doull says:

    Don’t forget this is for high levels of play. A well coordinated team that sticks together is too hard to pry apart – the Smoker buffs go some way towards fixing this. It’s still too hard to get a Smoker LOS on certain exploit positions though.

  27. an ape says:

    Glad to see the good people at Valve are still hard at work. Although I absolutely love L4D, sadly I haven’t played much of it as I find playing with strangers less satisfying. Damned schedule conflicts and less than a handfull of friends playing can truly make an ape zombie starved!

    In any case, this warants some play time, I just hope we will see some content update sometime in the near future.

    Go Valve, go!

  28. TooNu says:

    So versus mode gets changed drastically and the single player gets not no real attention…not that it needed attention I am just saying that I don’t play versus mode and feel neglected and unloved :( such is life.

  29. Optimaximal says:

    Given that single player is essentially just the standard co-op game on a private server, I’d assume that any changes made to the online co-op would filter through.

    It’s pointless though, as I’m sure the survivor Bot AI is beyond saving!

  30. kororas says:

    Aww i loved my witch exploit i found! Boo, hiss! Was so funny upsetting her as an infected and then leading her into the group of survivors who were always suprised to see her. What i found odd though is that no-one ever complained or mentioned it, even when i dragged her screaming through half the map towards the survivors.

    How was it done you ask? As a hunter simply do a fairly long distance pounce onto her and then as your on top of her/slightly clipping into her, repeatdly attempt furthur pounces and she quickly woke up. You gotta couple hits before you die so just go pounce some unlucky survivor and the witch will follow up and nearly always incap that survivor, lol. Ebil.

  31. MacBeth says:

    Survivor bot AI is quite frustrating. Sometimes they are utterly retarded and fail to react. At other times they are inhumanly good and shoot you faultlessly at long range through deep cover… I sometimes have to prioritise taking out the bots in a VS game in order to have a chance at getting the humans…

  32. Pags says:

    Slightly concerned that the Director has been listening in to our conversations and feeding info to Valve again. There are a lot of buffs here that me and my group have been talking about while playing.

  33. Guido says:

    I love you too, Aubrey :D

  34. frymaster says:

    not had a chance to play yet…

    but by “hunter pounce damage” does it mean they take damage immediately upon being pounced, or does it only apply to the bonus damage you deal if you pounce on someone from a great height?

  35. PHeMoX says:

    I don’t think these changes are incredible, but it definitely needs plenty of tweaking here and there, so I will probably like it.

  36. Tei says:

    The words “balance sides” don’t apply to L4D. Because both teams have the oportunity to play infected or survivors. This free Valve to buff or nerf any feature of both sides, to make the game more fun.
    So,… hare this changes to make the game more fun?
    I almost suspect are attemps in that general direction. Some people was whinning on the forums about the useless feel of the smokoer in closed area maps ( and getting replys with responses to L2P ). This changes buff the smoker in a way, that will convert it in the unstopable force of destruction ….already classes like the boomer or the hunter are.

    I would have love to see the smoke puff that is created on the smoker dead be buffed. I really love to blind+mute survivors with it.

  37. cyrenic says:

    One of the more notable changes for me is the HUD update for infected. Being able to see how long people have to spawn is a big help.

    It may have been just luck, but infected were working a lot better as a team last night when I played. I think the updated HUD might have something to do with it.

  38. Optimaximal says:

    By ‘fixing map exploits’, no doubt they mean the Dead Air ‘Skip the Crane bit’ Exploit… That was quite amusing.

  39. Benjamin Finkel says:

    “Normalized” melee damage means, according to the geniuses at the game’s official forums, that Hunters do 6 damage per swipe (lowered from 10), and the others do 4 damage (raised from 2). I’m not sure if I like this yet.

    On the other hand, I’m ecstatic at the map fixes they’ve done. I’ve yet to check a personal peeve of mine, the No Mercy finale ramp, but things like the breakable door before the sewers have been solved.


  40. dozer1986 says:

    – Fixed exploit where players could spawn infected bots

    Is this the exploit where Infected players swap to Spectator team then back again until they get the class of Special Infected they wanted?

  41. MacBeth says:

    I assume it’s the exploit where Infected players go/went into the end safe room, swap/swapped to spectator then back again, creating a new Infected and leaving their original Infected as a bot. Apparently you could fill the safe room with Hunters and give people nasty surprises, but I never saw it.

  42. MacBeth says:

    Also boo at only 6 damage per Hunter swipe. Though it will still be possible to drop people on *very* low health by slapping them, which, as mentioned above, is hilarious.

  43. hydra9 says:

    I haven’t played this (brilliant) game in ages. Might go back to it now for a charming arse-kicking.

  44. Jeremy says:

    Man, I just tried playing this for the first time online tonight. The only map I’d done previously was No Mercy on Normal.

    Anybody want to play a game, look for me as jhoosier. I think I’m on the RPS group, but nothing came up when I searched for my groups. We got to the finale at the lake one, but just couldn’t get the team to work together well enough. Ah, well. This weekend I’ll be playing some more.

  45. MarvintheParanoidAndroid says:

    Hurrah! This all looks very lovely. Now give us Dead Air and Death Toll in Versus mode already, please Valve :(

  46. FernandoDANTE says:

    Left 4 CROCHET

    link to craftster.org

  47. Bobsy says:

    Horrifying. In a good way.

  48. dmauro says:

    I play versus a lot and all of these changes are fantastic, although I’m not convinced that Guido was wrong in his reading of the Tank change. I guess I’ll find out when I boot the game up tonight.

  49. mrrobsa says:

    Well after a game last night, I for one welcome our new game balance overlords. Hunters felt refreshingly menacing and less prone to melee stumble, smoker is quicker to deal damage and bit more solid, and as is mentioned further up, the new Infected HUD is great and something I’d been hoping for, showing who your team are spawning as and when.
    Good stuff Valve.

  50. Optimaximal says:

    The way I read the Tank/Witch spawn percentage is that the Tank will appear in roughly the same area (likely within 2-3% of the other teams distance covered) but at a different point so as to keep things mixed up.
    i.e. if a Tank spawned in Death Tolls Map 4 Gas Station for one team, it would spawn over the road/behind the bus for the other team. It keeps it fair, but stops it being predictable.

    As for the witch, as long as the game doesn’t spawn her in the safe room after a Tank attack that leaves 1 survivor alive with 10 health, I couldn’t care :)