L4D2 – The Passing: Impressions Part 1

This should be one long piece, but I’ve been distracted by going to France and arguing with Kieron about routing in fascinating but incredibly complicated boardgames. Figured I should deal with the spoileriffic stuff while it’s fresh, though. Conclusion tomorrow, chums.

It's a trap

The Passing: the long-awaited conflluence between Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. There’s only one way to describe it.


Someone’s going to accuse this of being a gigantic “fuck you” to L4D1 players, aren’t they? Look, I’m going to have to get into spoilers right away – just to get The Big Talking Point over and done with so I can natter about the rest in piece. In a minute you’ll see a picture of a pterodactyl – that is your spoiler alert. If you haven’t played new Left 4 Dead 2 DLC The Passing yet and intend to, look away then. Commenters, please be very careful about what you say – use coded language.

You may safely return when you see a picture of a field vole. (I once had a pet vole, you know. Sort of. My cat caught one when I was young, broke one of its legs but left it alive. I nursed it back to health over a period of weeks, with a matchstick and masking tape splint, then hung onto it in that cruelty-through-kindness way animal-loving children are often guilty of. It seemed very happy though, honest.)

Anyway, The Passing – the much-ballyhooed moment where the Left 4 Dead 2 survivors encounter their counterparts from Left 4 Dead 1. It’s a chance to see our old chums again! Or is it? Something dinosaurian this way comes… Spoilers!

Noooooo! There’s only three of ’em left! And one of those can’t walk anymore. This is not good. Oh Bill, you poor, heroic codger. How we will miss your cantankerous confidence. (I hope you admire my unconvincing Photoshop ruse, by the way). And will Louis ever walk again? Random theory – perhaps this is a setup for each team of survivors losing two people, leading to an omni-team of four come L4D3. Unless that’s about the Midnight Riders, of course.

The first time I encountered the evidence of Bill’s demise, I was fairly put out, as I suspect many players will be. The other L4D survivors didn’t mention it, and there seemed no reverence or sadness – just a slumped corpse with a handy machinegun for the L4D2 guys to swipe. No glory, no honour. Replaying the campaign a couple of times though, the L4D-traditional varying character chatter meant the poor old boy eventually got an acknowledgement. Brief for sure, but avoiding mawkishness is for the best.

On first play – “screw you for caring, L4D1 players.” On second, third, forever and ever plays – “a good man died.” It’s abrupt and it’s terrible to not hear a character we care about say even one word in the whole campaign, but I don’t believe it’s supposed to be an insult. Valve are simply being pretty damn firm about the whole it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye thing.

We’ll find out what happened, and the wave the chap off properly, in an upcoming L4D1 DLC, and an accompanying comic. Interestingly, however, Valve have hinted that players will have the choice of exactly who gets sacrificed in said DLC (but will stick to a canon (i.e. no-Bill) fiction for future L4D narratives). Now /that’s/ going to be interesting on the voicecomms. “Right, who wants to die?” I suspect there’ll be an Achievement for dying horribly, however, so it’ll all work out fine in the end. Achievement Unlocked: Got Killed In A First-Person Shooter. I can get behind that.

Okay, let’s return to safety. Vole time! Spoilers are ending!

What The Passing most certainly achieves is to turn L4D2 into a big game. The go-to criticism for L4D1 is that it was too small on release, which was one of the reasons the decision to go to full sequel rather than do a TF2 on it got so many people’s backs up.

With The Passing knocking up L4D2’s campaigns to six, and the new Mutations mode appearing in the list of New Game options, that menu’s looking really rather fat. Trying to step away from the old debate about the sequel’s timing, presentation-wise it really feels like a big move on from the comparatively crude L4D1 now.

Onto the campaign itself, which is three escalating acts of deep-south action. While it’s got nothing as brilliantly absurd as the rollercoaster run or stadium defense, there are a couple of pretty tight (TIGHT! – Quinns) setpieces. The open-air wedding, starring the Witch, for instance, and the brutal pile-on of perhaps the game’s biggest horde yet from a sewer underpass. This latter is the moment melee weapons were made for.

Outside of the more blatant occurences, the new fallen Survivor uncommon infected makes for an excellent addition to the baying zombie ranks. Rather than simply being a counter-intuitively stupid achievement hunt, it can on occasion be a game-changer. These festering lads carry Survivor equipment – health packs, pills and the like – but rather than try and rip your face off, they leg it. You thus have choice: let ’em go and fend off whatever other murderous ex-men are hassling you, or you chase them down because that health pack could bring you back from the brink. Precious health. Of course, by chasing the surprisingly agile blighter you’re putting yourself right in pestilent harm’s way. Also, your team mates will almost inevitably shout at you – oh, what to do?

And that’s it for this post – I’ll finish up tomorrow.To be covered: romance, poo and Jonathan Coulton.


  1. Real Horrorshow says:

    Charlie couldn’t do it, neither could hundreds of zombies. What it took to finally do it must have been epic.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      While it may have been epic, you’d think there would be some sign of the epicness.

    • Ballisticsfood says:

      I choose to believe that it was nutting a tank to death that did it. While on fire.

    • Nick says:

      The Dave Lister (in the book) way.. heart attack whilst attempting aforementioned headbutting.

  2. DarkNoghri says:

    Rather than harp on some of L4D2’s general shortcoming and consolish leanings, as I am often wont to do, I shall merely say this:

    If you haven’t yet, go play Realism Versus. It feels like Versus should have been all along. Jockeys aren’t useless, hunters can incapacitate people while their only cover is a small bush. Survivors are forced to stick together, keep an eye on each other, or all of a sudden, Coach is missing. And the only way to find him is through communication. You’d better hope he has a microphone. Witches are scary again. They kill instantly if they hit you. Most teams are incapable of rushing in this kind of game.

    Basically, Realism Versus doesn’t fix the game’s balance. However, it does make it much easier to overlook those shortcomings.

    Thus far, it’s been amazing. I highly recommend you at least try it.

    • Arathain says:

      Confirmed. Realism Versus is utterly brilliant. I hope it stays, as I’m going to have a very hard time going back to regular Versus. I understand why Mutations rotate, to keep things fresh and to avoid the community splintering amongst too many modes. I’m in favour of it, even. But this one’s too much of a good thing to let go, even if it returns once in a while.

      The best thing about it? It brings the panic back. Remember when you started playing, and the excellent game design convinced you, the Survivor, that you were in a hostile, deadly environment? And then you realised as you played Versus that Survivors have military grade weapons, X-Ray vision and seemingly endless health, when you factor in all the medkits and the getting back up. In short, they have all the power. It was illusion breaking. It left a game that remains fantastic fun, and that I still play regularly after all this time, but the magic- the panic, the vulnerability- was gone.

      Now, the power is firmly back in the hands of the Infected, and it is gloriously scary for the Survivors. Get separated for a second, lose sight for a moment, and your team-mates will hear the receding cackling of a Jockey, and even if they knew where you were, they won’t be able to find you in time because they’re still fighting off a Boomer hoard and the damn things just won’t drop without half a clip in them… The teams I’ve been playing on seem to love it. We really all prefer knowing we almost certainly won’t make it through, except by some miracle, and damn will it feel good when you do.

      Then on the other hand, playing Infected feels properly predatory, and now each Infected type feels properly useful. The Jockey in particular is now a horrid little creature and the Hunter regains a lot of its former ascendancy.

      I strongly recommend giving it a try if you haven’t played in a while, and I strongly recommend to Valve that they make this one permanent.

    • Brendan says:

      I like Realism Vs apart from the massive spawn distances required. They are seriously just ridiculous. The Boomer is now fucked unless you have a roof to drop from, Charger misses out on a lot of awesome Charger positions due to close quarters, and if the survivors enter a house with stairs, you can sure as hell bet you aren’t spawning until they leave the building because you ARE TOO CLOSE TO THE SURVIVORS. Unless of course you want to spawn outside and let them know where you are coming from.

      Sucks when people don’t know how to play, and just run off around corners and in to houses by themselves and then die and rage quit. Happens almost every game I’m in. IMO, realism verses should be an actual mode with the spawn distance halved.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      I haven’t noticed any increased spawn distances, but I had heard that there was a bug that could occur that raised them though, and it’s supposed to be fixed at server restart until it happens again.

    • Oozo says:

      Sounds very convincing. Fun fact: After all this time, I played the campaign for the first time on Regular mode yesterday. I was suprised to see how easy it was, even on “Advanced”. I don’t like to think of myself as a hardcore-player, but for me, “Realism” is the way “L4D2” is meant to be played altogether. The feeling of vulnerability is one of the things that make it special, you see.
      Oh, the panic yesterday! when one of my fellow survivors dropped in the muddy water of the sewer and left me desperately trying to find him, defib-kit in hands, waiting for another wave of the Horde to attack. I just wouldn’t find him, and boy, was I panicked, but that’s a memory that will stay with me.

    • J. Prevost says:

      The spawn distance thing is a bug, which was hopefully fixed in the latest patch (I haven’t played since the patch yet, so I’m not sure.) SI spawn ranges got stuck on the finale spawn range–and this was happening both in normal and realism versus.

      I’ll also say that even without realism mode, the Passing’s versus is a no-holds-barred kill-fest. Plenty of old-school L4D1-style heights and twisty little passages. I love it.

    • Monchberter says:

      Totally agree, Realism Versus really has added some freshness and livened up what was normally a steamrolling if the survivor team was a solid unit. Plus it’s just brilliant fun again. What would be EVEN better would be this but with no sound cues for the Infected. True panic!!!

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Actually, as a Smoker, I always tell Jockeys to stand next to me and nab whoever I got so I can run away and they can get a clean grab. Jockey right now is team/situation based.

      And removing the special infected cues? Seriously? Why don’t we just remove all sound? Sound is how you know anything is going on when the UI is gone. Remove the Hunter growl and he can be in the closet right behind you until it’s the perfect time to strike. Which means survivors would have to check every room.

  3. Mr Chug says:

    I’d still have liked the other survivors to be a bit more shook up about that certain important event- when I first played through they mentioned it on the bridge at the start, but I assume it had happened a while ago seeing as they were all jokey and flirty at the start of the third section, whereas on my second playthrough I found the evidence that it was clearly very recent.

    Can’t be too far through the level to the next closet…

    • OctaneHugo says:

      I believe it was 2 days before that Bill passed on. An interesting theory: the reason the Original Three seem so detached in these circumstances is that

      A: The only connection they have with the L4D2 cast is that they’re both alive and human – why spread sob stories to people you’ve only just met?
      B: They’ve had 2 days to mourn and now have other things to worry about (the bridge, Louis’s injuries, what they’ll be doing after he’s healthy)
      C: They’ve experienced so much death in such an abrupt state that it’s not effecting them as it might otherwise

    • Arathain says:

      In an odd sort of way it’s pretty consistent. Those fellows die all the time when I’m playing, and the other characters might make some sad, upset, or just wistful remark as they pass the body, but then they carry on as normal.

      It’s the funny thing about all eight Survivors. They’re trapped in a disintegrating world with little hope of any good outcome for them. All their loved ones and friends are dead, and most of them have become zombies. And yet they’re all positive quipping and off the wall comments and stories about Keith. It’s incongruous to say the least.

    • qrter says:

      Who cares about realism? Who cares about what the L4D1 survivors would feel realistically – it’s about what we, the players, feel.

      To me the thing that really rung false, was the response to the suggestion of teaming up. “No, no, we’ll be fine, you guys hop along..”

    • archonsod says:

      >To me the thing that really rung false, was the response to the suggestion of teaming up. “No, no, we’ll >be fine, you guys hop along..”

      . You’re heading for a military evacuation point, the L4D1 survivors were already evacuated by the military, yet don’t seem to be in a refugee camp. Also, on one of the endings Francis (or Louis, can’t remember which) asks the others “Do you think we should tell them?”. Along with the subtle hinting in the final campaign of L4D2, I get the impression that perhaps there’s a good reason the original survivors don’t want another military evac.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Yeah feels to me like something of a mis-step. You can certainly make an argument about why the survivors wouldn’t be weepy for Bill, but some more overt recognition of his death would seem to be appropriate given the bond we’ve built up with the characters over the last couple of years. Rare misjudgement from Valve.

    • jsdn says:

      One of the things that bothered me about L4D2 is the casual tone of the characters. It’s all fun and games to them, whereas L4D1 the characters had a cynical humor that was both for the players’ entertainment and to ease their suffering of their situation.
      L4D1: Zombies aren’t supposed to move that fast. I call zombie bullshit. Right, guys?…..
      L4D2: YEEEEEE-HAAAWW Les shoot sum zombies.
      It just feels like L4D2 is far less subtle, and not in a good way. That change seems to have affected the L4D1 characters in this DLC.

  4. Samuel Bigos says:

    3 new missions hardly does anything to alter the size of the game, though the chainsaw mutation next week should be fun. I just hope the L4D1 DLC and those thereafter come sooner than once a year…

  5. BH says:


  6. ShineDog says:

    Apparently the reason it’s [A PERSON] is very simple. They can’t get [THEIR] voice actor in for more work.

  7. Phil H says:

    The sewer underpass has already become a favorite area to go through, thanks to one run seeing me find an M60 AND Explosive ammo just before you open the first gate. Saved it for the mass rush at the end of that sequence and let loose, absolute carnage filling the screen.

  8. PleasingFungus says:

    That was the BEST photoshop ruse. Didn’t notice until you mentioned it in the spoilers section, then I went back and looked again. Now I can’t stop grinning.

  9. Yoko says:

    When i was waiting on the passing i come up with the idea where it should of be random everytime you play it . it was a different survivor from left 4 dead 1 as it would of make it more fun then them just killing one guy off and they could of made it so they have l4d1 dlc where someone on your team has to let them self die to get the map done. It would of been alot more fun then just seeing bill dead :(

    • JuJuCam says:

      Should HAVE, would HAVE, could HAVE. I’m not a cantankerous old wotsit or anything but this particular error makes my eyes bleed.

  10. feighnt says:

    he’ll probably come back in a future DLC or the sequel as some sort of super toughass zombie.

    • Fumarole says:

      Except that all survivors are immune.

    • Starky says:

      Not all survivors are immune, as shown by the survivor zombies introduced in the passing – but they were probably just the ones that some how got lucky for a while and avoided getting bitten/infected.

    • Fumarole says:

      My bad. That should be all Survivors are immune.

  11. Fumarole says:

    Nice attempt at non-spoilerizing with the pic.

  12. The_B says:

    I can’t help but feel they’ve released the DLCs out of order. Sure, they want to catch on the still moving wave of Left 4 Dead 2 with it’s newness. But by being as trivial as they are about the canon outcome, and as you say blase, I fear they’ve somewhat cheapened it already.

  13. DeliriumWartner says:

    I was so happy when JoCo’s song came on, but noone understood…

  14. GetOutOfHereStalker says:

    why couldn’t zoey have died, she has the weakest personality of the original survivors, her entire shtick is that she’s into zombies or something

    • GetOutOfHereStalker says:

      no “into” zombies, that is.

      a character who’s “into” (*winkwinknudgenudge*say no more) zombies would make an interesting survivor though.

  15. Clessness says:

    Here’s my perspective on the whole Kill Bill thing:

    Valve has always been a very strong proponent of showing rather than telling. I recall that in the director’s commentary for Episode 1, it talked about how the developers had agonized for ages over taking control from the player for just a few seconds to show the crumbling Citadel at the start of the game. Likewise, Valve has never been one for explicit storytelling and exposition, preferring to let the player glean hints of the story from their environment, as was masterfully done in Portal.

    I went into The Passing not knowing about the whole “Tonight in a very special L4D, one of these characters WILL DIE” thing. I was narrating my experience as I went along to a friend using Steam chat, and when I reached the finale level, I told him that the L4D1 survivors were there, but there was no sign of Bill. I got halfway through the finale before I stumbled across his corpse: “OH SHIT, there’s Bill. Yeah, he’s dead.” What with all the zombies, I paid my respects just long enough to steal his gun. Was it incongruent? Was the pacing bad? Absolutely yes. But I don’t think that’s what Valve was aiming for.

    Rather than having us watch from the sidelines while Bill heroically sacrifices himself in some action movie last stand, I think that Valve wants us to stumble upon the revelations in our own time. It’s not a “screw you for caring” like in a soap opera, when an actor quits and his character has to abruptly die in a boating accident. Rather, I see it as Valve giving the players the chance to discover what happened by themselves. It’s like the first time you found a hidden backroom in Portal, with insane scrawls on the wall and crates full of used supplies. It’s the sudden, shocking realization that you weren’t the first person here, that important things have been happening here that you weren’t around for, and that there’s a world which goes on even if you’re not there to watch it. It’s these little implicit stories that make Valve’s games great for me, and when you find Bill, it forces you to consider what happened before you got here, which I think is ultimately more satisfying than Louis simply telling you “Oh BTW Bill’s dead,” or something like that.

    I was surprised at how they handled Bill, but not put out, and the more I think about the more I think it makes sense with Valve’s development philosophy. The only gripe I have is that I ran into him while being chased by a bunch of zombies, and I barely had time to steal his gun. With Portal and some of the moments from HL2, you were given all the time you needed to take in these surprises when you stumbled upon them. If I were to change one thing, it would be to make Bill appear in a quieter area, where you have a chance to consider all the implications of his death. On the other hand, it does have a certain zombie movie appeal: “he’s dead, leave him!” as the zombies pound down the door. A recurring element in zombie fiction is not having time to mourn the lost, and it could be seen to apply here. Still, I’d rather have had a little more time with Bill.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I endorse this post. Clessness for PM.

    • Clovis says:

      No fair. In my first playthrough Zoe just blurts out who died. I also didn’t find the body somehow. Boo.

    • jalf says:

      Yeah, I don’t think anyone is objecting to the “show, don’t tell” thing. Of course Valve shouldn’t let you see Bill get killed, or have the L4D1 cast moan about it for hours to you, describing everything in detail.

      But perhaps they should have acted as if they cared. I think that’s what feels out of place.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Great. Valve have killed me. Thanks Valve. :(

      I fight through incomparable dangers, and then you bump me off between installments. It’s Hicks in Aliens all over again.

      Oh, and I didn’t even notice it was Bill’s body when I was grabbing the gun.

  16. Hobbes says:

    I totally agree with The_B, experiencing the spoiler from the L4D1 crew’s point of view would have been much more powerful. Perhaps if they’d done the release as a double-whammy, the continued-narrative aspect would have made the jump between L4D1&2 even more appealing?

    Kinda of off-topic, but I think you should keep the above spam from “Chi Flat Iron” for it’s sheer brilliance. Who ends a sales-pitch with “shiny, plump, striking pelt!”? Or manages to sneak in “cadaver”?

  17. JimmyJames says:

    It certainly does cadaver the flag.

  18. The Dark One says:

    I was sure that we’d get some sort of rotating system for which original survivor had died. How else would they set things up for the L4D1 dlc? Being the survivor in that who has to be the one to sacrifice themselves would be like joining a lobby and finding out that the only character left is Rochelle.


    • DarkNoghri says:

      I’m pretty sure they said there will be a rotating system in L4D1. You choose who dies. But on the L4D2 side of things, it’s already happened. That is the “correct” ending, as per L4D canon. But in L4D, the choice will be yours.

    • Saul says:

      I thought so, too. Screw “canon”. In Left 4 Dead, I make the canon!

    • Fumarole says:

      I’ve never understood why people prefer playing one character over another. Hell, I know a guy who absolutely hates Rochelle – he always plays her so he doesn’t have to look at her much. Consider me bemused.

    • Arathain says:


      I always play Rochelle if I have a choice. It prevents a minor amount of confusion when taking quick stock of the situation, but I also like the tone the voice acting sets. It’s confident without being brash (Coach), warm but not manically cheery (Ellis) and grounded without being overtly cynical (Nick). I’ve never understood the hate.

      The main Rochelle-based objection I have is that the men get all the really good, funny situational lines. It was the same with Zoey.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      As character’s go, I’m not really a Rochelle hater. My biggest annoyance with her is lines that seem to play a lot. “Sweet Lincoln’s mullet!” “Son of a bee sting!” Other than that, I don’t have an issue.

      Now, Ellis I find annoying, and I’m not really sure why.

      My favorite character is still Francis. Basically because he’s Jayne.

  19. obo says:

    I’m pretty sure a trait of being a Carrier is that you have to be a dick. It’s the reason why so many of the things written on the walls are pretty much lifted from internet forums.

  20. autohat says:

    The original cast are in it like fucking celebrities. If they wanted to put in NPC’s to give you a hand, fair enough it’s a cool mechanic… but they stood around totally static trying to look all cool like sonic the hedgehog characters.

    UHHH HURR DURRRR The original survivors!!1 ohhh a love story between zoe and ellis UHHHHH *SPAFF*

    I really hope valve go back to making impressive games after this shit.

    • durr says:

      Yea, that was ridiculous. They made the big announcement of meeting the L4D1 characters and death drama and then did nothing with it.

  21. Jayt says:

    Just putting it out there, supposedly the voice actor for Bill was unusable/not contactable or something along those lines for quite awhile. When I first heard one of the survivors would not be in this, I thought it was pretty damn obvious who it would be.

  22. zak canard says:

    Favourite part/easter egg: giving Louis some pills before the finale.

  23. Lobotomist says:

    There is only so much a single person can do against relentless marketing machine.

    I had enough of hearing about this game

    • Dr Lulz says:

      @Lobotomist If you don’t like hearing about the game, simple – don’t read the articles, let alone comment.

      You have to accept the fact that people *enjoy* L4D2 and think that it *is* worth it’s value.

      I can understand if you don’t like L4D2, but commenting on blog posts *hardly* will change any outcomes. Aim Higher. Talk to Gabe Newell about this if you *really* dislike L4D2’s production so much.

    • Fumarole says:

      No, you haven’t. As your continuing posts clearly indicate.

  24. sigma83 says:

    @Lobotomist. Then here’s something novel you can do: STOP POSTING.

  25. subedii says:

    This might be of interest. When the Passing released, the devs went online to play it with people, they were listed as L4D2_DEV_1, L4D2_DEV_2 and so on. It’s mentioned in this post:

    link to l4d.com

    Anyway, this is a playthrough of the section in question with one of the devs (I laughed when I heard his comment at the end):

    link to youtube.com

    Spoilers, naturally, but I’m not sure anyone would’ve managed to avoid them so far anyway.

  26. Shih Tzu says:

    I haven’t actually tried out the Realism Versus (okay, I’ve never actually played Versus at all — I like playing with friends more than strangers, and I don’t have seven friends who own this), but after a bunch of Campaign, my friends and I tried Realism as a lark and were startled by how much better the game got. It feels like how it should’ve been all along. I imagine Realism Versus is just as much an improvement.

    What I’d like to see is Realism patched into L4D1. Other than the defib, there’d be really very little tweaking involved. I think I’ve heard some mods have partially done it already. I never played L4D1, so it’d be a great excuse to get people I know back to it so I could finally check out some of these campaigns.

  27. Lobotomist says:

    [Mr The Lobotomist does not like the Left 4 Dead 2 videogame. Debate ends.]

    • Dr Lulz says:

      @Lobotomist Wait what? You’re saying the only one reading about L4D2 are the only people that bought it?

      So by your logic, I visit Kotaku because I have a console, despite being a PC gamer ALL my life. That logic is incorrect, since I visit Kotaku because I like the game articles they produce.

      And it’s like selling rap music in apartheid white neighborhood in South Africa except it isn’t, because in case you are (insert meanie words here), you would have realised that there are people who *play* and *enjoy* L4D2. I’m not one of them, but at least I don’t live in some fantasy world where I believe L4D2 = skin cancer.

      It’s an entertainment product. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. Other people’s decision shouldn’t affect you.

    • Lobotomist says:

      You know mate. I am not bad guy. My only sin is caring for community . Caring for developer – consumer fairness. And I am vocal about things i believe in.

      I know people that have good intentions , and want to change something are often lynched by the mob. And behind the mob there is always something with influence , that has interest in shutting the rebel up.

      Socrates , one of greatest philosopher was sentenced to death by people of Athens. Because he was bad influence on Athens youth. Today his “bad influence” is staple of moral ethics.

      Jesus was nailed to the cross because he preached world change trough love and tolerance.

      This are just examples. And I know we only talk about games here.

      But it translates well here too. A single person pointing to unfairness – in this case L4D2 sham.
      Will quickly find himself lynched by rage of same people he is trying to help.

    • Clovis says:

      /me sheds tear for the great Martyr, Lobotomist.

    • Wednesday says:

      Was that…was that a joke? I can never tell on the interwebs.

      Because if it wasn’t I think your sense of proportion has taken a business trip to Saturn or something.

  28. Alexander Norris says:

    The other L4D survivors didn’t mention it, and there seemed no reverence or sadness – just a slumped corpse with a handy machinegun for the L4D2 guys to swipe. No glory, no honour.

    This is totally the best metaphor for L4D1 I have ever read. Expect to be quoted in perpetuity, Mr Meer. Thanks!

  29. jonfitt says:

    pterodactyl /vole should be the RPS official spoiler tags.

  30. durr says:

    Everything L4D2 kinda feels to me as if it was made by a different company.

    Why do they announce a big meet and greet and dramatic departure of a L4D1 character… when it has close to zero impact on the story or gameplay? Finding Bill, lying there, thoughtlessly placed in an ugly corner of a map with a default blood sprite stuck underneath him, I just thought: “That’s it?” The dialog starts to get really cheesy as well.

    Realism Versus… why isn’t it a default mode? Why do we need a big DLC for something that should have been a check box from the beginning? Why didn’t they bring that out as a small mini addition on launch week? Just to desperately scrape together enough content for a paid XBox DLC?

    In the features list, you find stuff like: The witch wears a new hat (bride)! You get a new “melee weapon” (golf club) which is the same as any other melee only with a different 3D model. Zero impact on gameplay, just an empty bullet point.

    The new special infected is an interesting idea and the M60 is fun. I give them that. But the fallen survivor was already in the code, they just recycled and polished an old idea and the M60 is about as uninspired of a weapon idea as it gets.

    The only thing legitimately awesome about this DLC are the new maps, which are, of course, rather well designed. But again, there’s only 3 of them. THREE. Why not once release a proper new campaign that doesn’t feel like it’s just a little bit too short. There’s a reason a standard campaign has the length it does. It just feels right. I would have happily waited another month if they took the time to just add a fourth map.

    It took them half the time as developing the entire game. And the thing is already $7 on the 360, only a matter of time before free updates are gone for the PC as well (the UI and presentation is already that of a console game). So much for looking a gift horse in the mouth, etc…

    So what did I expect? Imagine Dark Carnival was a DLC. That would be awesome. Best DLC ever. Why can’t they do something of this level of quality for L4D(2)? TF2 gets this kind of update about every 2 months. And it’s a budget title or 1/5th of the OB in comparison!

    Come on, Valve, why are you incapable of blowing my mind with this game? It’s the only Valve game I feel that way about.

    • skinlo says:

      Its because you’ve been spoilt with TF2. its completely up to Valve if they release new campaigns or not, yet the community feels it is owed to them.

    • Wilson says:

      @durr – Doesn’t it cost money on the 360 because it has to because of Microsoft or something? I don’t think you can assume that Valve will start charging PC users for DLC because of that (which isn’t to say it might not happen anyway, but still…)

    • Vandelay says:

      I’m fairly certain Valve have said on multiple occasions that they will never charge for any DLC on PC. Quite a statement really, but I can imagine they won’t be going back on that promise for at least a couple of years.

      Valve are very generous with their post release material, but most are not. The last time I opened up Steam I was presented with an advert telling me I could purchase the MW2 Stimulus Pack for just under £11 (10% off,) which only contains 5 maps and some of those are remakes of MW1 maps. I would be perfectly willing to spend £3-£4 on the amount and quality of content they have released in The Passing.

  31. Jesse says:

    Guys, I’m going to toot my own horn here for a moment. I PREDICTED ALL OF THIS. Here is my response to RPS’s original post about this incoming DLC, from December 14 last year:

    “Jesse says:
    December 14, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    […] I think it’s pretty clear what’s going to happen here. The new survivors will be playable and will run into the old survivors in some minor way – like they’ll have to gather gas for them from the opposite side of a barricade or some such thing. They’re not all going to be active at the same time, fighting zombies together. The two groups will pass each other and go on their way.

    L4D3, coming out in, oh, say, 16 months, will feature the return of the original crew, since most people like them better than the new crew. In an effort to shake things up, they may possibly replace Louis and Bill with Coach and Ellis, or maybe with two brand new characters. Zoe and Francis will definitely come back, though. Mark my words. Mark them!”

    Not bad, huh? Hey, I told you to mark my words! Gathering gas, opposite sides of barricade, and SPOILERS IF ANYONE STILL CARES —- my prediction about which characters from L4D will carry on into the next game are looking like coming true.

    Here’s the link to the page: link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Yes, I can see the future. Also, Alyx is the G-man.

    • skinlo says:

      You predicted one thing?

    • Jesse says:


    • skinlo says:

      I’m sorry :( Didn’t mean to ruin your success!

      Now if you could just predict the lottery numbers for me, we could be friends ;)

    • Jesse says:

      I wish it worked that way, but I’m only good at predicting things that would be too difficult to code into DLC.

      Sometimes I have a hazy sense for which two members of four member groups are the most popular: McCartney and Lennon; Groucho and Harpo; Raphael and Michelangelo… I could go on. It’s not 100% accurate like the DLC thing, though. Nick may be more popular than Coach.

  32. plugmonkey says:

    “Actually only reasoning behind this is is fairly simple : Maximize profits.”

    Is that really the only reasoning?

    There is another fairly plausible explanation:

    Valve set about coming up with ideas and content for L4D DLC. They are overly ambitious, as developers generally tend to be. Feature creep sets in. They don’t want to just do a map pack. They want to do new weapons, new characters, new special infected, new uncommon infected, new items. They want to do ‘run the gauntlet’ finales, they want to improve the graphics, and the damage modelling, and the AI director. They want to do everything. And you know what? They don’t want to do it for the profit, which they will never see anyway, they just want to do it.

    Then the reality police arrive and tell them that they don’t have the time or the budget to do all that. Which 85% of it do they want to cut? That’s a pretty heartbreaking choice.

    The only other option is to absolutely work their crazy arses off to put together a complete sequel in a year. Anybody who has ever done that will tell you what a stupid amount of work it would have involved. So they do that, and then a bunch of people bitch because they haven’t been made to wait long enough for another installment of something they love. This makes me sad.

    So, you’ve got your theory and I’ve got mine. I think your theory might hold more water if L4D2 was just a L4D map pack, but the reality is it’s overflowing with new stuff. I think your theory might hold more water if Valve had any sort of history of rushing out sequels to make a quick buck, but they don’t. Quite the opposite in fact.

    L4D2 is precisely the sequel to L4D that I wanted, and for once Valve didn’t make me wait 5 years.

    Thanks Valve!

  33. Vandelay says:

    I don’t think that you can really lump the release of L4D2 with the same draconian DRM from Ubisoft.

    I can certainly sympathize with some of the complaints made by the boycotters, but there is no way you anyone can consider L4D2 as merely a patch or a add-on (L4D 1.2 as you put it.)

    Five new campaigns, three new Special Infected (which completely change the way the game is played), melee weapons (again, changes the way the game is played), umpteen new weapons, new items, Uncommon Common Infected, two new modes, about 10(?) new survivor maps, a completely different atmosphere to the whole game compared to the original, new characters with massive amounts of dialogue, heavily improved graphics… I’m sure there is more, but that is just off the top of my head of what came in the box. Before buying it, I wouldn’t have spent a full game price on it (instead I waited till about Christmas time and got it for £15, I think,) but after putting well over 150 hours into the game (and still playing a few times a week), I can safely say it warranted a full game price.

    We can also see that Valve will be continuing to support the original game. Once that is released I can imagine people going back to the original more too, so complaints that the player base will diverge never to meet again is probably erroneous. Whether they will continue to release after this update remains to be seen, but that is still three reasonably large updates. By the sounds of things, L4D franchise will be getting much more support than it had previously done, with the comic obviously taking cues from TF2 and will hopefully show care for the product that has been lacking previously.

    The area I do concede to the arguments against L4D2 is the inability to play the original from the L4D2 menu. If it let those that owned the original game play the maps from the L4D2 interface, this would instantly remove a lot of the qualms of splitting the community right from the release of the game. With Steam, this would have been simple to implement and it makes sense with the quick release between the two games and the continued support Valve are obviously giving the original game (although this might have been decided upon post L4D2 release.) The only reason I can think of not doing this is that it would have been much harder to do on the Xbox. If that is why they didn’t, then I will be disappointed.

    The other areas I would like to see improvement is keeping the game updated. Adding bits to the game is always nice, but fixing some of the bugs needs to happen. There is also some serious balance issues that really need to be fixed in Versus mode, but that seems to be ignored.

    I would love them to resolve numerous issues with the lobby system too, but I think that would require a complete overhaul of the system. The lobby browser really needs to allow us to see how many people are in a game/lobby and titles for the games to let people know of any requirements for the game (“mics only”, “English speakers only”, “noobs only”, etc.) or mods that will be run. The lobby system is fine in practice, but for some reason Valve decided not to look towards the successful systems that have been used within RTS games for the previous 15 years.

  34. Less obnoxious name! says:

    I apologize for the grammar hit: it was entirely due to me being tired. (I keep using this, but truly I would not have used such an insult if I was not cranky, half asleep, and stressed…) I also had not realized you were not from an English speaking country, which could technically be a compliment… I would not have made the comment had I realized that.

    I agree that Valve’s behavior was not ideal with L4D, and that it could have been far better arranged.

    That is not the issue that people have with you, at least it’s not the issue I have with what you had previously been saying.

    The issue is that Valve is involved enough with the community that they have likely heard the complaints about the game. They know what they did wrong. So far they have not had the opportunity to show that they have learned from the complaints, besides the fact that they have returned to their normal behavior.

    At this point people are not angry with you for disagreeing with them (at least not all people…I’m sure there are some, but they are silly people who likely where silly hats). Most people are angry due to your continued repetition of something that Valve has not yet had the capability to respond to.

    In the case that Valve does something similar in the future, which is a perfect possibility, I will be just as disappointed in their behavior as any other of their fans should be. But at this point any further complaint about Left 4 Dead 2 is not going to help Valve learn more about what they should and should not do. In fact, at this point Valve isn’t going to notice. Instead you are just annoying your fellow gamer. And in this case you are annoying an intelligent group of PC gamers that I assume you would enjoy the company of based on the fact that you continuously come to this website and read articles.

    Let me try another silly metaphor…
    Imagine you are at a meeting in which your company is negotiating with another company. You are in the middle of heated negotiation when all of a sudden you discover that the other company was withholding information from yours. All the members of your company inform the other company that this is horrific and absurd and that you are disappointed in their behavior. The meeting is ended and your company can’t be sure if the other company will do something like this again. As a result everyone at the meeting returns to their individual headquarters and try to continue business as usual. However one person at your company continues to bring the subject up to everyone at the company. They tell the person that they know what happened, they were there. The person insists on complaining to them for several hours, only to repeatedly be informed that everyone knows, and that telling everyone at this company is accomplishing anything, and the other company was told at the meeting. They tell the person that there’s nothing more we can do at the moment, so they would prefer to get back to work until the subject is of importance again.

    Now this isn’t a perfect metaphor…but I hope it makes sense.

    In this situation non conformity is not accomplishing anything, though I know it sometimes does.

    To come up with another way to put it:
    In one way you are preaching to the choir. You are telling those who agree with you that you agree with them. Over. And Over. In an obnoxious way. (I’m sorry but calling people sheep instantaneously makes you seem obnoxious…as does comparing yourself to Socrates, or Jesus)
    You are losing people who would otherwise be on your side.
    In another way you are just insulting those who you disagree with. You did call them farm animals, did you not? This is not the way to convince someone to listen to you…

    Being a non-conformist does usually involve pissing people off. But most people are willing to listen to someone they disagree with, or possibly befriend them, if the person who is non-conformist approaches being non-conformist in a polite way.

    Being non-conformist and being rude do not have to be the same thing. In fact, if you want to accomplish anything, they probably should not be. (This is not saying that you should be nice to someone who is a complete jackass, but that’s something different…)

    Put it this way: I technically am someone who would be considered a non-conformist by whatever group you are a part of, but I chose to be as polite as I could (besides the grammar thing…because I’m tired and cranky…) rather than being rude, and as a result you at least read what I had to say. Whether it changed your mind, I don’t know, but at least you read.

    I apologize for this post if it sounds preachy, it probably does. But I don’t know… Also I believe I have reached the record for RPS for the total number of words in the first three posts they ever had.

    A side note: I find it sad that I haven’t seen a single person use the zombies from the games as replacements in the sheep metaphors. Throughout history zombie culture has been deemed as a response to not wanting to be swept up in being conformist. I’ve read a few things trying analyze why certain types of monsters become popular at different points in time, and zombies are always associated with conformism (for obvious reasons…). I would be amused if someone would do this…

  35. Lobotomist says:

    Well. Again I do agree with you.

    I am overdoing my L4D2 crusade. And I am not by any means diplomatic or people smart. I am not even pretending to be… ( On other hand people are being superficial. They tend to care more about style you write your statement, than the actual message. )

    Finally , I guess i have to listen to your advice. Its time to bury the hatchet.

  36. Another Name says:

    Well, I would have a discussion about the importance of style, but I must finish my paper.

    So instead I’ll just say that there are always those who care more about style and there are those who care more about content. The trick is to get people who are good at both of those on your side, then team them up to make something so wonderfully compelling that no one can resist the sway of the statement they are trying to make.

    Also, thank you for being so understanding.

  37. Kevbo says:

    I liked the campaign even though its kinda short and like the idea of mutations.

    —- semi spoiler —-
    Sure they don’t make a big deal out of the ‘situation’, but honestly put yourself in their shoes (seriously). They aren’t going to blab to some other humans they run across about their ‘situation’. In a zombie apocalypse, things happen and many people die. So why make it so dramatic when they obviously lost their family and friends at the start of the infection. Humans become emotionally numb when in a war or any extreme killing situation. To be honest, I thought it was depicted perfectly since you could tell that the L4D survivors lost a lot of their steam and drive to survive. They just seemed to be holding on instead of plowing thru the infection…. Finally, I’m personally glad that **** was the one to go since **** was my least favorite character. Sure they are all better than the L4D2 crowd but **** was expendable ;)

  38. diealein says:

    atleast francis still lives and can walk. btw, where the hell did the teridacctal come from?

  39. DJ Phantoon says:

    I’d tell you where to bury that hatchet-

    But you’re too busy hating on L4D2 to play it.

  40. durr says:

    Just a little perspective about how “everyone already knows about it” or, rather, not: I recently found a post on the Ubisoft forums asking “What is DRM?”. After weeks if not months of every single gaming site/blog/magazine being spammed with information on Ubisofts DRM not to mention years of discussion on the subjects in general.

    I still think that there is a significant amount of people reading this very post who never even noticed the L4D2 controversies. And if I summarize the story for the gazillionth time, I do it for them. Because I want people to know and realize what level of quality is possible if the developers give everything (as they mostly did before).

    There is a generation coming up that doesn’t even realize that the standard for latency in fast-paced FPS games is around 50 ms nowadays because the most popular online FPSs in the moment heavily rely on P2P connections where 200+ pings are normal. $15 DLC with 5 maps becomes normal. So normal that $10 DLC for 6 maps seems like an awfully good deal.

    If standards lower over time, you just want people to know, and the majority simply haven’t even heard about it. Companies spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing (read: repeating the same PR over and over again). We have to counter these manually. If you are familiar with all this controversy, you are a minority… probably even on this site.

  41. Bill says:

    The hell with this.

  42. Dum de dum dum dum says:

    Where’s part two? I need my part 2! :D

  43. said says:

    As you said: it was big fuck you to the L4d1 players. I have talked to people from Spain to USA, Latin America and there is no one that dont agree with this:
    -The wonderful idea of L4d game hasnt been exploited to the maximum (that is: more short videos stories between the ending of each campaign in solo mode which brings more depth to the sequence of events and also to give more information to the player about the whole situation)
    -The Passing is a great campaign but custom mappers are doing a better job related to the IDEAS (about the designs and music etc Valve obviously has the lead, they are creators!!). Some think this new campaign is not better than custom campaigns in the proportion that Valve has lots of resources and mappers dont.
    -The two seconds you interact with the original survivors are a complete joke and doesnt give any crescendo feeling or climax sensation at all. It is like they are there smiling in the middle of an apocalyptic crysis instead of we as players could be able to play with any of them so we can lead the group to the ultimate survival experience. There is no point in putting the original survivors so FAR and DISTANT from the L4d2 survivors!!!!!
    -We agree we have grate expectations on Valve because we have seen what are they capable of (Half Life sequel is an excelent presentation card to expect the BEST STORIES in game experience and not only shuting and shuting and shuting with no sorrounding histrionic depth)

    Conclusion (our conclusion as a faithfull customers and players of L4d sequel): The Passing has not reached the point of being the most important campaign on L4d sequel, is just another good campaign with many good spots for playing Versus mode but the top of the top in L4d interaction between original and new survivors is yet to come.