Ten years ago, I went through a brief but intense stint of being well into Left 4 Dead. I was absolutely appalling at it, and I don't think I ever truly grasped what was going on in a single match I played. Nevertheless, I was at least so enthusiastic in my bewilderment that I was eventually taken on by a clan, grudgingly, as a sort of court jester. Everyone knew that playing with me was basically a death sentence. But my towering overconfidence whenever I got to play as the Charger - and then the barks of hapless sorrow which inevitably followed, as I sent them hooning straight out of a skyscraper window - were apparently just amusing enough to make me worth carrying.
In the spirit of my barnstorming PvP days, then, I am going to give you some weapons-grade tactical insight into the new mega zombos, or "Riddens", appearing in Left 4 Dead's upcoming spiritual successor, Back 4 Blood. Admittedly, I've not played the game yet. I've not even watched the footage from my colleagues who have played (and you can find their full Back 4 Blood open beta report right here). But that's not going to stop me telling you exactly what these exciting new deadoes are about, or how you can leverage their abilities to win every single time you play its humans vs zombies PvP mode. I am going to offer my analysis based purely on a cursory glance at each monster's concept art, my staggering powers of intuition, and nothing else. Hope you're ready to learn.
Look at this poor bastard. I reckon he's probably going to play a bit like the coughing bloke in Left 4 Dead, seeing as they're both creepy, wheezy-looking fellers, and they've both got loads of pipes and meat and stuff instead of necks. I'm expecting Uncle Badneck will come with an unmistakeable yet not overly-loud "calling card" sound effect, which will make people groan when they hear it because they know they're about to get a right old neck-themed walloping.
Will he sick stuff up from his big manky Tesco bag of a throat, like the oranges I have so reasonably written into his lore, above? Or will he go for a bit of the old Davy Jones, thrashing about at range with his squiddly bits. Actually, thinking about Davy Jones, it would be great if this guy could also play an elaborate nautical pipe organ, but I'm not counting on it. The only pipe organs, alas, will probably be the ones flailing around on this horrible man's clavicles.
The Original Big Man
As stated at the start, I bloody loved the Charger in Left 4 Dead. After all, as God himself proved with fiddler crabs, you just can't beat a good bruiser with one arm comically larger than the other. It seems this fellow is carrying that particular torch in Back 4 Blood, and I don't think I'm taking a huge risk by guessing that he's going to spend his whole life windmilling it around like a massive death saveloy.
Not sure what else he's got going for him, apart from his weirdly neat trousers, and the fact he looks like he might be about fifteen foot tall. Hmm. That would be quite a lot going for him, now I think about it. Anyway, I like his horrible shoulder bone, and all the weird extra tendons growing over his chest like meat ivy. There's some good body horror going on with this lot, isn't there?
The Bin Soldier
Look at all those 'orrible pustules! If ever a man projected the energy of "I'm going to lumber towards u and then burst", it is this guy. It would be a shame if all he did was burst, though, since it would put those gigantic stranglin' hands of his to waste. Maybe he does some hurling as well as bursting, like what the Tank did in Left 4 Dead. That would be nice. He could throw bins, since I've decided he loves them so much.
It took me way too long to realise that this abject sod was halfway through turning into a spider. The clues were all there: the weird mangly jaw, the chitinous claws, the six fackin legs... but all I could see was yer boy Smeagol. It's the hair, I think.
I reckon this one's the "jumping around being incredibly horrible" component of Back 4 Blood's infected lineup. I fully expect to find these scuttling across the ceiling barking acid at me, or maybe just leaping on top of folks and shredding them up, like the Hunter in Left 4 Dead. Either way, it's another belter of a creature design: I've got no problem with spiders (even the massive ones), but this thing makes me want to throw a brick at my computer to make it go away. Good job, monster squad.
Right, hope that was enlightening. Might actually watch some Back 4 Blood footage now, and get faintly and irrationally disappointed when nothing bursts out of a bin shouting, "I'll get you!".