There was a moment over the E3 weekend where Alice0 pointed out that a lot of people are remaking Left 4 Dead - apart from Valve. I have mentioned this before, but playing L4D2 accounted for about 60% of my time at university. I have a tattoo of the safe house symbol on my ribs (it is terrible).
The Left 4 Dead formula is simple on paper - small team of co-op players vs monster horde, getting from point A to point B with potential incidental side objectives on the way - but is tough to nail. You need to get the mix right. And this year's E3 has revealed a lot of people are rolling up their sleeves to have a go. Let's have a look.
Back 4 Blood
The most obvious example is Back 4 Blood, which is by Turtle Rock Studios - the gang who actually created Left 4 Dead way back when. This weekend confirmed the open beta dates for August, which I am excited for.
Back 4 Blood is due out on October 12th and looks to be cleaving pretty close to the original, albeit with legally distict versions of the different zombie types (who are called Ridden instead of Infected). Back 4 Blood's Reeker looks like a Boomer, the Snitcher occupies the same role as a Witch, the Stinger sounds a lot like the Hunter, and so on.
What's new is that Back 4 Blood, as with most of these, is differentiating the player characters with abilities, not just personality and appearance. Following the example of the glut of hero shooters and battle royales over the last while, this will hopefully make the whole formula more interesting. The different Cleaners in B4B are loosely spread over support, tank, and damage types. Evangelo will increase the whole team's movement speed, Doc is very clearly a healer, Karlee can sense hazards, Hoffman spawns ammo, and having any of these on your team could really change how any given round plays out. I'm stoked. I give it 11 molotovs out of 7 screaming hordes.
More promise here, as this is the newly announced first title from Stray Bombay. Stray Bombay is the studio founded by ex-Riot designer Dr. Kimberly Voll and former Valver Chet Faliszek - who wrote, you guessed it, Left 4 Dead. The Anacrusis is L4D in space, as you and up to three pals run around a massive star cruiser stranded on the edge of explored space.
The zombies here are replaced by big sticky aliens, controlled by an AI Driver that sounds similar to L4D's famously adaptive AI Director. It's also launching with crossplay and mod support, which has potential for limitless hijinks, and though we don't know much else, the official site mentions that it will have seasons.
The big sell on this for me right now, aside from the dev pedigree, is the look. It's very retro sci-fi, with a kind of 60s egg chair feeling to the ship design and colour scheme that is very appealing.
Rainbow Six Extraction
Referred to as Left 4 Red by that dapper wit Graham, this is coming from Arkane Austin (the studio wot did Prey) and I am unreasonably excited for Redfall. Like a child who has had too much Ribena and is now pink-lipped and frothing at the mouth. It's probably my favourite reveal of the weekend.
The premise is that Redfall, an isolated town in Massachusetts, has been attacked by giant vampires who have made the magical equivalent of Mr. Burns' sun blocker and are laying waste to the whole place. You squad up in up to four player co-op to fight these bloodsuckers, who were created in bad science experiments and are continuing to evolve after the fact. There are also human cultists who serve them. Character builds are interesting, including "internet-famous paranormal investigator" Devinder Crousley and biomed engineer turned telekenetic witch Layla Ellison.
The trailer is cinematic, so we have no idea what it will actually look like. And yet this is probably the one I'm most excited for - partly because it's put the biggest twist on the idea, but also partly because I put a lot of faith in Arkane to absolutely rip any game they have a go at. They even made the trailer more fun than all the others. Pls just let me play it.
E3 2021 may be over but our memories live on - see everything on our E3 hub. Many more big game showcases and streams are still to come this summer, leading up to Gamescom, so see our summer games stream schedule to stay up to date.