Turtle Rock Studios, the mob who created Left 4 Dead, are revisiting their cooperative zombie-shooting days in Back 4 Blood, a name which seems a clear a statement of intent. Expect to shoot a load of zombies together with your pals, though Turtle Rock are keen to stress that they want Back 4 Blood to be more than just Left 4 Dead with a new name. Today's announcement is mighty vague, without even a logo to show for it, but they do hint that it's got some new tricks. No, it's not a battle royale game.
Publishers Warner Bros. claim in today's announcement that Back 4 Blood "marries the best of what made the co-op zombie shooter so successful with new features and state-of-the-art technology."
My fingers crossed for state-of-the-art rambling stories and in-jokes between characters. Dynamically notice my mistakes, rib me, and develop callbacks. Though I imagine they're referring more to visual fanciness and high-def viscera. Gall bladder gibs spraying physics-simulated bile and the like.
Turtle Rock's own FAQ is even less subtle, saying "You'll be able to shoot up a lot of zombies like in Left 4 Dead, but there's a whole lot of new stuff in Back 4 Blood which makes it unique." They're not yet ready to say what that new stuff is. As for old stuff, they do confirm some sort of PvP is again planned.
Back 4 Blood is still a long way from launch, with Turtle Rock not even guessing at a vague release window and saying this early announcement is to help them attract new folks to work on it. Left 4 Dead wasn't all Turtle Rock's work, do remember. They started it as an independent studio then joined Valve, at which point the game was revised a fair bit - including getting some cracking writing from Valve folks like Chet Faliszek (who's now with Bossa Studios).
This is apparently a different game to the cooperative FPS which Turtle Rock announced with Perfect World in 2016. "We can't get into details but both parties decided to move on," they tersely explain. And as for Evolve, the cooperative PvPvE FPS they made after splitting from Valve, they lay out the situation simply: "2K owns the rights to Evolve and our contract to work on the game expired back in 2016."
Let me take a second to say: aw heck yeah new Turtle Rock zomboshooter. Left 4 Dead was such a joy, a game which dominated my workplace lunchtimes (as well as sometimes the afternoons if we worked full-steam in mornings). We've seen a number of games heavily inspired by Left 4 Dead in recent years, including the pretty deece Warhammer: Vermintide and Overkill's cursed The Walking Dead, and I'm excited to see Turtle Rock try to rise above.
"We are not resting on any past laurels. Our goal is to take all we've learned and push forward. We know that's a tall order," creative director Phil Robb said in today's announcement. "We're growing the team considerably because we're stepping up to the biggest challenge in this studio's history. We know this title has to stand out and we fully intend to make that happen."