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What I Want in Left 4 Dead 3
Left 4 Dead is an awesome franchise. It features zombies, funny dialogue, excellent replay value, and the best co-op play I’ve ever experienced in a game. However, it’s been nearly four years since its release, and the game’s mechanics are starting to show their age. It’s not likely Valve will ever make a sequel to this game, but if they do, here’s what I’d want in it.
For fans of L4D and L4D2, it’s no secret that the series isn’t known for its stellar gunplay. The games are loved for their cooperative edge to the zombie franchise, not their outstanding gameplay. However, I think the simple addition of iron sights could change all this. Sure, you could argue that the protagonists of the game aren’t gun savvy enough to know how to properly use iron sights, but if that were true, Zoey wouldn’t be running around with an autoshotty with explosive shells like it’s nobody’s business. Adding iron sights to the game would add a bit more complexity to the arcade-like game and give players a better feeling of control overall. Almost every FPS nowadays features iron sights; why should a game that allows players to kill thousands of zombies an hour be any different?
More Co-op Abilities
I think one of the biggest improvements to the series could be the addition of more co-op abilities. For instance, we’ve all been at that moment when we’re playing with a new guy and he’s got the only molotov and a tank is coming. He throws it and misses by a mile. Great. But what if he had the ability to give his molotov to another player? This would have alleviated the team’s frustration, and giving away items is realistic and fun to boot! But it goes farther than that. What about sharing ammo, trading weapons on the fly, or giving away medkits? You may be thinking that such additions would be unnecessary, but after extended play of L4D2, I can tell you my team would love nothing more than this.
Ah, bots. The biggest bane of Left 4 Dead. Nothing is more infuriating than playing with two other players and a bot decides to heal when its health is full and takes the last medkit when no one is looking. It’s equally as awesome that bots can’t use throwable items and are pretty much just used as bait for most campaign runs. I think bots have more potential than the franchise presents. What if bots had the ability to pick up projectiles and give them to players upon request? Sure, I would never trust a bot to actually use a throwable object like a pipe bomb or bile on their own, but if the bot could act like a pack mule by carrying such items around for me, that’d be great. Furthermore, I wish bots would only heal themselves (or others) upon command. I hate it when a bot decides the best time to use a medkit is in the middle of a horde when the most injured player is only in the yellow and has just taken pills. If bots only healed with permission from actual players, a lot of frustration would disappear.
The Left 4 Dead franchise has some of the best level design around. It’s astounding how you can navigate a boxed in map that is basically pushing you from checkpoint to checkpoint and never once feel boxed in. Even when the levels open up, like in Swamp Fever, you don’t get lost due to the outstanding construction of each campaign. I wonder what would happen if Valve took this mechanic a step further. What if, instead of 50 minute campaigns featuring multiple chapters, there was one level with no safehouses or save points at all? What if it took over an hour and a half to get through it? What if only the best players even have a chance to make it to the end unscathed? Campaigns such as these might turn off some, but after playing plenty of levels that last no more than an hour, I would love to have a bigger challenge thrown at me. Marathon-type levels would give the more hardcore L4D-lovers a chance to test their endurance.
There are two different “ways” to play Left 4 Dead: normally, or realistically. During normal play, objects and players glow, the witch doesn’t kill you instantly if you startle her, common infected aren’t only critically damaged by headshots, and players respawn during chapters. During realism play, even though the difficulty can still be set the same, the game becomes more challenging due to the fact that players must constantly be aware of other players due to the fact that objects and players don’t glow, the witch does kill you if you startle her, common infected are only critically damaged by headshots, and there are no respawns. Communication is vital to surviving on realism play, even on the default difficulty setting; play with a bot, and you’re not going to make it. But what if you’re caught between finding normal play too easy and realism play too difficult? What if you want to ease into it? I propose that Valve could add a third option for such players: custom mode. Such a mode would allow players to tweak settings to their preferences. Don’t want objects to glow but want players to respawn after death? Check a few boxes and you’re good to go. What if you want common infected to be just as easy to kill as always but want the witch to be able to kill players instantly upon startling her? With a custom mode, you’d have that option. The best part is that implementing such a mode would be pretty easy on Valve’s end but would still make for a far better gaming experience overall on the players’ end. It’s a win-win!
The Left 4 Dead franchise is one of my favorite video game series due to its endless replayability and extremely fun co-op. Even after playing through each campaign and all the DLC dozens upon dozens of times, I’m still not tired of the game, and I probably never will be. However, the game still isn’t perfect, and if a sequel were to ever come out, these are just a few things Valve could do to make this excellent series even better. I hope they’re paying attention.