Left4Dead 2 Demo Thoughts

I had a chance to play through the Left4Dead 2 demo last night, and I can say that I am even more excited for the new game to come out in November! The demo showed off some of Left4Dead 2’s new additions to the special infected, weapons, and other items. It also showed an evolution of the level design that I’m really happy with.

Survivors

Left4Dead has a memorable cast of survivors. After hours of playing online with my friends, I feel like I know the survivors pretty well. Thousands of lines of dialogue, mostly one-off comments, really add to their depth. With Left4Dead 2, the survivors are developed the same way. I’m looking forward to listening to the dialogue throughout the game. Even the few lines I heard in the demo help to flesh out the characters. So far each survivor has come across just as strong as those from the original game.

The survivors of Left4Dead 2
The survivors of Left4Dead 2

Weapons

Left4Dead 2 has some new weapons, and the original weapons that are returning have been tweaked from the original game. The pistol does not feel as accurate as it did in Left4Dead, but it looks heftier and produces a satisfying gunshot sound when used. Headshots with the pistol are an instant kill, and it can take limbs off with a well-placed bullet.

The pump shotgun is back as well. It acts like it has a full choke, but it is still accurate well past what I would realistically expect. Still, it is very satisfying to use. One surprise from the demo is that the shotgun will not always take down an infected with just one shot unless it takes off a limb or the head. In Left4Dead, the shotgun was an almost guaranteed kill with a body shot. In Left4Dead 2 that is not necessarily the case unless you shoot an infected in the back. The shotgun also feels slower to reload, similar to the way it reloads when it is completely empty in the first game.

The combat shotgun is a welcome addition. It packs a big punch and looks impressive. It doesn’t feel as accurate as the original semi-auto shotgun, but it will clear a hallway of infected very quickly.

The Uzi is practically the same except for the location of the gun model when it is being used. The gun is held closer to the survivor’s face, so it fills more of the screen and cuts down on visibility.

Three melee weapons are featured in the demo – the guitar, the frying pan, and the police baton/night stick. The are a lot of fun, but you have to drop your pistol in order to use them. Still, a well-placed melee attack will take off an infected’s head, and the melee weapons are very handy when rushed by a horde.

The pipe bomb has a welcome addition – instead of turning a crowd of infected into a cloud of red mist, the pipe bomb more realistically sends pieces of infected flying in all directions. It is a much more visceral effect and really shows off the physics in the Source engine.

Infected crowd around a pipe bomb before it goes off.
Infected crowd around a pipe bomb before it goes off.
A pipe bomb sends pieces of infected in all directions.
A pipe bomb sends pieces of infected in all directions.
A few milliseconds later.
A few milliseconds later.

Special Infected

The special infected are back with a few cosmetic upgrades. The boomer, smoker, and hunter that I encountered in the demo are even more mutated and grotesque than before. I also encountered a witch wandering around in the daylight instead of sitting still on the ground.

The Hunter's face is more decayed.
The Hunter's face is more decayed.
The smoker is more disfigured. Notice the two tongues coming out of the face. Only one is used for snagging survivors.
The smoker is more disfigured. Notice the two tongues coming out of the face. Only one is used for snagging survivors.
A witch wanders around under a bridge.
A witch wanders around under a bridge.

Three new special infected are in the demo – the charger, the spitter, and the jockey. All three are just as easy to take down as a smoker or hunter. I was grabbed twice by the charger and pummeled into the ground until my teammates killed him. The spitter also blocked our path several times with her pools of acid. We were too quick to let the jockey pounce anyone, but he certainly looks creepy enough.

The charger grabs survivors and runs until it encounters an obstacle. Then it pummels you into the ground repeatedly.
The charger grabs survivors and runs until it encounters an obstacle. Then it pummels you into the ground repeatedly.
The jockey is similar to a hunter in that it stalks the survivors and tries to pounce them.
The jockey is similar to a hunter in that it stalks the survivors and tries to pounce them.
A spitter runs after us. Notice the trail of acid streaming from her mouth.
A spitter runs after us. Notice the trail of acid streaming from her mouth.
The spitter's pool of acid deals damage, but dissipates quickly.
The spitter's pool of acid deals damage, but dissipates quickly.

The Infected

The infected look even better in Left4Dead 2. They are more decayed, and wounds inflicted on them by the survivors are bloodier and more visual. Bones protrude from severed limbs, rib cages are exposed from body shots, and blood spurts from wounds in streams. The infected are also a little tougher to take out. I shot off an arm of a common infected from across the street (an instant kill in Left4Dead), but instead of dying, I watched as he stumbled around in a daze, walking into a wall repeatedly until I took him out of his misery.

Common infected are even more detailed in Left4Dead 2.
Common infected are even more detailed in Left4Dead 2.

Uncommon common are also a new addition to the game. The demo featured S.W.A.T. infected. They are dressed in body armor and therefore very difficult to take down. The best method that I found is to use a melee attack to make them stumble, then shoot them from behind where the armor is weakest. Fortunately I did not encounter more than one or two of them at a time.

Uncommon common infected add a new element to the game.
Uncommon common infected add a new element to the game.

Final Thoughts

Left4Dead 2 looks amazing. The new campaigns alone are worth diving back into the game. With the new weapons, items (adrenaline anyone?), and infected, I expect that Left4Dead 2 will take up even more of my time than the first game, and I will probably end up replaying Left4Dead several times just to compare the two games.

The demo's levels take place during the day.
The demo's levels take place during the day.
The demo levels feature more open spaces.
The demo levels feature more open spaces.
Adrenaline, one of the new items in the demo.
Adrenaline, one of the new items in the demo.
Pipe bombs are a lot of fun now that they have a more realistic explosion.
Pipe bombs are a lot of fun now that they have a more realistic explosion.