Back 4 Blood Review-In-Progress | The Zombie Shooter You Were Waiting For?

Does the final version of Back 4 Blood improve upon the Beta? And is it a worth getting? Here's what we think after a few days of playing.

ONE Store Beta Now Available

Back 4 Blood will fully release tomorrow, October 12 on PC and consoles. Though for those who bought the Deluxe or Ultimate Edition of the game had early access, meaning they were able to start playing last October 7.

After trying the game out during the Open Beta last August, we were quite excited to play the full release version given that our beta experience was positive overall. Although there were some issues that we wanted to get fixed by the time the game fully releases.

So, does the final version of Back 4 Blood improve upon the Open Beta? And is it a worthy game to play for gamers that are looking for a new co-op experience? Well, we’re currently still progressing through the game, so we can’t give a final recommendation yet. But we have played it enough over the past few days to at least give our initial verdict.

[NOTE: If you haven’t yet, read our initial impressions for a breakdown of the gameplay mechanics and features of Back 4 Blood]

A More Challenging Experience

One of the things we noted in our impressions was that the beta build of the game was a bit on the easy side on Recruit, while being incredibly difficult on Veteran (the next difficulty up). While Recruit still had some challenging moments in the beta, going through the levels even as an uncoordinated team wasn’t too difficult.

But with the release version of the game, we found that Recruit is noticeably harder. Now, the Ridden (aka zombies) hit a bit harder, and there are way more Special Ridden that attack, even in the earlier stages. This means you and your allies must act more like a team if you are to survive even on the base difficulty.

Recruit isn’t the only difficulty that was tuned as Veteran seems to also be harder. Your mileage may vary on whether you will like the tougher version of Veteran or not, but if you are a skilled player and/or are playing with skilled teammates, Veteran should be right up your alley. On the other hand, some players might get frustrated by the high level of challenge that even the second difficulty setting has.

As we’re still playing through the game, we still can’t give our final thoughts on if the game difficulty adjustment makes the game better overall, but what we can say for certain is that Back 4 Blood’s release version has a lot more polish.

Has More Polish

During our time playing the beta version of Back 4 Blood, we experienced some bugs here and there that, while not hampering the experience fully, still presented some issues. One such bug is during a boss encounter where one member of our team couldn’t see the boss at all. Another is, in my experience, the game couldn’t connect to servers on PlayStation if I played on Wi-Fi. While this was solved by switching to a wired internet connection, it was still not an ideal solution, especially for players who might not have a long enough ethernet cable to go wired. On top of these, there were some minor visual bugs that appeared in our playtime.

For the release version of the game, we did not encounter as many of the issues from the Open Beta, and we were able to play the game mostly smoothly without any issues (at least for now). Though there were some bugs, one of which is that we encountered an enemy Ridden getting stuck at a certain part of the level. Then there was a level that we weren’t able to see an objective which we believe got bugged.

Though what did get fixed for sure is that I tried connecting to the servers and playing on PlayStation while on Wi-Fi, and I did not encounter any problems like server disconnections.

Alongside some bugfixes, gameplay and combat in general felt a bit better. While it was playable enough during the Open Beta, some parts of it felt a bit janky. Now though, the game just feels a bit more responsive, and the guns feel better to use as well. It’s hard to describe specifically what improved in this regard, but we can confirm that it should feel better for most (if not all) players.

Still Room for Improvement

So far, we’re liking Back 4 Blood, but there are parts of the game that could use some tuning. For one, the Recruit difficulty being more challenging is interesting, but this is accomplished mostly by increasing the number of Special Ridden that spawn from random areas. While this gives a bigger challenge in terms of gameplay, the fact that they spawn seemingly from anywhere did take us out of the game a bit at times – sometimes they just come from locations that don’t make sense for them to come from.

Another thing that we want a bit more of is story. Sure, Back 4 Blood isn’t exactly the type of game that you play for a cinematic experience, but based on the earlier parts of the game, we wish that the game’s story and world are fleshed out a bit more as we did find the cutscenes and dialogue a bit lacking. Though again, this opinion of ours can change as we’re still working our way through the campaign.

Speaking of the campaign, Back 4 Blood allows players to play the campaign mode solo, complete with three AI-controlled allies. For us, this is not the best way to experience the game as there’s nothing that can beat mowing down zombie hordes with friends, though it is a nice option to have if you want to experiment or just play at your own pace. In fact, if you want to just tear up hordes of zombies as a way of kicking back and relaxing, Solo mode is a great way to go.

Another improvement for Solo mode is that it’s better if playing it also awards resource points for unlocking cards. This means you will need to play online if you want to unlock more cards, which is not ideal for players who want to quickly get more cards, or at least gather cards at their own pace.

Initial Verdict

Currently, we’re having a blast with Back 4 Blood as it improves upon the beta version in terms of polish and gameplay feel, all while adding an extra level of challenge, even on the base difficulty. While there are things that we want to see get worked on (such as more difficulty tuning and more bug fixes), most of these can be addressed in future patches.

Given this, while we can’t fully recommend Back 4 Blood yet, we can say that it’s worth checking out for players who are itching for a co-op game to play with friends. And it is especially recommended for players who enjoyed the original Left 4 Dead and want a game that recaptures that experience.

For our final verdict, including our thoughts on the game’s campaign as a whole and PvP mode, watch out for our full review soon.