I am definately gonna get it and I will be saying inappropriate comments when we are about to die, such as Curu, you look so hot when you're being eaten alive and, dj, is that a shotgun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see that man eating zombie behind you, oh sh*t!
Maybe its a bad timing to say this, but weapons and i are best friends, and when we begin to rumble together, i dont see the diffrence betwen a man and woman, not even the diffrence betwen a man and a worm...
Last Edit: Nov 5, 2008 20:11:33 GMT -1 by Curugane
A friend is like a brother, some members of your family, they are only by law or by blood, but a friend is a brother by choice
I found this on the Left 4 Dead site, writen by one of the lucky ones that have played the game already.... Warning May Be Spoilers, or you might want to get the game NOW
Left 4 Dead Hands-on Preview - Survivor Side
Left 4 Dead is absolute chaos. It is intense, fast-paced, thrilling, exhilarating, and exhausting. It is everything you could ever hope for a game to be and more - every single expectation I had for the game was blown away entirely. I was literally in awe over how fun and unique of an experience it offered and I have to say that it was honestly the best gaming experience I've had in my life.
We as gamers seem to hear this kind of sensationalism for unreleased games far too often, and believe me that I too have been the victim of such unwarranted hype - but I promise you that these are not empty words. This game is truly original and it offers up a pure gaming experience. Everything in Left 4 Dead is geared towards reaching that mindset of pure gaming bliss. It is challenging, and you will fail. You will scream, curse, laugh and cry, and love every single second of it. Zoey hangs with the Infected Horde waiting in L4D
The goal of Left 4 Dead is simple: survive. You are one of the lucky few survivors of a new and highly virulent strain of the rabies virus that has spread throughout the human population, turning the unfortunate masses into rabid, bloodthirsty zombies. You must work together as a team if you want to have any chance of making it out alive. For those of you who don't already know, Left 4 Dead is a first person multiplayer co-op survival horror shooter built on the Source engine. Left 4 Dead pits 4 human Survivors against 4 human or AI controlled boss infected, which with the help of dozens upon dozens of the AI-controlled infected horde, try their hardest to make the Survivors fail. The four campaigns that will be released at launch are all of the "Survive and Escape" variety, where the group of survivors will have to battle their way through large, varying environments filled with boss infected and zombie hordes in the goal of escaping.
I have to point out a very important detail - THIS IS A CO-OP GAME. It is not Counter-Strike, it is not Unreal Tournament, it is not Doom, it is not Half-Life. I will repeat, it is a co-op game. Everything about it is catered to you and your three friends working together and trying to stay alive - you really don't have much time to worry about anything else! As I will explain in this preview, Turtle Rock Studios has taken a concept that seems so perfect for a game (co-op and zombies), and just about every imaginable feature you could think of and has turned it into an amazing, fluid, immersive co-op experience that has shaped up to be a truly unique and awesome game.
HOSPITAL RUNTHROUGH The hospital mission starts on the roof of an apartment building. We grabbed our guns (I took a pump shotgun), health packs and grenades and headed out. We opened the door and headed in. Right at the bottom of the stairs a zombie was waiting for us. Bam. I immediately noticed the amazing blood and gibs effects, and a smile came to my face.. oh was it beautiful. We continued on, killing many zombies in the apartment building, finally making it out. Everything was going great so far, a pretty normal experience..
.. and then we made it outside. A large open area awaited us right after the alleyway, and what happened next will remain imprinted in my brain forever. To our right were a couple dozen zombies, all walking around like zombies do, some up close and others far away, and then one turned and looked our way. And then another. The music started to build and get more intense. In what has to be the most amazing scene in gaming I've ever laid my eyes upon, this mass of rabid zombies all turned and dashed right towards us, with incredible fluidity. Not only that, but on our left was a chain-link fence that another dozen or so started to climb over, hell-bent on killing us. This mass of zombies climbed over cars, fences, and came around buildings and it was so amazingly realistic and blindingly fast that I was quite literally stunned. My instincts took over and my shotgun started shooting, mowing down zombie after zombie, but they were far more in number and speed than I would have ever prepared for. With only 8 shells in the shotgun, they ran out fast.. fortunately for me, my teammates were right there beside me and we successfully defended ourselves against the zombie horde.
I need to stop my story here to really emphasize exactly how the horde moves. The zombies in Left 4 Dead are amazingly fast. I can assure you that whatever you have imagined, and certainly what you've been accustomed to in games past, doesn't come close to what the reality of the situation is. If you've ever seen 28 Days Later and the way the zombies sprint and attack like it's their only reason for existence, which really is the case in L4D, you might have a better understanding. They don't just run straight at you, either - they're very good at dodging one way or the other right when you want to shoot. I was really shocked with how great they looked running around corners, over cars and fences, and through doors and windows. The view and the sound and the environment really come together brilliantly to create a feeling of real fear and awe.
Anyways, back to the hospital mission. I wish I could tell you that we valiantly fought our way through the entire scenario, through the subway, office building, another long street, a pawnshop and convenience store, outside and into a warehouse, down through the sewers, up into the hospital, onto the roof, battled our way through the finale and escaped happily ever after. I wish I could tell you that. The truth of it is though, shortly after the first outside area, we died. When all of the survivors die, you start all the way back at the beginning of the scenario no matter how far you have gotten. I also wish I could tell you that we learned from our mistakes and then survived. We didn't. A combination of the infected horde, Boomer and Hunter didn't let us go past the sewers - back to the starting for us. Third times a charm, right? Well, sort of.. we did make it to the finale, where we successfully dealt with wave after wave of infected attacks, but in the end, only one out of the four survivors made it out on the helicopter alive.
And that was on Normal
OH CRUEL WORLD
The game is difficult. I know a lot of you have probably played competitively in Counter-Strike or other games and don't think a co-op game could really challenge you, and trust me, I know exactly where you're coming from. When the developers told us that they only make it out alive a quarter of the time, they weren't lying. Left 4 Dead is not and will never be a game that one person can dominate. The gameplay mechanics have been so finely crafted toward a co-op experience that in order to even have a hope of survival, you must work together.
Please do not misinterpret this as meaning that it is hard to work together. One of the most amazing features of the game is how easily people meld together as a single unit, thanks to the design. Mike pointed out to us how, without even thinking about it, we got into the habit of timing our reloads so that when someone had to, the other would still have ammo in order to fight off the infected. This is not a choice. The infected are so numerous and spawn in such ways that if you didn't work together, you'd be screwed. Survivors making their way through a building in L4D
In this way, Left 4 Dead gameplay is really backwards from a lot of shooters. In most games, strafing is your friend. In just about every firefight in Counter-Strike you are strafing back and forth between shots, keeping your head out of the crosshairs of your enemy. Also in Counter-Strike, just about the only good time to duck is when you're spraying. In L4D it is entirely different. It didn't take too many times getting shot in the back by other survivors to realize that strafing is bad. If you're in the front of the pack, don't strafe around, and try to duck so your teammates have a better shot at the horde. It sounds like a pretty easy to understand method, but in practice, after years of other shooters and with a couple dozen zombies barreling toward you, it's another situation entirely.
'TIS BUT A SCRATCH
Why exactly are we afraid of the infected? They have no guns, they have low health, and they don't really hurt that badly - it takes about 15 or so swings from a zombie on normal difficulty to take you down. What they do have, though, is numbers. You may be able to take down a whole mob of them, but the problem is there always seems to be just a few too many. As careful as you can be they find a way to catch you off guard, and shortly after you realize they're coming you're already fully surrounded. Some of the most exhilarating moments are when you are being pinned down in the middle of a zombie horde, out of ammo and wildly swinging your weapon, clinging to life. If you find yourself in this situation without a fellow survivor nearby to help, in all likeliness you will soon get knocked down and face a horrible death at the hands of the rabid horde.
Left 4 Dead takes an enormous amount of trust to really be an effective team. Think of Counter-Strike, where as long as you play smart you only ever have to worry about one or possibly two locations that an enemy could come from. Now, try to imagine being vulnerable at all times from all angles - in front, to the sides, behind you, above you - everywhere. With the director doing everything it can to make your life hell, at any moment a few dozen zombies could come charging from anywhere. From experience, even while my computer was sitting right next to my teammates', it was incredibly hard to allow myself to be vulnerable and keep focused on covering where I needed to, especially the back. It's an extremely uncomfortable situation, like running up the middle of a game of de_dust2 facing backwards. It all adds to the fear and intensity of the experience, and it is exceptionally wonderful. The Infected Horde in L4D
THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ
The Director, he or she or it or whatever you prefer to think of it as, is a vital part to the overall game and replayability. I don't think it has been stressed enough that every single time through a scenario is entirely different. Let me repeat that: every single time through a scenario is entirely different. It really messed with my head because I'm so used to games presenting the same challenge over and over. Even games like Counter-Stirke (and I know I might bring up this comparison too often, but as the most widely played action game it should be the easiest method to convey my message), conflicts and firefights only really occur in a few key chokepoints and bombsites. The Director insures that there is never a point where you are completely comfortable or feel safe, not even in the checkpoints (as we found out on a few occasions). You are always on the edge of your seat, hastily scanning every corner and opening just waiting for the inevitable rush of the horde.
This is really the reason why Left 4 Dead is such an exhausting experience - you're in a constant state of paranoia about what might happen. Mike Booth explained to us that the Director is entirely procedural. Not a single trigger or flag or spawn is placed by the mapmakers - the Director is smart enough to figure it all out. The Director takes into account the "stress level" of every individual survivor. It doesn't want anyone to experience a boring game, nor does it want someone to get a heart attack by having a constant stream of zombies, which would really make you numb to the excitement. Instead, there are peaks and valleys. There are times of incredible chaos and others where you won't see a single zombie for some time. Just like any decent horror movie, the moments of silence and uncertainty lead up to the most thrilling and satisfying moments.
The Infected Horde in L4D
To give you an example, in the first three playthroughs of just the starting apartment building, we had three entirely different experiences. The first time, there were a few zombies spread out pretty thinly throughout the whole apartment, which was fine - it made you be active in each new room you entered. The second time there was barely more than a couple in the entire building, but the Director made up for it in the alley afterwards.. the third time it sort of built up and climaxed in the very middle of the apartment where it was a really awkward place to fight. The Director is a wonderful thing - it keeps you guessing, it makes every experience unique, and most importantly by changing it up it keeps you fully immersed and doesn't let you fall into the same boring pattern of play.
IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS
Okay, so I've at least tried to explain the basics of the feel and pace of the game, but now onto the important stuff - the detail. As I mentioned before, the hospital scenario starts on the roof of an apartment building. This has been explained by a few other previews, but I never really got a clear vision of what exactly it was like from their descriptions so I'll try to go into a little more detail for you.
You're on top of a building armed with a single pistol. There's a wooden table on one side and a door leading into the building in the center. On the wooden table are weapons, ammunition, grenades and health kits. Specifically, one pump shotgun, one Uzi submachine gun, a pile of various ammunitions, four health kits, four Molotov cocktails and four pipe bombs. By pointing your crosshairs at each of these items and pushing the use key, you pick them up. There are four survivors, so each survivor gets a main weapon, health kit and their choice of grenade (you can have either one Molotov cocktail or one pipe bomb). Picking up a grenade or health pack means you actually take the item - since there are only four characters, you'll always each be able to grab one, and then there will be none left. The shotgun and Uzi are different, as are all main weapons, in that when you pick one up the actual model on the table doesn't disappear. I'm guessing that this is so every character has a chance to pick one up and is able to switch weapons while in a checkpoint as many times as they change their mind.
This equipping stage is way better than buying from a menu and it really adds to the immersion level. It definitely gets you pumped and ready to kick some ass. (ass kicking pictured below) Bill unloading the M16 in L4D
You will learn to love red doors. They mark the comfort and safety of checkpoints. As you might already know, the four scenarios in the initial release of the game each contain around 5 maps. These maps are separated by checkpoints, which are safe loading areas where there are usually weapons and health kits to restock on. As soon as your entire team is inside of the checkpoint and you close the door behind you, the achievements screen comes up and the next section of the map is immediately loaded. The way back is blocked; the one time I checked, a file cabinet had fallen in the way of the door so there was no way of backtracking. When the next map loads, every survivor that was dead comes back with half health.
All living survivors have to be in the checkpoint for the next map to load. This provides for some pretty interesting situations. When only one survivor is left, all he has to do is get to the next checkpoint to revive his fallen comrades. The problem is, the Director doesn't play nice when you're in a weakened state - it gives you the same number of infected whether all four of you are alive or if it's just you on your last leg. We personally experienced a few of these moments, and it is great fun rooting on the last survivor.
Once the red door is open, not only can the survivors enter, but also the infected. This results in a Security Breach demerit for whatever idiot let it in. Just incase you were wondering, yes, Tanks can indeed make their way into checkpoints - and no, it is not pretty.
AND THE WINNER IS..
The hospital roof storage facility and tower from L4DSo, what happens when you make it to the end? In the case of the hospital scenario, the location is on the hospital roof. It's a giant building and the roof has many structures and openings for zombies to come around and through. On one side of the roof, there is a large storage facility with a sort of lookout/guard tower on top (see image on right and below). If you climb on top of the storage facility and then go up the stairs of the tower, in the top room there is a window with an attached machine gun. Also in the facility is a radio for calling in the rescue helicopter and a few gasoline barrels for spreading around. On the opposite side of the roof is the actual helicopter pad where the helicopter will come and rescue you.
The finale works like this: The four of you (survivors) have battled your way all the way to the roof. As soon as you get to the storage facility, the Director lets you get prepared by stopping all zombie horde and boss spawns. For once you are actually safe! Take this time to spread out the gasoline containers (when you shoot them, they ignite and cover the ground with fire just like Molotov cocktails), get positioned and make sure a person is on the machine gun. When ready, somebody will use the radio to call for the rescue helicopter and the finale begins! The Tank pounces on the Survivors from the hospital roof guard tower in L4D
A countdown timer appears on the screen that lets you know how long until the helicopter arrives. This is when the real fun starts. The next few minutes are spent defending yourselves from wave after wave after wave of zombie attacks, and it really offers some of the most intense and scary moments of the game. To give you an example of what happened to me, I was on the roof of the storage facility with the M16 mowing down the horde, and everything seemed to be going great. Suddenly, without warning, a Smoker tongue darted right for my neck from a nearby roof. I was caught! The tongue yanked me off the roof and I lay helpless and injured right where the zombie horde had been coming through. I screamed for help. A fellow survivor ran out from the facility, trying to beat the next wave - right when he got to me, we heard the oncoming threat. The machine gunner did all he could to cover us, but a few of them still made it past. My rescuer stopped helping me up, swung his gun, pushed back the zombies, and blasted them right in the chest. With the current danger over, he finished helping me up and we both made it safely back to the storage facility to get ready for the next wave.
For most of the scenario, you only ever have to face one Tank at a time. In the case of the finale, though, two are spawned at once! This unpleasant feature brought some of the most intense and heart-pounding events that many times led to death for at least some of the survivors (such as myself). It's hard enough when everyone is focusing on one Tank to take him down before he does any real damage, but for two, it's near impossible. The one tool that does give you at least a chance of destroying them is the mounted machine gun. The machine gun has unlimited ammo and never needs cooling down, so it spews out a constant stream of bullets that do major damage to whoever is in the crosshairs. The weakness of it being that it is mounted and has a limited range of vision. Smart Tanks will do best knowing where they can avoid it, and even smarter Tanks (like the one I had the pleasure of meeting) will decide to take the fight right to the machine gun room. Flaming Tank + Small Room = One Really Bad Day. Zoey on the hospital roof helicopter pad in L4D
Okay, so maybe you actually survive until the helicopter arrives. The landing pad is on the entire other side of the roof (pictured above), which means you and your team will have to abandon your fortifications and venture across it. This is a whole different danger, as boss infected will be ready and waiting since you're going into their territory. More than a couple of times we had our dreams of escaping snatched away at the last moment, like the time I was heading toward the helicopter ladder when a Smoker yanked me from the landing pad all the way into a mass of ravenous zombies (it ended badly for me). Once you actually do climb up the ladder and board the helicopter, there is another mounted machine gun waiting for someone. The helicopter takes off, flying around the building allowing you to see and shoot at the infected horde. When you finally have this experience with all four survivors still alive, words can't describe the feeling of victory and accomplishment.
Left 4 Dead Hands-on Preview - Infected Side
Let's get this out of the way right now. Forget everything that you read in the first part, because this is a whole different ball game. Playing as the Infected is a brand new experience that proves to be very fun. While playing as a survivor encourages cooperative gameplay in a familiar, yet unique style, the Infected team offers players a chance to terrorize the other team in so many entertaining ways that it is hard to keep from smiling the first time you sit down behind a pair of twisted zombie hands.
The goal of the Infected is simple: destroy the Survivors before they have a chance to escape. This may sound like an easy task, considering the hundreds of zombies on your side, but I can assure you that it isn't. The three primary boss Infected are all quite fragile and will die from only a few shots from the Survivors. As such, you must rely on cunning and guile to ambush your prey. Playing as an Infected is all about finding the right moment to strike in order to cause the most chaos and destruction. This results in a system of griefing hit and runs and suicide ambushes that is truly fresh and entertaining. Zoey looking out for more zombies in L4D
I'LL TAKE MINE EXTRA CRISPY
At any time, an Infected player may bring up a screen to choose their preferred Infected: The Boomer, Smoker, and Hunter (or random). I say preferred Infected because you will not be guaranteed to spawn as that Infected. The game only allows one Boomer, one Smoker, and two Hunters to be alive at any one time. I was pretty disappointed that I could not choose to play as one boss the entire time, but obvious balance issues demand this and the preferred selection prevents one player from playing as the boss that I may want the entire game. Trust me, more often than not you will be playing as your preferred Infected, especially if no other player is competing for that spot.
Becoming the Tank Infected works a little differently. As the Tank is so strong, the AI director will only spawn it a few times throughout the scenario, including two at the same time during the finale. Mike told us that every player will have had a chance to play the Tank before anyone can spawn as the Tank a second time. When the AI director decides to spawn a Tank, a player will be notified by an on-screen alert and allowed a chance to accept the role. The player will have a few seconds to accept and will then immediately respawn as the Tank. Survivors take notice: a boss infected suddenly dying for no apparent reason usually means you're about to have a fun time. The Boomer from L4D
MY X-RAYS ARE BETTER THAN YOUR X-RAYS
The first thing that I noticed when I first started looking around as an Infected was that darkness was no problem. Where rooms were once pitch black as a Survivor, I could now see just fine (although in a stylish, red super nightvision sort of way). This is perfect for sneaking around or hiding in a dark corner waiting to pounce.
Much like the Survivors, the Infected have the ability to see outlines through walls. Unlike the Survivors, these outlines are red and they are outlines of the Survivors (zombies cannot actually see fellow zombies in this way). Not only can the Infected see the locations of all Survivors with these outlines, but when an Infected holds still, they will be able to see the path most likely taken by the Survivors. As player zombies will always spawn in front of the Survivors, they will be able to see where the Survivors will be coming from and set up a proper ambush. Again, this is something that we really expected to hate. Like the Survivors, this outline adds so much to keep the gameplay focused, I can't imagine playing without it. It is even more essential for the Infected, who have much more map access that the Survivors.
There is only one limit to the Infected's vision: if a Survivor holds still, turns off their flashlight and is not shooting, you cannot see their red outline. This can be very, very bad for an Infected. Clever Survivors may use one man to stand at a defensive point, in order to ambush a sneaky boss Infected who is working his way behind the Survivors and yes, I found this out the hard way on several occasions - the hunting rifle can be a very bad thing...
Fortunately, as an Infected, our vision is not our only advantage. Unlike the Survivors, who are limited to a relatively linear path, the Infected play a sort of behind the scenes role. You can walk around many areas that the Survivors cannot access. Scattered strategically throughout the map, you will find ladders marked by glowing green claw icons that are only visible to the Infected. These ladders let you climb your way up to the top of buildings and other large objects to lay in wait. From my experience, the ladders all seemed to be in logical places such as drain pipes and worked very well. And for those of you who may be scared of heights, have no fear, because Infected take absolutely no falling damage. I don't quite understand how a methane filled Boomer can drop three stories into the group of Survivors without some sort of serious combustion, but it makes for fun times. A word of caution, however: if you cannot see the ground the jump may not be safe. There are some areas where falling will result in instant death. These are all very noticeable and I doubt you will try to jump down anywhere, expecting to live, and meet your death. Incoming Infected Horde in L4D
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'RE NOT ENTIRELY USELESS
The Survivors aren't the only ones to get a pat on the back for a job well done. The Infected follow a merit system that is similar to the Survivors, although not quite as deep at the time of our playing. The Infected merits are achieved by successfully connecting with an attack: hit with your melee and you get a merit, explode on a Survivor and get another merit. If this seems unnecessary, it isn't. Let this be an example of how difficult it can be to play the Infected well. Also, as the Infected get far fewer kills than the Survivors do, breaking down the Infected successes like this is a great way to see just how much a player is contributing to the mayhem. Keep in mind, however, that one well timed attack can take out an entire team, which is far more important than having a lot of green merits on screen. So, while the Survivor's scorecard keeps track of merits, demerits, and achievements that focus on a player's ability to work well with the team and keep the other Survivors alive, the Infected will see a detailed break down of how much damage and chaos they and their fellow players were able to achieve.
Don't do it. I know what you're thinking. You're going to hop into your first game, switch to whatever zombie you want, and charge those red outlines like there's no tomorrow. And then you will die... quickly.
As an Infected, you have very little health, and any alert Survivor will be able to gun you down very quickly. Fortunately, we had Mike standing behind us to suggest some good places to try during our first few spawns, and we were saved the embarrassment of dying so quickly...
The Boomer from L4D
Okay, that's a lie. We still died pretty fast at first, but at least we got to jump out and give the guys on the Survivor side a little scare. Pretty soon we were getting into the general flow of things and with a little experimentation it was pretty painfully obvious that we were getting no where if we charged the group head on. Remember, this is a game of tactics, ambushes, and griefing.
It's difficult to discuss general combat for the Infected, as each boss plays out so differently. The only thing all bosses have in common is a melee attack. If you're waiting for that special attack to come back or if you just want to put out a little extra hurt before you get taken down, melee attack is your friend. Just a click of the left mouse button and you'll be bashing heads like a pro. We should note that besides the Tank, melee attacks were used rarely (it's not easy getting close to the gun-toting Survivors) and didn't seem to do too much damage, so don't expect to be relying on it as a primary weapon.
Another good general piece of advice is to only attack if you feel like the situation presents itself. If you've set yourself up for an ambush and the Survivors are running past in a close, organized group without any trouble from the Horde or other boss Infected, it may be best to pull back and relocate. You should always be looking to jump in at the worst possible time, so keep an eye out for Survivors who are being overwhelmed by hordes of zombies, battling with a Tank or Witch, or are hurt or separated. In most situations, you will only have one chance, so make it count or you'll be sitting and waiting for that respawn.
SMOKER - AKA GENE SIMMONS v2
I was pretty surprised when I first saw the Smoker because he really doesn't stand out from the crowd. Although still badass, he is a normal looking Infected with a gaping mouth and an ugly face. He is probably the hardest boss to notice in a group of the regular Infected. Although you may find this disappointing, the camouflage actually gives the Smoker an interesting tactic that I'll cover in a moment.
The Smoker's primary weapon is his fifty foot tongue that really makes him the hit of every party. The tongue seems to have mutated to allow prehensile movement (like your thumb or a monkey tail) and can be used in a number of different ways, depending on the situation.
The most defining use of his tongue is to choke an unsuspecting Survivor. This can be achieved in one of two ways: 1) you can climb to a point above the Survivors, working your way to a higher level or by using one of the nifty glowing ladder points to take a clear shot at a Survivors head, and watch as you yank the Survivor off his feet and let gravity do its work or 2) snag the Survivor from a more even level (or even a lower level) and snag them on something like a lamp post or corner as you pull them in, choking them to death. I think this was my first real satisfying experience as an Infected; there's just some sick pleasure to be had in grabbing that straggling Survivor, yanking him from the group, and watching as you choke the life out of the poor sap before his teammates can rescue him. When you do choke somebody from above, Left 4 Dead makes great use of the Source engine's physics and the Survivor actually dangles while choking. If a Hunter comes around and lunges at the dangling Survivor, the Survivor will sway back and forth like a pendulum.
Pulling this off these chokes turns out to be a little harder than you might expect. For one, the Smoker is very frail and can only take a few more shots than your average zombie. This is a real problem because when you do grab a Survivor and start pulling him in, the Survivor has a brief window to turn around and blast you to pieces. Once you start choking the Survivor, however, they become helpless and must rely on their teammates to save them. Here we see the biggest weakness of the Smoker: once you commit to an attack, there's no stopping it. From the time that you fire your tongue to the time that you roll it back up, you cannot move. This applies even if you missed your initial attack. There was nothing more painful than missing a shot because you know you just revealed your position and the Survivors are going to follow that tongue right back to its source. So you're sitting there, swearing at yourself and praying that you can get that tongue back in so you can turn tail and run - not a happy feeling. Even if you manage to grab a Survivor and start choking them, you're still just a sitting target until the Survivor is dead.
The challenge, however, is worth it. I did manage to choke a few Survivors out and I loved it. As a Smoker looking for the choke, you must first choose your position. The most obvious is to go high, and I must admit this is where I was most successful, but don't forget you can snag Survivors around objects as well. Also, when looking for a choke, try to snag the Survivor without being too close to the edge of the building. Step back a little and let the building provide you some cover (pictured below). My first choke happened when the Survivors were battling in the center of a mob of Infected and a Hunter had just appeared on the scene. In the chaos and struggle with the Hunter, the three teammates weren't able to get to their friend in time. Choking shouldn't always be your goal, however, as many times a Survivor out of position may result in a dead team. Yank a Survivor past a mob of zombies and suddenly he's stranded and checking his fire to avoid friendlies. Sometimes this hesitation can be enough to get the Survivor overwhelmed. As an added benefit, the Smoker poisons the Survivor as he pulls them in. The longer you have your tongue around their neck, the more of their health will turn into temporary health. If you manage to achieve a "full pull," meaning all the way to you, the Survivors health is entirely temporary and will begin to slowly drain away unless they use a health pack.
The Smoker's namesake is his final ability. With the press of a button, the Smoker may release a temporary cloud of smoke that will obscure the vision of anyone inside it. This has many purposes, usable as a tool for ambush, a way to separate the Survivors or conceal a zombie horde, or even be a decoy for Survivors who expect something to be sitting within the cloud. I found the smoke to be most effective in tight indoor areas where Survivors cannot see if or where the others have moved, effectively separating them (the green outline does not kick into effect when vision is obscured by smoke or darkness). Creating a smoke cloud can create useful cover for a zombie like the Boomer allowing him to get close without being seen, ready to puke and cause mayhem. On top of obscuring vision, the cloud also makes any Survivor inside of it start choking and unable to use voice communication.
In regards to the Smoker's simple appearance, it should also be noted that the Smoker releases a cloud instantly when killed. As all Infected have a reuse time on their abilities, the Smoker typically can only release one cloud at a time. Since the Smoker is so similar to the rest of the horde, it is very easy for the Survivors to accidentally shoot the Smoker while firing into the rest, which may result in a very bad time for the Survivors to be blinded. If done correctly, the Smoker may be able to use both clouds to cover a much larger stretch than one cloud alone.
The Smoker like the other boss Infected has certain map conditions that it works best in. I think you'll find that rooftops are your friend, while vast stretches of open areas, or tight, enclosed corridors are bad news. This is where you have to decide just what you're looking to do: smoke, choke, or separate.
One of the worst things that I saw from any boss Infected came from a Smoker (and I say worst because I was on the Survivor side at the time). The finale was over, both Tanks destroyed, and the helicopter on the landing pad. The Survivors were climbing up the ladder and piling into the copter when the Smoker decided to strike. The last one up the ladder was suddenly pulled away from safety and into a pile of swarming Infected, including a number of bosses. There was no saving the Survivor, despite the best efforts of the man behind the copter's machine gun. No other Infected can rob a player of victory quite like that.
BOOMER - IS THAT YOU, SANTA?
If you were with us since the beginning, you'll remember our fondness for the loveable Boomer. He's just so jolly; and when he laughs, his belly jiggles like a bowl full of... well... blood, guts, and methane gas. Words can't express just how fat, ugly, and disgusting the Boomer actually is.
Despite his unfortunate ugliness (or perhaps because of), I really loved the Boomer and he was probably my favorite of the three normal bosses (it's not fair to compare the Tank here). While the Smoker and Hunter mainly focus on taking out one Survivor at a time, the Boomer can cause mass destruction of the whole team, and just overall chaos and confusion. That being said, he is definitely the most immediately accessible of the Infected side.
The Boomer attacks primarily by spewing blood on the Survivors (yummy). The vomit is relatively short ranged, but with the right move may be used to cover all four Survivors. Doing this will be pretty tough to pull off, as the record at Valve seemed to be three in one puking. When a Survivor is hit by the puke, they are temporarily blinded by blood covering the player's screen. If this isn't bad enough, the vomit apparently possesses some sort of zombie pheromone because zombies from all over will be drawn to the unfortunate victim. Not only pre-existing zombies are attracted, but also the Director will spawn more zombies to chase down the Survivor. Since the Survivor is effectively blinded, it is the rest of the team's responsibility to tackle the situation. With cool heads, the surplus zombies may be tackled like any other swarm. If the team panics (which happens more often in tight quarters) this may do some serious damage to the whole team. The Boomer has a long while to wait before he can vomit again, so make your first shot count.
As a Boomer you will have almost no health whatsoever. In fact, one blast and you are as good as dead and, as it turns out, this is a blessing. As the Boomer's name implies, he certainly goes out with a boom; the Boomer explodes upon death, not only creating a sweet visual but also doing serious damage to zombie and survivor alike. Therefore, the Survivors are forced to destroy the Boomer at a distance. Again, a cool headed Survivor may smash the Boomer back with his melee attack before falling back to a safe distance to take you out but if you catch someone on edge, instincts might kick in and suddenly half their team is caught in the blast.
These abilities, plus his surprisingly low health and slow speed, mean the Boomer is typically going to be playing as a suicide bomber or a slightly mobile landmine. The obvious tactic is to set yourself outside a door or around a corner, waiting for the Survivors to rush through. Quickly release your blood and hope someone is stupid enough to blast you. Panic ensues and you get a good laugh as the Survivors are destroyed. It should be noted here that all kills from any zombies as a result of your puke is credited to you.
Unfortunately, the Boomer's options are fairly limited after this. In most cases, you will not be able to stroll right up to the Survivors and expect to get within puking range. A favorite tactic of mine was to jump down into the middle of the Survivors from some hidden vantage point to catch them unaware (remember no falling damage for Infected). Even in a good ambush spot, it's not all daisies. The Boomer has a tendency to emit a very distinct, laborious groan every so often (you would too if you were in his condition). Survivors will learn to recognize this and be on the alert, often shooting through walls and doors. Unfortunately, due to his large model, I did notice a few clipping incidents where a shoulder or belly roll briefly poked through a wall, revealing my position. These things are to be expected in development but we definitely would like to see this ironed out before release.
As I said before, the Boomer is both fun and accessible right out of the box. A smart ambush can result in game over for the whole team. This is going to be the boss to really look out for if you have a bad player on your team, and catching your teammates in the Boomer's blast is going to be more embarrassing than a badly thrown grenade. If you're looking to cause full-team grief or to make one guy look really bad, this is the boss for you.
HUNTER - AKA THE ZOMBIE MEXICAN JUMPING BEAN
Here's another boss that looks nothing like what I had expected. The Hunter is somewhere between the Smoker and Boomer in terms of recognizable appearances. Built like a normal Infected but cowled and stealthy, the Hunter looks more like a zombie dressed for infiltration than a predatory beast. This isn't a bad thing, but I was definitely expecting something different. To be honest, I could never get a good look at the Hunter, as he was either stealthed or leaping across the map too fast.
I know many people are excited about playing as the Hunter and I don't think you'll be disappointed. The Hunter is the only boss that can be played by two individuals at one time so you're likely to play the Hunter more than the other bosses. This turns out to be a good thing because you're going to need the practice. Of the four playable Infected, the Hunter is unquestionably the most challenging to learn; his primary attack (the pounce) is challenging to accurately land and beyond this, his unique abilities offer a tactical depth that goes well beyond the others.
The Hunter's greatest asset is stealth, speed, and overall map accessibility. In a game in which ambush is key, the Hunter wins hands down - he is the only Infected with the power of invisibility. To do this, the Hunter must stand against a wall for a few moments before fading from view. He is only invisible while he is immobile; moving or attacking drops the invisibility immediately. He is not entirely undetectable, however, as the Hunter frequently emits a low growl that can be heard by Survivors in the area. Fortunately, the Hunter has enough sense to stop this when the Survivors get too close.
Jumping with the Hunter is a lot of fun, and just a simple click of the right mouse button sends you rocketing through the air. Time things right, and you can wall jump from building to building, accessing areas with speed and fluidity unimaginable with the other Infected. I think that this will turn out to be the most interesting part of the Hunter and I look forward to seeing what kind of combinations the community will be able to put together - something similar to conc runs on a Team Fortress Classic map. The Hunter has two primary attacks using his jump ability, the pounce and the lunge. The lunge is pretty straight forward and easy to do. Simply launch yourself at a Survivor and you will rocket them back a good ways. This can be used to knock a player out of position, cause falling damage, or even cause a Survivor to fall to their death. Just be careful not to miss here, or you may be the one to fall. The pounce is much harder to pull off but is useful in many more situations and can be quite satisfying. To setup for the pounce, you must first become invisible. When invisible, your jump will arc you towards your opponent, where you will land on top of them and proceed to shred them to pieces. At this point you are fully committed to the attack and, like the Smoker, cannot stop until the Survivor is dead. Think of the pounce as trying to land a grenade directly on the head of the Survivor. Our biggest mistake with this was trying to strike the Survivor directly, rather than landing on top, so be sure to arc yourself up and onto the player, rather than smashing head first into them (pictured below). The Survivor does have a brief moment to counter your pounce with a melee attack, which will leave you vulnerable and most likely dead. If you succeed in the pounce, the remaining Survivors can either blast you or knock you off with the melee attack (if at all possible, Survivors, use your melee attack: friendly fire hurts). If teammates do not interfere, you will continue slashing the Survivor until they are dead.
Finally, the Hunter possesses the ability to regenerate lost health over time. The Hunter can survive a few hits from the Survivors and his speed and mobility means that you can launch a series of hit and run attacks, wearing the Survivors down and keeping them on edge. Regeneration allows the Hunter to heal up while waiting for the next strike. From a Survivor's perspective, this means that you cannot let a Hunter get away, or you will be faced with a fully healed zombie in the near future.
Although the Hunter sounds flawless, the very nature of his attacks leave the Hunter quite vulnerable. While the Smoker strikes at a range, tearing the player away from his group, and the Boomer is most deadly at close range, the Hunter's attacks require him to jump directly into the fray, where he is most vulnerable. Although his attack is more difficult to counter, the pounce requires the Hunter to be entirely immobile during the attack, where he is typically surrounded by Survivors. While pouncing Hunters certainly caused me to jump out of my seat a few times, very often they were just something to be bowled over with the melee attack.
The Hunter can really shine in all situations, whether you're looking to pounce a lone Survivor, harass with hit and run lunges and melee attacks, knock players from ledges, or surprise attack in close quarters. The Hunter is the most difficult of the three basic bosses to take down due to its speed and therefore can keep the Survivors distracted and frustrated for extended periods of time.
Overall, playing as the Hunter was frustration interrupted by serious satisfaction. There's certainly a lot of depth with this boss and I would assume that more time with this character will result in a lot more fun and a lot less anger, as a skilled player will be able to consistently land pounces from considerable distances. Just be aware that this one's going to have a tougher learning curve than the rest.
Tremble before the might of the incredible monstrosity that is the Tank! Seriously, this guys one bad mother. The Tank can spell trouble for all but the most organized team. He's big - really, really big, and the ground shakes around him as he charges across the map on all four limbs. You will only get a chance to play the tank a couple of times each level, so you better enjoy it. The Tank from L4D
The Tanks primary weapon? A massive amount of health. Nothing short of a mounted machine gun can do these guys in on its own and even then things can get sticky. No, the only way to take this one down is focused fire from the whole team. A smart Survivor will most likely be backpedaling while you try to charge at them and their bullets will drag you down. Thankfully, the Tank has a useful trick up his sleeve...
Slamming the right mouse button will launch a rock or debris at whatever you're aiming for. If you're standing near a car, you can rocket one of these babies right into a Survivor. If nothing is around, you will tear a hunk of earth and rock from the ground. This can be somewhat tricky to aim but when you do connect, you will stagger the Survivor and do some serious damage (thereby slowing their movement). These rocks can be thrown a fair distance and may lead to some fun siege situations, with Survivors held up at some point and the Tank lobbing stones.
The Tank's melee attack can pack a serious punch, launching the Survivor back a significant distance. Knock the Survivor out and you can begin to slam them while they're on the ground (it takes four slams to finish off a Survivor when they are bleeding out). As a Survivor, it is important to remember that every bullet counts. In one situation, I was knocked down by the Tank, on my own, getting pummeled, and blasting it in the face with my pistol. My efforts brought the tank down and I was picked back up by a friend.
Not that you'd want to play him in this way, but the Tank is really unable to set up any sort of ambush. A frustration bar begins filling up every moment that a Survivor is not within sight. When this meter is full, the player dies and immediately loses control of the Tank. Also, the Survivors will hear you coming from a long ways away, with the ground pounding and shaking and all. This means there's not a lot of choices other than charge and destroy. Sure you can play smart, and time will produce some great Tank players (there was certainly a huge difference between what the developers accomplished and what we were able to), but in many ways the Tank will be an opportunistic fighter. The Tank from L4D
For example, while we were working our way through on the Survivor's side, we hopped in an elevator and we waited with guns pointing up the grate in the ceiling. It just so happened that one of the developer players on the Infected side had spawned as the Tank in a room above us. He charged down the corridor, leapt through the grate, and proceeded to completely destroy all four Survivors in a matter of seconds. It was awful. It was amazing. And I'm still pissed about it.
Now, I feel that I should discuss one gameplay detail that didn't get a lot of attention in our first part. As Survivors, you have the ability to open and shut the doors on the map (crazy, I know) and many of these doors are lockable. This effectively stalls any Infected, boss or otherwise. Zombies may bash their way through shut doors or boarded up windows, but it takes time. Each smash will tear down a piece and the visuals here are very nice. Similarly, Survivors may blast through doors, opening up holes. It's pretty common to see a Survivor behind a locked door, top blasted through, safely holding back a stream of zombies with their weapon of choice.
For the Tank, doors mean nothing: you can bash through doors and windows like swatting flies. In some areas of the map, walls can't even stop you. Throughout the map, some areas will be highlighted in glowing yellow cracks (similar to the green Infected ladders) to signify an area that can be bashed through by the Tank. These points can produce some of the most terrifying, cinematic moments in the game, as the Survivor on the other side of the wall are slammed back by debris and stone, while the Tank barrels through the opening. The Tank from L4D
Playing the Tank is unquestionably the most exciting part of playing as an Infected. It doesn't play like any other Infected so it really breaks things up nicely and you know that you have the chance to take out the entire team. After feeling so fragile for 20-30 minutes, it feels great to control so much power.
The Witch is the only boss that is almost guaranteed to give someone a bad day. Players cannot control the Witch so this one is AI only. She spends her time writhing on the floor, whimpering in pain until a Survivor gets too close or makes too much noise. In most respects, she looks like a regular Infected, female of course. You won't miss her though, because of her strange, tortured behavior. So no, she doesn't have a pointed hat, magic, or broomstick but she does look like a hag that you may find in some of your darker fairy tales.
When you encounter her, you'll hear her shrieks and moans first. At this point, everyone should shut off their flashlights, start walking and be quiet. If everyone is careful, and you're fortunate enough to avoid any other Infected, you may be able to sneak past the Witch without any trouble. These moments are very intense, as you and your team try to control any zombie threat in the area without alerting the Witch. If you get too close to her, move too quickly, fire your gun, or shine a flashlight on her, you're going to get her attention.
This is very bad. The Witch's primary attack seems to be a melee attack that will drop any Survivor in one hit. She's very quick, so you can bet that she's going to land this on someone. I think that we only managed to destroy the Witch once without losing anybody. Fortunately, she appeared to have a reuse timer on this, like all boss Infected. Her melee still hurts quite a bit and she's packing some serious hit points as well (less than the Tank, it seemed).
I'm not sure what it is about the Witch and Tank, but it seemed that everyone liked to toss their Moltovs at these guys, which lit them on fire, and consequently I was suddenly faced with a great, flaming bad, bad Infected. Awesome.
All in all, it's best to avoid the Witch. If you do have to fight her, you can bet the players on the Infected side will try to capitalize and get involved too. Our worst situation involved a Witch and a Tank and it wasn't pretty. The Witch only shows up on normal difficulty and above, so you won't have to worry about her playing on easy (most of our play time was spent on normal). [Note: she's now on all difficulties]
So that's it for the Witch, a mystery no more! She moves quick, has a lot of health, and can drop you in one hit. Battling the Witch will be one of the most dangerous encounters in the game, even though a player cannot control her. I still have nightmares.
Hope you liked it and is just as thrilled as me for the game.