Left for Dead Patch Review

New Left for Dead patch is out. My thoughts:

Adding damage to the “help me up” state of the survivor when they’re hanging onto a ledge is a good thing since 90% of the time when someone was there they took no damage as no-one could reach them on either team. The survivors could basically ignore a player there until whatever they were doing was done then come get them with no health penalty to them. Now the person loses health and gradually lets go.

Adding a limit to the “swing” really sucks. Part of the terror of the game was knowing you simply didn’t have time for a reload. The shotgun is now absolutely useless since it’s reloaded one-at-a-time. It used to be you would reload the shotgun while swinging wildly, now that you can’t swing nonstop the shotgun is simply a trap. You either have a clip or you don’t. The game is now a lot less frantic because common infected can put serious hurt on a swinging player, so everyone moves slooooowly to cover each other. While this is more realistic, that wasn’t ever the point of a zombie game. I realize people abused this in the past in versus where they would bunch up and just keep swinging, but I don’t think this is the solution. Last nights romp through Death Toll took two hours because of the change of pace.

The “fix” for that is they made the guns more powerful. Shotgun still goes through infinite zombies when you fire it, but now bullets penetrate all surfaces except cars. We found this out the hard way on the lighthouse map where we stockpiled the bathroom full of explosives and the first zombie that ran by we sprayed through them, through the wall, and into the bathroom, which resulted in the death of the team. This works to great (some might argue too much) effect against the infected. For example I knew a boomer was on top of a building, so I simply walked in and emptied the clip into the ceiling until I got him. I suppose this is to fix the “smoker tongue around a corner” that people complained endlessly about where you could tongue a running survivor and if you timed it right you would just barely be hidden by a wall, but I liked the old setup better where bullets stopped more.

However, all these encourage the survivors to consume stupid amounts of ammo, which means they spend a lot more time using pistols.

Special Infected can no longer crouch and attack, except the hunter, which makes the claw-swipe useless as your head is always above the common infected crowd.

The new map is merely decent. The lighthouse is claustrophobic and there’s really no good place to hole up because every single wall is destructible in the place. You can be on top of the house, but then the first smoker that comes along after the rails are destroyed makes a survivor hang on. The tank will also climb up the lighthouse. The rock face also sucks because your survivor won’t hang on, you just drop into the surf for an instant death.

I only got to play Death Toll last night, but I’ve got mixed feelings about that too. For one, it was designed for single player which means that unless you’re floating, it’s really hard to get into the ambush spots. Since you’re not floating, some of them are simply inaccessible like the drop down in the tunnel. Other areas have been “cleaned up” so there’s less obstacles. I’m not sure if this is for the tank or because the boomer would always get hung up in them for great comedic effect. Other areas are closed off entirely, they used to be nooks and crannies for survivors to check for healthpacks but now the closets have a lot less space in them (look for new doors) and some of them don’t exist at all (the rest stop in the forest is now boarded on both sides). Almost all buildings have at least one hole in the roof.

They did fix what remaining map cheats there were, but it remains really hard to find a place to spawn on any forested map, especially when the survivors are playing to intentionally fan out through choke points so the infected get “you’re too close to the survivors” or “Can’t spawn were you’ll be seen” messages. For Death Toll in particular the map is so linear that a little effort goes a long way into preventing infected spawns.

Hopefully Dead Air is a bit more forgiving but last night was not encouraging.

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