Why Left 4 Dead Will Never Die

It’s hard to believe that the original Left 4 Dead was released back in 2008.

Even though it spawned a sequel that came out shortly after the original, the Left 4 Dead franchise has always felt less like a series and more like a refinement of the original project that was set into motion. After all, the entirety of Left 4 Dead is included in Left 4 Dead 2.

It’s astounding just how good the game has held up.

Sure, you can download higher res texture packs and mod the hell out of the game, but the core gameplay is something that will never fall out of style – and that’s without layering in the plethora of additional modes, difficulties, modifiers and mutators.

The moment-to-moment gameplay is no slouch either.

Should you ever feel that the game becomes too predictable or stale, jump into expert and see if you still share the same sentiment. One wrong move and your entire squad could be wiped out in a manner of seconds. Somehow, after all these years, Left 4 Dead manages to remains surprising.

Some might argue that its resonance is merely a testament to how strong of a game developer Valve used to be, but while an element of that may be true, to not acknowledge the ingenuity of the work would be a grave mistake.

In a way, L4D has had better procedural game design than most titles to have come out in the last decade.

Most of the procedural work that gets featured in modern games has to do with levels, prop placement, or some sort of combination of the two. Some games experiment with procedural progression paths in a bid to shake up the monotony of rewards, but few apply a reactive AI that plots your next move against you.

While we’re far from thinking that the Director AI in the Left 4 Dead series is something that can hold a candle to the likes of Google’s DeepMind, we firmly stand behind the sheer brilliance of its utilization.

But in order to fully appreciate its efficacy in application, you need to step fully into the Expert difficulty.

Without explicitly telling the game that you want it to serve you your own ass on a platter, the Director AI will be pretty lax about sending the infinite infected hordes it has at its disposal against you.

Once you have given it the permission… well, things get very intense very fast.

The degree to which shit hits the fan is what keeps Left 4 Dead challenging to those who brave the depths of the most unforgiving difficulty and mode.

“Realism” is what takes things beyond the scope of the base game. Every bullet fired, every resource gathered, ever special infected engaged or avoided matters. And one wrong step sends your jaunt to the escape chopper tumbling into the ground.

Side-note: if you haven’t tried Helms Deep in Left 4 Dead yet, do us all a favor and clear out your weekend schedule, download the mod, and usher in the dawn of your enlightenment.

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