Top Ten Reasons Why L4D Should Be L4BargainBin

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Games

1. Other players. L4D is no fun unless you are playing with friends. When I first purchased this game I immediately hit the online lobbies to play through the campaigns. Within five minutes of starting the game I already had one person who went idle leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves. And that’s relatively minor. Playing L4D in public games will expose you to the seedy underside of gaming – The imbeciles with 80 IQ or the Sociopaths who take glee in disrupting your play. Don’t even bother.

2. Terrible hit detection. L4D has the worst hit detection I’ve ever seen in a game. That’s pretty bad considering I’ve played Unreal Tournament 3. But at least Unreal Tournament 3 has the excuse that it’s a much faster paced game where huge numbers of projectiles can be in flight at any one point in time, many of which have sophisticated in-flight mechanics. L4D has only simplistic instant-hit bullet weapons and melee attacks. There’s really no excuse these things to not be honed to a mirror-shine. If you’ve never been killed by a special infected clawing you to death through 15 feet of concrete wall, count yourself lucky.

3. Unbelievable lack of content. Four campaigns that might last you an hour, and only two of them available for versus mode play. After having played No Mercy and Blood Harvest about fifteen times each I am just simply bored of them. I could care less about any supposed balancing issues that are holding up Death Toll and Dead Air, I just want some new venues to play on. It’s now almost six months after this game was released and Valve still hasn’t flipped the boolean variable to allow the other two campaigns to be played in Versus.

4. Shockingly bad netcode. Look, Left 4 Dead only supports eight people. Many other games are pushing 32 or 64 players around at the same time. There’s no excuse for the constant hit detection, lag, and teleportation issues with this game. There is a very slim margin for error in L4D, and constantly having to fight against the game’s netcode just makes the entire experience frustrating.

5. Lobotomized user interface. Trying to find a server with good ping? Too bad, you can’t. The game does not even show you a server browser. Every time you start up a game you’ll be constantly amazed at its tendency to host your games on servers halfway across the world. You can’t even check your ping numerically, since apparently numbers are too complex for the people they are marketing this game to – You have to try and take a stab at what one, two, or three bars means for your connection. From what I can tell, three green bars is something like 0ms – 500ms, two orange bars is 500ms-1000ms, and one red bar is 1000ms+.

6. The waiting game. When playing as a special infected, you most likely spend the majority of the time you’re playing … not playing. That is to say, you’re waiting the 30 seconds it takes for you to respawn. Coupled with the fact that you die essentially instantly if you are shot, means you are waiting around an awful lot. And there’s no benefit to trying to stay alive either – Spawn, attack, and die in one second, or play strategically and try to stay alive – Your performance, or lack thereof, doesn’t impact how long it takes for you to actually be able to play again.

7. Atrocious balance. On your first play through this game, you might be inclined to pick up the tier 2 weapon the Hunting Rifle. Thereafter you will quickly realize that shooting a single bullet to take out one or two zombies is somewhat less effective than using an auto-shotgun that can wipe out a mob of 30 zombies in one shot. The game is just rife with obviously poor balancing decisions that make you wonder if they even had anyone playtesting the game at all.

8. One-dimensional characters. Survivors have two valid choices. Boomers are only there to die, and Smokers are so neutered that they’re almost totally worthless except in very specific circumstances. The only character that even has a learning curve is the Hunter, and half the maps are so cramped you can’t even do anything useful when playing as one.

9. Linear maps. At first, the maps seem rather large and complicated. But after a few playthroughs it becomes obvious that they’re actually extremely linear. This is even more apparent when playing as an Infected, since a good number of ideal ambush points are explicitly blocked off. There are rarely any navigation branches, and even when they are, you’re quickly forced back onto the rails.

10. The hype. Look, L4D is a fun game, but it’s not a $50 purchase. I don’t even think it’s worth the $25 you may have paid if you got in on the weekend special. And it’s wishful thinking to buy a game based on promises of future patches. L4D has been released for almost six months already and they still have yet to actually do any substantive updates. The one update they did do was simply minor tweaks and small exploit fixes. This game clearly needed more time in the kitchen if that’s all they can do in this time period.

Bonus!: Ankle-biters. Whether you’re playing as a survivor or as a special infected, chances are you’ve gotten your ankle caught on a stray cardboard box on the ground. In tense situations it seems like my character is constantly getting stuck on some nonsense environmental prop, which ends up getting me killed. Even though it’s a game about a “horror” scenario, L4D is a fast paced arcade shoot-em-up. Getting stuck on some random thing two inches off the ground should not happen. This is a lesson that most fast paced games learned five years or so ago, when complex level geometry really started showing up – Shame L4D didn’t get the memo.

2 Responses

  1. I’m sad to read that you don’t enjoy a game which I do, but I agree with many of your points, particularly the technical ones. VALVe really does need to get its act together with respect to netcode, hit detection, and object physics.

    Regardless, I enjoy L4D and TF2 very much. One trick with respect to point 1. is to Steam-friend-ify the people you play with who play well, and join games with them. I’ve made a couple internet friends this way, and it’s enjoyable to play with their company.

    Still, I recognize that there are a lot of flaws with the game, but that doesn’t at all make me regret my purchase.

    Ben

  2. %name said:

    I’m sad to read that you don’t enjoy a game which I do, but I agree with many of your points, particularly the technical ones. VALVe really does need to get its act together with respect to netcode, hit detection, and object physics.

    Regardless, I enjoy L4D and TF2 very much. One trick with respect to point 1. is to Steam-friend-ify the people you play with who play well, and join games with them. I’ve made a couple internet friends this way, and it’s enjoyable to play with their company.

    Still, I recognize that there are a lot of flaws with the game, but that doesn’t at all make me regret my purchase.

    Ben

    Hey Ben,

    The majority of my games in L4D have been semi-organized pick up groups. So for the most part I avoid a lot of the headaches that are associated with public play.

    I do have fun playing the game, generally speaking. I don’t think I would write a long “Please fix!” style post like this if I truly disliked it, but there are many issues with the game that just frustrate the heck out of me each time I play it. Having only two Versus maps to play on probably pushes my tolerance for niggling issues way down — The first couple of times you play a map you are just getting to learn it, but afterwards every little random trip up gets on your nerves [and if you’re Infected you have ~30 seconds to stew on it].

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