There’s something about the original Left 4 Dead game, how it still feels better than Left 4 Dead 2. But this isn’t like the feeling aabicus has with Payday 1 and 2, or Team Fortress Classic and Team Fortress 2, this is something different. The games I just mentioned, the sequels are, well, completely different. Payday 2 gets rid of old Hoxton and replaces him temporarily until you unlock the old version by saving him and is basically a whole new game, focusing more on the constant expansions than one little thing. The differences between Team Fortress Classic and Team Fortress 2 are mind-boggling, seeing videos and gameplay of the two of them, you’d barely know that one leads on from the other. In fact, that wasn’t even the case until the TFC mercs appeared in TF2 lore.
Things are very different in Left 4 Dead 1 and 2.
First off, a lot of the content in L4D2 is the same as L4D1. Or at least similar. The guns are similar, there’s certainly more of them though, with the biggest innovation being the changes to the sidearm section. Instead of just having a single pistol which you can dual wield, you can use one pistol, two Glocks, a Magnum or, if you want, one of eleven melee weapons. Melee weapons make life a LOT easier because they make knocking back hordes so much simpler. And of course, sidearms all have unlimited ammo, as before. It’s mostly just the melee stuff that’s REALLY new, since the community has always been prone to making new weapons, either visually or via server plugins.
The survivors (which really should have been number one on this list) are nice and new, but somehow they lack the likability of the L4D1 survivors. Coach and Nick are good characters, matching Louis and Francis in L4D1, but Ellis is plain annoying and Rochelle just seems somewhat bland. I wouldn’t say she’s a bad character at all, just not as memorable.
Then you have special infected. In L4D2, there weren’t that many new, actually different enemies. Sure, a female Boomer was added, but she works exactly the same way as a male Boomer. The Jockey, the Charger and the Spitter are all interesting ideas, with the Jockey pulling people away like the Smoker, the Spitter creating area denial and Chargers acting like smaller, weaker Tanks with the Splendid Screen. There’s also a new variant of the Witch – the Wandering Witch, but they simply aren’t as scary as the sitting down type. While a normal Witch sits in the way, unmovable unless you can either go around or kill her, a Wandering Witch will eventually leave on her own. Wandering Witches are also less sensitive to light or anything, you can occasionally walk right up to one and she’ll just keep on walking. They’re simply not scary.
Now that I come to think of it, L4D2 isn’t as scary as its predecessor. As I played through the sequel (which I very quickly bought when it was released), I couldn’t put my finger on it. But I know now. A lot of the campaigns are set during the day. The whole story (apart from the first campaign) is set far later on, so everyone’s already aware that there’s zombies, particularly the player. Also, more of the maps are set during the day, so it’s clearer what is and has happened.
The exception to this is Hard Rain. Now that’s a campaign that does actually change things up. Witches, water hazards and the weather all conspire against you, your speakers and your microphone. Still lacks the dark and creepy, but the change in tone and all that is pretty damn good.
Eventually, Valve ported all of L4D into L4D2. Together in the same game, it all feels more… wholesome. As if the first and second games should have been one game all along. Really, when you look at it, Left 4 Dead 2 felt a bit like a large DLC. A bit like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel or something. The Steam Workshop though has enabled players to get plenty of custom content, much of it silly, some of it scary, some of it scary in different ways. Combined with all the content from both games, L4D2 feels far more like a replayable game now than it was originally.
Unfortunately for L4D fans, despite the rumours of a sequel, it looks like the game’s pretty much on its own. There’s been no updates since February of this year, and most of the previous updates were small fixes. Mutations are no longer a real weekly thing and the game had essentially been handed over to the community.