Why I hate Left 4 Dead

Someone left a comment asking me why I hated Left 4 Dead. I was going to link him to my article on the subject, but noticed it wasn’t there anymore. Weird! So I’m reposting it, unedited, from a mirror I found at gamejolt. I didn’t necessarily wanna drag the issue back up, but I don’t wanna leave a hole in my post library.

This is how most my dates start.

This is how most my dates start.

More hating on Valve! This is sort of like the the Blazblue post. I need something I can link too every time someone is shocked that I hate the L4D series. Let me preface this a bit… I think Blazblue is like, objectively pretty shitty in it’s design. L4D on the other had is just one big, clever illusion. It is well designed in a sense, but the game is extremely shallow. So all that said, you shouldn’t feel bad for liking L4D (or even Blazblue, though you should at least acknowledge it’s gaping flaws).

The game is artificial. I often say I hate the game, to which people reply “Well you must not like team work!” or something (sometimes they accuse me of not liking fun, which is more accurate in general, though L4D bores me to tears). I always found this funny because -there is no real team work in L4D-. This is color by numbers team work. Why do you pick your friend up? Because when you get pounced or hurt, you need your friends to keep you from dying. You pick him up because you are incomplete. It doesn’t just benefit you and your team to pick him up — it is critical to your survival. The game has a gun to your head and is saying ‘pick up your team mates because if you have no team you will abruptly die to some special infected.”

Maybe one of the best things to result from L4D

Maybe one of the best things to result from L4D

Now sure, this is ‘team work’. You are working and doing so as a team, but you are mostly just going through the motions. It is team work in the same way patty cake is team work. You follow a series of almost immutable rules. Move as a group, pick up friends, jump at the same time, focus fire the tank — whatever, pretty much. Variating from any of these is practically suicide. Now I can play TF2 which we jokingly call ‘personal glory fortress’, but team work, while optional, is highly rewarded and takes actual skill and coordination. The team work angle in L4D is pretty much a farce. Special Infected in verses takes team work, but thats it — incidently, thats the only time I ever actually enjoyed the game.

The other thing people state is ‘hey it’s co-op!’ — well, I hate co-op. Doesn’t make co-op bad, but I can dismiss this point personally. This is partially why I think the game succeeds (mixed with zombie romance) with most people.

This is how most of my dates end

This is how most of my dates end

So besides the lack of team work, what else is wrong? Well, the game is secretly DEVOID OF GAMEPLAY. People will lol and laugh when they beat a zombie to death with a bowling pin, but thats not really ‘gameplay’. Aesthetics and visercial feel matter, but lets be realistic. Thats not properly ‘gameplay’, those things need to be supported by gameplay… and the gameplay in L4D is a watered down Doom. You run around with hit scan weapons and shoot mostly harmless targets. Occasionally a SI drops down and hits someone then you kill him because he has no control over his character. Great. To make it worse, due to the above mentioned rules above, you can’t do anything but follow the predefined routine. No running off rambo style to slaughter zombies unless you wanna endanger your team. Single player is stuffy and dull. I never once feared death because it was so out of my hand. I was relying on 3 outher human beings for my mere survival and the SI can come down so hard and fast that death often came out of nowhere. I suppose some found this to be ‘tense’, but that just made me ‘zzzzz’. So little at stake, so little control, so little options, so little in the terms of interesting weapons.

You know whats a better co-op game where you fight hordes of the undead? Doom. Don’t wanna play Doom? Serious Sam. Interesting weapons and enemies and a sense of overwhelmingness! Sounds good to me!

Everything ever crafted by man has a Touhou crossover

Everything ever crafted by man has a Touhou crossover

So anyways I said the SI are fun, but only SOMEWHAT. See, they’re horridly designed, especially the first batch. With the first batch, everything but the Boomer was pretty much dead after they hit a target. After that, wait 30 seconds. You’re basically a bomb. L4D2 does this a little better with the SPitter and Jockey (The charger has L4D1 syndrome and is just a hunter that doesn’t jump in practice)… and why is it like this? Well, so yopu just can’t totally out skill the humans and flat out kill them. AWESOME. I’m just a MOOK. I’m actually kinda okay with being a mook, but I am NOT okay with waiting 30 seconds between each uneventful death.

So yeah. Not much gameplay. For the most part you can’t even be good at the game. The skill is in being the least bad. Between co-op, zombies and good presentation, people get into it. People also get into it because honestly, they enjoy being tricked. When you look at the teamwork objectify, it’s laughable, but for the average player it makes them feel like hot shit. One thing I noticed is every group of players who play L4D seem to think that their little group is the best. Why wouldn’t they? They get to stomp random teams and feel like they’re helping each other the whole time. Theres also a general lack of accountability. Lose as the SI? Oh well, SI always lose (unless you’re doing comp L4D which I can’t even begin to speak about), no harm there. If you, win, you’re awesome. If you lose as humans, you have 3 other humans to blame. Even if you don’t blame them, you can laugh it off and not be bothered — its just how the game works. Sometimes you’ll randomly die. The only thing to be afraid of is just flat out fucking up.

So yeah, I fucking hate the game. You’re not a bad person for liking it, but your experience is mostly artifical. But hey, no harm in liking dumb, shallow games, I play horrific fighting games all the time my self…. just don’t tell me theres any real gameplay in the game. Just say you like co-op and zombies and be done with it.

10 thoughts on “Why I hate Left 4 Dead


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  3. At first, I sat here saying: “But… I love Left 4 Dead…” (I may or may not be a part of the 1% that actually uses a sniper rifle when it’s offered. Head shots are fun. Judge me lol). Then, I actually began to understand the writer’s point of view and I’m in a partial agreement. If they took the game and gave it more story, it would be an absolutely fantastic game. But hey, maybe I’ve just been playing too much of The Last of Us.

  4. I’m surprised anyone is even still bumping into this article! But yeah, no one should feel persuaded not to like L4D because of what I wrote, nor do I think less of anyone who likes it– it’s all just about understanding peoples perspectives. The only reason I even wrote it was because people were like “HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT!”

  5. I wasnt going to comment on this because its pretty old. but I see that all of your message is pretty hateful.
    This was originally posted about a year after the game was released. Well a year after l4d2.
    I only have a few points to make.
    Yes, the game ‘forces’ you to play as a team. theres really not many games out there that require nearly 100% teamwork for completion. this brings a different feeling to the game. if you dont like teamwork, go play COD with all the other 12 year olds.
    if you play l4d2 online today (2014), you’ll find that the majority of games being played are versus. Ive found l4d to be one of the most challenging versus games. everyone is given the same equipment, no leveling gear or characters, so game play is based entirely on your skills and those of your Team. even if you have a bad team and a very good leader, you can make it out of any bad situation alive. but you can also have just one bad player that ruins the experience for all. so everything going on in-game relies solely on the players themselves. You make the game.

    but really, looking at your replies to people who took the time to read your write up, i wondered if you should rename this to simply ‘why do i hate so much?’

  6. Lesse here…

    The “go play COD comment” is silly and misses the point. The game enforces boring, superficial teamwork. Little strategy or organization is needed to play the game. It’s color by numbers in a way to trick players into thinking they’re cooperating. Now, even in a game like that, if you’re committed to being good or improving or doing competitive play, there is going to be actual team work — but that exists in other games as well. The competitive scene for L4D2 very well might be amazing, but that does not contradict the complaints of the article. Though that said, Versus has always been the part of L4D I enjoyed the most (well, besides the fact that survivors are boring and blahblah boring hitscan weapons zzz)

    Now, I don’t value teamwork as a skill (which is why most of the competitive games I write about are Fighting Games) but if I was looking for that, that’d be the last place I’d look. I’d look for the PUG communities for other FPSs I found more mechanically interesting (my mind goes to Tribes, but I think that’s kinda a dead game at this point?)… or play a MOBA (ugh).

    Also at the time of that article, all the leveling and gear bullshit that’s filling the market was not a thing, really. I mean the flood of awful gear is the reason I gave up on TF2 so this is an issue I care about, but even then… in most cases, gears and levels become irrelevant at advanced levels of play (because you generally then have what you need). Holding L4D up as a sole bastion of team based skill is silly when not only were most games like that around the time L4D came out, but that even games with those annoying systems ultimately become games just about skill and teamwork. I can “make the game” in a bunch of different games I much rather play.

    So while I find it interesting and nice to hear that Versus L4D is healthy and competitive and everyone is really good, it doesn’t exactly any of my complaints with the game.

    Also I think that’s a silly read of the comments on my article. I mean I give one silly response to a post with no contents (though I’m sorta cringing that I still threw Faggot around back then) and one where I say outright that I don’t want anyone to not like L4D because of me. That doesn’t struck me as a whole lotta hate. But if you wanna know, my hate comes from my friends making me play these games for like a year and me finding them boring and unengaging. If it was up to me it would have stopped there and I wouldn’t have much of an opinion, but….

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