Back 4 Blood is the most fun I’ve had in a co-op multiplayer shooter in years. Then again, it’s the game I’ve been waiting for since Left 4 Dead 2 graced PCs over a decade ago – and I get the sense I’m not alone in this. From a distance, Back 4 Blood could be seen as merely more of the same, but by incorporating mechanics from roguelike deck builders it ensures that no two runs are the same; it’s got tons of replay potential. And it doesn’t hurt that the gouging, slashing, and shooting is as satisfying as ever.
I teamed up with three fellow ‘cleaners’ to take on the first couple of acts from the campaign during a recent sneak peek of the beta – which you can get access to now by pre-ordering here, coincidentally. We had so much fun that we decided to bring the band back together a few days later to do it all over again.
Instead of booting to a main menu, Back 4 Blood drops you into a hub where you can mess around with its many guns and attachments, tinker with loadouts, and cobble a lobby together. In the game’s big innovation on its predecessors, you can also select a deck and customise it here, which is thankfully not as complicated as it could’ve been. Decks comprise 15 cards, each of which grants you a perk if drawn and selected at the start of a level. Everyone has a starter deck for the campaign, and you can purchase new cards to shuffle into said deck with supply points that you earn by completing levels and challenges. These aren’t game-altering, but the ability to leech some health with every melee kill does subtly nudge you toward a different playstyle.