TUCSON, Ariz. — It would have been the easy way to answer fans clamoring for more "Left 4 Dead" by giving them a simple remaster.
Instead, Turtle Rock Studios went with a wholesale reimagining, taking the bones of what made the cooperative zombie slayer work and adding modern accouterments.
The result: "Back 4 Blood."
The dev team, which created the sensational "Left 4 Dead" series and struggled with the promising yet unfulfilling asymmetrical combat game "Evolve," is back in old form here.
The drawback, at times, is that sometimes the form is a little too old. Failing on some levels to take full advantage of current and last-gen hardware, visuals are lackluster and, at times, glitchy.
Granted, there is often so much going on — with scores of monsters swarming from all corners of the map and teammates frantically racing around to maintain barriers, slaughter opponents, or come to the rescue of their buddies — that the sloppiness can be excused.
The expectation is that a steady stream of updates and DLC will substantially improve players' experience,d not just those who shell out more money. After pushing back its original June release date, the four months of polish that Turtle Rock gave the game probably paid off well. Whether you have a taste for PvP best-of-three matches or PvE cooperative campaigns, your bloodbath will be
Selecting from among eight heroes -dubbed Cleaners — you ward off the alien-spawned undead threat that has overrun Fort Hope, resulting in a wasteland of horrors.
Mixing and matching the Cleaners considerably ups the replayability.
Reducing your overall firepower to add Mom, a medic-like figure who can heal teammates without items, for particularly grueling missions can mean the difference between success and gruesome death.
You can also, say, get rid of a tank in favor of Evangelo, who thrives in lone wolf scenarios and specializes in breaking out of grabs and rebuilding his stamina.
You manipulate and augment perks with a card-based system that is no doubt geared to make you head down the path to shelling out more funds for content drops. It will be critical to the integrity of the competition that Turtle Rock holds to its insistence that the drops won't provide pay-to-win advantages.
Cross-play and the game's debut on Xbox Game Pass have given the game a massive player base to start with. The strategy to foster a thriving community will be a key to its success.
There's much blood in the water to jolt the spiritual successor to the famed undead franchise to everlasting life.