I’ve been playing Left4Dead since the demo was available on Steam, and not too long ago picked up an XBox360 to play the sequel. Both are great games, and I’ll be writing a review covering both and what changes were for the better or worst in the sequel. I usually play with bots, but sometimes I get in a game online. Since I started playing I’ve learned quite a bit about how to best play the game, especially on the Advanced and Expert difficulties.
Early in the game you can use either the shotgun or the Uzi. In the first game you will also have a pistol, while in the sequel you can pick up a melee weapon to replace the pistol. The sequel also allows for duel pistols, which you can also obtain if a team-mate drops their pistol for a melee weapon. On the higher difficulties, the pistols and melee weapons will become crucial for clearing out common infected around you, as you’ll need to conserve ammo for your primary weapon for the special infected as well as when the common infected are swarming around you. You will also need to take into account the time for reloading, especially for dual pistols. In the sequel, those with melee weapons can simply swing away, leaving those with pistols to help clear those in intermediate and further ranges. For large groups far away, think about switching to automatic rifles, the Uzi, or using a throwable to reduce the large number of common infected.
With any weapon equipped, you can press alternate fire to shove instead. This can be a good way to knock back one or more infected attacking you, especially if you need to reload or take some pills. In the first game you can shove constantly, while in the sequel you will begin to take more time between shoves, but it’s still good to alternate between a shove and firing if there’s a large number of infected.
The pistols are not very powerful (except for the Desert Eagle in the sequel), but they are fairly accurate when fired from a crouching stance. They don’t have a large clip size (especially the Desert Eagle), so be prepared for the numerous and slow reloads. The Desert Eagle can inflict massive damage and is also great against the special infected, but like the sniper rifle each shot is critical. Its recoil is also very high.
In the sequel melee weapons were introduced. These are great at the higher difficulties for clearing off all infected that are near the group. There’s no ammo to worry about, and there’s no penalty for constant swinging. At the higher difficulties two or three of the members should have a melee weapon. Let the members with pistols draw in infected that are at intermediate and long ranges.
Shotguns are great at easily taking out infected and thinning out a group very quickly. They don’t hold many shells at a time, so reloading is very critical. Reloading becomes very slow if all shells are fired, so it’s best to fire three to four shots and then reload if possible. Obviously they are terrible at longer ranges, but at intermediate range they can still hit enough infected to draw in a group.
Automatic rifles are the standby for the game. They have fairly large clips, deal a great amount of damage, and from a crouched position can be as accurate as the sniper rifles without the hassle of zooming in and out as well as having the automatic fire when needed. Holding down the trigger wastes ammo and reduces accuracy, so it should only be used if the group is overwhelmed or if a special infected is getting too close. Fire a two- or three-shot burst for each shot, and wait to reload until the clip is down to about ten rounds.
Sniper rifles deal a huge amount of damage, but they are very slow to fire and reload. At higher difficulties only one member should have a sniper rifle. It can be used to pick off individual common infected that aren’t in a group. With the scope, it’s also possible to pick out special infected that might be coming around, even a tank that is waiting in an area ahead. If a witch needs to be taken down, let the sniper get in a few shots to the head to greatly turn the odds. Snipers are also best for taking out smokers, since they are often in spots that other weapons can’t deal enough damage quickly enough.
The sequel introduced the chainsaw, grenade launcher and M60 machine gun. These weapons will replace the primary weapon you’re holding. The chainsaw is great for cutting through a very large group, and for individual infected it is equally effective. If you just give a small mouse button press for each attack, the fuel can last for quite a bit. The grenade launcher can take out a large group of infected or inflict massive damage on a special infected. It’s not good for up-close combat, as it will do as much damage to you and your teammates. The M60 machine gun is a devastating weapon that can easily tear through common infected and easily put down special infected as well. It’s easy to burn through the rounds as it has a high rate of fire and no reloading is necessary.
In the first Left 4 Dead there are two throwables available: the molotov and pipe bomb. The sequel added the Boomer bile.
The pipe bomb is a great way to get surrounding common infected away from the group, as well as to draw in several scattered individuals. If thrown too far, the pipe bomb can go off with few casualties. Thrown too close, and it can do more harm to your group.
The molotov is a great way to either set a group of infected on fire, create a wall for charging infected, or to help deal damage to the Tank and Witch. It can be easy to underestimate the total area set on fire by the molotov, so be sure not to throw it too close to the group.
The Boomer bile is a great way to deflect charging infected, as well as to group scattered infected. If thrown to an empty area, all infected will swarm to that spot. If thrown on an infected, they will be attacked by other infected. The best thing to see is a Boomer bile thrown onto a Tank and watching infected attack it. On higher difficulties, doing this and then throwing a molotov on the Tank will greatly reduce the damage the group will need to do in order to take it down.
In the game there are two items that can heal: health kits and pills. The sequel added the paddles which can revive a fallen teammate. Both the health kit and pills can extend health quite a bit, so it’s good to wait to use them until absolutely needed. When a player gets below a certain health level they will move much slower, which could prevent them from escaping a group or special infected. It is also useful to use pills instead of health kits if both are available.
Teamwork is very important in the game, and absolutely critical at the higher difficulties. When going through the levels, all members must stay close to each other. When taking down charging infected, it’s best to have two members in the front crouching. If charging infected are coming on two or more sides, the members will need to decide which area to cover. It’s best to have at least one member with a shogun, as well as one sniper. The other two should have automatic rifles, to cover mid- and long-range areas. The shotgunner can use their pistol(s) for longer range and keep the shogun ready for any needed close-up work.
Communication is not only critical for formation and movement, but for inventory as well. Throughout the game there will be a limited number of health packs, pills, and throwables. Using these items at the wrong time can mean the group’s demise in the long run.
When moving along and there’s not many or any infected nearby, it can be good to let someone scout up ahead, though not too far. They can look for any infected that might be in odd locations, or listen for sounds indicating a Tank or such is nearby.