Back 4 Blood Review: A Bloody Good Time From Turtle Rock

Just when we thought that the zombie craze was over, it was proven we were dead wrong. Back 4 Blood is here, and it’s time the undead rose once more. Developed by Turtle Rock Studios with publishing by Warner Bros. Games, Back 4 Blood brings back that older 2000’s vibe of FPS action while mixing in some modern gameplay elements to keep things fresh. Honestly, it’s been a lot of fun to progress through, albeit with some minor flaws. Here is my review for Back 4 Blood.

Back 4 Blood is available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC. This review was completed through Xbox Series X and PC gameplay.

The Cleaners vs. The Ridden in Back 4 Blood

The narrative for Back 4 Blood takes place during a zombie apocalypse. A certain reputation has spread through the surviving world that a team known as the Cleaners have been killing off the undead foe to save the world. But in this universe, it isn’t so straightforward. Deeper evils await as the Cleaners progress through their work as they continue to save folks while fighting off the darkness surrounding them.

Back 4 Blood by Turtle Rock Studios with Cleaners and Enemy

It’s fantastic to see Turtle Rock Studios taking more liberty in storytelling this time around, as Back 4 Blood feels like a decent grindhouse story with ridiculous actions matching very well with chaotic gameplay. The cutscenes are a true pleasure, as they let the team’s ability to render beautiful backdrops take center stage. My favorite character out of the eight playable protagonists was Mom, an aging hardass who is ready for a bloody fight.

I’ll avoid any spoilers here, but Back 4 Blood‘s story offers plenty to enjoy. Following along with the Cleaners and their continuous struggle to save the world was exciting to watch since I felt important to the mission. Coupled with the fact that I could pick any character, hearing everyone interact was a beautiful touch not that many games explore these days.

Left 4 Dead 3?

Everything about Back 4 Blood‘s gameplay is screaming with Left 4 Dead‘s formula. It’s all familiar territory, and any player can jump into the action. It’s difficult for any fan of Left 4 Dead to not immediately notice some striking similarities. The only big change in the gameplay is the inclusion of cards, which enhance the gameplay to add more odds into your favor. This simple step in switching up the action makes a big difference, whether you’re playing the campaign with friends or not.

Since the gameplay is entirely germane to Left 4 Dead, nothing is exactly new, and that goes for the solo play, which is the game’s biggest flaw. If you are a solo player (which I am at times when I work and review), the progression will not care for you. The bots can be unresponsive to some actions, so you must be the one completely in charge if you are to proceed in a mission. That, and you don’t receive the same rewards when you’re on your own.

For example, there are 10 special golden skulls that players can collect for achievements; however, these achievements can only be unlocked if you’re in an online session. In other words, if you’re on your own and you collect the skull, nothing will change or improve – not even the achievement will be activated. I found this to be increasingly frustrating, leaving me to believe that the game was multiplayer friendly and just that.

Still, Back 4 Blood is a ton of fun to play. If you have dedicated friends online who you play with, you’ll have a grand ole time. Once you start getting invested in Swarm mode as well, the action will never stop. In Swarm, four Cleaner players will go up against four Mutated Ridden players and their common undead in a time-fitted series of matches. Each team will switch sides and the round ends when the Ridden kill the Cleaners. Until one team reaches a score of 2-1, they will be the victor. It’s addicting to the point where I find myself re-queuing for more matches when I likely should take a break. Switching in-between the two sides is exhilarating, and I constantly find myself trying to figure out how I can take out the enemy strategically.

The Look and Feel of Back 4 Blood

Back 4 Blood offers a solid throwback to classic FPS action with updated graphics and storytelling, as I feel more connected to this round of characters as opposed to previous Turtle Rock Studios projects. Walking around the world in this game takes a unique approach to the narrative basis. The world has been consumed by this rotten Ridden force, and its impact goes beyond burnt cars and fallen bridges. We get to see how the Ridden is infesting our world with their grotesque nests and hordes, and that shines brightly through the overall design of the game.

All of the disgusting guts interlined with our decaying world is a treat to see. Back 4 Blood’s gore shows how much Turtle Rock Studios have grown through the years while maintaining their style of level design and character interaction, and their audio is as good as ever. Thanks to the narrative, we get some good vocal performances from the voice actors who work on the Cleaners and the Ridden. I’m particularly fond of the voice actors behind Phillips and Mom, but I had a good time hearing anyone banter with one another. Although some of the character modeling could’ve used some more polishing, it doesn’t get in the way of the overall immersion.

When it comes to the audio and graphics of Back 4 Blood, the familiar player will be able to recognize all of the Turtle Rock tropes they’ve come to know and love. It honestly does feel like a Left 4 Dead sequel with a more sincere focus on level design and character modeling, but that can only go so far.

Back 4 Blood Ridden Gameplay by Turtle Rock Studios

In Conclusion…

Back 4 Blood is a great multiplayer shooter for the masses that ultimately neglects its single-player crowd. Playing through the campaign with friends or a legit human team can make a big difference when engaging with this title. It’s best to stick with multiplayer for this title since it’s not solo-friendly. But with literally everything else that comes to mind (from Swarm to the cards and online matchmaking), it’s essential to recognize this game as a damn good time. The bugs are few and far in-between; they definitely won’t get in the way of having a good time – unless you’re playing the campaign solo, which I do not recommend for it is a bore. But with the gore, characters, mutated Ridden, weapons, and teamwork, Back 4 Blood packs plenty of punches and even more bullets.