It was just this time last year that we were cracking open the skulls of the undead over the delicious, acrid sizzle of overheated shotgun barrels with the release of Valve’s Left 4 Dead. While the famed developer’s lightning quick turnaround time on a sequel has been the target of much outrage (even a threatened boycott), the authors of the Half-Life franchise has proved they aren’t a one trick pony. With the latest installment of the four player co-op zombie apocalypse masterpiece, they’ve finally produced a winning franchise that they didn’t buy first – and cemented that victory in a year’s time.
For fans of the original, Left 4 Dead 2 is a much different and much harder game. Building on the successful formula of the original with a shitload more weapons, some of the finest level design yet produced in a first person shooter, and some real motherfucker new zombies, life after Z-Day isn’t the walk in the park it once was. The zombies drop slower, run faster and have more ways to clamp their undead pieholes around your tender neck than ever before, making a helpful sequel to our guide to surviving Left 4 Dead a necessity incumbent.
Here’s some helpful tricks to keep your lungs from becoming someone’s lunch.
1) Take A Breather
In Left 4 Dead, the melee shove was the best weapon in the game. With a couple square yards of effect and no cooldown, if you ever got in a real pinch you could duck into a corner and melee spam until some help came to bail your fat out of the fire. The sequel nerfs that shit with a four foot wiffle bat.
Rate of fire of your melee attack drops drastically after three or four. Be sure to pick your melee bursts well and, most importantly, time it with a reload of your weapon. How you time your melee often decides whether you watch the horde from the deck or from the dirt.
2) Batting Order
You can’t win the World Series with three hot bats, nor can you beat Left 4 Dead 2. The new melee weaponry are pantloads of fun to play, but only if your squad takes turns. Nothing turns the panic music to requiem sonata faster than four douchebags all carrying cricket bats.
Keep a good balance of ranged and melee in your secondary slots – one can be helpful, more than two is a liability.
3) The Three S’s
Squat, shove and swat, melee fans – in that order. Getting the distance right on your melee weapon is next to impossible and usually a waste of health. To get the maximum effect out of that axe or crowbar, crouch, melee shove, then take a swing. You hit more zombies per stroke and by ducking, you’ll avoid friendly fire.
Following the three S’s will save a lot of health and heartache.
4) Jockeys Come First
No special zombie is more dangerous than the Jockey. While the Tank and the Charger can be devastating in the right area, a Jockey can fuck everything in the campaign into a cocked hat anywhere. Sticking together is way more important in this game than its predecessor and no one splits up a crew as well as the Jockey. While a player will usually get hung up on a park bench or a rail with a Smoker, a Jockey will ride your ass right off a ledge, right into a Boomer or Witch or even do laps in a pool of Spitter acid.
You hear that giggling bastard and your priority should be evident. Always shoot the Jockey first.
5) Still No Time Like The Present
The best tip from our last guide was using your disposable items. Now in addition to Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs, players have access to bile canisters, adrenaline shots and ammo dispensers. Like before, there is no better time to use the weapon in your hand than right now. Left 4 Dead 2 sprinkles items far more liberally than the original and you are rarely ever in a situation where “the right moment” for your item will ever come.
Make like Snoop Dogg and drop that shit while it’s hot.