Back 4 Blood isn’t shying away from comparisons to much-loved co-operative zombie FPS Left 4 Dead – developer Turtle Rock Studios is responsible for both, after all – but the team is aiming to deliver more than a carbon copy of its earlier game. And one of its innovations comes in the form of an intriguing deck-building card system, which it’s now discussed in more details as part of its latest trailer.
Borrowing one of Left 4 Dead’s most innovative (and still, inexplicably, rarely copied) features in the form of a AI Game Director, Back 4 Blood works behind the scenes to monitor players’ “health, actions, and choices”, and responds by, as Turtle Rock puts it, “choreographing the world around them”.
However, Back 4 Blood’s Game Director is able to pull from a much wider set of variables, a hand it’s considerably more transparent about at the start of each play through. Before a level kicks off, the Game Director players a hand of Corruption Cards, each influencing how the proceeding action will unfold.
Some might introduce environmental modifiers – disabling electricity to plunge all interiors into darkness, for instance – while others might dictate the enemies players will encounter, game-impacting events (such as a endless onslaught of zombie hordes), even optional objectives to complete along the way. The trailer, for instance, teases a challenge known as Hasty Exit, tasking players to stay alive and reach the end of a stage within the allotted time.
Where things get even more interesting, however, is in the way players are able to assemble and deploy their own deck in response to the Game Director’s hand – either choosing a pre-made deck to get things rolling quickly or deciding between them which of their available countering cards, capable of imbuing a variety of buffs and bonuses on the team, they’ll bring into play.
These might include cards that can boost individual stats such as stamina and health, Loot cards, cards that improve players’ offensive capabilities – perhaps transforming a bash attack into a more powerful knife slash – even skill known as Talents, which can give secondary weapons unlimited ammo or replenish health whenever an enemy is killed by fire.
The idea is that players can rise to the Game Director’s sadistic whims by experimenting with different builds created by playing certain card combinations – Turtle Rock’s examples include decks built around medic, demolition, or melee – with more cards being unlocked using Supply Points earned by completing optional challenges and objectives.
Keen-eyed viewers will find a whole bunch of other card examples in the trailer, and if you’re curious to know how Back 4 Blood is shaping up head of its PC, Xbox, and PlayStation release on 12th October, you can check out Martin Robinson’s enthusiastic impressions of the game from earlier this year.