Left 4 Dead Updated Hands-On - Versus Mode

To understand a zombie, you must become one.

by

Why should uninfected human survivors have all the fun? In Left 4 Dead's Versus mode, you can join a squad of infected zombie bosses and--what else?--vomit on enemy faces. After playing much of the single-player and co-op campaigns, we finally got our hands on the Versus mode of Valve's anticipated shooter.

Live together...

The squad-based mode is round-based, and survivors will trade with the infected after each round. Just as the survivor team consists of four members, the infected has four classes that are randomly assigned, and the methods in which they deal damage are vastly different. The boomer is an infected fat man in a belly shirt who vomits on survivors. When hit, the vomit distorts the survivor's vision and attracts the zombie horde, which storms forth like a troop of angry extras in 28 Days Later. The boomer is also filled with methane gas and explodes when killed, causing area-of-effect damage to all survivors in close proximity. The smoker is armed with a 50-foot tongue that can pluck a survivor from a distance and drag him or her away from the group, like a frog snagging a fly. The hunter is the fastest of the infected and is hard to hit. He has the ability to climb buildings, but only on designated "zombie ladders," which are glowing icons on the sides of walls. Once up there, he can pounce on a survivor. If successful, he proceeds to claw the survivor's face.

The fourth and most powerful zombie class is the tank. Once per round one player on the infected team will take the role of the tank and can knock a survivor to his or her knees with just one punch. If a pesky survivor is not within striking distance, rip up concrete or cars from the street and hurl them. The tank has a tremendous amount of health, and only a concerted effort from all four survivors can take down the tank without him taking down one of the survivors.

Only the survivor team can score, and points are awarded by how far you've gotten through a map. The survivors begin in a safe room that is loaded with weapons and first-aid kits. The maps in which we played were stocked with more high-level guns such as automatic shotguns, assault rifles, and scoped hunting rifles (not advisable in close quarters). At the same time the survivors are loading up on gear, the infected team is selecting spawn points. You can choose to spawn anywhere on the map that is not in sight of the survivors, or in the safe room itself. The goal is to entrap the survivors, for example by hiding in a dark corner and then pouncing when they least expect it.

The strategy for the survivors is much the same as it is in other modes: stick together and watch each other's backs. When one member has to apply first aid, which takes several seconds, the other members attack the oncoming horde. As a survivor, it's not uncommon to yell at your teammates "Stay together!" or "This way!" Thankfully, there are green exit signs that usually illuminate the correct way to go. As we made our way though a hospital, it was helpful to close as many doors as possible to slow the infected down. Often team members will become incapacitated by pouncing hunters or strangling smokers, and you'll have to come to their aid. If you do become incapacitated, you can still fire your pistols from the ground while you wait for a teammate to revive you. But eventually, you will all most likely die; finishing a map is extremely difficult but rewarding.

...or die alone.

As the infected, the strategy is slightly different, but good teams will coordinate their attacks as much as survivors coordinate their defense. For instance, the boomer may vomit on the group to blind them all, summon the horde, and then charge forward--if killed, he will explode and cause damage to each survivor. A smoker can snatch one of the blinded survivors from a distance and continually punch him. The two remaining hunters can then pounce on the last two survivors and finish them off. Such coordination takes skill because the infected have very little health; one shotgun blast or a few pistol rounds are enough to kill you. The goal is to deal as much damage as you can, choose a sneaky respawn point, and do it again.

The balance of the Versus mode, even at this unfinished stage of development, is excellent. Rounds as the infected are just as enjoyable as rounds controlling the survivors, but for completely different reasons. Working your way though a burning apartment building, infected hospital, or the city rooftops as a survivor is intense and almost draining. The zombies just keep coming. If you do manage to escape with your life, a feat that Valve is making extremely difficult, the feeling is next to euphoria. On the flip side of the coin, there's much less pressure playing as a zombie, and barfing on your enemies or pouncing on their heads is almost relaxing, icing on the cake. We'll have more as Left 4 Dead approaches its November release.

Discussion

130 comments
soldine
soldine

ooook it comes out today wheres that shiny score?

Kamon241
Kamon241

ZOMG!! This is the meaning of awsomeness!!

Wheelman112
Wheelman112

caaaant wait, comes out a day before my birfdey!!!

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

I have to tell you guys. I HATE multiplayer......but CAN"T stop playing this friggin demo online!!!!! woooooo Hooooo!!!!!! I want this game.

Zuhalter2000
Zuhalter2000

When I played the demo, the fast pace and basic mechanics reminded me of Timesplitters. I think I am going to have to get this.

roxythethegreat
roxythethegreat

i hope this wont be like the halo 3 let down =( dont get me wrong i had fun at first but it lost its appeal rly fast compared to how much they hyped it up

Fibre_Optix
Fibre_Optix

Already pre-ordered it on Steam. Call Of Duty World at War also will have a Zombie MP mode. Looks like Zombies are back in style.

rav44
rav44

I wanna see the achievments on this beast.

Psycold
Psycold

I don't want to be a zombie, I don't know why developers of games like these assume that most people would want to. I like shooting zombies and killing them in a multitude of ways, being a zombie in a game has proven to be boring many times

abnormal_marcis
abnormal_marcis

Sounds awesome, another reason why I wanna buy the game

HunterV3
HunterV3

It's funny how this game reminds me of a little flash game called "the last stand", with the horde of zombies and the survivor squads and all. you should google it so see wat i mean.

roadkill21288
roadkill21288

I dont really care for zombie panic the new mod from valve for the source engine so if this game plays anything like it then no thanks. Looks interesting though.

DoMiNiC147
DoMiNiC147

Can't wait to play this. It seems fun.

bigbo0st
bigbo0st

Zombies FTW! Can't wait!

biokrysty
biokrysty

this is something really new and i like it , now all we have to do is to wait the game to come out , "Left 4 Dead" ROCKS

gandalf9303
gandalf9303

I can't wait until I can actualy play a game as a zombie, and still have fun, "cough, 9 year old made infection in halo, cought".

Amigro
Amigro

This looks like it will be everything I want it to be. A zombie game that is extremely innovative and sets itself apart from just hordes of mindless zombies attacking you.

schwin57
schwin57

Very nice. I like the way how zombies move!

perfect_chao
perfect_chao

this game will be best on PC. Anyone with a good £600 - $1200 machine will play this game pretty well. For a PC that is a good price, and better than any console.

XanderKage
XanderKage

Very very cool. Valve don't disappoint.

madcalum1992
madcalum1992

i think this game will be top 5 game this year

brian2116
brian2116

dont forget about resident evil 5 eva89 but this game still looks freaken sweeeeeet

eva89
eva89

it might be the epic of all zombie games!

sheepradish
sheepradish

Left 4 Dead=amazing and valve just make damm good games!

DntUknwImLoCo92
DntUknwImLoCo92

this game looks effin sweet. its like ur making ur own zombie movie

soulsrage109
soulsrage109

Rotnem what do you mean steam sucks? and their games are expensive. steam not to long ago came out with the best deal in video games with the orange box. but im excited for the team work that this game will force upon its players

Mafatza
Mafatza

Nice game....like Counter Strike..but with zombies...verry nice

cmullen666
cmullen666

looks good but not as good as res evil 5.will still buy it though

yodathewise
yodathewise

I can't wait... Normally, I'd pee in my pants while playing a horror game, but I won't with this one, seeing as there's co-op.

rotnem
rotnem

To jmebaby25: That's because Steam sucks. I don't like steam that much at all. It's not user friendly and the game I bought from them never seem to work properly. I'm shocked GAME is cheaper, since they have such expensive prices!

newbooger
newbooger

this is goin to rock i got mine pre order at gamestop and cant wait

HypnoticToast
HypnoticToast

This is going to be an incredibly fun multiplayer game. If it's anything like the gameplay of Dead Rising, I'll buy it.

veganate
veganate

AMAZING. come on ps3 version. make it!!

jmebaby25
jmebaby25

I just pre-ordered this from Steam (with the 10% discount for pre-orders) and it cost be £34 (UK). I'm fine with that and I do like steam. However, I've had a look at pre-order prices in some online stores (such as GAME and play.com) and it's almost £10 cheaper (with delivery and a disc). This seems odd to me. How can Steam claim you are getting a 10% discount yet you can buy a hard copy (delivered) for significantly less than their discounted price.

1337_H4X0R5
1337_H4X0R5

Must have. This is like counter-strike mixed with TF2. Although with this team dependency it should eliminate the whiny 11-year-olds of counter-strike

Lpedraja2002
Lpedraja2002

I wonder what's so satisfying about surviving and reaching the goal as a survivor? Maybe some superb weapon upgrades? I hate zombie games since they scared me to death and make me feel like having a heart attack but I''m willing to play this as long as I have a team whom I can communicate with and save my ass.

Furied
Furied

This sounds fun!

degaboss
degaboss

this is ossim!!!! i will buy it for pc!!!! zombie tank ftw!!!! lololol

aleccool21
aleccool21

omg i already pre-ordered this beast cant wait!

LikeHaterade
LikeHaterade

Wow. I'm diggin the zombie class. Looks like there will be some stealth implemented into this game. IF that's the case, it is a must-buy for me.