Back 4 Blood Separates Itself From Its Heritage With New Story Missions

The horde shooter with an obvious lineage is trying something novel in the genre with its second major expansion.

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When Back 4 Blood launched almost one year ago, whether you loved it, hated it, or landed somewhere in between, what was never in doubt was where the idea came from. Turtle Rock birthed the co-op horde shooter genre that, these days, gets about one or two new games added to it annually. Even its name, Back 4 Blood, is an obvious callback to Left 4 Dead, the common ancestor of the many games like it. But with its newly launched Act 5 expansion included in the game's Annual Pass, Back 4 Blood is shedding itself of its lineage in a way that only its rogue-ish card system previously attempted.

New human-like enemies have come to the campaign as part of a mysterious cult that takes center stage in the storyline for Act 5. The Children of the Worm have a backstory that players will need to uncover through environmental clues, as usual in games like this, though the newest Cleaner, Prophet Dan, seems to be intimately familiar with them in a way that brings conflict to the otherwise close-knit group.

Though I've not yet finished the new expansion, I've so far enjoyed the novel mixing of the game's common undead, its specially mutated mini-bosses, and these new human-like enemies. That's something Left 4 Dead and most games it inspired never tried. The new Act 5 levels are more intimidating as a result, because players need to manage the hordes while also dodging snipers, hunters, and other classes of new smarter-than-your-average-zombie enemies. Speaking to the game's executive producer, Lianne Papp, I was surprised to learn these Children of the Worm are not truly human after all, but neither are they quite like the monsters already in the game.

Back 4 Blood has, for me, remained a confounding game this past year. Flawed but strangely irresistible, I keep coming back to it to experience its run system when it all clicks, which it does at least some of the time. Alongside continuing quality-of-life changes, I'm hoping Act 5 can be the start of a new era for the game where it can better stand out from what's come before it. You can read GameSpot's full interview with Papp below, and find Act 5 now available in Back 4 Blood on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

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GameSpot: For players following the story, what's going on in the Children of the Worm expansion?

Papp: In the Children of the Worm expansion, you will encounter new enemies that have a human-like appearance. Whether by choice or force, they’ve gone through something called the Sacrament of the Worm – they’re still conscious but the humanity in them isn’t quite there anymore.

How much lore has the team prepared around the apparent cult, the Children of the Worm, and how much of that will we see in the game? In what ways will we find this story content?

There’s quite a bit of lore the team has developed for Children of the Worm. You can learn more about them through new weapon and accessory descriptions, conversations between the Cleaners, and throughout the environment. It’s also a really good way to learn more about the progression of the entire story behind Back 4 Blood as well.

The new Cleaner seems to have been a cult leader. How does he fit into the group's dynamic? Is he a villain the others grudgingly work with?

Looks can be deceiving! Who’s to say whether or not he has a past as a cult leader? As to how he fits into the group’s dynamic, you’ll have to play to find out! There’s plenty of shared dialogue between him and the other Cleaners, so we’ll leave that question up for your interpretation.

From a gameplay perspective, what does Prophet Dan bring to the game?

His perks are definitely unique - there’s something about him that makes you want to keep fighting and not give up. It’s as if there are only positive things that can happen when you keep fighting the good fight and lending a hand to downed teammates.

It looks like human enemies will make their debut in Act 5? What was it like having to design encounters with humans rather than monsters?

The Children of the Worm may look human, but we assure you there is more than meets the eye there. Sometimes monsters come in unexpected forms, and it was really fun to expand on that.

This expansion also includes new cards to the game's roguelite run system. Can you describe some of what players will find in their decks?

Some of the new cards players can add to their deck will give them something similar to an ‘active skill’ - we’re hoping this will add a bit of diverse gameplay and help with some of those tricky situations when your team feels cornered by a large horde.

How many new levels are in Act 5 and what kind of levels are they? A to B maps, horde-like maps, boss battles, etc.?

There are six chapters in Act 5. You'll experience some of what you're used to as well as some new mission objective styles. We think you'll enjoy it; we know we do!

Did the game's original four acts inspire any changes or points of emphasis when creating Act 5? Did you decide some things worked or didn't work which led you to certain decisions with this DLC?

We always look back on our experiences and lessons learned when developing new content. This is a massive part of our iterative philosophy. With this Act, we wanted to continue the story in an interesting way and try out some new environments and mission objectives to keep things exciting and bring our Cleaners to new places and experiences.

What new weapons will players find in Act 5? And will these be found in other levels as well or are they exclusive to Act 5?

There’s a handful of new weapons for players to play and slay with, such as the Iron Claws, Bow, and Lockjaw. There are also some new accessories, including the Smoke Grenade, Bear Trap, and Bait Jar. These items will not be exclusive to Act 5.

Does this content update come with a game patch? If so, what kind of fixes or changes should players expect?

Children of the Worm comes as part of our August 30 update, along with free quality-of-life improvements and fixes. You'll find the patch notes on our website here.

Should players expect more live events in the months ahead, particularly around Halloween or something like last year's end-of-year holiday event?

We can’t confirm anything at this time, but we do have a soft spot for Halloween and the holiday season!

What's next for Back 4 Blood after Children of the Worm?

We have one more expansion coming out later this year! Stay tuned for more details on that in the coming weeks.

Mark Delaney on Google+

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