Beginner's Strategy Guide: Forget Max Brooks, this is the ultimate zombie survival guide.
So you've played through the single-player campaign, racking up a few thousand zombie kills in the process. You're feeling good and ready for some Versus play online, so you jump into a quick match that drops you into the No Mercy campaign. And on the road to the hospital, things start to go wrong. Horribly wrong. A Smoker snags your buddy, and when you turn back to save him, a Boomer sprays you both. Or as a Hunter, you pounce a survivor only to get meleed into oblivion before you do a single point of damage. Fortunately, with a little practice and a few simple tactics under your belt, you can quickly improve your game and continue on the path towards ?Zombie Genocidist.?
Work together or die together ?
This is the most important element of online multiplayer, whether you're playing as survivors in co-op or as Special infected in Versus. Any survivor who stumbles away from the group, even for a few seconds, becomes a target for the Special infected. As tempting as it may be to go after that pipe bomb you passed just ten seconds back, don't do it. Let me say that again: DON'T DO IT! Smart Specials look for wounded and isolated survivors, and nothing destroys the perfect plan by having to go rescue a helpless buddy being thrashed by a Hunter. Remember that your goal is always to keep moving forward. If you aren't moving forward, you're losing.
The same goes for the Special infected. Dealing with a single Hunter or Boomer is a trivial task for two or more survivors, but if you coordinate, things get real messy real fast. Think about strategies that emphasize the Specials' talents and minimize their weaknesses. A Hunter is an easy kill when it's busy tearing Louis to bits, so why not let a Boomer call the horde first? While the humans are fighting for their lives, the Hunter should pounce someone who isn't blinded by bile. The horde will do damage AND serve as a meat shield for you, while the blinded players won't be able to help out until it's too late. As a Special, you must think before you attack. Remember that every zombie life is precious: there's a twenty second spawn timer, a very long time in this game.
Okay, here's the last thing about teamwork: Communicate with your team. Use the text chat, voice chat, invent a body language, whatever you have to do to make sure that everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goal. As a survivor, it's the best way to call out sightings of Specials, keep organized, and ask for help. As a Special, it's just about the only way to coordinate your efforts.
Crouch and melee ?
In online play, friendly fire can mean the difference between winning and losing a match. When you're blinded by Boomer bile and surrounded by the horde, it's all too easy to lash out in panic, spraying and praying in hopes of keeping the charging zombies at bay. At the same time, it's all too easy to put bullets into a teammate's back.
So what do you do? Crouch and melee. If you crouch and you're surrounded, other survivors can shoot over your head without fear of hitting you. Use crouching throughout the game to maximize your firepower while staying close to your buddies. If two survivors are ?designated crouchers,? the other two can stand behind them in a tight hallway, stairwell, or other choke point to fend off anything the horde and the Specials can throw your way. Be sure to watch your back, or find a closet or other small space where you're covered from behind.
Your melee attack is your other best friend in tight spots. Using it keeps you from emptying your weapon and it can hold off the horde while you reload. Right now, you can reload your shotgun while you melee?enjoy that until it's patched. A melee attack can push back multiple zombies at once, giving you the time you need to take them down with a ranged weapon. It's also the safest way to hold back the horde while blinded, since there's a much smaller chance of hitting a comrade. If you can put your back to a corner or otherwise limit the enemy's approach, you can hold off an Expert horde with just a crouch and melee and take zero damage while you do it. Just hold down the melee button, turn to face your target, and you'll be all right.
Know your 'nades ?
The two thrown weapons in Left 4 Dead can be tough to get right the first few times you find yourself in a tight spot online. Using one when you really wanted the other is, at best, a waste of resources, and at worst, will lose you a match. Pipe bombs are best for drawing the horde away from you when you're being overwhelmed or when there's an attack coming on. They're also useful for drawing zombies out of an area that might otherwise be dangerous, like that last, long hallway before you climb the ladders that take you to the roof in No Mercy. That hall is lined with rooms, most without doors, each one a potential hiding place for a few zombies that could get drawn into a horde at just the wrong moment. Clear them out by throwing a pipe bomb to the other end of the hall.
Molotovs, on the other hand, are best for blocking an avenue of approach you aren't able to cover. Drop one as you pass choke points to block approaches from the rear as you hurry on toward the safe room. Throw one at the base of a chain-link fence as the horde swarms the fence in a full charge. The time it takes the zombies to climb the fence will ensure that they're burnt to a crisp before they can jump down on the other side. And if you have a fire barrier laid out but the zombies don't seem interested, a few shots in their direction might be the thing to draw them into the blaze. Whatever you do, make sure there's enough space between you and the fire so that you don't end up surrounded by a crowd of burning zombies. When used wisely, fire is a powerful ally. But if you screw up, it will not hesitate to bite you.
This isn't your daddy's shooter ?
Co-op and Versus modes in Left 4 Dead require the survivors to think a little differently than in most first-person shooters. Again, KEEP MOVING FORWARD! Peeking in all the corners and looking behind every obstacle will only slow you down and create more chances for the Specials to split the group. Remember that in Versus mode, the survivor score is based on how far you get: distance equals points. More importantly in Versus, moving fast makes it harder for the Specials to put together a plan and set up an ambush. If you don't give them time to get creative, they'll either be disorganized or simply rely on the same ambush locations everyone uses and you can be prepared for their attacks. And make sure you close all the doors you pass, since the only way zombies can get through them is to spend time breaking them down. It won't slow them much, but you'll hear them smashing the door and maybe that will give you the edge you need.
The problem with moving fast and skipping rooms is that you won't find the weapon and ammo stashes hidden in random corners. Although many stashes will change location from match to the next, others are more consistent. Make sure to figure out which ones you can count on, especially when it comes to health packs.
Create chaos ?
As a Special in Versus mode, your job is to stop the survivors' advance toward the safe room. But there's no way you can do this in a fair fight. You're outnumbered and out gunned; the only way to win is to outwit your opponent. If the survivors thrive by moving fast and keeping together, it's up to the Specials to slow them down and split them up. Boomers and Hunters have their obvious uses, and they're great for causing general mayhem. Smokers, on the other hand, are often underestimated?they can quickly drag a survivor away from the group and into a corner so that another group member will have to come to their aid. Look for places that let you pull a survivor off a ledge or out a window, especially if you can grab the last one in formation and pull him backwards into an area the group recently left. Not only will you catch them by surprise, but the simple fact that you're pulling them backwards means that you're destroying their plan, and they'll feel it. And if you plan a grab right, you can even pull a survivor off a building or over a cliff, causing instant death in some cases.
When playing most Specials you'll want to wait for the right moment to attack. Coordinate your attacks with others, look for the right location, etc, etc. But when you're dropped into a Tank, there's no time?or need?for such niceties. Make a beeline for the nearest survivor, and if there are two, choose the one with less health (remember the aura colors Green-Yellow-Red tell you health status, from best to worst case). Hit your first survivor, incapacitate him, but don't hang around for the kill. As soon as he's down, go for another survivor and incap him, too. In Versus, the Specials can win if all four survivors are dead OR incapped, and a tank coordinated with a Boomer or Smoker can quickly end the survivors' advance.
There you have it: a few ideas that will definitely help your game, especially if you're just now testing the waters of online play. Left 4 Dead is a deceptively simple game. At first glance, it seems like there isn't much more to it than mowing down zombies with a shotgun or puking on survivors as a Boomer. But with the relatively simple tools it gives you?shotgun, pipe bomb, Hunter, Tank, etc?you can come up with nearly limitless combinations of tactics. This guide barely scratches the surface of what expert Left 4 Dead players are out there doing right now. Do you have a favorite Left 4 Dead tactic or story? Meet me in the forums
to share and discuss.