In Praise of the Left 4 Dead 2 Custom Campaigns

What’s up guys, been awhile. Lot of life changes have been affecting me in super positive ways so I haven’t really sat down to do much writing lately. Little say, I hope that changes, because I’ve uncovered many worth while topics lately and want to share it all with you! Thanks for reading this, btw.

So my partner and I have been playing Left 4 Dead 2 lately and because I gotta show love to the modders, I’ve been downloading three new custom campaigns every few days and letting her pick which order we play through them. These shits are sick, too, like we played a Minecraft campaign called Deathcraft 2 that starts you off in a snowy village, then has you fight through a mine, a fortress, through the Nether and back out on a mushroom island. Oh and like the textures are 1-1 Minecraft, the common are zombies dressed in different armor, Jockey’s the spider, Tank’s an iron golem, Charger is a zombie pigman. You wanna know what the Witch is? Yo, you won’t believe what the Witch is.

Chicken.png
Courtesy of the gamepedia.com

Additionally, all the weapons and consumables have been remade to fit the Minecraft theme. Steak is pills, golden apples are medkits, you can even have a pumpkin head if you pick up the jack-o-lantern (you can do something else with it too, if you know your Minecraft mechanics.) Having just come off a 100+ hour MC binge sesh lasting a few months, this one really felt great to play. It’s easy to forget that this is a L4D2 mod and not a MC mod.

Really don’t want to write too much more without acknowledging all the amazing maps Roku has made. He’s a Resident Evil fan boy (among other things) who made it his mission to create custom campaigns inspired by the original RE games. Resident Evil 2 side B campaign has got to be my favorite just since I love the RPD and how this specific campaign wraps up. Of course he’s got a Leon side A for RE2, a remake of the Spencer mansion and everything that goes with it for RE1, Nemesis is played by a tank for the RE3 campaign. Roku’s made a lot more custom content but I haven’t dug into all of it just yet. His work is kind of like candy to me — I love it so but I’d hate to burn through it all in a few sittings.

Also, Roku if you’re reading this, it sounds like you’ve got a lot of fans that I’m sure would be willing to help you on Patreon if you wanted to take off a few days off work each week to focus on game dev sheesh! A lot of modders make cool content but your stuff in magical!

RE2 Side B – Courtesy of GameMaps.com

Puzzle maps are some of the most captivating to me because they offer an attraction that the vanilla build of L4D2 didn’t satiate. One of all of our favorite series to play for puzzles is Zelda, right? I can safely assume that most people have played a Zelda game once in their life? No? Fuck man…

Well, Zelda’s got puzzle and its one of the best in the business with em too. So what a better puzzle campaign to make than one that starts you in Kakariko village and finishes with you completing the Fire Temple from OoT? Death Mountain is crazyyyy. Each floor of the dungeon is a different map featuring pressure plates, crystal switches, elevators, the freaking Megaton Hammer for puzzle solving. Music was replaced, when ever you’re suppose to rescue a Goron from their imprisonment, it’s a Tank fight that synergies well with what ever else you’re trying to fight, I might add. There are chests to open, keys to collect, a sub boss, a boss key that leads the final boss fight.

Not to mention all the easter eggs one would hope to find in a campaign like this. You can get into the Shadow Temple from Kakariko and can escape through the windmill. Players can collect rupees to buy upgrades like Laser Sights before you approach the temple. The Master Sword, Hylian Shield and Mirror Shield are available for Melee pickup. Frick, you can even pick up a Linkgnome to carry on your back and take him through the dungeon with you. Idk what this triggers but it’s gotta do something, right?

Such a great custom campaign with even more secrets that I left out. Modelling of new assets feels very accurate, textures are immersive. Tbh, this might be my favorite custom campaign for nostalgic reasons.

Death Mountain – Courtesy of GameMaps.com

For those who liked the pseudo linear, pacing focused maps that are as polished as a vanilla map, those are available in spades. Personally, typically enjoy the design and creativity of these maps but unless they’re set piece heavy, I just like burning through these in succession.

Yama was one of the first campaigns we played that really had us sitting there, starring at the vistas thinking, ‘goddamn this is gorgeous.’ It starts the survivors off in an urban slice of apartment life and pushes you through dense, city streets. I played this one with a lot of hentai add-ons and they fit perfectly. Eventually you make it through to the country and the atmosphere starts to change, reflecting something like SIREN on the PS2. This is only magnified with the climax hitting on the last maps shootout inside of an abandoned, overgrown hotel. It’s about four stories tall but not too wide and plenty of opportunities to see the outdoors so it lends itself nice to a sense of claustrophobia that never is too overwhelming.

Yama – Courtesy of GameMaps.com

The Curse of Lazar Castle is another solid, straight shot map. Not so much fantasy as it is Gothic, this map experiments with expositional story telling through the use of the Hint system. You interact with a book and up a backstory that starts to show its, ‘something bigger is at work here’ hand right away, if the dilapidated setting didn’t help with that enough. It plays around with different colored fonts eluding to different authors and this was neat, though I think I’ll have to replay it if I really want to get the affect they were going for.

Aside for a few moments in the basement/dungeon of the castle, the level design never plays a strong enough role in the narrative that I could make emergent decisions about what really took place there. However, it is pretty interesting and offers a few puzzles that keep you on your feet (or on your ass, depending on if you figure them out or not.)

The Curse of Lazar Castle – Courtesy of GameMaps.com

There are lots more I want to talk about (and play!!!!!) but I’ll wrap things up with an homage to Silent Hill 3. Left Turn: Silent Hill 3 Tribute was super dope to play with my partner because this was a game that actually brought us together shortly after we first met last year. We had talked about gaming a few times and she told me SH3 was one of her favorite games. I had never played it, so the first day I had off (while working a 6 day a week schedule) I played through the entirely of the game start to finish from 6a to like 11p just so I could talk to her about it the next day I saw her. Playing through this campaign and talking about our memories of each setting in game was so great because we had both been to Silent Hill before, just never at the same time…

… so this mod, huh! lmao

Crazy big, detailed, puzzle oriented and accurate! As of right now, it’s a whopping seven maps that took us a few hours to complete, ranging from Heather’s trip to the mall, the subway, the underground, an office building, to the finally at her apartment (which isn’t the end of the source game, just the end of this mod.) Wonky boss fights aside, solving puzzles in this campaign felt just like it did in the original game except now you can move a lot faster than a snails pace. Can confirm, the maps are make with extreme accuracy and textures/models look just like I hoped they would. Don’t want to say too much, in case you haven’t played a Silent Hill game, but if you’re a fan of the franchise or just survival horror in general, you don’t want to miss this one.

Left Turn: Silent Hill 3 Tribute – Courtesy of GameMaps.com

So yeah! Those are some of my favorite maps I’ve played through thus far. My current objective is to find a way to improve the AI, as right now play with two humans and two CPUs can diminish the quality of some maps (especially puzzle maps) as sometimes you just have to kill them off and try to do everything with two people.

Hit up the creators if you like these campaigns! I didn’t do as good a job tackling them in this article but tbh, I haven’t dug in much myself. I’m trying to make my experience writing for this blog one that’s more casual than a year ago. That might change, but I don’t find myself sitting down to write as often if I know I’m basically making a research paper every time, even if I do love writing those.

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