Sixty hours of gameplay later and my opinion of the Left 4 Dead series has gone from pretty good to holy moly this is my favorite casual multiplayer game! Seriously, this game is a perfect example of easy to learn, difficult to master. It seems like every time I play through a new campaign, I pick up some new optimization like ‘parrying’ the Hunter just before it strikes or straight up killing the AI if they’re almost dead before entering a Safe Room.
Still, it’s the modding community that truly keeps me satiated. I luv y’all.
So this entry might be controversial to some in the L4D2 modding scene because either the lead designer or one of the contributors stole assets from other mods to put into this. That being said, I think this map isn’t the best I’ve ever played gameplay wise, but it is the one that I think about most often when trying to articulate my desires as a player.
Getting to it, Absolute Zero starts you off in an Russian arctic military base but I that’s just a ploy to get you to go deep underground to visit the heart of some ancient ruins. By the second or third chapter, you’re weaving in and out of corridors through this very elaborate and complex structure. Stair cases lead to crumbled drop offs, sometimes you’ll be running on a ledge to get pasted zombies or risk falling down to an earlier section of the maps. Later maps are more escaping the ruins and they have a mix of military technology and arcane architecture leading to the last map where you must escape via a path demolished by a friendly tank that guides you.
Think Dark Souls in Siberia with very, very long stretches of map without safe rooms. My partner and I beat this with two AI and we definitely died a few times in each map — that being said, we were playing with pretty bad lag and I wouldn’t say that any parts are unfair. If you’re looking for unfair, however…
Hehe8 – 哔哩哔哩星魂桑丶/IDLE:A_Asheep
The Hehe series sucks, but like — they’re suppose to suck (I think.) Every single map in this campaign and the foreseeable rest of the series can be thought of as unbalanced and frustrating in a manner that’s suppose to make you look at the game differently. Or the designer is true to his word and ‘Maybe the authors only want to retaliate against society’.
There are some more maps like this, Haha comes to mind which is more playable but less convention breaking. shenmejb 1 & 2 are both super fun if you can appreciate the I Want To Be The Guy style trickery. The thread that all these maps share, however, is that they take existing mechanics and just kind of push them to their limits. From a theoretical plane of existence, I dig these maps.
Yep, it’s the Croft manor from Tomb Raider and it’s just as chunky as you remember it in the PS1 games (which isn’t a bad thing.) The theme of this article, apparently, is acceptance, as this map is another one that can frustrate you at first. You start off with just pistols, one shotgun and like nothing else for awhile. It’s a hard start but once you figure out the puzzles which are mostly keys and objects, you’ll get to shmoving.
I didn’t actually beat this map yet because I got stuck grabbing the ledge in what’s probably the one part of the map that you can’t return to. What made this the nail in the coffin was that the map doesn’t feature safe rooms so you basically have to memorize the puzzle, execute perfectly and help you get a little further before dying again. I’m eager to go back to this map, because it was actually a ton of fun discovering everything — think of the Roku RE maps or the Silent Hill 3 map from my previous article except one, closed environment. Another great map, right here.
You’d think if you were going to make a map using Disney’s likeness, you’d make it crazy engaging, right? I mean, you have so much source material to work with. Not the case when it comes to Journey to Splash Mountain. This might be as mundane as it gets, because it seems like the author of this campaign strove for 1:1 accuracy of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom over literally any exciting set dressing. Seriously, how do you make a Disney map dull? Most of the time you’ll be maneuvering through backdoors and storage locations inside the park. You’ll also never interact with any Disney mascots when you are on the consumer floor (that’s what I’m calling the visitor areas.)
There is a moment where you enter what I assume to be the Haunted Mansion ride but this consists of listening to an almost inaudible speech while paintings rise up around you. I neat but like… what even was it? Idk, the Splash Mountain map was pretty cool. You got to ride a boat through it with character cutouts surrounding you. I’m just going to wrap this up here, however. If you’re a Disney freak who gets their rocks off watching YouTubers who talk about this shit for hours, you’ll probably like this map. But if you’re a nobody like myself who doesn’t understand the hype around what I assume to be a B list attraction, you’re probably going to slog through this one emotionless.
I think now is as good a time as any discuss the ‘main stream’ Custom Campaigns that are out there. I call them that because when ever I search for other people talking about CCs in L4D2, these are the ones that get brought up relentlessly. I’m not going to do as much of a deep dive on these as I really think that deciding whether you should play these is as easy as looking at screens and determining if the setting looks interesting.
The team behind this campaign put in so much effort to model and texture so many custom assets, it’s really quite amazing. Every map in this features a unique setting from apartment buildings, streets, the underground, an alarm-sounding push across a huge landing strip and closing with a rush towards what I assume is a famous structure in Barcelona. Bots know what to do, weapon/support placement is just what you’d want from a campaign. This one could easily be in the base game, it’s so polished.
The outdoor sections in this campaign are easily the best part. They stay asymmetrical, every changing a pretty engaging throughout. It’s mostly an industrial vibe from this one, leading to some industrial compound. Inside of it is fun to navigate though it is possible to get lost at times. The finale starts with a hold-you-ground segment but turns into a rush-to-the-resources segment to turn on an escape train. There’s a story in here someone, but unless it was some deep diving environmental narrative play, I didn’t ever really know what was happening or who the NPCs we met a few times were. Still really fun to play and quite polished!
If you really dig English countrysides and architecture, this map is for you. If not, it’s still pretty exciting and focuses more on solid level design over fancy set pieces. Going from one map to the next felt very connected, however none of them felt so unique that I remember exact rooms or layouts like I did on Absolute Zero. But maybe that’s the goal of this map? Wrapping up beach side in the daytime was a nice change of pace from the rest of the dark, dreary atmosphere (funny, to me, since this map strives to be haunting.) The finale was a clever use of the Grab the Cola sequence, though the environment you have to rush was quite drab. Once again, fans of distinctly British will probably be thrilled enough to overlook its shortcomings.
Now THIS is a map that deserves more support! Loony Park was a location you visited in the Painkiller games and like — holy moly, the whole damn thing is here in a single map. Finding your direction in this map is kind of hard to do as everywhere is so sprawling and vibrant! Like, sooo so much is custom modeled here, it’s ridiculous, which lends itself to disablement of that ‘gamer curse’ we all sometimes feel. You know when you walk into a room, see a door with a flat texture and another with a ridged frame around it. Instantly, the gamer in you will know that only one of these doors can be opened and a little bit of immersion slips away. Not the case in this map. Every nook and cranny is stuffed with so much detail that even when I was following the guide arrows painted on buildings, I was wondering if I was going the right way or just A way.
This map has more than just good level design, however. There are a few different custom melee weapons that kind of change the Melee formula up. Like the mace that has a pseudo recoiling projectile, or a beam emitting staff type thing. Of course, the signature Painkiller starter Melee weapon is available as a pickup and it rips through enemies like nothing. All of these have custom models, skins, animations and sounds. Really really cool way to switch up the base game.
I want to close with Night Terror for its unique narrative of the whole campaign being a nightmare, allowing for each map to be completely fantastical and spooky. There are a few predictable settings like an abandoned mansion, but this custom campaign really shines in its underground cave full of structural dangers and the Indigenous temple full of traps and rolling rocks.
I really gotta give it to the design of the underground map. There’s one section in particular where you have to run along a narrow, safety rail-less stone staircase that descends into a crypt looking passage. If you survive the horde that swarms once your team is about half way down the staircase, you’ll make it to the cryptic opening, only to be greeted by multiple tanks that, if not dealt with immediately, can push you back up the awful staircase. This sequence was just so stand out to me in an otherwise average campaign but boy was it worth discovering.
There we go, another set of maps in the books! There were plenty more that I didn’t talk about here and come to think of it… why didn’t I talk about them? Collection three will probably be coming soon because did you know NickNac, the creator of Death Mountain, made more than one Zelda Map?? Also, whats up with Home Town? It’s getting a lot of attention on GameMaps.com for being such a new map. All that, plus some more Silent Hill and more up soon. Thanks for reading! 🙂