Left 4 Dead 2 Skidrow

In the sequel to Valve's cooperative zombie shooter, a new team of four ragtag survivors must work together to survive the apocalypse, facing new Infected threats as they fight their way across the Southern United States.

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Overview

New survivors Nick and Rochelle
New survivors Nick and Rochelle

Left 4 Dead 2 is a first-person shooter developed and published by Valve for PC and Xbox 360 on November 17, 2009. Like its 2008 predecessor, the game is set during the aftermath of a global pandemic that rapidly transforms its victims into mindless, highly aggressive zombie-like creatures known simply as "the Infected". The sequel is set in the Southern United States and centers around a new team of four Survivors - Coach, Nick, Ellis and Rochelle - who are forced to work together to fight through the hordes of Infected and reach safe haven. While still retaining the same focus on four-player co-op as in the original game, Left 4 Dead 2 uses an updated version of the "A.I. Director" to procedurally alter gameplay to an even greater degree, customizing the dynamic difficulty of each scenario based on players' performance.

Left 4 Dead 2 was both critically and commercially successful; critics praised the additions of melee weapons and new enemy types coupled with the original game's emphasis on cooperative tactics and horror-themed gameplay. Lead writer Chet Faliszek confirmed in an interview that the Left 4 Dead series had sold over 11 million units in total as of August 2011.

Gameplay

At the most basic level, Left 4 Dead 2 is a first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on four-player cooperative gameplay, though it can also be played in a single-player mode with three AI bots instead of human teammates. Before a game begins, players choose from one of four human "Survivors" of the epidemic as their playable character, who are all identical in terms of ability. The original retail version of the game is split into five discrete campaigns (with more campaigns later added as DLC), each of which is comprised of three to five smaller levels called "Chapters". In most levels, the Survivors' goal is to reach a safe house at the opposite end of the level and then shut the reinforced door behind them, after which the next level is loaded.

The four Survivors begin each Chapter in an isolated area free of Infected, where they can equip themselves with healing items (typically a First Aid Kit) and any available weapons or ammunition. After exiting the safe area, the Survivors must contend with large groups of zombie-like "Common" Infected in order to reach the Chapter's goal, as well as rare "Special" Infected which have unique abilities that can further hinder Survivors' progress.

In the final Chapter of every campaign, the Survivors must make their escape from the area to finish the game. The means of escape during the finale varies depending upon the campaign; the Survivors must either call and await a rescue vehicle while holding out against a prolonged Infected onslaught, pass through a long and challenging gauntlet of Infected to reach the rescue vehicle, or scavenge a certain number of scattered gasoline cans to refuel a vehicle (or a generator) and facilitate their own escape.

There are three new special infected: the Charger, Jockey, and Spitter; five uncommon common infected are also introduced. In addition, Left 4 Dead 2 more than doubles the arsenal of firearms to wield and introduces a variety of melee weapons, as well as special limited-use weapons in the chainsaw and grenade launcher. Left 4 Dead 2 also retains the series' trademark humor with each Campaign receiving a B-movie style poster viewable during loading screens.

Health

All Survivors begin every campaign with 100 health. As Survivors take damage, their health decreases and, at less than forty health, their movement speed will suffer as well. Survivors can heal themselves or their teammates on the spot if they are carrying a First Aid Kit, which requires five seconds to apply and leaves the user completely defenseless during the healing process. First Aid Kits only restore eighty percent of damage taken; they will always heal a Survivor up to at least eighty health, but can never restore a Survivor to their original 100 health. Survivors can also consume pain pills or adrenaline shots to regain smaller amounts of "temporary health" which will slowly deplete over time. The Survivors' health levels at the end of a Chapter are carried over to the next Chapter (except in Versus, where all Survivors begin each Chapter at full health).

When a Survivor's health is fully depleted, he or she becomes incapacitated. In this state, the Survivor falls down onto the ground and can no longer move or use any weapons except sidearms (pistols or Magnums). A new "incapped" health meter with 300 temporary health appears in place of the Survivor's standard health meter and begins to slowly drain as they bleed out, eventually leading to the Survivor's death. Non-incapacitated teammates can revive incapacitated Survivors by holding the "Use" key while next to them; once revived, a Survivor regains their mobility, as well as their standard health meter with thirty temporary health. If a Survivor player is incapacitated and revived twice consecutively without being healed by a First Aid Kit, their vision becomes grayscale and is accompanied by a loud heartbeat audio effect, signifying their dire health status. In this "black-and-white" state, a Survivor will instantly die if their remaining health is depleted for a third time before using First Aid.

AI Director 2.0

The streets run red with blood
The streets run red with blood

An improved A.I. Director is featured in Left 4 Dead 2 that dynamically alters the game experience more so than Left 4 Dead's Director. In addition to changing the spawn points of zombies and objects throughout the game, AI Director 2.0 has the ability to alter the layout of certain areas of levels, making each play through more unpredictable, as well as being able to change weather patterns. For example, AID 2.0 can rearrange crypts and tombs in a cemetery, making it impossible to know in advance the exact route that the survivors must follow. AID 2 can also change the weather to create flash thunderstorms, dramatically reducing visibility and muffling voice chat, forcing survivors to hunker down and wait it out.

Crescendo Events

As in the original Left 4 Dead, Survivors will periodically come across "Crescendo Events" in which a mechanism or object must be activated in order to trigger some kind of event (such as calling an elevator), which in turn attracts a horde of Infected that the Survivors must defend against for a certain length of time before being allowed to progress. In Left 4 Dead 2, the Crescendo Events are more varied, with greater variety than just the old "hole-up and defend" type. So-called "rolling Crescendos" require the players to activate the event and then run a gauntlet while being assaulted by zombies to reach an end point where they can deactivate the event (such as turning off an alarm). Another type of new crescendo is the optional one, such as navigating an impound yard full of alarmed cars, which, if touched or shot, will go off and draw hordes of zombies (possibly causing the survivors to set off even more car alarms, creating a spiraling chaotic chain reaction). These new and more dynamic types of crescendo events were motivated by Valve's desire to reduce the effectiveness of popular and very effective Left 4 Dead 1 tactics like closet camping and corner stacking, in which players crowd into a small defensible space and wait out the event, easily killing all of the infected funneled toward them. Some of the new special infected, as described below, such as the Spitter and Charger further counter these types of cheap survivor tactics.

Modes

All previous game modes return, and two new ones are added: Scavenge and Realism (The Passing DLC adds a third with Mutation).

Campaign/Single Player

Players select one of four Survivors and attempt to make it through all Chapters of a campaign. Each Chapter ends when the survivors make it to a safe room, which contain ammo, weapons, and health kits, so that the survivors can get reorganized before heading out back into the fight for their lives. If any players die before finishing a level, they can be rescued by being found locked inside "Survivor closets" at certain points in the level, bringing them back to life with half health and a single pistol for defense.

Versus

Zombie concert!
Zombie concert!

Versus mode allows up to eight players in a game, and pits two teams of four against each other. One team plays as the survivors, and the other as Special Infected. Players advance through a campaign, playing each chapter twice (once as the survivors, once as the infected). The goal of the survivors is no different than that of Campaign mode, and the infected team must simply try to kill off all survivors. Unlike campaign mode, however, once survivors are dead they cannot be rescued from a Survivor closet. Points are awarded to a team based on how well they perform on a chapter.

Survival

The four survivors must vie against an endless swarm of zombies for as long as they can. Survival matches take place in any area of a campaign that has a "crescendo event," where players must activate and wait for something to happen before they can advance, during which time they are swarmed by hordes of zombies. In Survival, however, the hordes never end and the players cannot advance, so instead they must hold out for as long as possible. The hordes of zombies are not alerted until the players activate the event, and until then they have as much time as they like to prepare. Throughout the area, there are supplies and weapons, so that survivors can sufficiently arm themselves for the coming attack. As time progresses, the players face an increasing number of Special Infected, eventually even multiple Tanks at once. Players are judged based on how long they are able to survive, and their times are compared to those of their friends via leaderboards.

Scavenge

Scavenge is a 4 vs 4 competitive mode in which teams compete to collect gas cans scattered around a map in order to fuel up a centrally-located generator. Games are round-based, with each team playing once as the survivors (collecting the gas cans) and once as the infected (attacking the survivors) per round. There are always 16 possible gas cans to collect, and the team that collects more in a round wins that round. Games may be chosen to last a single round, best 2 out of 3, or best 3 out of 5.

The new Scavenge mode
The new Scavenge mode

Playing as the survivors, a team must race against the clock, which starts at one minute and 30 seconds, and is extended by 20 seconds for each of the 16 gas cans they successfully retrieve and deposit in the generator. If the clock reaches zero and none of the survivors is holding a gas can, or if the entire survivor team is incapacitated, play stops and the team playing survivors is scored by how many cans they managed to deposit that round. If the clock reaches zero and at least one survivor is still holding onto a gas can, overtime is triggered and play continues until either the survivors deposit a can into the generator (raising the clock back to 20 seconds) or all survivors holding gas cans drop them.

To win a round, a team only has to collect more gas cans than the other team--they don't necessarily need to collect all 16. In fact, in the second half of a round, once the survivors collect 1 can more than the other team did in that round, play stops, and the team that collected more gas cans wins it outright. For example, if the first team to play survivors in a round collects 3 gas cans before running out of time or getting incapacitated, then the second team only needs to collect 4 gas cans to win that round. If both teams collect the same number of gas cans, then the winner of the round is determined by how fast each team was in getting those cans, with the faster team winning.

The team to play survivors first in a new round is the team that lost the previous round. After a game has been won by a team, both teams are prompted to vote if they would like to play a rematch. If majorities of both teams vote "yes", then a new game is begun with the same teams, map, server, and settings. If either team does not vote "yes" by majority, then everyone is returned to the game lobby.

Realism

Realism puts a new twist on the classic campaign mode, playing more like a variant on campaign mode than an entirely distinct mode of its own. Realism mode is identical to campaign mode except for the following changes:

  • Common infected take far less damage from bullets except when shot in the head, making it very important to go for headshots
  • The glowing outlines around fellow survivors are completely eliminated, forcing players to actively and regularly communicate their positions, since they can no longer see each others' outlines through walls
  • The glow around items has dramatically reduced proximity, so the glow doesn't appear until the player is in close proximity to the item, requiring survivors to be more observant to spot useful supplies lying around
  • There are no rescue closets, meaning that if a survivor dies, the only way to come back to life (aside from respawning at the start of the next map) is to be revived by another survivor using a defibrillator
  • The witch will instantly kill any player that she attacks

Like campaign mode, Realism may be played on any of the game's four standard difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, Advanced, and Expert.

Mutation

Mutations are variants of the game modes listed above. Mutations were introduced with the Passing downloadable content and were originally changed bi-weekly until the introduction of the Cold Stream downloadable content. With this update all mutations are available all the time. Xbox players will need to own both The Passing and Cold Stream to gain access to permanent mutations.

  • Realism Versus (introduced week 1): Versus mode with Realism rules added. Special infected can still see glowing outlines of the survivors and of other special infected. This mode was made permanent for owners of the DLC starting from week 5.
  • Bleed Out (introduced week 2): Campaign mode with temporary health (i.e. the health gained from pills) ONLY. There are no health kits--pills and adrenaline replace them. Hordes are continuously summoned roughly every 30 seconds. Pills are the only items that reverse the "blue tint" mode. Being rescued from a closet or revived with a defibrillator gives players 50% temporary health.
  • Follow the Liter (introduced week 3): Scavenge mode, but with only one random group of (one or two) gas cans spawning at a time. To compensate for the fewer cans, each gas can the survivors pour into the generator adds 40 seconds to the clock rather than the normal 20 seconds.
  • Last Gnome on Earth (introduced week 4): Campaign mode, with Gnome Chompski always spawning with the survivors at the start of every map. The Survivors must carry the gnome to the end of every map. All infected will prioritize their attacks against the player in possession of the gnome.
  • Last Man on Earth (introduced week 6): Single-player mode. There is only one survivor. There are no common infected or Boomers. (But watch out for the other special infected bots) If the survivor get incapacitated from being charged, pounced (by either Hunter or Jockey), or smoked, the survivor immediately rises in "blue tint" mode, where the next incapacitation is death. (Health kits are scattered around more, reversing that effect)
  • Chainsaw Massacre (introduced week 7): Campaign mode. Survivors only have access to their default pistol (or doubled with a pistol dropped by another survivor) or a chainsaw with unlimited fuel.
  • Room for One (introduced week 8): Campaign mode. Instead of starting at the beginning of the campaign, it starts in the finale chapter. First person to reach the rescue vehicle (once it's active) wins! As the blog post states: "You need to work together only long enough until you can survive on your own."
  • Headshot! (introduced week 9): Campaign mode. Only shots and blows to the head count towards killing the Infected.
  • Versus Survival (introduced week 11): Survival mode with Versus rules added. Round-based matches. First team to not let the other team beat their time wins.
  • Four Swordsmen (introduced week 12): Campaign mode. Survivors only have access to katanas (and their default pistol when they're incapped). There are no common infected, though normal special infected will spawn at a larger rate. Boomers and the boomer bile item still spawn, but the bile will not attract any common infected.
  • Hard Eight (introduced week 13): Campaign mode. Survivors must deal with eight spawning Special Infected instead of the normal four. The spawn rate of Special Infected is dramatically increased in this mode.
  • Healthpackalypse (introduced week 14): Versus mode with no health kits, pills, or adrenaline.
  • Gib Fest! (introduced week 16): Campaign mode. Survivors only have access to both magnums and M-60 machine guns with unlimited ammo.
  • Iron Man (introduced week 17): Realism mode. Once a survivor dies, they're permanently dead for the rest of the campaign. If all the human survivors die, the campaign restarts from the opening cinematic. Ammo is nowhere to be found.
  • Taaannnkk! (introduced week 26): Versus mode. The Special Infected team will always spawn as Tanks. Survivors get a 15-second head start, and first aid kits are converted into pills.
  • Hunting Party (introduced week 27): Campaign mode. Hunters, Tanks, and Witches are the only Special Infected that spawn.
  • Lone Gunman (introduced week 28): Single-player mode. There is only one survivor. Only the Horde, Boomers, Tanks, and Witches spawn. The survivor carries a magnum and there are no other weapons (except grenades). Common and uncommon Infected hit harder.
  • Bleed Out Versus (introduced week 29): Versus mode with Bleed Out rules added.
  • Healing Gnome (introduced week 30): Campaign mode. All survivors start with temporary health. There are no healing items, but holding Gnome Chompski will regenerate health for that survivor.
  • Special Delivery (introduced week 36): Campaign mode. The game can spawn up to 10 special infected at a time, and there's no respawn timer for the special infected. To balance this out, no common or uncommon infected will spawn.
  • Flu Season (introduced week 38): Campaign mode. The only special infected that spawn are Boomers and Spitters, who appear more often (up to 10 at one time). Both Boomers and Spitters are faster and can use their projectile attacks more often. (Specially scripted Tanks and Witches still appear) Common infected only spawn due to being hit by Boomer bile or during Crescendo events.
  • Riding My Survivor (introduced week 40): Versus mode. The Special Infected team will always spawn as Jockeys and have increased speed, health, and damage.
  • Nightmare (introduced week 42): Survival mode with stronger infected and increased fog. The glowing outlines around items and other survivors are eliminated.
  • Death's Door (introduced week 44): Campaign mode. Incapacitation is disabled (similar to "blue tint" mode, losing all health means instant death). First aid kits are replaced with pills.
  • Confogl: Versus Mode which strongly favors the Infected. Pills are the only health. No tier two weapons, no defibs, no fire ammo, no chainsaw, no grenade launchers. Tanks spawn on every map. Several other tweaks to gameplay.

Campaigns

Taking place three weeks after the initial "Green Flu" outbreak and one week after the events of the original Left 4 Dead, the sequel features five all-new campaigns set across America's "Deep South" (with additional campaigns available as DLC) and includes the real-world locales of New Orleans and Savannah, Georgia. Some of Left 4 Dead 2's campaigns take place during daylight hours, as opposed to the strictly nighttime campaigns of the original game.

There are currently a total of six canonical campaigns in Left 4 Dead 2 which are played as the four new survivors (Coach, Nick, Ellis and Rochelle). Each of these campaigns occur in a sequential order according to the series' chronology.

Dead Center

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The game's first campaign opens in Savannah, which has only recently been hit by the rapidly spreading infection. Despite efforts by the federal government's Civil Emergency and Defense Agency (or "CEDA") to quarantine the disease and evacuate any survivors, the city has been almost completely overrun by the rising tide of Infected. After narrowly missing the last evacuation helicopter out of the city, four remaining survivors decide to band together to seek refuge elsewhere.

  • The Hotel: The Survivors begin on the roof of The Vannah hotel, one of CEDA's evacuation centers that has very recently been abandoned. Several fires begin to ravage the eight-story structure as the group winds their way through smoke- and Infected-filled corridors, hoping to reach the ground floor and escape before the entire building burns to the ground. A CEDA map in the top floor's conference room indicates that most of the eastern United States has already fallen to the infection, and that New Orleans is the last remaining "safe zone" in the region.
  • The Streets: Savannah's streets are also packed with Infected as the Survivors head towards CEDA's secondary evacuation center at Liberty Mall. The fortuitous discovery of a well-stocked gun shop allows everyone to heavily arm themselves for their next task: to retrieve a case of cola from a nearby convenience store for Whitaker, the gun shop's owner, who has barricaded himself on the roof of his own store. He offers to clear a roadblock with rockets in return, allowing the Survivors to reach the mall.
  • The Mall: The Survivors find CEDA's secondary outpost has also been abandoned, but they still press ahead through the shopping mall in search of any possible escape routes. At one point, the Survivors must open a set of emergency exit doors or smash through a barricaded storefront's windows to proceed, triggering an alarm that attracts another horde of Infected until it can be shut off from a nearby security room.
  • The Atrium (Finale): When the Survivors enter the mall's large atrium, they discover Jimmy Gibbs Junior's stock car on display and decide to appropriate it for their own evacuation from the city. However, it must be refueled first, requiring the Survivors to scavenge several nearby gas cans as they fight off wave after wave of Infected. Once fueled up, the Survivors pile into the vehicle and make a dramatic escape by crashing through the main exit's glass doors.

The Passing

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The release of Left 4 Dead 2's first DLC pack adds a new campaign taking place between the events of Dead Center and Dark Carnival. On their way to New Orleans, the new Survivors of Left 4 Dead 2 cross paths with three of the original Survivors from the first Left 4 Dead.

  • The Riverbank: Still traveling in Jimmy Gibbs' stock car, Coach, Nick, Ellis and Rochelle reach the port town of Rayford, Georgia and find the road ahead blocked by a raised bridge. However, they soon make contact with another group of Survivors on the opposite side of the river - Zoey, Francis and Louis - who have taken refuge on the bridge's upper catwalks to recuperate in the wake of Bill's death during the events of The Sacrifice. The weary trio are unwilling to lower the bridge and risk exposing themselves to the Infected, forcing the four new Survivors to find an alternate path through town and towards the other side of the bridge where the generators are located. Their journey begins along Rayford's riverfront district before passing through an abandoned outdoor wedding in a nearby park (complete with bridal gown-wearing Witch).
  • The Underground: The Survivors cut through several of Rayford's downtown establishments, including a pool hall and a dive bar, in order to reach a jazz club hosting the entrance to the "Historic Rayford Scenic Under the River Tour". In reality, the "tour" proves to be little more than a dank tunnel that, due to an apparent lack of funding, doesn't actually extend beneath the river. Fortunately the unfinished tour connects to Rayford's sewer system, which does allow the Survivors to head under the river and into the port district.
  • The Port (Finale): Emerging from the sewers, the Survivors arrive in Rayford's port on the other side of the bridge and again meet with Zoey, Francis and Louis. The trio decline to accompany the party of four on their way to New Orleans, but do agree to provide covering fire from the bridge catwalk while Coach, Nick, Ellis and Rochelle scavenge enough gasoline to refuel the bridge's generator. Once the bridge is lowered, the four Survivors scramble back into their vehicle and continue on their long journey towards the safe zone.

Dark Carnival

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Massive gridlock forces the Survivors to abandon their battered stock car along the highway in Griffin County, Georgia. Left with few options, the four Survivors set out on foot towards a pair of searchlights emanating from nearby Whispering Oaks Amusement Park, where another of CEDA's evacuation centers has been established.

  • The Highway: Bumper-to-bumper vehicles litter Georgia's Interstate 16 after having been abandoned by a massive influx of refugees trying to reach CEDA's outpost in Whispering Oaks. After walking down an off-ramp, the Survivors come upon Whispering Oaks Motel, where a variety of useful supplies can be scavenged from several guest rooms. Around the rear of the motel, a steep hillside drops into a gully; climbing back up the opposite hillside brings the Survivors to the amusement park's main entrance.
  • The Fairgrounds: The Survivors enter the park, which seems to still be largely functional despite also being overrun by Infected. Several carnival tents and stalls can be found here, including an interactive shooting gallery with a garden gnome (affectionately named "Gnome Chompski") as the grand prize. The park's "Kiddie Land" area contains several child-sized amusement rides and a massive slide. Switching on a noisy fenced-in carousel allows the Survivors to reach the Tunnel of Love's entrance the end of the level.
  • The Coaster: Passing through an unusually long Tunnel of Love and its maintenance areas brings the Survivors to "The Screaming Oak," the park's signature wooden roller coaster. Unfortunately, the path forward requires reactivating the coaster, drawing scores of Infected as the Survivors run along the wooden tracks towards the attraction's main entrance and the next safe house.
  • The Barns: More tents line the path leading from the coaster's entrance, as well as an interactive "strength tester" game featuring Mustachio, one of the park's mascot characters. Passing through a bumper car ride leads to a row of livestock barns where another carnival game, "'Stache Whacker," can be played to earn an Achievement. After crossing the barn rooftops, the Survivors drop down near a ticket gate blocking their entrance into the "Peach Pit," Whispering Oak's concert arena and CEDA's final holdout within the park. Activating the gate predictably sets off another alarm, turning the ticket line area beyond into an Infected gauntlet that must be passed to reach the stadium.
  • The Concert (Finale): Once inside the arena, the Survivors decide to use the Midnight Riders' abandoned pyrotechnics display to signal a rescue helicopter spotted earlier in the vicinity. This of course draws yet another Infected horde, forcing the beleaguered Survivors to hold out in the center of the arena until their escape chopper arrives.

Swamp Fever

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While en route to New Orleans, the rescue helicopter's pilot suddenly attacks the Survivors, prompting Nick to shoot their now-Infected pilot mid-flight. The chopper crash-lands in a remote Louisiana swamp; after a brief rest inside the boxcars of a derailed train, the Survivors decide to investigate the nearby shantytown of "Village En Marais," whose hardy inhabitants evidently managed to hold out against the Infected longer than most.

  • Plank Country: Noting a handmade banner directing both CEDA and the military to "STAY OUT," the Survivors pass by an empty gas station and several cabins clustered near a river crossing, where a cable ferry can be powered on to reach the opposite bank. Past the ferry, a series of elevated wooden walkways leads into a marsh area hosting an alligator farm, but the planks eventually disappear into muddy water as the four head deeper into the swamp.
  • The Swamp: After exiting a safe room underneath the railroad tracks, the Survivors wade through hip-deep marsh water towards the heart of the swamp, where they encounter a downed commercial airliner blocking their path. Opening the cabin's emergency exit triggers an alarm that draws another horde of Infected, but the group presses on past the water-logged ruins of some abandoned shacks and back up onto dry land. Following a dirt road beyond the swamp brings the Survivors to the barricaded Village En Marais.
  • The Shantytown: The swamp people's fortified settlement has unfortunately become yet another ghost town, with more Infected as the only welcoming party. After scrounging through empty homes for supplies, the Survivors come upon a series of decrepit shacks on stilts, where a makeshift bridge must be lowered to proceed. Another stretch of marshland separates the village from the next safe room inside a lone structure built atop a small hillside.
  • The Plantation (Finale): Daylight greets the Survivors as they step onto the grounds of an antebellum plantation complex. The dirt road through the grounds leads past several ancillary structures before ending at the grassy backyard of a large plantation manor, which appears to have been in the middle of a major renovation. Climbing some scaffolding near the rear entrance grants access to the manor's interior and the front courtyard. An emergency radio at the main gate allows the Survivors to contact a riverboat captain named Virgil, who offers to provide transport down the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. The group fends off the encroaching Infected hordes until Virgil's vessel arrives to pick them up at the riverbank.

Hard Rain

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Still traveling south along the Mississippi, Virgil informs his riverboat passengers that, without additional fuel, he won't be able to carry their group all the way to New Orleans. After docking near the small town of Ducatel, the Survivors disembark to begin their search for diesel as ominous thunder echoes in the distance.

  • The Milltown: As Virgil's boat pulls away from the riverbank to drop anchor offshore, the Survivors realize that they have neglected to bring along any flares to signal Virgil with after retrieving the gas. Passing through an abandoned Burger Tank restaurant, they discover a nearby service station that's already been totally emptied of fuel. A sign indicates the next closest gas is about two miles away, prompting the group to proceed across a corpse-strewn playground and the surrounding residential neighborhood. However, the road beyond is blocked, forcing the Survivors to detour through the town's old sugar mill.
  • The Sugar Mill: An unusually large number of Witches occupy Ducatel's gutted sugar mill, apparently drawn there by the scent of sucrose. As the incoming storm brings steady rain that quickly begins to flood the mill's low-lying areas, the Survivors carefully make their way through several brick buildings and disused machinery. Calling an old service elevator at the top of a multi-story structure attracts an Infected horde, but this allows the group to descend into the large sugar cane field planted behind the mill. Beyond the field lies Ducatel Diesel, where the group can finally acquire their much-needed boat fuel.
  • Mill Escape: After strapping diesel canisters to their backs, the Survivors head out from the service station to begin their return trip towards Virgil's boat. Unfortunately the storm conditions have since worsened, with intermittent high winds and torrential rains reducing visibility to near-zero. The Infected also seem to be stimulated by the violent storm and its accompanying thunderclaps. Both the cane field and the mill complex are now inundated with several inches of water, but the team can avoid the flood by sticking to higher ground such as pipes and catwalks.
  • Return to Town: Just like the mill, the adjacent residential area has become a storm-ravaged flood zone. This leaves the Survivors with two options: crossing over rooftops to avoid the water at the risk of exposing themselves to Infected ambushes, or trudging through the flooded streets (which also slow the Infected's movements). Using various landmarks to find their way in the pouring rain allows the soggy group to reach a safe house inside a previously boarded-up home.
  • Town Escape (Finale): Hurricane-force winds continue to batter Ducatel as the Survivors return to the Burger Tank near the riverbank. Lacking any signal flares, Coach suggests turning on the restaurant's large illuminated sign to draw Virgil's attention instead. This also attracts another horde, but the Survivors defend themselves beneath their fast food beacon until the boat arrives.

The Parish

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At last, after crossing hundreds of miles of dangerous Infected-ridden territory, Coach, Nick, Ellis and Rochelle finally reach New Orleans. However, the "Big Easy" has become a war zone as the military covers their retreat from the city with air strikes, leaving the Survivors to press on through one final stretch towards the military's last evacuation point.

  • The Waterfront: After dropping off his passengers at one of the city's boat docks, Virgil bids them farewell as he heads back upriver to search for additional survivors. The group find themselves at a waterfront market previously used by the military as a checkpoint for evacuees. Negotiating the waterfront's historic streets and alleyways proves tricky, with several abandoned vehicles creating barricades that hinder their progress. Passing through a restaurant leads to a small convenience store acting as a safe house.
  • The Park:
  • The Cemetery:
  • The Quarter:
  • The Bridge (Finale):

Dead Center and Swamp Fever are comprised of 4 maps apiece, The Passing has 3, and the other campaigns all have 5.

The Sacrifice (added via DLC) - Takes place from the first Left 4 Dead Survivors' perspective, as they head south. An interesting choice must be made by one of the survivors at the end of the campaign.

No Mercy - The campaign from Left 4 Dead 1 is now playable in Left 4 Dead 2. Here, players take control of the original survivors.

The Cold Stream DLC added the the titular community created map, as well as the remaining Left 4 Dead 1 maps. New dialogue was recorded by the original voice actors for enemies, items and weapons that didn't exist in the first game.

Crash Course - After the rescue on the Mercy Hospital rooftop, the pilot becomes infected and is killed by Francis. They make their way through the alleyways until they reach a barricade and must fire a howitzer cannon to proceed. They continue through the alleys, to find an electric generator which lowers their escape vehicle, an armored RV.

Death Toll - The survivors make their way through the town of Riverside, looking for the military support. They travel down a turnpike, following tunnels and sewers. The reach a church but are unable to gain the trust of the person who has barricaded himself inside, Summoning a horde. They then travel through a town ending up at a boathouse, and are finally rescued by a couple on a boat.

Dead Air - A greenhouse, and dangerous rooftops start off this campaign. The survivors must activate a crane, which summons a large horde, and continue over the rooftops the a construction site. The construction site features a large barrier that must be burnt down, summoning another zombie horde. The survivors eventually end up at the deserted terminal, find an aircraft in need of fuel, and refuel it in exchange for passage.

Blood Harvest - The survivors start on the borders of the Allegheny National Forest, and follow train tracks looking for military assistance. They make their way through a large tunnel, over a bridge, through a train yard, and a cornfield ending up at an abandoned farm house. The survivors call for military evacuation, which arrives in the form of an armored personell carrier.

Cold Stream - The Left 4 Dead 2 survivors travel down a stream and through an underground military bunker in the woods. They travel further down the stream and destroy a demolition charge setup to protect a CEDA outpost, and cross the almost completely destroyed Memorial Bridge. The finale is a nonstop gauntlet where the zombies never stop coming until you make it through the maze of barricades, and reach the escape helicopter at the top of a large wooden tower.

Crash Course is comprised of 2 maps, Cold Stream has 4 maps, and the remaining original maps have 5 maps each.

Survivors

The cast of survivors in Left 4 Dead 2 features four new people:

Ellis, Nick, Coach, and Rochelle.
Ellis, Nick, Coach, and Rochelle.
  • Coach - Local high school football coach, and a big man with a big heart.
  • Rochelle - A low-level news producer who came down from the midwest to find herself in the biggest scoop of her life.
  • Ellis - A fun-loving mechanic who loves to talk about his buddy Keith's misadventures.
  • Nick - A riverboat gambler and conman who's always looking out for number one.

Equipment

Guns

Left 4 Dead 2 features all of the weapons from the first Left 4 Dead, and adds many more. There is a similar tiering system as the original Left 4 Dead, but it is enforced less strictly, so lower tier weapons may still be found in later maps and higher tier weapons tend to be found earlier. A complete listing of new weapons in Left 4 Dead 2 follows, with the real-world weapon inspiration and its in-game nickname:

Primary WeaponIn-game Name & Notes
Suppressed MAC-10"silenced submachine gun"
FN Scar"desert rifle"
AK-47
HK41SG1 Sniper Rifle"military sniper rifle"
Mossberg 500 Marine Coat Pump Shotgun"chrome shotgun"
SPAS-12"combat shotgun"
M79 Grenade Launcher"grenade launcher", limited ammo
M-60 Machine Gun"rifle m60", exclusive to The Passing DLC
Secondary WeaponIn-game Name & Notes
SIG Sauer 220"pistol"
Glock"pistol"
Desert Eagle"magnum"
Fixed Emplacement WeaponNotes
Mounted Browning M2 Heavy Machine Gunonly appears in Swamp Fever and Parish finales

Melee Weapons

A completely new addition to the series are melee weapons, found scattered about the maps. In campaign and versus modes, not every melee weapon can be found in every campaign (e.g. tonfas are only found in The Parish, dropped by riot police infected). Melee weapons are interchangeable with pistols as secondary weapons (i.e., you can carry either pistols or one of these melee weapons).

All melee weapons inflict the same amount of damage (instantly killing common infected, killing all special infected except the charger in 1 hit, the witch in 4 hits, and the tank in 20 hits). Aside from look and sound, melee weapons vary in attack speed and arc of effect.

Ammo Types

Also new to Left 4 Dead 2 is different types of ammo that can be picked up by survivors to load into their primary guns. There are new ammo stashes throughout campaigns that give the player a full clip of that type of ammunition, but they can only be used once. These new ammunition types have the following effects:

  • Incendiary Ammunition - Any zombies shot with this ammo will catch on fire, excluding Hazmat infected. Common infected are always killed instantly, while special infected will take continuous burning damage for 5 seconds.
  • Explosive Ammunition - Explodes on impact, dealing extra damage to the target hit as well as splash damage to anything nearby. Common infected are always instantly killed, while special infected (except for the tank) are stunned momentarily, disrupting their attacks and making them easier to finish off with quick follow-up gunfire.

Supplies

Along with all of the original supplies (i.e. health kits, pain pills, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, propane/ gasoline tanks), there are new items that the survivors can use to help them make it through their journey, including:

  • Adrenaline - Increases the user's health by 25 temporary hit points, let's them use their melee attack with no fatigue limit, eliminates the slowdown effect from being hit by common infected, enables players to run faster than normal, and halves all activation timers (picking up a downed survivor, using a medkit/defib, etc.). Once used, the player's screen is blurred on the edges and the game removes the bass from all sounds. Players can choose to either carry pain pills or adrenaline, however not both at one time, and adrenaline appears as a small syringe-like device.
  • Defibrillator - Revives dead survivors if used on the corpse. This can serve as a quicker alternative to rescuing a fallen teammate from a closet in campaign mode, and is the only way to revive dead survivors in realism mode, versus mode, and survival mode.
  • Boomer Bile - A small canister filled with boomer bile that shatters when thrown, diverting zombies' attention from the survivors to the affected area. If some zombies are hit by the bile bomb when it shatters, they will get covered in the bile, and be attacked by all other zombies. Beware that the bile effect wears off after a time, and any zombies left alive will then turn their attention back on the survivors!
  • Laser Sights - When picked up, these are attached to a survivor's primary weapon and significantly decrease bullet spread, effectively making a gun more accurate. Weapons with significant bullet spread (like shotguns or automatic weapons) benefit more from this upgrade than weapons that are already highly accurate (like sniper rifles).
  • Foot Lockers (added via DLC) - The Passing introduces a foot locker that carries an infinite supply of pills, adrenaline shots, pipe bombs, or molotov cocktails. These lockers only appear in The Passing, not in any other location.

Infected

Uncommon Common Infected

Left 4 Dead 2 features new common zombies that have unique characteristics, called uncommon common infected. Each uncommon common is exclusive to one campaign.

  • Hazmat Infected (Dead Center) - Wear hazardous material suits, making them immune to all fire, such as molotovs and incendiary ammo.
  • Clown Infected (Dark Carnival) - Behaves like other infected except that as he runs toward survivors, his squeaky shoes rally all nearby infect around him, creating a zombie mob rush in the clown's wake.
  • Mudmen (Swamp Fever) - Drenched in muck, these zombies crawl around on all fours, making them difficult to spot, especially in low-standing water. When struck by one, a survivor's screen will be splattered with a partially-blinding muddy effect, similar to the effect that the Boomer's bile has on a player.
  • Infected Workers (Hard Rain) - They wear hard hats and ear muffs, making them immune to the allure of pipe bombs, which rely on high-pitched beeping to draw zombies to them.
  • Riot Infected (The Parish) - Decked out in full bulletproof riot gear, these zombies are immune to all bullet and melee damage except to their backs.
  • Fallen Survivors (The Passing) - Like the main cast survivors, except it turns out these guys weren't immune to the infection after all. Fallen Survivors initially attack like common infected, but after taking damage, they attempt to flee. If killed, they have a chance of dropping supplies, including grenades and temporary health items. They have notably more health than common infected, requiring a concentrated effort to take them down.

Special Infected

All of the original special infected ( The Hunter, The Smoker, The Boomer, The Tank, and The Witch) return in Left 4 Dead 2 with spruced up character models. Additionally, the following playable new special infected are added:

The Charger

Watch that right hook.
Watch that right hook.
Kind of like The Tank's younger, more athletic brother, The Charger is a brute and a bully who enjoys roughing up survivors who cross his path. His primary attack is a barreling charge that will plow through any survivors in his way like a freight train, knocking them aside, stunning, and hurting them. In addition, The Charger will hang onto the last survivor he bowls into and carry them until he either collides with something or travels his full running distance of about 80 feet, at which point he ends his charge and begins repeatedly pounding his captured survivor into the ground, dealing substantial damage with each pound.
The Charger can also inflict considerable damage with his standard melee swipe, given that his right arm is the size of a tree trunk. He has lots of health (more than any other special infected besides The Witch and The Tank), and is immune to the survivors' melee pushback attack (unlike other special infected besides The Witch and The Tank), making him a powerful face-to-face brawler.

The Spitter

God, she's an ugly one.
God, she's an ugly one.
Dribbling a stream of green spittle behind her and gurgling profusely, The Spitter hauks the ultimate loogie. When she uses her projectile spit attack, she hurls a ball of acid in a straight line that drops after about 60ft, forming a pool of highly corrosive acid on the ground that inflicts continuous damage to all survivors who remain in it. The acid pool disappears after a few seconds, so it's most potent when used against survivors who will have difficulty moving out of it (e.g. in tight quarters, while being mobbed, while captured by another special infected, etc.)
The Spitter also has very low health - dying after taking only a couple of bullets - encouraging her to hide out of sight of the survivors and snipe them with her spit attacks. (Note: The acid does float on water and still causes damage when doing so.)

The Jockey

Heh heheh hehe heh.
Heh heheh hehe heh.
Laughing like the deranged maniac he is, The Jockey just loves taking survivors for rides. He can hop short distances and if he manages to land on a survivor, he will mount their head and be able to steer them in whatever direction he wishes. A survivor that is being 'jockeyed' this way may try to resist The Jockey's influence by holding down movement directions opposite the way The Jockey is taking them, but can only slow The Jockey's control, not negate it. As the Jockey rides his victim, he also periodically smacks their head, dealing small amounts of damage.

In addition to the all-new Special Infected and uncommon common infected, variants of some existing special infected have been added. The boomer now comes in both male and female varieties, both functionally identical. More significantly, the Witch now has new behavior whenever she is encountered in a daytime environment. She will stand and wander around slowly, while sobbing. On the one hand, she is more dangerous in her wandering form because she is much easier to mistake for a common infected and shoot, plus she can be easy to accidentally bump into in cramped confines. On the other hand, a wandering Witch is less dangerous because she is much slower to anger when survivors get close to her, making deliberately sneaking past her much safer. During nighttime levels, Witches behave as they did in Left 4 Dead 1, sitting and sobbing, and very sensitive to disturbances.

A unique variant of the Witch appears only in The Passing (added in via DLC), wearing a bridal dress. This is just a cosmetic change, like the female Boomers.

Avatar Awards

The Xbox 360 version was one of the first retail games to feature avatar awards. Through the game you can earn the following awards.

Regional Censorship

German L4D2 Cover
German L4D2 Cover

Left 4 Dead 2 is censored in certain countries for its graphic violence. In Australia, the original version of the game was effectively banned when the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OLFC) refusing a rating for the unmodified version stating:

"The game contains violence that is high in impact and is therefore unsuitable for persons aged under 18 to play ".

Valve tried to appeal the ban but was rejected because, in OLFC's judgment, the game contains images of:

"decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies... & delineation between the depiction of zombie characters and the human figures".

A modified version of Left 4 Dead 2 (similar to the modified German version of Left 4 Dead with green blood and zombies that fade away a few seconds after being killed) was later approved for release in Australia with an MA15 rating. The edits were quite extreme, to the point the game could probably be rated T for teen. The edits to the Australian and German version included the following:

The censored UK Boxart
The censored UK Boxart
  • No zombie corpses when they are killed, instead they fade and disappear before they hit the ground.
  • Blood does not splatter on the screen.
  • Blood particle effects are all reduced, some removed entirely.
  • No visual damage appears on zombie models at all. Including basic wounds inflicted by melee weapons, all gaping wounds and severed limbs and decapitated heads.
  • Shooting a zombie in the head does not explode their heads.
  • Zombies upon walking through fire go in to the 'on fire' animation but don't actually catch on fire.
  • The riot cop zombie has a reduced spawn rate. Initially it was suppose to be removed entirely but it was not.
  • Incendiary ammo does not light zombies on fire

In the March 2010 elections Gamers4Croyden ran against Michael Atkinson and while they did not win he resigned afterwords for reasons he claims were personal. The issue of finally getting an 18 rating for games in Australia is confirmed to be part of political discussions happening in May 2010. Left4Dead2 marked a turning point in this crucial issue to all Australian gamers.

In the UK, the original box art was censored as the depiction of the back of two extended fingers is considered vulgar and an insult.

Heya Tom, it's Bob...

Found throughout all of the campaigns except No Mercy are jukeboxes with several songs, two of which being the very popular 'RE: Your Brains', and a "hidden" song, 'Still Alive' (originally featured in the game Portal), both by written by singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton.

The Sacrifice Update

The Sacrifice is a significant DLC patch released October 5th 2010. The Sacrifice added two campaigns that are played from the perspective of the original game's survivors. A 178 page digital comic has been released as a story companion to the new campaign. The comic briefly flashes back to the start of the infection showing the survivors before they meet up. The Sacrifice is a prequel to the previous DLC campaign The Passing, which the original Left 4 Dead survivors play a part in.

PC System Requirements

MinimumRecomended
  • OS: Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows Vista64 / Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB for Windows XP / 2 GB for Windows Vista or Windows 7
  • Hard Drive: 7.5 GB free hard drive space
  • Video Card (graphics): DirectX 9 compatible video card with 128MB and Shader Model 2.0. ATI X800, nVidia 6600, or better.
  • DirectX: 9.0c
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB for Windows XP / 2 GB for Windows Vista or Windows 7
  • Hard Drive: 7.5 GB free hard drive space
  • Video Card (graphics): DirectX 9 compatible video card with Shader Model 3.0. ATI X1600, nVidia 7600, or better.
  • DirectX: 9.0c
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Mac System Requirements

  • OS: OS X 10.6.4 or higher (Snow Leopard Graphics Update required)
  • Processor: Dual core Intel processor, 2GHz or better
  • Video Card (graphics): ATI Radeon 2400 or higher, NVIDIA 8600M or higher

Not supported: OS X 10.5.x, ATI X1600 or X1900 graphics, NVIDIA GeForce 7 graphics or Intel graphics.

Xbox 360 Game Installation

Left 4 Dead 2 requires 4.4 GB of space to install on an Xbox 360 HDD.