Left 4 Dead is back — sort of. Developer Turtle Rock Studios has returned to the blood-soaked genre they helped create with a spiritual successor to their iconic franchise. Titled Back 4 Blood, this cooperative zombie shooter has players venturing through linear levels, battling against hordes of parasite-infected undead, in an attempt to carve out a safe place to live. While this game embraces a lot of gameplay mechanics that made Lef 4 Dead so popular, Back 4 Blood defines itself thanks to new infected, weapons, characters, and a rogue-lite inspired card system.
These cards offer players a chance to craft their own personal killing machine, capable of decimating hordes of undead before them. Acting as passive perks, you will be asked to construct a deck and pick cards at the start of each mission to buff your character. While this system certainly offers a wealth of new ways to approach combat, it can be a little confusing at first glance.
Here’s a breakdown of how cards work in Back 4 Blood:
How Cards Work
Cards are broken up into four distinct categories called Reflex, Brawn, Discipline, and Fortune. Each of these categories has specific cards or archetypes tied to them. For example, Reflex cards are all about improving your speed and stamina. This can mean anything from your character’s movement speed to how fast they can reload a weapon are found under Reflex. Each of the cards will give you a description at the bottom which explains what they do for either you or your team. Be careful, some will also cause penalties if the benefits appear to be too great. Such as one that drastically buffs your melee ability at the cost of weapon accuracy. You can have a total of 15 cards in any deck and cards can only be in a deck once, so don’t expect to stack them.
When you load into a game, the Game Director will pick several cards from its pile which will add modifiers to the game. This can include what special types spawn along with environmental effects like fog. We only get a small glimpse of them in the Alpha. After the Game Director picks their cards, you will draw three cards and can pick one of them. Doing so will slot the card into the slots above, activating the buff or any effects it might have. After you play a card you will draw one and repeat this process until three have been played. Once everyone has decided what cards they want to use, the game will begin. You will then get to play another card whether you fail or complete a mission.
How to Build a Deck
When you load up Back 4 Blood you will see two tabs in the top left corner that say “Play” and “Deck.” Pick the latter and then click on the “Decks” box that appears in the center of the screen. This will bring up your collection of decks along with the option to make a deck. I recommend selecting the latter, as this allows you to customize around a specific playstyle. For example, if you want to focus on bashing zombies with a bat or machete, consider using cards like Triumph to heal yourself after every kill or Batter Up to most your melee damage. A lot of the cards available are clearly designed to synergize with one another, so make sure to take some time and acquaint yourself with them.
Once you’ve decided on what card you want to add, just click on it and you’ll see that card appear on your decklist to the right. Keep in mind whatever card you pick first will be designated to your loadout, meaning you will always have it when you start the level. Because of this, you’ll want to use this slot to pick a card that acts a foundation for the rest of your build.
At the time of writing this, there are 61 cards available in the Back 4 Blood Alpha, each of which boasts a different stat buff or unique passive talent. Additionally, some cards will alter your loadout, allowing you to spawn with weapons like the AK47 or Uzi. Remember, unless you are dying a lot, you will typically only get to play 7-8 cards during a game, so you cannot always rely on a specific set of cards to appear. This means making your deck flexible can help and tied to a theme that will build as you progress through Back 4 Blood’s campaign.
It’s unclear just how many cards will be available at launch, but this is definitely a system that you’ll need to master if you truly want to survive.