Turtle Rock Studios’ Back 4 Blood is wrapping up its early access preview on Monday — an open beta will follow on Aug. 12 — which has given players a sneak peek at the studio’s Left 4 Dead successor. As part of that early access preview, Back 4 Blood players learned something new about the co-op zombie shooter: The game won’t feature a campaign versus mode, as previous Left 4 Dead games have.
Campaign versus was one of the multiplayer bedrocks of Left 4 Dead, so its exclusion from Back 4 Blood is surprising and, for many prospective players, disappointing. In campaign versus mode, two teams of four players (one side as the survivors, one side as special-infected zombies) play through the Left 4 Dead campaign levels either trying to survive or stop the survivors from reaching safe rooms. Players experience the campaign from both sides of the conflict, alternating between zombies and humans. For many players, campaign versus was the draw of Left 4 Dead, a near-endlessly replayable mode thanks to its teamwork, tactics, and balance.
But Turtle Rock confirmed in an early access FAQ on its official Discord that it “does not have plans to have a campaign versus mode [in Back 4 Blood] at this time.” Instead, competitive multiplayer in Back 4 Blood will consist of Swarm mode, an eight-player PvP mode that’s closer to Left 4 Dead’s Survival mode.
Asked on Discord why the studio decided not to include campaign versus mode, Chris Ashton, Turtle Rock co-founder and design director, explained, “We have a lot of defensive equipment and our specials are good at ambushing. Defending worked far better for our game than running from A-B.” In other words, it sounds like all the added complexity of Back 4 Blood, in the form of equippable cards and a long list of special infected (aka Ridden), may be to blame.
Turtle Rock executive producer Lianne Papp has called Swarm a “snackable” multiplayer game mode, with matches that can last between five and 15 minutes. That’s certainly a smaller time commitment than Left 4 Dead’s campaign versus mode, where matches can last 30 minutes to an hour.
Back 4 Blood is scheduled to be released Oct. 12 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. If Left 4 Dead fans don’t get their fix there, they can hold out for upcoming co-op shooters like Aliens: Fireteam Elite, The Anacrusis, Rainbow Six Extraction, and Redfall.