4 words to know when playing Left 4 Dead.

I’m not a big fan of horror movies. Partly, it’s because I’m squeamish. Even when watching House, I turn away when they cut into the corpse. Yes, it’s one of my girlier qualities, which tempers my otherwise complete manliness, but the sight of blood grosses me out. It’s one of the reasons I have decided not to become a doctor or Dexter. (That and I spend too much time playing video games.)

Blood in video games, however, is different. Perhaps it’s because I don’t associate myself with the non-player characters in video games, so I don’t see blood and think “that could be me.” I can deal with the the splattered, pixelated brains, the simple ragdoll physics of a corpse hitting the ground easier than I can deal with the sight of red corn syrup flowing out of the top of an actor’s head. There is no uncanny valley with gore: there is either believable gore, as in movies, or you can not associate with the characters strongly enough to empathize, and feel the cracked bones and spurting blood as if it were your own. So I avoid gore in movies, and relish it in video games.

However, even I have seen enough horror movies to know that one thing always, always happens.

We are halfway through the movie. There is definitely, definitely something wrong. Something horrifically wrong. Two or more people are dead. The survivors know that the killer/mass of zombies/chupacabre/gay vampire is out there, waiting for them. “What is that thing?” someone asks. And then something weird happens.

One person decides to go off by himself. Why? Who the hell knows. Generally it’s because he’s got some secret (drug user/on the side of evil/chronic masturbator), but as soon as he leaves to go off by himself, everyone knows that guy is as good as dead. “What the hell is wrong with you?” you want to scream at the screen. “STAY WITH THE GODDAMNED GROUP!”

Having played many, many hours of Left 4 Dead, Valve’s multiplayer horror movie, I now know why that one person goes off by himself.

Because he’s a fucking idiot.

I am generally not a fan of multiplayer games. I’m decent at first person shooters, but I’ve never put in the hours of practice required to learn to bunny hop and grenade jump. In fact, I have avoided learning all of those little tricks that are required to make you good enough to not have your sexuality questioned by a 10 year-old with rage issues. So I avoid most online multiplayer games, and blissfully play video games against the uncaring, unlearning computer.

Left 4 Dead, however, is co-operative, which changes the dynamic just enough to make it playable. Most of the time. Because in Campaign mode all 4 people are (theoretically) working towards the same goal, there isn’t the need to prove that you’re better than everyone else. Instead, the goal is simply to survive. There are no great players and shitty players. There are simply groups that survive and those that don’t. Everything in Left 4 Dead is carefully calibrated to make the team work together. If you are pinned by a Hunter, the nasty, hoodie-wearing zombie, your only hope of survival is to have one of your other three teammates pry that creepy bastard off of you so you can get up, dust yourself off, reload, and continue converting the walking dead to the splattered dead.

Play Left 4 Dead for longer than 15 minutes, and you quickly discover the great secret of the game. STAY WITH THE PARTY. That’s it. There are many, many FAQs and guides written about Left 4 Dead, but I just told you in 4 words what they all will tell you, over and over again. STAY WITH THE PARTY. If you’re playing, and you’ve got some noobs on your team, you can still have a great game, assuming that everyone STAYS WITH THE PARTY. Run off by yourself and you will be quickly attacked and eaten by the horde of zombies while crying pitifully into your mic “hey! Save me! Save me!” And the rest of the group will have to save you. Why? Because you didn’t STAY WITH THE PARTY. And sadly, you will need all 4 Survivors, because if even 1 goes down, the odds of the other 3 making it to the next safehouse alive go down very, very quickly (especially on Versus mode, when some of the other zombies are controlled by human players, adept at exploiting the slightest weakness in a team.)


Let’s try a quick role-play:

You: Hey, I think I see some ammo over in that one alleyway. I’m going to run off by myself and get it!

You:I know the perfect place to hide from the horde on this level. Even though everyone else is going in one direction, I’m going to go hide in my awesome camping spot!

You: I’m going to go spray my tag on every wall I can find! My tag is a lolcat!

You: Watch how quickly I can run through this level!


You: I am going run off to get a slightly better gun than the gun I have.

You: I have to go do drugs/masturbate/run in circles.

Get it?

Is it that fucking hard?

l4d-propApparently so. I have played countless games in which a player has decided that he alone can kill zombies. The player runs off, gets killed. Then, we get killed.

I love Left 4 Dead. It is, in some ways, a very easy game to play. Whether you are playing campaign or versus, STAY WITH THE PARTY. But as soon as one fucking idiot gets everyone killed because he/she ignored Left 4 Dead’s prime directive, you will want to scream. Of all the video game skills players spend hours and hours learning, STAY WITH THE PARTY is perhaps the easiest to learn. So how do so many otherwise decent players not learn it?

Curtis Retherford


4 responses to “4 words to know when playing Left 4 Dead.

  1. Hey – I love your guys’ blog. I love your videos. I’d like to invite you to post on Bitmob.com. I see your great posts and no comments and I get sad. You guys deserve to be read.

  2. I play L4D competitively. This is perhaps THE MOST frustrating thing in playing public matches, and the second most frustrating thing is players that don’t have mics or refuse to respond. Communication and teamwork can make even the lesser skilled players give greater skilled players problems with teamwork.

    Good post. I have no idea why it is so hard to stick with this premise for most people. Too many people associate it with standard FPS games I guess where one person can carry a team.

  3. What’s the header image supposed to mean with the coins? Is the penny supposed to be Louis because it’s “copper” colored? Of course it “is.” You racist asshole. Why does the black man have to be the coin that’s worth the least?

    I’m glad I left you in that corn field. I don’t care that I got attacked by a tank and I’m dead now and we lost the campaign. There was another group of people who tried to keep everyone together and “contained.” They were called the Nazis.

    • PissedOffComputerJunky

      @adamdorsey, You’re an idiot. Why do people have to make everything into a racial thing. They’re just four separate coins. He even said, “you will need all 4 Survivors, because if even 1 goes down, the odds of the other 3 making it to the next safehouse alive go down very, very quickly”. Nobody ever said that Louis was the penny. It’s people like you that give this country a bad name. Go kill yourself. Honestly.

      @Curtis Retherford, Nice post, great game.

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