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Left 4 Dead 2 – dev interview

Why did you decide to focus on adding melee weapons?

It’s a classic horror film thing, it’s a classic zombie thing. You pick up what’s next to you and you smash the baddie in the head. There’s a lot of fun things you can use to hit zombies, from Gordon Freeman’s crowbar to a guitar. Chainsaws are something you have to have in a zombie movie.

Beyond melee, what other new weapons are you adding?

There’s the Boomer bile you can throw, mainly in the first campaign. It’s an alternative to the pipe bomb.

We have a multitude of rifles available. The classic assault rifle from L4D1, a new one they used in Desert Storm that fires in three-round bursts, the AK-47 that’s really good up close but not so good farther away.

There’s multiple pistols, including a magnum which is super-powerful up close. We wanted to give you a bigger range, so you can choose your style. For instance, the grenade launcher... it very much changes your style of play. You can’t shoot too close to your friends because of friendly fire, and what do you do if your buddy has been jumped on by the Jockey? Take him out too, or run up with a melee weapon?

Can you modify those weapons?

You can pick up a modifier to add a laser sight that not only lets you see where everyone is aiming – which is really helpful – but also helps your accuracy a bit. You can tie that with the AK-47 and you’ve got this really cool weapon. You’ve got ammo upgrades, like incendiary ammo or explosive rounds, and you can carry that with you and decide when you want to play it. There’s a bit of deploying time, so you have to be strategic when you want to pull that out.

How do you balance all the new ingredients without overwhelming the player?

This is where the AI Director comes in. The Director can give the team that’s not understanding what they’re doing a bit of a break, let them regain their wits. Even brand new players, as long as they stay together and help each other, they can do OK. They can get through this. The Director is constantly tweaking, deciding what spawns when.

We’ve introduced the idea of the defibrillator. You can bring people back from the dead. The AI Director will look and say, “Oh my God, is someone about to die? They’re going to need the defibrillator now instead of giving them a healthpack.” So more than even the first game, the AI Director really balances the experience. Everybody gets this thrill of almost dying.

What did you learn most from L4D1 that you’re trying to apply to L4D2?

After we launched, what we saw was people starting to optimise not for the funnest way to play it, but for the fastest way to play. That would be hitting a button and hiding in the corner, or melee bashing. With L4D2 we wanted to start with the mantra that the funnest way to play it is the best way to play it, so you’re not getting yelled at to go stand in a corner. Moving, fighting and killing is the best way to play it.

Oct 23, 2009

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10 comments

  • bonerachieved - October 27, 2009 5:43 p.m.

    SOOOOOOoooo getting this, defibrillators and katanas?!?!?!
  • TheDude - October 27, 2009 1:57 a.m.

    Im on the west coast so i might get the demo at 9:00 today! so excited!
  • soullesspanda - October 26, 2009 9:07 p.m.

    Im so excited for this game I get the demo twomorrow for pre-ordering! I just hope the game is not left 4 dead 1 with a few tweaks =/
  • bamb0o-stick - October 26, 2009 12:09 p.m.

    I like some of the new ideas on gameplay here. Adding a laser sight will be a God-send if you play on Expert. The worst thing to kill a good experience is having dumb teammates. Its also good to hear that the AI director will be a little more fair. Sometimes it can be pretty merciless in l4d1.
  • Doctalen - October 26, 2009 1:16 a.m.

    Cool can't wait for it. Don't get why some people want to boycott this game.
  • wcatdoor - October 25, 2009 11:35 p.m.

    Graphics dont make the game, and I wish people would stop whining about L4D and the free content stuff. I dont care if L4D 2 was just 4 new maps and thats it.
  • IceManYEA - October 24, 2009 4:49 p.m.

    Game of the year...well besides ModernWarfare2
  • nadrewod999 - October 24, 2009 12:56 p.m.

    Lol @dannage805: Right before I had to return my copy of Brutal Legend (a game about music that sounds a lot like rock), I got to a part where you basically fight zombies, so there will be at least two games with both zombies and music out there after L4D2 comes out.
  • smallberry - October 24, 2009 3:49 a.m.

    I hope there is a fair bit of improvement in the graphics. Not that I found that a flaw in L4D1 but we all know Valve is going to have the gameplay nailed so a little boost in the eye candy would be greatly appreciated.
  • dannage805 - October 23, 2009 8:08 p.m.

    rock music and zombies? Valve read my mind

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