Saturday, 17 January 2009

How To Not Completely Fail… on Left 4 Dead's Versus Mode - Part I

  • Game: Left 4 Dead
  • Format: Xbox 360, PC
  • Developer: Valve (PC)/Certain Affinity (X360)
  • Publisher: Valve
  • Genre: 1st Person Shooter
Left 4 Dead is a co-op fan's dream. Put 4 people together and see if they can co-operate to the end of the level. If they do their own thing and they'll probably be left for dead (hence the title of the game) by the rest of the team, or, worse they'll cost your whole team the match by splitting the team up and getting picked off by the horde. Versus mode, however, turns the whole game on its head and puts a team in the blood-soaked shoes of the game's 'special infected' - zombies with special abilities such as super-zombie strength and erm… puking (it may seem absurd, to say the least, but it's brilliant fun). This mode really punishes you if you fail to pull your weight and it's very easy to throw away a good win for your team. So I'm here to help and dispense advice that is probably blatantly obvious, but it makes me feel important, though, so here it is anyway. Take note, though, this is a guide purely for the Versus mode. If you need help with the other parts of the game, then go on GameFAQs or something.

Part I - Infected: The Hunter and The Boomer

You should already know how to play as a survivor. The general method of surviving is very much the same against humans as it is against infected, only you're generally more likely to outsmart humans than you are the AI…

The Hunter

Basic play tips first: the Hunter is the most powerful special infected bar the Tank damage wise, but all it takes is a single melee to remove you, and people being huntered are super obvious. The best way to play as a Hunter is like with any of the other special infected (minus the Tank, of course), which is to try and pick on people away from the group, heavily damaged, not paying attention, etc.

This brings me to another pet hate - this isn't fucking Frogger. Unless you're trying to get the survivors to shoot at you (example: a distraction to get the survivors boomered by a teammate would be acceptable), stop jumping horizontally along the ground like a retard and use your surroundings to your advantage. You have walls, ceilings, trees, telephone poles, rocks, silos and thousands of other places from which to pounce from.

Unless the only thing you need to do is incapacitate someone out of view of the other survivors (e.g. if he's the last one alive and you need him down to win), you should always hit people with a single pounce or a wall pounce, and if you miss, claw survivors not paying attention, or jump the hell out of there and try again.

1) How do I shot pounce?
Now you may be asking why pounces are so important. Well, unless you catch a survivor way off on their own, or the survivors are all vomited on and can't see shit, it's very likely you're gonna be shot/melee'd off after maybe 1 or 2 hits on a pounced survivor. While that was okay when we could play Versus on Expert/Advanced mode, there's not really much point on normal because you only hit them for ~5-10 damage a hit. By pouncing from a distance, you can actually inflict up to 25 points of instant damage the moment you land a pounce, depending on its length.

This is powerful enough to instantly incapacitate a low-yellow survivor and combined with a couple of claw hits, you can be doing upwards of 40 damage a pounce, which is a serious amount of damage compared to a couple of claw hits for maybe 15.

Additionally, if you pounce a person from an angle, it will generally push them slightly in the same direction you were going - this is really useful if you see a survivor looking over a ledge, cliff, etc. - get them from the ground side of the ledge with a big pounce (for maximum force), and if you get lucky you'll actually push them off the edge. This not only does fall damage but also extends the length of your pounce, so if it wasn't a max damage pounce it very well might be by the time you hit the ground.

2) Pouncing for dummies
Use the surroundings to your advantage. Look for high spots and jump in a high arc if possible, since it allows you more time to correct your aim in mid air, and try to go for the most injured survivor if possible. Managing to incap a survivor is possibly the best way to slow a team down, especially if you can get a Boomer to spawn on them while they're reviving.

You can wall jump all you like, but remember this - the damage you get from a pounce is solely dependent on the distance from the last spot you hit to the survivor - if you wall jump all around a map, land 1m from a survivor then 'Frogger' into him you won't do any damage from the pounce.

In most of the open maps (No Mercy 1, parts of 2 and 3, most of Blood Harvest) you should be looking for pounce spots from the get go and trying to hit 25 pounces as much as possible, unless there is a visibly slow survivor in which case you should force his team to come back for them. Bear in mind that you don't need huge map sprawling leaps - there's many more easier and faster to reach places which will give you 25 damage from a pounce, they simply won't look as awesome

In closed maps, and in areas where you think the extra damage would be useful (the entire subway part of No Mercy 2, for example), another tactic is to set yourself on fire. The reason being that once a flaming hunter has pounced a survivor, you will then deal flame damage too (no extra pounce damage over 25) - it's very easy to incap a survivor if you time a flamed Hunter pounce well. Examples would be pouncing a just-boomered team if you can pounce the only non-vomited survivor, or pounce the one which would be most difficult to free from a hunter (the others are all dealing with zombies on their own). A couple of seconds of flaming Hunter on a survivor can easily incap them, and isn't too difficult to pull off if your timing is good.

Being on fire does not increase your claw damage, however the flame damage will up the total pain by almost double, but makes you pretty easy to spot (a flaming jumping zombie), and also (and this is crucial) makes it impossible to double jump - this means no wall jumping, no diagonal/vertical building climbing - only direct pounces. Since the maps where this is most useful are the enclosed ones where fire is readily available, your pounces will generally be short (you're limited by the ceiling height after all), but you can still do 5-10 damage from a single pounce by making sure you pounce in an arc - over the train carriages and stuff on No Mercy 2 is easily doable with a little practice.

These are my two main points when playing Hunter - try to pounce for maximum damage as much as you can where possible, and when that's not physically possible because of the map, set yourself on fire using available fire sources, or survivor Molotov, and wreak havoc. Use the confusion caused by Boomers to your advantage, and work on a single survivor if you can until they're incapped.

3) The fat guy is your best friend
Just-boomered survivors are most susceptible to insane Hunter damage because they lose outlines of their teammates and audible traits of the Hunter pounce are more difficult to pick out, and if a survivor is on his own and struggling with zombies (usually crouched, stationary and meleeing his fucking heart out), pounce the fucker - he'll be easy to pounce for max damage (because he's stationary), surrounded by zombies (which take fire before you do), probably won't be paying attention to his surroundings (mostly top and behind), and once pounced the additional damage from the zombies already there is no laughing matter.

4) Hunter slap
Your claw attack (secondary) does a lot more damage than the smokers' - 10 a hit AFAIK (I think this is also affected by fire, but fire makes you super visible when going for straight claws), so if you're struggling for a place to pounce from, another tactic that works relatively well is to attack boomered players with your claws, like a normal zombie - you blend in to the crowd of zombies (don't forget, you can run through zombies, a survivor cant), approach from the side or back, claw once, run away, attack from a different side.

You can easily inflict 30 or 40 damage this way on a boomered target who can't see shit, and simply pounce away when the zombies are mostly dead.

Air control as a Hunter is super important for hitting targets and GTFOing. If you're holding down crouch once you're in the air, stop it. Use crouch to pounce and then let it go once you're flying. If you hold crouch, you lose a lot of the ability to change your direction in the air, which makes it much harder to hit targets from a long way away.

Note: If you tap crouch just before you land a pounce (or hold it down until you've pounced again, doesn't matter), you can then pounce again straight away to get out of sticky situations. You do not need to have crouch pressed if you want to wall jump - all you need for a wall jump is to be looking a certain angle away from the wall both vertically and horizontally (~10 degrees apparently), and then press the primary attack button.

As for changing direction in mid air - press left and right to move that way, forwards if you need some more range, and hold backwards if you need less range. Bear in mind forwards seems to be less sensitive than the other 3, and backwards seems to be much more sensitive than the rest - you can pretty much stop in mid air and fall directly down.

If you're trying to curve left or right into someone from a pounce, hold the strafe key in that direction while curling the cross hairs towards them in the same direction. It's pretty tricky to get the hang of accurately, but is the most important part of hitting big pounces for big damage bar none (along with accurately predicting the movement of survivors, and the range of your pounce). Also, bear in mind that unless you have a really good ping, the survivors are probably a step or two ahead of where you see them. When pouncing from the side or behind, always try to aim slightly ahead of a moving victim to pounce them more accurately. Pouncing someone from behind and hitting them in the back will not force a successful pounce, you have to land on their head or very slightly in front of them. If you feel like you're bouncing off peoples heads, that generally means that your pounce aim is good but your ping is a bit shitty, so you want to aim further forwards again.

6) I'mma NINJA
While the Hunter's pounce is by far its most powerful weapon damage wise, there are lots of other ways you can be effective when pounce isn't an option - Hunters make no noise when not crouching, so use this to your advantage.

I've had instances where I've hidden in a tree on Blood Harvest 1, waited for the healthy survivors to run by and then incapped the injured survivor with a single claw hit and run off.

The Boomer

Okay, Boomers! These guys often have the shortest life spans but are also fantastic force multipliers when used correctly. The ability to summon 30 regular infected is a incredibly good skill when used right and can open the door for a torrent of buttrape for the unlucky survivors.

1) The Money Shot
First things first, that green bukkake attack takes a damn long time to recharge so use it wisely, it's likely you'll only live long enough to use it once before popping so don't mess up. Boomer bile only attracts infected if it actually hits a survivor and then only 1 swarm per bile attack. Blowing your load on all 4 will not net you 4xs the amount of infected nor will puking on one then exploding on the other 3. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to bile up all 4, you should always be aiming to hit multiple targets, just remember it won't net you more zombies.

Boomer bile does a lot more then just attract infected, when you get blasted by the fat man's goo you're effectively blind for a few seconds and lose everyone's outlines. This either means resorting to your weaker melee attack or risk friendly fire incidents. As a boomer you should know this and take advantage of it. See that fresh young noob who has yet to learn what the melee key is (or worse knows it's there but insists on always using the bloody shotgun)? Try to shoot your load on him and watch as he spins around in a blind panic wasting ammo and shooting his buddies in the face.

Other infected should also use this to their advantage. Smokers and Hunters! If your Boomer friend manages to get 3 guys but not the 4th, go for him. A team where 3 players can't see shit is gonna have hell of a time trying to dislodge a pinned player - more so if you have 30 regular infected getting in the way and chewing on your face. If a Boomer has managed to get all 4 then Hunters go for the ones surrounded by the most zombies they'll make a fantastic meatshield while you incap your way to success while Smokers aim for anyone who can be easily separated and make some distance.

3) Think before you spray
There is nothing worse then an idiot Boomer who sprays on a team while they are surrounded by close able doors or otherwise small cramped spaces (the stairwell sections on No Mercy 3 etc.). As a boomer you want to cream 'em where they are exposed; yes it's harder to get the jump on an intelligent team but do it right and the swarm you summon is much, much harder to counter as they will be coming from all directions and surround victims. If it looks like they'll be able to funnel the zombies through a bottleneck (or force them to climb) think twice about committing yourself. If you think you can survive to puke a second time then go for it and let them use up the ammo before attracting a second rabble but otherwise don't feel ashamed about hiding and letting them get into a more open area.

Back when you could commit a suicide at the touch of a button on the PC version it used to be great fun to waddle in and suicide yourself before the survivors could melee you away and let the zombie hordes do the rest. Unfortunately such times are gone but the tactic is still there, when you die you go boom and anything nearby gets slimed in your product, attracting the horde. Boomers have a shitty amount of life and more often than not you'll get more slimes from dying than actually puking. Most maps are full of drops, vents and all sorts of other places where a Boomer can appear out of no where and get hit by a stray bullet or panicked shotgun wielder (especially on 360 as most people are still too stupid to try and push Boomers back before firing.)

5) Bullet Magnet
People love to kill Boomers, they're huge, slow sacks of shit that pop like a balloon after just a couple of rounds. Use this to your advantage and stand by things people typically don't want to shoot at like cars or the Witch. People will fire at you in an attempt to kill you before attracting the horde and normally end up causing even more trouble for themselves. Remember all it takes is one bullet to set them off. You can use this tactic with all infected but Boomers are the best for attracting fire at their bloated arses.

6) Fat man slap
Boomers still posses a melee attack, although it's pretty useless,
not doing much damage and bieing slow to get close enough. That said, if you do get inside explodey range remember to spam secondary and get a couple of extra cheap hits, you're still stronger than a regular infected.

7) Work as a team, Jackass
Your bile and hordes may be a pain in the arse, but in general your actual damage output is still laughably low, what you do provide better then anyone else however is a massive fucking diversion for your infected buddies to take advantage of. Use your mic and your friends to help you - out it's a billion times harder to save someone with a screen full of infected in the way (that your team can walk through) than it is to save someone who isn't. Boomers are also one of the few classes that force a team to split up on their own, no one wants to be biled and people will spread out in every direction to either try and prevent you getting 4 hits from your puke or to avoid the inevitable explosion. A fragmented team of survivors is easier to pin with other infected than one where they're all in melee range of one another.

8) Check their inventory
Survivors that have a pipe bomb or Molotov will have it holstered on their character and easily visible in spectator mode when you die. Why is this important? Simple, pipe bombs will fuck you up, given a choice between a cummed on survivor and a pipe bomb zombies almost always go for the pipe every fucking time, the picky bastards. If you see someone with a pipe, try to do everything you possibly can to make them use it up before you unleash your puke, it's not always possible (people are very stingy on where they use their pipe bombs), but if you can make them waste it, then do so. Last thing you want is to spend 20 seconds watching your horde run like idiots after the blinky red thing and get vapourised.

9) Metagaming Arsehole
This will only work on the PC version and then only on poor saps who have shitty connections and computers. If you think (or know) someone to have a computer that is likely to chug at the sight of 30 zombies pouring out of the woodwork then take advantage of this. No one wants their savior to be someone with only 5 frames per sec because half the time it'll just get you both killed so force this situation where possible.

Next: In Part II, we deal with Smokers and the awesomeness of the Tank. Plus, some tips for surviving against the human-controlled infected in Left 4 Dead's Versus mode.

Discuss this guide on the forum.