I have to add my voice to the chorus of dissapointed fan-whines you have probably seen all over the internets this week. To put it plainly the new Left 4 Dead 2 DLC was not what I expected it to be. I was misinformed by the wild rumor mill and pre-release hype and I expected to see much more than Valve had to offer. And I was not the only one. Let me explain this.
I believe that the official Valve press releases stated that in the new DLC chapter you will be able to play alongside the original L4D survivor team. They didn’t say the original four will be playable characters, but hell no one actually paid attention to the wording. Bunch of people including me sort-of assumed that passing would be an 8 player campaign (or an 8×8 battle in versus) with two teams of survivors assisting each other. It was mostly wishful thinking I believe – but can you imagine? That would be awesome!
Sadly The Passing is a standard 4 player campaign with the original survivors briefly appearing as NPC’s in the first and final chapter. They mostly just stand there and provide some exposition and then help you shoot down zombies from a high ground position of some sort. It’s basically just a cameo – nothing more. Now, if Valve kept their mouth shut about this unexpected encounter it would probably be mind-shatteringly awesome. If they just said it is an extra campaign with few new weapons and a new common-uncommon infected, people would most likely cream their pants on the release day. But there was so much overblown hype surrounding this cameo that it couldn’t be anything else but disappointing.
This was only part of the hype though. The other component that really got the fans talking was a dramatic death of one of the original survivors. This got intertwined with the bit of news about a new “fallen survivor” infected type. Someone on the internets put two and two together and we ended up with a crazy-awesome scenario: One of the playable L4D survivors must make a dramatic in-game sacrifice to allow the remaining 7 players escape. In in the next chapter that very character comes back as an infected (who would also be entered into the rotation in versus).
Once again, this was wishful thinking more than anything else – but I swear that I had an in-depth discussion with someone on how they would go about making the sacrifice scene in game terms. We figured that it would probably involve a one-person elevator that would take the player down to a lower level, where he would have to flip a switch clearing the passage for remaining survivors. Then the survivor would get swarmed by a horde and likely get an achievement upon death while the rest of the team would be whisked away so that they couldn’t help him fight. We also discussed what could be the special attack of the new “fallen survivor”.
The reality is that you do not actually get to enact the sacrifice. Hell, you don’t even see it. What you do see is a body of one of the survivors sprawled on the floor in an easily accessible side room in the final chapter. It would be neat and a bit shocking if it was not hyped up so much. But, everyone knew already. When my team finally found the body everyone started quipping “BILL’S HERE!” in Louis like voice.
The fallen survivor turned out to be just a new common-uncommon infected type. He has a funky hat, bandoleers of ammo on his chest and he runs away from you. If you kill him you he drops a medkit or some othr supplies. Much less awesome than what we suspected him to be.
The campaign itself is also underwhelming – and that’s not due to the hype or anything. The original campaigns all had original final chapters – each rather unique and memorable. The first campaign has the refueling of Jimmy Gibbs Jr car. The second one has the rock concert, third one has the plantation defense, and the last one has that deadly bridge run. The final chapter of The Passing is basically a rehash of the Atrium level from Dead Center – only with a larger map and more infected. The concept is the same – grab gas cans and refuel a generator to win, while fending off horde after horde of undead.
Arguably the most interesting new addition to the game are the mutations which promise a weekly rotation of new game play elements. This weeks mutation for example was Realism Versus which turns the tables on the survivors by turning off all the highlights on the items and player outlines, while leaving them on for the infected. If your team gets separated in this mode, it means almost certain death for the straggler because it is not trivial to find a player who is getting smoked or is pounced on by a jokey. I’m really hoping that the mutations are going to accumulate (meaning as they add new ones, the old ones remain playable) as this would really add a lot of variety to the game play. If they merely rotate them, it will be a bit of a cop-out as well.
To summarize – I think I got burned by the hype on this one. If I didn’t know anything about this DLC I bet I would find it pretty good. But with all the hype and the wild speculations circulating around I ended up being dissapointed. I think I will try to stay away from the rumor mill for Portal 2 just to make sure I don’t ruin it for myself. Still, this campaign could have been better. But it’s free, so what the hell am I complaining about.
Have you played it yet? Did you like it? Were you dissapointed?