Left 4 Dead: A Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
Whether you’re new to Valve’s zombie horror survival game ‘Left 4 Dead’ or an old hand at the game, there are a host of tactics and methods with which to survive the campaigns and get out alive.
Although these tips pertain to playing the campaign mode of Left 4 Dead as the human survivors, with the Director AI being handled by the computer, some of these tips can also be utilised against human opponents controlling undead.
While most are just basic common sense, knowing them beforehand can go a long way to helping you survive.
One of the biggest aids you can give yourself is to invest in a gaming headset and get used to using it in-game to talk to your fellow survivors. The ability to communicate with your teammates vocally should not be underestimated and can help you to survive better than any typed warning ever could. Remember, if you’re typing you’re not moving or firing and you need to do both to survive!
Let your team-mates know what you’re doing. There’s little sense in two (or more) of you throwing a grenade into a horde when one will do the job.
If you get hit by a special infected, it’s easier – and quicker – to yell ‘Help’ down a mic than it is to hit the ‘Y’ key and type it out. Similarly, if you spot (or hear) a special infected you can warn your teammates quickly to their presence and adjust your tactics – this is especially handy in Tank or Witch instances.
Work as a team and stick together!
Left 4 Dead is all about survival and the team that sticks together survives together. Left 4 Dead is not a game for lone gunmen or heroes and getting either too far ahead or behind the rest of your teammates is one of the quickest ways to bring about your demise. If you must go marauding, at worst do it in pairs so there is always someone around to help you out of a jam until the remainder of your team arrives to help.
Keep moving. Staying still for too long brings down the horde. Only stop to pick up supplies or to use first aid kits.
Have the team carry an assortment of weapons. There’s little point in having all players carrying sniper rifles for instance. Aim to have a balanced arsenal across the team to better cope with the various instances you’ll come across in the game.
Use the right grenade for the situation. Use molotovs for static defensive actions such as when defending against horde attacks, but use pipebombs to draw zombies away from your path of progression or away from teammates.
Use First Aid Wisely
Left 4 Dead isn’t overflowing with health packs so use the ones you do have wisely. You’ll get four first aid kits in each safe room in a campaign, but remember these have to get you through to the next safe room. Very occasionally you’ll find a first-aid kit somewhere in the level but for the most part, you’ll have to rely on pain pills to give you a temporary boost.
Ideally, only use first-aid kits if you or a teammate has a health score in the red zone. For health in the amber zone and lower reaches of the green zone, these can be treated with pain pills. Remember too that as a teammate gets injured, their movement is slowed. Players with amber health move slower than those with green health scores, while those with red scores move slower still making them easier targets for horde attacks or special infected attacks. Using pain pills can negate the slowdown and help you avoid trouble.
When in combat…
Nothing kills you quicker than friendly fire so watch where you shoot. The shotgun weapons are extremely potent at close range, so if a fellow survivor is being swarmed by the horde, you could do more harm than good to them by wading in with your boomstick bellowing. Instead, switch to pistols or try to melee the zombies away. If you have one, a pipebomb to draw the zombies off your teammate can reap dividends and save your teammate’s life.
If you’re a novice player, the Uzi is an easier weapon to begin with than the shotgun. It has a faster rate of fire, quicker reload time and a longer range than the shotgun.
Pistols, unlike the other weapons, have unlimited ammo. Make sure you pick up a second pistol to increase your rate of fire. Pistols, although relatively weak, are invaluable against small pockets of zombies which allow you to conserve your bigger ammo for hordes, Tanks and Witches. There is however a small tradeoff in that reload time for dual-pistols is slightly slower – but it’s worth it.
Close the door. Doors can be smashed down by the horde, but can be used to stall the zombie attack and buy you some time to get organised to defend against the onslaught by getting into position or readying grenades, reloading or healing up. Doors are less effective against Tanks and Witches, however.
Duck! If you’re at the head of the group, crouch so as not to obscure or block the line of fire for those behind you. This can also help you avoid running into friendly fire.
If you are unfortunate to get covered in Boomer vomit, try to quickly back into a corner in order to limit the area of attack from zombies. If you’ve been playing as a team and your teammates are close, they can defend you from the horde until the slime wears off.
Defending against the Horde
In many cases, you’ll have to take on a horde in order to progress and in these instances you’ll likely be given a mounted Gatling gun to help you. However, while very powerful these guns can only swivel a total of 180 degrees so their protection is limited. They are also positioned in areas where protection by the surroundings is not at its best. If you do use the gun in these areas, try to have a teammate defend your back as you’ll be stationary and an easier target for special infected.
Use your surroundings. Try to get on higher ground where possible as it gives you a vantage point to defend against hordes. Be careful, however, as you’re a slightly easier target for Hunters and Smokers to be able to attack you. Be wary, however, of cars which have flashing lights – these are alarmed and triggering the alarm brings forth the horde.
Locations which have only one way in are ideal bottlenecks in which to defend, but try to make sure you’re not too far away from ammo piles in case you need to reload quickly. As with normal movement through the campaign, if you do need to go for ammo it is better to travel in pairs, rather than alone.
Fire is your friend. Use fire wherever possible to clear out difficult areas, areas where a large concentration of zombies are likely to be, or when defending against horde rushes. You’ll find molotovs, petrol cans, gas bottles and oxygen cylinders scattered around the campaign maps. Use them… they can go a long way to saving your behind and can be used as impromptu melee weapons and to control horde entry points. If distance allows you can even set alight a Tank or Witch and the flames will kill or seriously damage either before it can get close enough to you to attack – just make sure to keep running and let the flames do their work!
Avoid the Witch
If you can, avoid tackling the Witch. She’s much more dangerous than she looks and one hit from her incapacitates you, regardless of your health score. There’s little to be gained in taking her on when she presents no barrier to your progression through the map.
Witches react to light, flames and explosions as well as being shot so when around her be extremely careful, especially in a firefight as even a graze from a stray bullet will set her off.
There are occasions where you will be forced to tackle the Witch. Using fire is a good option where space allows, but the best weapon to use against the witch is the semi-automatic shotgun and she can be taken down with 4 or 5 rapid shots from this weapon. Alternatively, shoot her from distance with the hunting rifle – preferably after you’ve started to burn her – and hope you and your teammates can deal enough damage before she reaches you to take her down.
Gas canisters and oxygen cylinders can also be dropped and detonated near her, making her startle and charge. However the blast will severely damage her, making her slightly easier to kill.
These are just a few hints and tips to help novice ‘Left 4 Dead’ get the most out of the game and hopefully to survive the zombie apocalypse. While most are common sense, the list is by no means exhaustive and players will undoubtedly come up with their own preferred strategies to help them stay alive.