Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror DLC Review

Since Back 4 Blood debuted in October 2021, it’s been Left 4 Dead’s best-looking and perhaps most outlandish successor since the original sequel in 2009, but it’s also a frustratingly frustrating game. inconsistent to play. In one level you can limp excitedly towards the vault as a swarm scratches your heels, as any horde shooter should often feel, only for the next level to be a mess of enemy spam and poor design. objectives. Six months later, pacing and design issues are still hampering the experience of the game’s first expansion, Tunnels of Terror, but the moments of frustration are finally showing signs of waning alongside some fun additions to the game’s main campaign. Game.

The Tunnels of Terror expansion adds two characters, a host of weapons, and seven new levels to Back 4 Blood in the form of Ridden Hives. Rather than providing another underrated side attraction to the main campaign, these Ridden Hives are cleverly integrated into the game’s original, already lengthy story mode. Appearing randomly, Hives act as optional high-risk dungeons and high-reward in which a full team must agree to descend together.

Smirkingly, they often spawn near Safe Rooms, giving Scavenger Squads a decision to make: head to the safety of the bright orange door, or dive into the Hellish Hives for the best loot in the game? For all top players, the decision should be easy. Legendary weapons can only be found in these hives, not to mention the new free in-game currency, Skull Totems, which can unlock exclusive new cosmetics. These factors should mean that the most difficult roguelite races require at least one pit stop in a hive for better weapons. However, legacy issues from the game, like swarms of poorly balanced enemies, continue to get in the way.

Across the game’s seven hives, each has a second “inner hive” region that’s meant to be even harder, and they certainly are, but not in a fun way. Rather than throwing you into inventive new scenarios like splitting the party or putting you in difficult flying or fighting situations, the AI ​​director simply throws a lot more game mutations (especially infected) at you.

Skull Totems can be exchanged for some of the most elaborate cosmetics in the game to date.
Skull Totems can be exchanged for some of the most elaborate cosmetics in the game to date.

It feels like a D&D game run by a dungeon master with a childish idea of ​​the rule of cool. Sometimes less is more, but Back 4 Blood continues to reject the idea. Opening a door and encountering four mini-bosses at once isn’t interesting, it’s just exhausting, and doing it five times in a single hive makes it even more of a chore. As a saving grace, AI teammates look better now than they did at launch, which means those overwhelming hordes are sometimes more manageable – at the very least predictable – when played offline online. because of how the AI ​​expertly aims and defends you as their monarch.

These lingering issues are why I found it both frustrating and amusing that alongside the DLC comes an even tougher difficulty for those who want it. I don’t know of anyone who thinks the game is properly balanced at its lowest difficulty, so introducing a new ceiling without fixing that shoddy floor seems like the wrong way to go.

At least some other parts of these hives are worthwhile. The loot itself is awesome, offering weapons with impressive stats and special abilities in a move borrowed from loot shooters. Each bundle of these weapons is also hidden in a warped chest, and opening such a chest deals trauma damage to your entire team, making HP harder to restore. Any cleaner can unilaterally open a warped chest, which makes communication essential – and the lack of it potentially damning to team chemistry.

I found that as long as the AI ​​director was only tough but fair, the hives themselves were well worth venturing into. Every time I encountered one, my group was eager to head inside, suggesting that the balance of risk and reward made by developer Turtle Rock is better than its horde cadence.

While hives vary somewhat in design, they all largely follow the same basic principles: they are sprawling mazes of flesh where exits must be mentally noted by any team wishing to make a quick exit after clearing them. Getting lost is a deliberate part of the process, and the teams that split up to tackle each titular tunnel will soon remember that teamwork is everything.

Opening a warped chest when your team is already badly injured could give you food for the Mounted.
Opening a warped chest when your team is already badly injured could give you food for the Mounted.

I wish there was more variety in how the hives actually look, but I also appreciate the background lore that comes with it. Their mere existence paints the Ridden in more vibrant colors, zapping my brain with fun questions like “how long were they there?” and “how could these things ever be truly exterminated?” These questions have no answers, and I like that. They remind me of the deliberately vague hints of how the fall happened in any classic zombie story.

The Tunnels of Terror expansion is both a decent addition on its own and a progress report on Back 4 Blood’s ongoing struggles to find proper balance and pacing. Thanks to the accompanying patch, I’ve witnessed fewer frustrating moments over the past week than ever before – despite the monster spamming in the inner hives – and that’s encouraging for someone who would love play this game for a long time. , if he can just iron out a few more wrinkles. For now, it’s still a little messy, but before the headlining additions of new levels, characters, and weapons, I find the most promising aspect of Tunnels of Terror is its long list of ratings. update.

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