Back 4 Blood—a shooter’s shooter

Non-stop team play dash through zombie land

Jon Peddie

Back 4 Blood is an online multiplayer first-person shooter game developed by Turtle Rock Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. If you can play it alone, you have four companions called Cleaners, and you all are tasked with the job of cleaning out zombies, which come in all sizes, meanness, and power.

The story begins after an outbreak of a new parasite that has spread worldwide. There is a suggestion by some of your companions that it came from aliens, but as far as I got in the game, I never saw any evidence of that or any aliens. However, most of the world has been infected by it and turned into the Ridden, the name given to the zombies. Here to save the day, at least in the US, is a group of survivors called the Cleaners, and you are one of them called on to clean out the zombies—it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it.

The game is linear, with side excursions possible but dead-ending. The battle never stops. You get pretty good weapons at the start and find even better ones later. Your (AI bot) teammates are a big help, they shoot (and kill) zombies you miss, and most importantly, they patch you up.  They also tell you to look over there, and when you do, you find supplies.

Like all other shooters, it is a crescendo-building game with several little boss fights. The boss fights are winnable, not like some of the endless ones in other games that kill the fun.

There are eight companion cleaners available to you in the game Doc, Hoffman, Jim, and Karlee.  You meet four of them in the beginning and get to pick one of them for your persona. Doc and Hoffman will become best friends and save your ass many times—they may be the best companions in the game.

Back 4 Blood is not an easy game, regardless of what level you play (Recruit or Nightmare—Nightmare is precisely as it sounds and not recommended if you are on any kind of heart medication). Starting out, you won’t have many cards unlocked, so take your time picking the best cleaners and weapons for your team in the early stages. There are online guides already that will help you. You will be able to find and invite four additional cleaners to help you with the quest (of getting to point B and staying alive).

The game is DLSS enabled, and although you are moving fast as hell, you will appreciate the ambiance and the imagery—just don’t stare at it too long, or you’ll be lying down looking up.

The whole crew of Back 4 Blood (Source: Rockpapershotgun)


After you complete the Crossing, there is a cutscene, and it introduces the locked cleaners. That marks the completion of the Paid the Toll accomplishment, which gives you 150 Supply Points, but more importantly, unlocks all of the cleaners.

Back 4 Blood has been called the heir to Left 4 Dead. I found it more enjoyable (I liked the companions better, for one thing), although similar in gameplay and certainly mission.

It’s available at Steam for PC (and you need a good one with an Nvidia RTX AIB), the Xbox via Microsoft with Game pass, and PlayStation 5. It starts at $60. There are add-on DLCs available for an additional $40.

There are dozens of hours of play in this game, and although $60 (or $100 for B4B Ultimate) seems expensive, when divided by the time you’ll play it, it’s pennies per minute and a whole lot less expensive than the per-minute cost of a movie.