(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1b78SCATeY (/ embed)
It was a happy coincidence for Valve that Left 4 Dead became a pioneering "hangover game" – the kind of game you could play with friends night after night, taking it as seriously as you wanted, chatting about work, or anything in the time of inactivity between horde attacks. This is one of the keys to the longevity of Left 4 Dead 2 (it remains one of the 50 most played games on Steam for 12 years). The other is its huge mod scene, which allows you to turn your survivors into velociraptors or explore a strikingly detailed remake of the Resident Evil mansion.
Both are pillars of the spiritual successor to Valve's former developers The Anacrusis, which sells alien zombies in a retro science fiction setting.
"When my co-founder, Dr. Kimberly Voll and I, started talking about this, we were talking about games as a social space. And thinking, if you were left behind and you thought about games like this, way versus games as an activity, what would you do? and how would you approach it? ”says Chet Faliszek, who worked at Valve for more than a decade. "I loved the co-op in Left 4 Dead and how people worked together, and we wanted to capture it and bring it to the modern framework, update a lot of what we learned there and take it to the next place."
So what does that mean? Not only the zombies are walking now, although The Anacrusis renounces them in favor of piles of vaguely xenomorphic aliens, but it is the AI behind it, according to Faliszek, that is significant. “That’s one of the reasons why, for this particular game, Kim is the perfect partner,” he says. Voll has a PhD in AI and the "first code" written for The Anacrusis was the workings of his AI director's version of Left 4 Dead.
Faliszek says the behavior of enemies is very different here, guided by what they learned by watching players play cooperative games together. This also informed the new "infected special" equivalents, such as an alien called The Spawner, who will continue to create small turret enemies that will attack you until The Spawner is killed. The Flasher sinks with vision and senses. The Brute is, like L4D's Tank, a great bruiser.
There is nothing revolutionary here, but the promise is that the AI pilot will know when he will have to endure all this evil to divide a group.
What interests me most are the weapons on the science fiction stage of The Anacrusis. In the top trailer you can see a player throw a stasis grenade and another type of black hole grenade that sucks a bunch of aliens into a gravity pit. The gun featured in most of the video looks like a soft pea shooter, but there’s also an arch rifle that sends out circuses of electricity through various aliens, so I hope there’s a more fun design like this one that hides beyond the scant minute we’ve seen so far. Faliszek says he expects more contributions to the game over time; one of the advantages of science fiction is that it opens up the “madness” of what can be done with weapons.
Another big change from Left 4 Dead is the addition of a benefit system, which will work very differently from class-based leveling of, for example, Vermintide 2.
“One of the things I’ve seen with a lot of modern games is that they make you choose your class in advance and then you get into that routine,” Faliszek says. "What if you make it more dynamic? When we were doing Left 4 Dead, Valve had just joined the Alien Swarm team as well. Alien Swarm was all about the decisions you made in the And I remember some internal discussions about Why Left 4 Dead didn't do a bit of that? My argument was that it was much more interesting on the fly to have these strategies in which you have to decide based on what you have on hand. ".
Gaining the benefits of Anacrusis will give you some modern progression, but it won’t make you a particular character or class. And because the social angle is critical to the design, friends who join your game will have access to the benefits you've unlocked, so there's no annoying discrepancies between the 40-hour account and the new one.
The way you get advantageous rewards within levels is also aimed at improving your co-op experience: you'll find machines called "subject compilers" spread over levels and the whole team uses it, not just the player you found first.
As with Left 4 Dead, The Anacrusis will have its stages divided into episodes, and the same levels will not change, although the placement of objects and enemies will. Dr. Voll designed tools to facilitate populating levels and automatically determine the trajectory of AI around geometry, which Faliszek says will also be available to modders. The game is designed to be modifiable on the first day, when it will be released later this fall on Xbox, as well as on Steam and Epic Games Store.
I asked Faliszek if it was going to be Early Access, because there’s the trailer above does it looks unpolished, especially the animations on enemies and the faint impacts of weapons. Will these aliens be fun to shoot without dismembering Left 4 Dead? I hope so, because The Anacrusis stays light in the blood to suit a more playful aesthetic. And it’s not released in Early Access, but Faliszek wants to update years with new episodes that continue the story of The Anacrusis.
"When you do this kind of thing, you have to communicate with the players and have a clear roadmap. I think the players are smart these days and they understand the desire that the teams want (gather information). You can do a beta that is just "hey, we'll see how our servers go. & # 39; Or you can make a beta version that "I want to see how players behave and I want to start tuning in." And you can make one, as we suggest, which is: do you want to make sure the servers are good, that the weapons are tuned, and if you have a magic wand, what would you like to add? … We can do it on a small scale, but what happens when we get everyone to come in and get their feedback and start growing from there? "
The answer is that you will get another cooperative shooter, hopefully you are worth it Back 4 Sang i Darktide, both of which are also arriving this year.
• What happens next? Here is the full schedule of E3 2021
• Check out our list of all the E3 games so far