Some time now has passed since the Back 4 Blood open beta was live. Fans all around the world were jumping into the cooperative zombie shooter from the studio that brought us the original Left 4 Dead. My friends and I were huge Left 4 Dead fans and have been waiting for another game that could give us that rush. Playing through both the Alpha and, now, two Beta tests. I can say with certainty that I am completely hooked. The full game can’t come out soon enough. But I digress, many of the key elements from that the zombie survival game are in place with this spiritual successor, however, developer Turtle Rock Studios is changing up the game in few ways. Ways that make this game new and interesting and yet feel like the games you know and love. Is This Your Card? As you can see from the above trailer, Back 4 Blood excels on the PvE side. Selecting your character (called “Cleaners” in-game) do give out some minor team buffs (ex: Holly gives +25 stamina and Evangelo gives everyone a 5 percent boost in speed). However the true customization comes in the way of a card system. Before going into any match or round start, you will get the chance to set up decks with gameplay-modifying cards. The cards can range from granting extra health or damage, giving you an extra life in the session, adding to your grenade stock, or improving your reload or physical speed. Some will also effect the entire squad, for example granting extra ammo capacity. I know the idea of deck building may turn some people off but the cards can help on a number of levels. Even I was initially skeptical of the system at the start. However, as I played multiple runs of the same mission, I enjoyed the random elements keeping the experience fresh. It excited me as I started to even unlock new cards to see how some of the rounds I played change. Not only will you get cards that enhance your character but players, at the beginning of each round, will also end up with a Corruption card. Basically this will change the gameplay of the round. Anything from Armored Ridden being added to The Dark, basically playing at night and its full of Snitches (Think nearly nonstop hordes in the dark). They can also add challenges with great rewards if you meet them. This really makes each run unique and fun. Let’s Get Down to Business…To Defeat The Ridden Once you’re in the campaign, you must work together with your squad (sometimes easier said than done if playing with people you don’t know) as you blast zombies (called Ridden), scrounge for weapons and ammo, and push towards the saferoom at the end of the map. It’s the basic L4D mechanics of mowing through tons of zombies , and like L4D there are even special mutations within them. You’ll have to keep your eye out on a spitter that can stop you in your tracks called a Hocker, the lanky powerhouse Tallboy, or the horde-summoning Snitch. There are also other variants of these three that make your progression harder. In one mission, a gigantic Ridden variant called an Ogre popped out of the ground nearly making us all scream. He served as a fantastic mid-level boss fight. One in which I needed to pick up all of my teammates after it ran away. Even though we didn’t finish him in our first encounter, he popped back up again. This time we were ready for it, stocked with several Molotov’s and we made all roasted marshmallows of his hulking corpse. The chaos really takes hold in many of these types of moments. Friendly-fire panic and rash decisions are just as big of enemies to you as the zombies swarm and Special Ridden are. It’s in these moments that Back 4 Blood truly shines, even if it’s often at the cost of my heart. But That’s Not All… To be completely honest, I had so much fun playing in competitive multiplayer. Rather than the traditional balanced matches where both sides have access to the same abilities and weapons, much like in the L4D games, Back 4 Blood pits Cleaners against the Ridden, allowing players to take control of the undead monsters they’ve grown accustomed to blowing to bits in the other mode. After a brief period where the humans can scrounge for weapons and consumables, the hordes are unleashed. At that point, the A.I.-controlled infected descend upon the Cleaners as the common zombie types, while the player-controlled Ridden take control of the special variants. While the Tallboys and Retches are extremely powerful and capable of dealing substantial damage, its also fun to play with the faster creatures like the Hocker, who can leap great distances, trap enemies with a binding spit, slash their health away, and bounce out of the fray before getting caught. After the round, the teams change sides, and the team that posts the longest survival time as the Cleaners wins the round. It’s a fun concept that allows for quick-hit matches and can’t wait to see how the mode evolves. Overall Needless to say, I came away very impressed by my time with Back 4 Blood. Its wonderful combination of tried-and-true formula combines well with all the new elements that Turtle Rock Studios introduced. The AI and the card system really make playing fun and nerve wracking. It’s clear they tried to create an experience that feels simultaneously experienced and innovative. While we ultimately must wait another months or so for Back 4 Blood‘s official launch, this time with both the PvE and PvP portions of the game made the wait that much more difficult. Back 4 Blood comes to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12th. Did you get to play? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comment section below.