Press Start

Video game news, reviews and commentary with Gazette reporter Jake Magee.

Press Start: What I'd like to see in 'Left 4 Dead 3'

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Jake Magee
June 25, 2015

“Left 4 Dead 2” is long overdue for a sequel.

The cooperative first-person shooter launched in 2009 to rave reviews and commercial acclaim. That was only a year after the original “Left 4 Dead” graced gamers' consoles and PCs with its gory and chaotic fun.

Now, almost six years later, fans such as myself are itching for a new entry in the zombie-infested series.

For those who haven't experienced this magnificent FPS of yesteryear, here's a quick rundown: You and up to three friends are trapped in the zombie apocalypse, and you have to fight your way through literally thousands of the undead in an effort to reach the end of each 30-to-40-minute-long level. Special zombie types can immobilize and trap players, making strategic teamwork absolutely vital to survival; once a player is incapacitated, making it through the remaining undead hordes alive becomes that much harder.

Item, weapon and enemy spawns are randomized each play through. This makes every level a surprise, even after you've been through them 100 times, like I have. The writing is hilarious, which makes an already great game that much more entertaining. The lovable characters still regularly throw out quips I've never heard before.

For all its fun and mayhem, “Left 4 Dead 2” is starting to show its age. We all know Valve can't count to three, but here's what I'd love to see in the never-to-be-released third installment in the developer's beloved zombie franchise.


The most glaring component missing from “Left 4 Dead 2” is the ability to use iron sights. Everyone runs around shooting shotguns, fully automatic rifles and even grenade launchers from the hip. There have been plenty of times I've wanted to peer down the sights of a rifle to get a clean headshot on a special infected quite a distance away before it gets too close. Sure, I could carry around a sniper rifle, but those are useless when a hundred zombies pour from the hallway or from around a street corner and starting swarming you.

Iron sights would allow for more immersive (and fun) shooting. Players would have to weigh the benefit of increased accuracy from looking down guns sights against the disadvantage of slowed mobility, which makes for a great risk/reward system in the middle of frantic combat. Plus, every FPS has iron sights at this point. It's time for “Left 4 Dead” to catch up.


“Left 4 Dead” has some truly nasty special infected that can quickly ruin a team's day. Smokers use long tongues to latch onto survivors and pull them into the middle of hordes. Spitters excrete pools of acid that quickly burn players. Boomers puke bile that attracts undead minions. Jockeys like to jump on players' heads and “ride” them to their deaths. Those are all humanoids, though. I'd like to see something new: zombie animals.

I'd love to see a level that takes place in a zoo, forcing players to take down infected bears, elephants, rhinos, monkeys or whatever else. Maybe in a state park stage, survivors would have to fend off infected buffalo, wolves and deer. Or perhaps in levels that weave through alleys and suburban backyards, crazed dogs and cats could attack players. The possibilities are endless!


My biggest frustration with the “Left 4 Dead” series is how intolerably stupid the bots are. When not playing with real players, artificial intelligences known as “bots” fill in for any missing teammates. This is necessary, because without them, your team would be short bodies and thus much more likely to die. However, the bots are so unbearably dimwitted that I often think I'd be better off without them.

They steal health kits and helpful items, and in their infinite stupidity, they use them at the most inappropriate times. The bots often fail to rescue trapped players, even when they're standing literally right next to their helpless comrades. I would love for Valve to include the ability to “command” bots where to go, tell them what weapons to take and dictate when to use the items they so greedily horde. It'd also be great if the bots were actually intelligent enough to smack that jockey off my head when I scream in agony and frustration right beside them.


“Left 4 Dead 2” has a robust difficulty spectrum, which makes the game accessible for everyone from FPS noobies to veteran shooter fans. It even features a realistic mode that makes it more challenging to take down zombies without a headshot, turns off highlights for useful items and teammates, and removes player respawns after death.

I'd love to be able to customize these factors even more. Perhaps I'd like to make weapon spawns fewer and farther between and turn off respawns but keep my teammates highlighted so they're easy to spot. Or maybe I want abundant ammo and weapons but make zombies impossible to kill without a shot to the dome. Being able to fine-tune difficulty settings would make the replay value of an already addicting game soar.


Throughout its handful of maps, “Left 4 Dead 2” does a great job of randomizing weapons, throwables such as molotovs and pipe bombs and the ever-sought-after laser sights that increase firearm accuracy. The thing is, those are made for offense, and when things get tough, the only thing I want to do is defend myself from the masses of flesh-eating undead that surround me.

I'd love to have access to a riot shield or body armor I can pass between my teammates as needed. What if there was an item that temporarily masked the players' scent so zombies can't “see” them? Such gear would allow players to play defensively and try different tactics and strategies.


“Left 4 Dead 2” can feel like a static experience. You load up a game with friends or bots, run through a gauntlet of zombies, and the game ends with no real mark of your experience, triumphs or defeats. That could all change with the sequel. Imagine in the fictional “Left 4 Dead 3” you level up as you progress. Perhaps you start out as a scrawny, wimpy excuse of a zombie slayer and, by defeating enemies, helping your teammates and making it the end of levels, you acquire experience that unlocks everything from improved stats to new loadouts to cosmetic gear (hats, anyone?). It would add a whole new depth to the experience and reward fans for continued play and cooperation. I'd certainly be more addicted to “Left 4 Dead 2” if the more I played the better stuff I got. And for purists, Valve could leave in a “traditional” mode where player level doesn't matter. Everyone wins!

There's plenty more I'd love to see in a sequel, but I know my wishes are a lost cause. At this point, seeing “Left 4 Dead 3” for sale is less likely than Valve announcing they're making “Half-Life 3.” Still, a man can dream. What would you like to see in a sequel to this beloved zombie FPS?

Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing [email protected], leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.

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