We usually use this space to write about videogames. We’re hardly advice columnists. But believe us when we – as your friends – advise you to quit dilly-dallying and just preorder Left 4 Dead 2 already. Valve’s sweetened the pot time and time again, and we’ll be damned if it isn’t starting to smell mighty fine.
Early bird gets the worm, so they say, but Valve’s taking it a few steps further. Here, said tech-savvy bird will nab an exclusive melee weapon (the American baseball bat), early access to the Left 4 Dead 2 demo, and 10% off the game.
If more purchases came with free baseball bats, this world would be a much more zombie-free place. Granted, our planet’s tree population might also suffer a bit, but as we all know, if the zombies win, deforestation won't be far off.
If you’ve played Left 4 Dead to death, Valve’s just made a pair of announcements that are sure to brighten your day.
First up, Left 4 Dead’s “Crash Course” DLC will finally walk among the living on September 29. It’s free, of course, and includes a new campaign, new survival maps, and a few other tweaks and balances.
Then, just in time to catch you on the rebound after you’ve kicked Crash Course to the curb, Valve’s dropping a Left 4 Dead 2 demo on October 27. Preorderers will apparently gain early access to the demo, though, and since you’re probably already going to buy the game anyway, you might as well.
As for what the demo actually contains, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. We’ll let you know as soon as Valve finally spills its guts. Our highly advanced torture techniques – known as “extreme nagging” in some circles -- break everyone eventually.
Some of you, we’re sure, are probably exercising your God-given right to boycott Left 4 Dead 2 for whatever reason. Australia, though, totally has us Yanks beat. Over there, no one’s buying the game! Oh, what’s that you say? The game’s been “banned” in good ol’ Oz? That’s why they’re not buying it? Well then, that’s no good at all.
As it turns out, Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification by Australia’s ratings board, the OFLC. Why? Because it’s too violent, apparently.
“The game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently,” reads the OFLC description of the game. “Attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.”
“We were surprised to hear of this news yesterday,” Valve’s Doug Lombardi said. “Obviously, everyone at Valve is pretty bummed. It would be a shame if folks in Australia, or anywhere else, are unable to purchase Left 4 Dead 2 because of a ratings issue.”
Bummer indeed, Doug. Guess it’s time to start stuffing those zombies with marzipan and kittens instead of blood and bone. And maybe replace gunfire with the sound of children’s laughter. Yeah, that ought to do it.
Valve has released the first screenshot of Left 4 Dead 2's third campaign, Dark Carnival. Following The Parish and Swamp Fever (revealed at E3 and Comic-Con, respectively), Dark Carnival will be playable at this year's Penny Arcade Expo, taking place September 4th through 6th in Seattle. Valve will also unveil a few more of Left 4 Dead 2's 20+ new in-game items at PAX.
Ever since Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2 at this year’s E3, it’s been in the doghouse with many fans of its first undead slaughterfest. Believe it or not, though, Valve never intended on ruffling any feathers. Crash Course, as it turns out, was on a crash course with Left 4 Dead right from the start. Extenuating circumstances, however, prevented the L4D DLC from sealing Valve’s promise of free updates with a nice, crusty zombie smooch in the nick of time. And by then, well, it was too late.
“I think in this case we just didn't message correctly. We didn't make it clear that Left 4 Dead was still going to be updated. We just didn't think to mention it, we were focusing on other stuff. We, internally, always knew we were going to do cool new stuff, so we didn't say anything about the original game,” Valve’s Chet Faliszek told Offworld.
“Of course we also intended to get the Crash Course DLC for L4D out before E3, but some things held us up. I think if we had that out before the Left 4 Dead 2 announcement, then it would have been clearer for our intentions. Losing the opportunity to get that right hurt us, but I think we made the right choices otherwise.”
Well, that’s that, we think. The case of Valve vs. The Fans is officially adjourned.
Is it really time for a new Team Fortress 2 update already? Yessiree, this new update’s as real as that last question was entirely rhetorical. But wait, Team Fortress 2 update, something’s different. Did you get a haircut? Buy a new outfit? Manifest yourself in the physical world so that you might be able to get a haircut or buy a new outfit? Nope! You’re just not serving as a vehicle for crummy class-related stuff anymore. You’re your own man!
Instead, this TF2 update seems to have given form the nod over function. Translation: New hats – and plenty of them. Day one of the update touts 18 new hats, including a Viking helmet and a fireman’s hat, among others.
A new community map rounds out the revelation du jour. Called Arena Offblast, the map’s a “fast-paced, high-altitude community map set in a top secret missile silo wedged into the top of a hollowed-out mountain.” You know, one of those stupidly dangerous places that only people with guns in their hands and chips on their shoulders seem to congregate around.
The teaser site also plays host to a number of hidden pages that – if you’re willing to dig them up – will give you a bit of dirt on the rest of the update’s content. If you’d rather not sully your hands with such menial labor, however, Shacknews found the bonus pages and put them on display.
So, any guesses as to what’s in the pipeline for the rest of the update? Personally, we’re hoping for the ability to don multiple hats at once. If our head’s going to be one giant target, we’ll at least make it a headache for our opponents to hit the part that actually kills us.
Just because a Valve's got a new baby sloshing around in its tremendous, engorged Boomer womb (insert baby Boomer joke here) doesn't mean the developer's going to start neglecting its first undead child. The proof? A brand new, totally free DLC campaign is on the way for stalwart L4D1 supporters.
Titled “Crash Course,” the new campaign fits snugly between No Mercy and Death Toll, chronologically speaking. Along with new Campaign and Survival maps, new character dialogue, a recharge timer for Infected teammates, and rebalanced item spawns also put the C in this DLC.
The new scenarios will, of course, work fine and dandy with Campaign mode, but apparently, Crash Course’s true purpose is to be a “30 minute” showcase for Versus mode. You know, more like a typical multiplayer shooter.
It’s out in September. And it’s free! Unless you’ve been so horrendously wronged by the existence of Left 4 Dead 2 that even Valve’s continued support of L4D1 (the very thing you feared for when L4D2 was announced) isn’t enough to stop your steaming, you’ll play it. You’ll play it and you’ll love it because, well, why not?
There’s politically correct, and then there’s whatever this thing is. Basically, a blogger from the Houston Chronicle accused Left 4 Dead 2 of racism for – we kid you not – including African-American zombies and setting the whole shebang in New Orleans. His logic, of course, hinged heavily on Hurricane Katrina, since – wait, what does this have to do with racism again? Valve was left scratching its head as well.
"Utter insanity," Valve’s Chet Faliszek said when asked for comment by Destructoid. "There are mixed races of zombies, there are all different races of zombies that you shoot, and since we placed it in New Orleans, that makes it racist? I honestly re-read the paragraph about five times ... but when two of the characters in your game are African-American, it's a weird thing to be accused of. We're like, 'how does this work'?”
“This is a videogame, those are real people's lives, we are not trying to make a statement with that ... [New Orleans is] a place we love, it's dear to our hearts. We would not cheapen it. It's not a brick-for-brick representation of New Orleans; it's a fictional version, and I love that city," he added.
So that’s that. All this talk of racism is really starting to weigh on our spirits, though. Why can’t we just go back to the good old days, when videogames only caused murders and 100% of youth violence? Those were such carefree times.
Achievements or random drops – pick your poison. For many Team Fortress 2 players, both methods of unlocking unfortunately miss the sweet spot, and for some, they miss the sweet spot, swerve off a cliff, and end up in a hospital where Hannah Montana’s the only thing on TV ever. Valve, of course, knows this, and is working to placate its players – even if that means just handing them weapons with no strings attached.
"It's good for delivering items to newer players over time, so they're not swamped with choices when they're starting out, and they're not required to grind achievements to get them once they reach the point where they want to start making strategic choices," Valve’s Robin Walker said. "For competitive players, it's obviously a bad way to deliver items."
"At the very least, future packs will allow you to use achievements to get the new items, but we might move to a mode where we just give them to you," he added. "As part of our goal of supporting tournaments more, I think we'll probably add better tools for them to control exactly what players can and can't use within matches."
So, would you rather receive free items than deal with TF2’s increasingly convoluted unlock system?
No offense, publishers, but you can kind of be a pain to work with sometimes. So says Valve’s Gabe Newell, and we agree with him. Fortunately, good ol’ Gabe also has a solution to the developer-solution problem, and is very handsome.
“One of the areas that I am super interested in right now is how we can do financing from the community. So right now, what typically happens is you have this budget - it needs to be huge, it has to be $10m - $30m, and it has to be all available at the beginning of the project. There’s a huge amount of risk associated with those dollars and decisions have to be incredibly conservative,” he said.
“What I think would be much better would be if the community could finance the games. In other words, ‘Hey, I really like this idea you have. I’ll be an early investor in that and, as a result, at a later point I may make a return on that product, but I’ll also get a copy of that game.’”
Thus, he concluded, gamers would sacrifice their piggy banks only to game ideas they really like. Ideas lacking in the money magnetism department, then, would weed themselves out and never make it to market.
So, would you drop a few of your hard-earned dollars into an unproven concept? Honestly, we’re not sure how we feel about it. For instance, we doubt we’d have thrown cash at “A plumber who eats mushrooms, grows taller, and turns turtles into shoe-shaped putty,” and look how that turned out. With great power comes great responsibility, and we’re not sure if gamers are ready for that.