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.
Anything can become boring if you do it enough. Skydiving, surfing, and avoiding surefire undead death are just a few non-specific examples. But a change of scenery is always great for freshening things up, so Valve’s decision to add custom campaign support to Left 4 Dead is much appreciated. After all, tussling with hungry zombies is one thing, but fending off boredom? That’s just too much.
Adding your zombie-infested obstacle course to Left 4 Dead is as simple as uploading it to a single .VPK file, which other players need only double-click to install. Campaigns and other add-ons can then be managed in Left 4 Dead, ensuring that you’ll never have to be out of Left 4 Dead’s loving embrace for long. There’s also matchmaking, leaderboards, and auto-updates for the lazy, competitive, and lazy, respectively.
The update’s waiting for you over on Steam. So what are you waiting for? Remember, you’re the only one who’s ever come up with the idea for a “Thriller” tribute map. Why keep your brilliance from the rest of the world?
Here’s a weird one. Apparently, the ESRB – you know, the guys who make Tiger Woods play tennis and put age ratings on games – aren’t too keen on finger-removal. Lop off a thumb here or there and everything’s peachy, but mess with bling finger or pinky and things get real. How real? Well, according to Valve, real enough to warrant some serious alterations to its Left 4 Dead 2 logo.
Originally, Left 4 Dead 2’s disembodied hand was missing three of its digital digits, leaving only the pointer and middle to fend for themselves. The ESRB, however, wouldn’t stand for that, telling Valve that future marketing materials couldn’t include such a malformed mascot. As a result, now only the thumb is missing, which apparently complies with the ESRB’s stringent zombie hand guidelines.
We’d just like to – ahem – point out that Left 4 Dead 2 is an M-Rated game, full of blood, gore, and Boomer vomit. Two or more gnawed off fingers, though? That’s crossing the line. And who knows? Maybe a few missing digits on the front of the game box might ward off clueless parents more effectively than a tiny, easily obscured letter. Regardless, ESRB, sometimes we wonder about you.
After Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2’s near-complete status at last week’s E3, L4D 1 players took up their pitchforks. After all, a sequel to any sort of multiplayer game is typically the final nail in the coffin of a developer’s ongoing support for that game, so why should Valve – one of the first major companies to embrace digital downloads, comedic reactions to PR flubs, and portal technology – be any different from everyone else?
Well, looks like you’ve once again underestimated Valve. So guess what you get for that costly mistake? That’s right: everything you wanted.
"Doing a sequel in one year is new for Valve. But providing ongoing support for our titles after the initial launch isn't - it has been part of our philosophy since Half-Life was released ten and half years ago," said Valve president Gabe Newell in a statement to Kotaku. "We see no reason to change that and will continue to support the over three million customers in the L4D community."
“In addition to the recently released Survival Pack, we are releasing authoring tools for Mod makers, community matchmaking, 4x4 matchmaking, and more new content during the coming months for L4D1," Newell says. "We also agree with our customers that there needs to be an interoperability plan for players of L4D1 and L4D2, as multiplayer games are driven by the cohesiveness of their community."
And so, Valve gives everyone everything they ask for. As usual. Seriously, how can you whine and gripe at that? It’s like screaming at a fireman for not salvaging your favorite family picture after he saved your mom, dad, cat, dog, potted plant, and sister who you didn’t like all that much and would’ve rather had the picture. Cut Valve some slack people. God forbid you have to actually pay for content every once in a while.