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.
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.
Florence had a moment to chat with Valve's Chet Faliszek about Left 4 Dead 2, including info on the new boss monsters, the new uncommon common zombies, and the best costumes he's seen at the show. Hit the jump for the full story!
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.
Despite being the sequel to what was possibly last year’s best PC game, Valve’s recently unveiled Left 4 Dead 2 seems to be public enemy number one on gamers’ lists of E3 announcements they love 2 hate. Why? Answers range from “Team Fortress 2 got free stuff! Why not L4D?” to “L4D2’s too colorful!” Valve, though, believe it or not, isn’t out to bleed its loyal fans dry (at least, not outside its game). There is, in fact, a method to this madness. Valve’s Chet Faliszek explained:
“In Team Fortress you can do one map, and it's a standalone map and it tells its internal story and you're good. In Left 4 Dead, when we started talking about new characters, all of a sudden we were talking about maps, then all of a sudden we were talking about campaign, and then director 2.0, hey, we're in the swamps,” he told Shacknews.
How can Valve hope to accomplish all of this in only a single year? Well, in a sense, the developer’s outsourcing that. To a robot.
Left 4 Dead’s A.I. Director 2.0 does everything the first Director did – and more. Along with positioning zombies such that you’re always positioned on the edge of your seat, the rapidly evolving A.I. will now control weather and dynamic pathing. Faliszek elaborated on the latter of those two terms.
“Dynamic pathing changes--so in the next map in this campaign, they go through an above-ground cemetery, a haunted old cemetery with crypts above ground, and it actually changes the path every time you play. And also how spawning the creatures, and the pacing of the game,” he noted.
So then, Valve’s created an A.I. that’s quickly learning how to deviously toy with and eventually murder humans? And Valve is allowing that A.I. to slowly assume control of its company? That doesn’t sound like a threat at all. We’re just going to go back to complaining about videogames now.
Holy smokes! Who saw this coming? Valve and EA have just announced the sequel to last year's multiplayer zombie-killing smash hit (and Maximum PC's Game of the Year). Left 4 Dead 2 will be released later this year on November 17th, and will feature five new campaigns that follow the story of four new survivors. PC Gamer has the full scoop in an exclusive 8-page feature in their August issue, which hits newsstands this month.
Hit the jump for more game details, Valve's full press release, and a high-res image.
Update: More game details revealed and gameplay footage!