One thing that is hard about modern gaming is getting everything right at the beginning. Most extremely successful games, including Destiny, Fortnite, and Final Fantasy XIV, started off really rough. The same was true for Back 4 Blood, as many expected a true successor to Left 4 Dead 2, an expectation it, unfortunately, did not live up to. Now, after months of updates and a new expansion, is Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror worth giving another chance/look, or does it continue previous problems?
Turtle Rock Studios went in an interesting direction with Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror. Instead of making a new campaign for players to explore, they created multiple different pathways that will randomly spawn throughout the campaign that take players to the newly added Ridden Hives. Another interesting, choice is only the host needs to have access to the DLC for teammates to experience the content. What these choices do is keep old content relevant, prevents the community from being fractured by splitting the two groups, and don’t diminish the player base by blocking certain content. But, this doesn’t prevent it from having its own criticism.
One of the biggest issues is that the content is now luck-based. There is no guarantee any level will spawn with one, though there are likely some rules that guarantee long-term a fixed number spawn per run, nor is there any assurance you’ll get the level you want. When working on our trophy/achievement guide, I got two of the levels far more often than the other four combined. The only thing that seems to be guaranteed is somewhere in the Hive is a path that takes you to the optional seventh hive. This can wear thin, especially since certain ones are less enjoyable than others.
Another addition is the new track, The Collectors, which has some positive and negative elements to it. On one hand, the four-item track makes it extremely easy to collect all the new cards, something I was able to do in roughly a day, along with making the path to the amazing new costumes relatively doable. Every hour a new card, spray, skin, and costume will be offered in that order, so it’s just a matter of saving your skulls for the desired items. The downside is each costume is a bit of a sink, with anyone looking to complete the set needing roughly 200 skulls. Since each Hive gives three, with the optional location giving another three, this is about 34 perfect runs. In theory, this number can go down if you roll already owned items, just like it can increase if you don’t go the full amount and need to purchase an additional spray or skin. I wouldn’t say the grind is a problem either, it just strongly encourages farming for the foreseeable future.
One of the Better New Costumes
That being said, the new Ridden Hives are surprisingly robust. When I heard additional content added to each stage, I was expecting a side path where you might go to a room, kill some enemies, flip a switch, kill some more and maybe see one of the new enemies or get a special chest. Instead, they’re six full-sized levels and one small area. Each Hive has its own theme, design elements, and dangers. Sometimes there is a lot of poison, other times its narrow pathways, with each feeling different. They’re also surprisingly rough, even on lower difficulties. They can often be unrelenting, and encourage a good understanding of placement and other elements players love.
The biggest criticism for the content is honestly the optional seventh Hive, The Nursery. Instead of a dynamic experience with different stages or tactics, they all play out about the same. Someone goes to a specific spot, grabs C4, blows up a wall and this cycle repeats until you find all three totems and/or the exit. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be a way to predict what exactly will come out of a wall, so it at least feels varied, it would’ve just been nice to have a second level or possibly different objectives.
My Favorite of the New Weapons
While the new levels are enjoyable, even with the new enemies that are challenging without feeling cheap, the biggest highlight is legendary weapons. These new weapons come from a new type of chest, one where you trade health for potential power and rewards. Not only do many of them look extremely cool, even if they’re mostly reskinned of other weapons, but they’re also a lot of fun. Not only are the perks useful, like a shotgun that burns enemies or a lightning SMG, they feel pretty balanced. The lack of mods gives the existing gear a place, with the aforementioned perks legitimately changing the flow of battle. If nothing else they will add a fun risk to each chest.
Two cleaners, Heng and Sharice, were added to this expansion and fell into a weird place. Heng makes it easier to find positive items, like stashes, attachments, or the aforementioned Hives, with a play style that encourages accessory uses. As for Sharice, she helps build defenses by increasing health, trauma resistance, and the ability to use makeshift armor. I would say both players have their place in the current landscape, though neither is invaluable to a team like Doc is.
As I alluded to in the opening, beyond just the expansion, the latest update(s) include an impressive number of quality of life changes. The difficulty for Veteran and Nightmare were reduced to a more approachable level, with the newly added No Hope difficulty giving hardcore players the challenge they crave. Burn cards make some of the hardest sections more approachable to the average player, or a legitimate strategy to otherwise random corruption cards. Small teaks, like pings, are now colored based on gear rarity, attachments can be messed with and more help eliminate many of the shortcomings players had. Even Supply Points feel more bountiful nowadays, making builds less of a time sink to try the higher difficulties.
Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror Review Verdict
What makes Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror hard is the expansion won’t appeal to everyone. It’s an improved version of the previous game with a handful of new stages. It’s honestly perfect for existing fans, though weak expansion exclusive costumes, characters fitting a very specific type of support, and stages being accessible without buying can make for a hard sell. However, there is also a lot to be said about supporting the practices you like and making up for some of these shortcomings. Overall, I would say the DLC is worth, if nothing else, experiencing if you enjoyed Back 4 Blood and absolutely worth giving it another chance if you thought the original had promise.
[Editor’s Note: Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]