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How 2 Survive in Left 4 Dead

A game where bustin' a cap is fundamental.

Valve has put a lot of emphasis on the cooperative nature of Left 4 Dead, a point that really can't be stressed enough, but there hasn't been much talk about the game's uniquely compelling versus mode, which pits teams of survivors and zombies against each other in a round-robin format. We enjoyed some four-on-four matches with EA PR staff and editors from other outlets yesterday, and in addition to having a corpse-abusing blast, we learned a few things that we wanted to pass along to you. Consider this a brief strategy guide to prepare you for the game's release next week, and watch a video of yesterday's versus match.


  • When playing as a Boomer or a Smoker, make sure you've got your target before you unleash your primary attack. The aphrodesic vomit and gross tongue are potent, but they take a long time to recharge.
  • Coordinate with your fellow zombies. A successful Boomer attack, followed by the resulting horde, with a Hunter and a Smoker attack mixed in there is exponentially more effective than anyone on their own.
  • When playing as the survivors, DO NOT GO INTO THE CORNFIELD. You will die. Stick to the open path. We cannot stress this enough. If you go into the corn, you will not come out.
  • Survivors need to stick together. If you get too far ahead of or behind the group, you're an easy target, particularly for Smokers. If Daikatana taught us anything, it's that you can't leave without your buddy Superfly!
  • Don't stop for nothing. The slower you move as a survivor, the more time you give the zombies to respawn, which is a surefire way to drain your health before you make it to the safe house.
  • This damn game is hard. Out of eight total maps (each team plays both infected and survivors on each map), only one team of survivors actually made it to the safe house. Fighting off the constant barrage of a well-coordinated zombie team is no mean feat. So don't expect to finish the map every time you play.
  • Don't get cocky as the survivors. You can go from full health to dead in an instant. Our team got separated in that cornfield and then obliterated in about two minutes. Later while playing the zombies, we shut down the other team with a well-executed Tank-and-Smoker combo as they made their last stand in a house.
  • The zombie screeches sound honest-to-God horrific. They're like a mix of the infected from 28 Days Later and the vampires in 30 Days of Night. Real nails-on-chalkboard stuff here. Chilling.
  • Stick your nose in every corner. There are items hidden in some obscure places, and even if they're just pain pills or an extra pistol, you need them. Seriously, you have no idea how scarce items and health are in this game. Every match played as the humans feels like an actual struggle to survive. It's grueling.
  • AVOID THE WITCH. I had never heard of the witch before our match, but I learned to avoid her real quick. The Tank seems like the bruiser of the infected side, but I'm pretty sure the witch is the heaviest hitter. Here's the trick: She sits on the ground wailing, so keep your ears open for her whimpers. If your team gives her a wide enough berth, she won't wake up. Also, turn off your damn flashlight. That'll rouse her just as quickly.
  • Always play as Louis. This has no effect on the gameplay, but we just really love the way he says “Bill!” whenever you aim at that grizzled old war vet and click in the left stick. If you're anywhere near as stupid as us, you'll be running around, emphatically shouting “Bill!” at your friends for weeks.