The Witch is one of the special Infected classes and a unique character who resembles a thin, emaciated-looking woman. The Witch is a rare but formidable opponent, who lays dormant until she is startled by loud noises or bright lights, or she is approached by a survivor who stands too close to her. If left alone, the Witch will not chase after or harm the party in any way. This lead to the phrase used to signify her activation in-game, "<name> Startled the Witch!", becoming a metaphor among fans for doing something incredibly stupid.
Until awakened, the Witch will weep bitterly and loudly, alerting the survivors to her presence. When agitated, the Witch's cries become loud, terrifying shrieks. Once angered, she will move at an incredibly fast speed towards the player that woke her up. She's able to knock any other players out of her way that are in her path to her target, making melee attacks on the witch somewhat futile. Once she reaches her target, she is able to knock them down in a single punch (or kill a survivor with one hit if they are playing the campaign on expert). She'll then use her razor-sharp claws to tear her hapless victim to shreds, only stopping if she is killed. After killing that one player, she'll flee from the scene, leaving the other players alone. Valve developers have said that this behaviour is to prevent the Witch from taking out an entire team once she is startled, something she is easily capable of. This second behaviour was the way the Witch worked in early builds of Left 4 Dead, but play-testers thought this was a bit too harsh, to punish the whole team for one player's mistake, especially as it would allow for griefers to startle the witch and wipe the team with very little difficulty. The only exception to this behaviour is if the Witch is startled in a way that doesn't harm her; if one of the other players attacks her before she reaches her first target, they will become a greater threat and she will focus her attention on that player instead. Players can avoid encountering the Witch altogether by moving quietly and by shutting their flashlights off when they hear her cries.
The Extent of Mutation
Like all other special infected the Witch was heavily mutated by the zombie virus. It was thought that all females who were unusually compatible with the virus (so-called "special infected") became Witches, but the addition of the Spitter & female Boomers in Left 4 Dead 2 has disproved this. It is still true, however, that only women can become Witches.
The infection made the Witch gain superhuman strength, beyond that of even the monstrous Tank, though it is not visible in her muscle growth. Her fingers developed large claws which make her even deadlier. She is known to cry when she is not aware of the survivors. The reason why she is crying is unknown; popular theories include the idea that on some level, she is aware of her zombie status and weeps over what she has become; or that only mothers can become Witches, and they cry for their lost children.
Even though she looks like a typical infected she is not affected by car alarms or pipe bombs, other than to become startled, of course. In the original Left 4 Dead, Witches were only ever seen huddled in corners by themselves, sitting still on the ground, but Left 4 Dead 2, which had levels that took place during the day, reveal that while the sun is out, Witches move around, walking aimlessly from place to place, weeping just as bitterly as they do at night, the so-called "Wandering Witch" phenomenon.
It has been confirmed that the Witch is unusually attracted to sugar: in the Hard Rain campaign there are about 15-20 witches roaming around the sugar mill, making it a profoundly stupid place to be for anyone who wishes to continue being alive.
The Witch is not a playable character in Versus mode and will always be in the hands of the AI Director.
There are a few achievements in Left 4 Dead associated with the witch. They include:
- Burn the Witch: Light a Witch on fire with a Molotov.
- Witch Hunter: Kill a Witch without any of the Survivors taking a hit from her.
- Cr0wnd: Kill a Witch with a single headshot.
- Do Not Disturb: Sneak past all witches in a campaign without startling any of them.
Left 4 Dead 2 has one achievement attached to the witch:
- Sob Story: Navigate the Sugar Mill without disturbing any of the witches.