Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is fun, but I wish I could play the challenging parts without beating the game first.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is fine. But even though I just finished the game, I don’t really have any strong feelings about it. I think if you’re looking for a fairly relaxing 3D platformer, or are newer to video games, Kirby would probably hit the spot. That said, if you don’t play Kirby and the Forgotten Land, I couldn’t really make a strong argument that you’d be missing out on much.

Kirby games are generally fairly easy*. I don’t think this is a bad thing. Kirby is Nintendo’s entry level franchise. Making a game that everyone can beat, but still feels fun to play for both folks who might be picking up a controller for the first time as well as jaded freaks like myself is a tough balancing act. If you want more insight into that sorta thing, I suggest you check out this article from the Washington Post, with the creators. Even how the game handles detection isn’t straight forward, and is built in such a way that if an attack looks like it should connect, it connects! Which is brilliant, and clever, but still easy.

*Many Kirby games have post-game content in the form of boss rushes/time attacks/etc. These are NOT easy.

This writeup is about Kirby and the Forgotten Land though. So let’s get the bit of this article were I describe game mechanics verbatim over with, shall we?

In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, you play as Kirby. Like most Kirby games, the primary mechanic is being able to swallow up enemies, and copy their abilities. Unlike most Kirby games, the game is the first true 3D entry in the series. You don’t quite have the ability to jump/float infinitely, as it would break most of these 3D maps. Compared to something like Amazing Mirror, the game is incredibly linear, taking place over a series of levels played in order.

Each level has 5 mini-objectives, and two main objectives that are always the same. Objective one is to complete the level, and objective two is to find hidden captured waddle-dees. Usually the waddle-dees are in some sort of hidden area off the main path, or in something that needs to be destroyed. Objectives 3-5 are usually to complete some sort of additional task, and while these start out as hidden, each time you complete a level, you’re given a hint about what these extra goals are.

By the time I completed most levels, I had found 8-9 of the 11 waddle-dees. Beat enough levels, and you’ll reach the boss. Actually unlocking the boss does require that you freed enough of the waddle-dees from earlier, but I never actually had to go back to replay a level. I always had enough waddle-dees anyway. Beat the boss level, you unlock the next world.

Let’s talk about the bosses. They’re solid. Like most Kirby games, there are mini-bosses, which are fairly easy, and main bosses, which are the only places in the game I died. They’re fun spectacles and are somewhat challenging.

Outside the main game levels and the bosses, there are a few more activities. There’s a home town area that gives access to several mini-games, which I never played. There are also side areas called treasure roads that serve as time-trials/skill checks to get currencies to upgrade your abilities. I played like two of these, and then decided I didn’t care.

Complaining about Kirby being a generic video game is like complaining about Lord of the Rings being generic fantasy. Kirby is meant to be an easily played and approachable game, with a certain level of challenge and depth offered in the post game for more skilled players. As I mentioned in the intro, it’s not like it’s easy to make a game anyone can beat and feel good about it.

But with that said, I also don’t have strong feelings about it. Kirby and the Forgotten Land doesn’t offer anything I haven’t seen before, or seen at a similar level of polish. It’s a new Kirby game, with all that the series entails, including bright and colorful visuals, a story that takes a surprisingly dark turn in the last 90% of the game, and a final boss that looks like it belongs in a JRPG.

If you’re newer to gaming I think it’s a really solid place to start. Not because it is easy, but because it’s well designed. It’s good training ground for a lot of the habits and ideas that could serve well playing other games. Kirby and the Forgotten Land is $60 for Nintendo Switch. It’s a fine 3D platformer, with a fair amount of content and side objectives, but it doesn’t redefine Kirby games, and outside of the boss levels, there wasn’t anything super memorable about it. I don’t dislike it by any means, but I don’t feel passionately about it.

Post-Script: So after finishing the game, and dying a bunch in Elden Ring, I went back and decided to play the post game. It’s much harder and could best be described as a remix of the base game. It takes sections from each world, compresses them into a single level with juiced up boss fight at the end. Then it adds extra enemies to each section. It’s a lot more fun and interesting, because it isn’t as easy. I appreciate that it’s there, but I wish there was just an option to start with this version of the game.

TLDR: There’s a harder game mode, but you have to beat the game to unlock it.

Human Fall Flat

QWOPlike puzzle platformer, good with friends, bleh without them. Bit pricey for what you get in my opinion.

Ed Note: Images are from the IGDB game press kit. You can tell because the characters pictured below are either blank, or some level of thoughtful creative outfit, and my custom character had a dick, and “Fuck Single Moms” written on his back.

I have been planning to write about Human Fall Flat for just about two years now. This draft has sat there, staring at me, patiently waiting for its moment to shine. Well, I’m dead out of energy to write about anything this week, so now’s your time to shine buddy. I’m gonna blow the dust off this post, and put it up.

Human Fall Flat is a cooperative, physics-based, 3d-puzzle game. And when I say physics, think physics in more of a QWOP sense than Half Life 2. As a single player game, I wouldn’t recommend it. As a co-op game, I think it can be a lot of fun with at least 3 players, and I have good memories of laughing my ass off while playing it with friends.

Look at all these tasteful, creative characters. Couldn’t be me!

This is because of how wonky the controls are. You move with WASD, and left/right mouse button correspond to grabbing with your left and right arms. This grabbiness is binary, meaning you can either be grabbing something, or not grabbing something, but there is no in between. In addition, while you “Move” with WASD, it’s less actual movement than it is making your small blob person waddle in the right direction.

All of this is deliberate. The main difficulty with many of the puzzles in Human Fall Flat is not the actual puzzle, but managing to complete the puzzle while having the acrobatic ability and dexterity of a drunk jellyfish.

It’s this combination of “The spirit is willing, but the flesh made out of marshmallow peeps,” along with the (usually) simple puzzles that made the game enjoyable for me. Trying and failing to make a simple jump is frustrating on your own, but it’s golden to watch your friend jump onto ledge, barely pull themselves up, and then get clubbed by a swinging log and sail into oblivion, all while listening to them curse over Discord.

Then it happens to you, and it’s a tragedy, but your friends are laughing.

This image is a pretty good summary of a lot of this game really.

All of this takes place across a wide variety of levels, with a pretty good smattering of goals and objectives. In my personal opinion, the earlier levels tend to be longer and more fun than some of the free DLC ones, but there’s a solid amount of content. By far my personal favorite was a level that involved piloting various types of boats, for a given definition of “pilot.” It would be more accurate described as “50% pilot, 50% hanging to the side of the rudder and begging someone to pull you up before you fall off and die.”

That’s really all I have to say on Human Fall Flat. As I’ve already noted, this is a game that really has to be played with friends. As a single player experience, I found it to be stale, and uninteresting.

The game is a bit pricey for what it offers at $20 a person, so my personal suggestion would be to wait for a sale before picking it up. I’d say $10 is closer to what it’s worth. The game is available on everything (seriously, pc, all major consoles, and phones for some reason) but doesn’t support crossplay as far as I’m aware, so if you and the gang do decide to grab it, make sure you all get it for the same platform.

If you still want to grab some copies, you can find it here for PC

CRIMESIGHT

A fantastic asymmetric social deduction game.

CRIMESIGHT is an asymmetric social deduction game, and it’s fantastic. It might be my favorite giga-brain moment sort of game, and it makes you feel very smart, as long as you don’t scuff up wins that you have in the palm of your hand.

Which I’ve done a few times to be honest.

In order to talk about what I like about CRIMESIGHT, I’m gonna briefly cover how the game works. There are going to be several paragraphs going over the game’s mechanics. If you don’t want to read any more, here’s my summary of why I like the game: it’s full of incredibly clever mindgames and bluffing linked to an interesting balance of resources and information between the two competing sides.

A screenshot of a game of CRIMESIGHT in progress. I think I lost this one.

A game of Crimesight is played over up to 10 rounds, on a single map consisting of multiple rooms and areas, and with 6 pawns. One pawn is the Killer, and one pawn is the Target.

First, a little bit more about pawns. Pawns start the game with nothing, regardless of their roll. Each pawn can carry up to two items, and has two health slots. They can also carry a single weapon. Weapons do not take up an item slot, and cannot be dropped once picked up. Every three rounds, the day ends, and pawns need to eat, or else they will become hungry. Hunger, like any other injury in the game, puts a token into one of the health slots. A pawn with one slot occupied can only move up to two spaces per round, and pawn with two slots occupied can only move 1 space per round, and is also blinded.

Each round, the players in the game may issue a number of commands to pawns, determined by the player’s allegiance, and the number of other players in the game. These commands consist of a movement command, and an action. First, movement. Each pawn can move up to three areas in one round. If they move more than two areas, though, they get fatigued, and will only be able to move twice in the next round. Then the pawn does an action. The action can be to search an area for food, to use an item on a location or another pawn, or to interact with an object. Pawns always move, and then take an action; they cannot do otherwise.

Let’s talk about the two allegiances, Moriarty or Sherlock, and the differences between the two.

The Moriarty player wins if they can have the killer pawn murder the target pawn. In order to do this, three conditions must be met. The killer must have a weapon, the killer must be in the same area as the target, and there can be no witnesses with line of sight. If the Moriarty player fails to pull this off in 10 rounds, the best they can hope for is a draw.

The Moriarty player also has several special advantages. They can see which nodes on the map contain food, weapons, or special items/objects. They start the game knowing the target and killer. In addition, if both Sherlock and Moriarty command the same pawn, Moriarty’s commands always win out, and will overwrite Sherlock’s. Moriarty can also always command pawns to move up to three spaces, even if the pawn is fatigued. Finally, they have access to a single special command, “assail,” which can only be used by the killer. When the assail command is executed, the killer will delay their action until the end of the round, and then move as close as they can to the target, and if their end location meets the criteria for committing murder, they will do so.

There are downsides to the assail command, however. Using it will reveal the killer and target, and if the killer does not reach the target that turn, there is a single final turn, after which if they cannot pull off the murder, Sherlock wins.

The Moriarty player also has one weakness: they cannot issue commands to the pawn designated as the target.

The Sherlock player has none of the advantages listed above. They start the game being able to see that 2-3 of the searchable areas have food in them. They don’t know anything about the rest of the nodes. They also start out not knowing who is the target, and who is the killer. There are only three advantages that the Sherlock player has over Moriarty.

For reference on why I included this photo: I played a game as Sherlock that went to 10 rounds. There was one obvious target, and an obvious villain. But, I thought to myself, what if the “target” wasn’t the villain, and the obvious villain wasn’t either, but Moriarty was instead using them to make us move the actual villain right next to the real target? AND I WAS 100% CORRECT. And this victory screen is from that game. Gigabrain strats.

The first is that the Sherlock players can issue more commands to pawns than Moriarty. The Sherlock player can also command any pawn, including the target. At the end of every day, they get additional information from “deductions,” where the game will tell Sherlock if the Killer is within 3 areas of the target, and based on that, narrow down potential killers and their victims.

The game has a really interesting balance of power and information going on. When the game starts, Moriarty knows everything, but has almost no “resources” (i.e., the killer doesn’t have a weapon, all of the pawns are fairly bunched together to prevent murder attempts, and they’re also all healthy making it easy to run the target away from the killer). On the flip side, the Sherlock player has the board state where they want it, (no wounded pawns, pawns all close to each other so Moriarty can’t move a single witness away from a murder attempt, no gas leaks, dogs, etc) but zero information about who they need to protect from whom.

As the game continues, the balance of power starts to shift. The balance of resources and board state shift into Moriarty’s favor as pawns split up to search the map for food, pick up weapons, or end up hungry if they fail to find any. However, Sherlock gets more and more information: each time the two clash by commanding a pawn, more info is revealed to Sherlock about can’t be the target. The end of day deductions also potentially cut out large swathes of possible murder/target combos.

I do want to talk about the game’s multiplayer modes a bit though. There can be multiple players on the Sherlock team, or multiple on both teams. So far I’ve played the 1v1, 2v2, and 3v1 modes, and I vastly prefer 1v1 and 3v1.

While the game supports up to four players, there can only ever be one player aligned with Moriarty, in 2v2. The second non-Sherlock player controls Irene.

In the 1v1 modes, the game is fairly straightforward, since each player knows who the other player is. 1v3 is where things get interesting, because as a Sherlock player, you start the game not knowing which of the other 3 players is playing Moriarty. I find this neat because it lends an extra level of trying to read other player’s moves and actions, which isn’t present in the base game, and also lets you play more mind games as Moriarty.

This brings me to 2v2, and why I don’t enjoy it or the Irene roll very much. When playing the Irene roll, you effectively play a weaker version of Sherlock, but on the side of Moriarty. You can only command one pawn, you can’t see the location of items, you do know the victim and target, but you can’t use the assail command. It can be amusing, but it still feels like a fairly weak roll.

On the flip side, it’s not much fun to play against Irene either. Unlike Moriarty, if Irene issues a command to a Pawn at the same time as Sherlock, it’s a toss up on whose action goes through. And even if Irene wins out, it doesn’t give any information to the Sherlock player about who is/isn’t a target.

Outside of that one thing, I don’t really have any issues with the game. The game’s text display can be a bit frustrating, and there isn’t really a good option between “Tell me all the rules each time something happens” and “Tell me nothing,” but that’s pretty much it.

So that’s CRIMESIGHT in a nutshell, an asymmetric social deduction game for up to 4 players. I find it incredibly fun, and setting up either clever kills, or blocking them makes you feel smart. If all of this sounds like your cup of tea, you can buy CRIMESIGHT here on Steam. It’s $20, and it’s worth it.

Nobody Saves The World

Nobody Saves The World is great, and you should play it.

Nobody saves the world is pretty great. Between its use of its ability combo and form swapping mechanics, I found it to be an incredibly fun game. The only problem I have with the gameplay is that it mouse/keyboard simply doesn’t play well. A controller is basically required. Otherwise I had a fantastic time with it.

Nobody Saves the World is played from a top down perspective, where you take on the role of the Nobody, a short, blank eyed sort of blob person with no memories of their past. After waking up in a dilapidated shack, and “borrowing” a magic wand from the home of the great wizard Nostramagnus, you set off on a quest to find Nostramagnus, save the world, and figure out how exactly you got here in the first place.

I was gonna post a real zoomed out picture of the world map, but then I realized since this was from my NG+ file, it gave some pretty massive spoilers. So have a smaller one instead.

The magic wand you ‘borrowed’ ends up being the key to all of this, granting you the ability to shift forms. You start out only being able to swap between your pale blobby self and a rat that’s somehow still better in combat than your blobby self. But you’ll start to unlock more forms fairly quickly, such as Knight, Ranger, Magician (the rabbit-from-hat kind) and Egg.

There are 18 total forms available, of which I’d say 17 are meaningful and useful. (Plot twist: the useless one isn’t egg.)

There are two big things about the transformation system in Nobody Saves The World that I like, but explaining them is going to require a little bit more discussion of the other half of the game’s title: the “Saves The World” bit.

See, it turns out that two big problems have popped up at about the same time. The first problem is that the great wizard Nostramagnus who you “borrowed” the magic wand from has disappeared. The second problem is that a giant hivemind flesh blob thing called the Calamity has showed up and is trying to eat the entire world. Presumably Nostramagnus would deal with this if he wasn’t missing.

Anyway, since you have the magic wand, a few other characters decide that you might as well help collect pieces of the gem needed to reseal the Calamity, while they search for Nostramagnus before the world gets treated like a buffet.

Finding these gem pieces, all of which have ended up in large dungeons around the world, sealed by wand stars, is your primary goal. In order to unlock the dungeons, you’ll need to get enough wand stars, and occasionally convince the people guarding these places to let you in. As it turns out, “I am a very legitimate individual, let me through” is actually a pretty terrible way to get into a sacred mausoleum.

The Headquarters of the New League of Wizards. (The New LOW)

I think that’s enough background to give a good picture of the game’s primary gameplay loop. Explore to find locked dungeons, towns, and other stuff. Do side quests and mini-quests to get more wand stars, and unlock the game’s main dungeons. Clear the main dungeons to get MacGuffins to advance the story, giving you more areas to explore. I don’t think explanation quite does justice to how much fun doing all of the above is.

But anyway, remember when I mentioned several paragraphs ago that I like the game’s transformation system for two reasons? Let’s get back to that for a moment. A lot of games with transformation systems seem to use them as glorified keys. Turn into a penguin for the ice zone. Turn into a ninja for the stealth zone. Turn into a cop for the donut zone. But outside of the respective zones, each of those forms is often fairly useless.

NSTW doesn’t do that. While there are a few situations for where you need a form to travel, even those tend to be fairly open (i.e., if you need to get over a large body of water, the turtle, ghost, dragon or mermaid are all equally viable.) But the meat of the transformation system is all about combat, and it feels fantastic.

Form swapping can be done from both the menu screen, and by using the scroll wheel on the fly.

NSTW resembles an action RPG. Each form in Nobody Saves the World has a basic attack, and a passive ability, in addition to its base stats. These two abilities are locked onto that form, and they are fairly varied. As an example, the horse’s basic attack is a kick that hits behind the it, while the slug’s basic attack is a series of small projectiles that are fired after a brief charge time. The strongman has large slow attack that hits most of the area in front of him, while the ranger fires arrows. All these basic attacks regenerate mana when they hit an enemy.

But the forms aren’t limited to these attacks. As you rank up a form by completing its quests, you’ll unlock additional attacks, and when you hit various thresholds for just leveling in general, you’ll unlock additional passive slots.

Both the additional attack slots and passive slots aren’t locked however. You can switch them out with the attacks and passives of other forms that you’ve unlocked.

My maximum zoom horse loadout.

Here’s an example: the slug has one of the lowest base movement speeds in the game, but gets access to an ability that grants it 150% movement speed, and leaves a trail of slime on the ground behind it. You could equip the slug with the generic ability that raises its base movement speed to flat value that can’t be lowered. But you could also take that speed boost ability and put it onto the horse, who has one of the fastest movement speeds in the game, boosting its speed to ridiculous amounts, and traverse the map exceedingly fast. Of course, that still risks you running out of mana, so you’ll equip the ability that lets us spend health as mana, and now you have a turbocharged horse leaving a trail of slime behind it as it rockets across the map.

Maybe that’s not good enough though. Perhaps you want to add the strongman’s passive that makes it so that whenever you would bump into an enemy while slime sliding, you knock them back and deal damage to them if they collide with anything. Maybe you want to add the rat’s passive to build poison on hit, or the dragon’s that increases crit chance against the already slowed enemies.

Nobody Saves the World is absolutely chock full of interactions like this, and it encourages you to use them. Every single form has uses, and is fun to play, giving you a heavy amount of customization while also keeping the forms different through their built in basic attacks, and single locked passive.

And perhaps most importantly, Nobody Saves The World knows this, and it tries to show you these combos and tricks. Many of the quests to rank up a form require you to do something that the form’s basic skills won’t allow, and you have to figure out how to mix and match to best meet that requirement.

In addition, not every trick will work in every dungeon. Some dungeons won’t have healing items. Some dungeons will have enemies that are status immune. In one particularly interesting one, all damage dealt both from and to enemies is multiplied by 9,999, and this dungeon isn’t a gag or a joke! It’s a puzzle to be solved with clever ability usage and munchkin tactics.

There’s a few parts to the combat system I’m not even covering here, such as status effects and elemental wards, but I want to talk about another thing the game does as well.

Purely on its combat alone, Nobody Saves The World would be great. However, in addition to that, it has some incredible art, and great writing. The feel of the world reminds me of something like Gravity Falls: a bright, vibrant place but with some bite to it. There are a lot of fairly funny moments, and also a few pretty powerful ones.

Okay, so let’s wrap this up.

I personally think that the highest form of praise that can be given to any piece of media is to engage with it, and for games that means playing it. For Nobody Saves the World, I played through the whole game, and then started the game’s New Game+ mode, and played through all of that. I’ve hit the game’s level cap, gotten every single Steam achievement, and completed every quest. The game is just incredibly fun, and the world, writing and art is so good that I went out of my way to play the whole thing twice.

Nobody Saves the World is available on Steam, and various consoles. It’s like $25, and its absolutely worth it.

PS: For anyone wondering how the egg could possibly be useful… Despite its incredibly low stats, it has a self heal ability. The heal doesn’t heal too much HP, BUT when you shift forms, your HP % stays the same, and if you equip the “Spend life as mana” passive, you heal more than you take. So you can switch to the egg, heal up to full, and then switch back to another form and be back at max health.

PPS: The second highest form of praise (and probably the first highest if you’re actually the developer) is buying the game for other people. I did that too.

Back 4 Blood

A unique Co-op First Person Shooter with Roguelite Deck Building for progression, with modernized Left 4 Dead-esque gameplay, and Counter-Strike-esque Item Shop by Turtle Rock Studios (TRS). 

Author Note: I’ve played a lot of zombie shooters, including World War Z, Call of Duty Zombies, Zombie Army 4, State of Decay 2, and of course Left 4 Dead 1 and 2. As you might guess, I kinda like the genre.

If you’ve never played a zombie shooter before, the general gameplay loop is something like the following: you and several of your friends are dropped into the start of the level. You’re given guns, a few medkits, and “Good Luck!” and tossed out into the apocalypse. You start in some form of safe area, and your goal is to get to another safe area. Along the way, you’ll be attacked by wave after wave of zombies who want to get their hands on your delicious face meat. Different entries in the genre handle things like when waves of zombies spawn, special super zombies, ammo, and importance of individual performance vs teamwork differently. Groundwork set, so lets talk about Back 4 Blood.

Back 4 Blood is the most polarizing zombie shooter I’ve played. I can attest that you will either love it or hate it. At launch it had a lot of problems with bugs and difficulty scaling; however the current patch fixed most issues. As such, I will be judging the game in its current form as of the Dec. 17th update.

Technically, Back 4 Blood offers two different game modes. There are co-op campaigns through 4 different acts, as well as a PVP mode called Swarm Mode. I think Swarm Mode is an awful experience. If you’re looking for PVP look elsewhere. This game ain’t it. The rest of this paragraph is going to be a short list of why it sucks, but then we’re gonna just ignore it for the rest of the article.  Swarm mode suffers from too much downtime between rounds, small map size, and frequent disconnects from either side due to just not being fun.

The PvE experience however is great. It offers high replayability with enormous build diversity and almost infinite skill ceiling in that you can always learn a new thing or two every time you play.

The game offers three difficulties: Recruit, Veteran, and Nightmare. Compared to other games’ difficulties these are comparable to Normal, Hard, and Insane. Nightmare is substantially harder than Veteran. The general progression path for all players is that you complete all missions through Recruit, then grind Veteran until you have enough progression unlocked to handle Nightmare difficulty. The main differences between the modes are the typical numeric difficulty scaling. Enemies hit harder, have more health, and more of them. The only big difference between them though is corruption card system.  

Corruption cards add modifiers to change up attack patterns or defenses of the zombies. This can include the zombies getting armored plating to negate bullets, having no weak points, or auras to buff allies around them. This adds a lot of variety to the missions. You can go through the same mission, but have a vastly different experience based on what the AI director through against you with this Corruption card system. It could be common zombies explode on headshot for acid damage, which would incentivize more area of effect weapons like Molotov’s or barbed wire to slow them. Of couse, the AI isn’t the only one who gets neat cards. Back 4 Bloods biggest twist on the genre is its Deck System. 

To build a deck, a player selects up to 15 cards to put into one, names it, then selects it and a character at the start of a level when joining a game. Order of cards matters in your deck. Your first card you will always have, but the order you pick from then on is somewhat flexible. For example on the first mission of act 1, you start with your first card but then you get a choice from one of your cards in order of 2 through 6.

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This allows you to build the deck in such a way where you can put cards in to counter certain corruption card modifiers on your current run. For example, there are quite a few corruption cards that reduce line of sight via fog, toxic gas, or lack of lights; you can counter this with the card “Marked for Death” which allows you to highlight a red outline of special ridden while multiplying the damage your team does to them by 10%. No one player however can cover all contingencies; but a team can. There are lots of different strategies to deck-building because you can try to create a jack of all trades that can react well to everything, or you can go hyper specialized. The Deck System is complex because most games don’t offer this level of choice in customizing your character in a co-op shooter. You can make hyper specialized character roles, like melee, healer, reviver, sniper, loot find builds, grenadier, etc. or a hybrid between them. Each of the characters has a unique card (see above) which generally provides a unique buff to them as well as a buff to the team such as move speed or extra lives, etc. All characters are viable and usually have unique roles they best excel at. Depending on the campaign you start with a different amount of cards(see below), but you always gain 1 card per level from your deck.

I’m uncertain what is “optimal” but I can confirm that most cards are viable in some build up to veteran difficulty.  Once you get to nightmare difficulty I’d say it is reduced to around 20% of the cards.

You get more cards for your deck by unlocking supply lines with supply points. You get supply points from completing missions. The top supply line is mostly damage cards, middle supply line is mostly support cards, while the bottom supply line is melee/utility/copper find cards. All supply lines are mixed with cosmetics to unlock as you play.

That is not necessarily to say that you can’t win without cards, just that it’s significantly easier with using the “best” cards. Still, all the cards in the world are nothing in comparison to having a good coordinated squad. I recommend joining a discord group because this game truly shines with a four man squad on voice comms. I’ve beat nightmare using exclusively in-game matchmaking on nightmare but prepare for lots of failed runs if you choose to do so.

For solo queue meta, the best decks I run with use the same 2 or so damage cards (Glass Cannon 25%damage/ Hyper Focused for 50% Weakspot Damage),  2 or 3 mobility (Run Like Hell for 12% move speed is auto include for all builds) cards and the rest goes to your role. The only role that deviates from this rule is melee, they will be a little weak early game but they are the kingpin to a group. Without melee to handle the common ridden you won’t have ammo to kill the specials or bosses. Pure economy builds based on copper gain or loot find are too slow to come online to be viable as Nightmare runs are reduced from checkpoint to checkpoint and rarely completing a full act in one sitting.

Here below are the decks I’ve used for my nightmare runs. Even though you lay out the cards you pick up 1-15, you don’t have to choose that way, for some runs you’ll react to what the corruption card is for that mission and prioritize getting different cards first. Generally speaking though I will prioritize 2 damage cards always, if the team is doing poorly I’ll get cards that aid the team such as Needs of the Many for extra lives, otherwise I’ll focus immediately on more selfish cards. 

 In the most recent December update they added a new type of one-use-per-level card called “Burn” Cards which apply a buff for one mission in any act campaign you are playing in. They cost on average 50 supply points, which is steep for beginning players. If you are a new player just ignore the burn card supply line and focus on unlocking all the other cards first. This feature is good because it allows you to take out some randomness in the game, for example if you are a LMG build, you can use a burn card to guarantee a LMG for your character at the start of your mission.

I was iffy on burn cards and this following statement is speculation; I am concerned at how easy it would be for TRS to turn Burn Cards into microtransactions where you buy supply points with real cash, so you can apply those buffs every mission for a campaign. The same could be said of regular cards as well. If such a thing happens though I feel like most players would drop this game. TRS are definitely treading a fine line with the introduction of burn cards. In its current state however it is an amazing addition to the game. Here below are some of the burn cards. 

Core Game Flaws in summary: 

  1. Supply Point Acquisition is ergo the rate at which you unlock stuff is too slow, also no points gained from losses is unnecessarily punishing.   
  2. Not being able to see allied players’ decks to strategize accordingly.
  3. New Player experience is mediocre for 6 hours at least which is intolerable for any game. For any casual player that is at least a week before the game gets “good”.  
  4. Swarm PVP sounds good conceptually as contests to who can hold out longest, but all the downtime between rounds and in practice feels awful to play with random Battle Royale Circle of gas closing in. Left 4 Dead definitely had the formula right with PVP through the regular campaign.  
  5. For Back 4 Blood the ratio between common zombies and mutants is around 75:25 where most zombie shooters are closer to 95:5 so the game feels more special hunting than massive hordes of zombies like most other games in the genre. 
  6. Lots of bosses with Big Health bars appear in the different missions, more than half the time the proper thing to do is just ignore them and run. The UI does a disservice in that all gamers have been trained for generations to see a big HP bar and kill it, not run. It’s a tough call though and I understand it’s useful for a player to know at a glance how close a boss is to being dead. 
  7. Map objectives are sometimes unclear, lots of levels have parts to them where they spawn endless hordes of zombies until you reach some area. An objective indicator stating such would be nice. 
  8. Back 4 Blood failed the silhouette test which is how easily can one spot the difference between the mutant ridden variants based on shape outline alone. In Left 4 Dead you can tell at a glance between Boomer, Smoker, Hunter, but in Back 4 Blood that only applies between the first level special mutant ridden. You can tell the difference between  “Tall Boys”, “Stingers”, and  “Reekers” however most of the variants of each are subtly different which in the heat of battle are harder to distinguish. For example the visual difference between a tall boy and bruiser is that a bruiser is spikier on the arm, but a bruiser has substantially more HP. Generally speaking when you play enough you learn anyways but I feel more could have been done to differentiate between them all to uphold the silhouette test more clearly. 

Core Game Pros in summary: 

  1. Corruption System/Deck Card Roguelite system feels amazing
    1. Makes every run feel different and promotes experimentation with different strategies accordingly.
    2. Enables players to feel powerful towards the end of runs in ways no other in the genre successfully captures. 
    3. Allows players to finetune decks to cater to a specific playstyle that they enjoy rather than forcing each player to play only one way. There probably is an “optimal” deck for each campaign section and each role but most cards are competitively viable for a given role and feel impactful. 
  2. Highly replayable level design is great in that it’s still linear so you don’t get lost but complex enough where there are a lot of little things to learn even when you’ve played the level twenty times.
  3.  Cosmetics are all unlockable via in-game progression, and not with microtransactions aside from launch edition bundles of 4 skins. This will probably change, but on the whole is a sight for sore eyes in a world where everything is like 10 dollars a skin in the rest of the world in AAA gaming. 
  4. Monthly Patching keeps things fresh and exciting. The november update killed this game with heavy nerfs and ridiculous special spawn rate bugs, but they redeemed most of the problems with the december update with burn card system, and buffs to cards, while nerfing speedrun strategies. When speedrunning was exclusively the only way to play the game, it was just not fun and warranted nerfs. It’s still viable in coordinated group play but no longer required.  
  5. The corruption system that randomly buffs them throughout your campaign playthrough is a nice touch to keep you on your toes to change how you proceed through a level. This helps a ton with replayability, as you might gravitate to more bullet stumble type weapons to stagger armored ridden, or you could go for lighter faster firing weapons when they are all fast packing acid or fire heads.
  6. The item shop between missions in an act feels amazing. You are constantly torn between pooling enough coins together to buy a team upgrade for long term power, or biting the bullet and buying up max equipment like frag grenades to shred bosses, or other items. Adding economy as a facet of the game is a huge win for enabling a pause to strategize with the team, as well as extreme flexibility to different strategies for any level. While other games have economy mechanics, none are quite like this for the zombie shooter genre. 

At the end of the day I think if you like roguelites, and Left 4 Dead you will love Back 4 Blood. However, Back 4 Blood surprisingly isn’t a zombie shooter, like that’s the story flavor but gameplay wise it’s truly too different from everyone else. World War Z, Zombie Army 4, Call of Duty Zombies, Left 4 Dead are all games which nail the aesthetic of there are millions of these guys and you need to mow them down and get to that next safe room as soon as possible.

Back 4 Blood and State of Decay 2 play more into a slow proactive playstyle with few bursts of action and a focus on efficient resource use. The spice in Back 4 Blood is experimenting constantly with different card builds seeing what works and doesn’t work for you. Tailoring decks specific to each act ultimately. The power curve where you start weak, but over time become a god at your role is addicting in a way no other in the genre captures.

It’s possible you’re not sold on the game, which is understandable. I personally recommend playing Back 4 Blood on something like Xbox Game Pass first just to try it because the game is very polarizing. Some people love it, some people hate it, but no one comes out of it with a neutral opinion.