A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While the game encourages players to work together as a team, it's generally for the purposes of simply healing each other's injuries and surviving Ridden attacks. Outside of this, each player is responsible for their own survival.
Positive Role Models
Each Cleaner has unique skills and abilities to help out in the team setting, but otherwise is simply an avatar for the player's actions. Some dialogue occasionally expands on the Cleaners' backstories, but never fully develops them as characters.
The game's roster of Cleaners represents diverse group of characters with different ages, ethnicities, etc. Some backgrounds and personality traits come out in cutscenes and background dialogue, but they're not generally fleshed out too much.
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Ease of Play
The controls should feel instantly familiar to anyone that's played a first-person shooter before. A few extra features, such as stamina for running and melee or managing ability cards, add an extra layer to the gameplay without making it more complicated. Meanwhile, the "Director" constantly keeps things fresh by adding different challenges in each run.
Violence & Scariness
Players use a variety of firearms, melee weapons, and explosives against the grotesque Ridden creatures. Oftentimes, the creatures die in an explosion of blood and gore, scenes of dismemberment and decapitations, and in many other graphic ways. The environment's also often littered with blood, corpses, and in some places, the pulsing entrails of some creatures.
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Profanity such as "s--t" and "f--k" often appear in the dialogue, though there's an optional profanity filter in the settings. Also, the in-game party chat can expose players to offensive language from others during online matches.
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Products & Purchases
While the game's not technically a sequel or continuation of the Left 4 Dead franchise, it serves as a spiritual successor to the franchise from the original developers. The game also supports the purchase of some cosmetic items as downloadable content.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Players can find and take bottles of painkillers to heal from injury. Some scenes and cosmetics show characters smoking cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Back 4 Blood is a single and multiplayer first-person horror shooter game available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Windows based PCs. The game's the spiritual successor to the hit Left 4 Dead franchise. Players take on the role of a survivor in a post-apocalyptic scenario where the bulk of humanity has been transformed into bloodthirsty, zombie-like mutants called Ridden. Players team up with three other survivors, either computer-controlled bots or live human players via online play, and fight their way through Ridden hordes. The game doesn't shy away from violence, with lots of graphic depictions of blood and gore. The game's dialogue makes frequent use of strong profanity if the in-game filter isn't turned on, and the online voice/text options can also expose players to offensive language from online teammates. Some scenes show players smoking, and players will use painkillers to heal damage.
Is It Any Good?
Sometimes even an original game idea can follow a formula so closely, it gives off an undeniable feeling of déjà vu. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, a point Back 4 Blood proves with ease. While the game isn't technically a sequel or reboot of Turtle Rock's previous Left 4 Dead games, it shares a lot of its gameplay DNA with the classic hit series. Four Cleaners still team up to fight back hordes of grotesque zombie-like Ridden mutants and make their way to intermittent safe rooms where they can regroup, restock, and head out further into the fray. Even the Ridden enemies give off a sense of Left 4 Dead familiarity, with creatures that explode into gaseous clouds, creatures that grab and strangle players, and behemoth bruisers that wreak massive destruction. Back 4 Blood even features a nebulous AI "Director" that adjusts certain gameplay elements on the fly like enemy spawn points, item locations, difficulty, and more, all based on player actions and designed to keep each playthrough different and challenging.
In spite of all the similarities, Back 4 Blood has more than a few tricks up its sleeve to stand out from under that long Left 4 Dead shadow. One big change is the addition of card-based power ups. Players build decks of cards that are pulled from at the start of each act, adding new abilities or other gameplay modifiers that can help to turn the tide of battle. Players also earn and pick up currency in the game, which can be used at the start of each round in the saferoom's shop to arm themselves with some of their favorite weapons and attachments, as well as some personal and team upgrades. Multiplayer, a key component, tends to run the spectrum between really good and, well, not so great. It all depends on the teammates that pop into the game. If you're not on a private match, it's possible for players to join that, at best, might not be the best team players or, at worst, are just trolling to ruin a game. While this can be a risk in many multiplayer games, the focus on teamwork in Back 4 Blood makes this all the more frustrating when it happens. But if you luck out and find a group that gels together well or, better still, you can get a group of friends together, Back 4 Blood is a fantastically frantic and fun first-person co-op shooter that's hard to put down.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.