A returning Left 4 Dead fan excited for some good old zombie action.
Cards in Back 4 Blood
Cards are a perk system in Back 4 Blood that also functions as a lightweight roguelike system. The perks are often straightforward, such as bonus health/ammo, heal on kill, move speed, etc, but they can be more dramatic and unique as you unlock more. Players are able to build decks and then draw randomly from that deck while playing a campaign. The outcome is that you can both customize additional advantages for your character and have some random variance in each playthrough.
You build a deck of up to 15 cards. From there you draw cards as you play a campaign:
- Your automatically start with the top card of your deck.
- You pick one from a draw of five cards from your deck before playing each area.
Note that if you don't use a full deck and run out of cards to draw from there are very weak base cards the game will slot in for you.
- You can occasionally find drops of cards to use in-game that will only last for the duration of that run.
- You will also see team perks from ally characters or purchases from the shop in each safehouse appear in your card slots.
These cards span four different categories, they are:
- Reflex (blue) - often focusing on speed, agility, accuracy, and general gunplay
- Discipline (red) - often focusing on sustained damage output and healing
- Brawn (green) - often focusing on health and damage mitigation
- Fortune (yellow) - miscellaneous, often high impact perks, like increased inventory, unlimited secondary ammo, or sprinting while shooting
They also span four different types of offense, defense, utility, and mobility. For example, you can have an offensive brawn card. These categories will help you understand the strategy you are forming with your deck as you match it to your playstyle. In the gallery below there are screenshots of some of the cards of each category.
Obtaining Cards From Supply Lines
Cards can be obtained by completing Supply Lines. Supply Lines are linear reward tracks that offer cards, among other items, for purchase. You purchase items from these tracks with Supply Points earned by completing campaigns. Very good cards are typically near the end of the Supply Line, so as you buy your way through it you'll start getting better cards. However, the best cards also have the highest prices. You can participate in multiple Supply Lines at the same time, but it may be better to focus in on one to get to the good cards at the end of it.
It's also important to note that all cards are unlocked by default to be used in the game's player versus player mode called Swarm. The developers have done this to keep the game fair so unlocking cards in the Supply Lines only impacts your PvE campaign experience.
Supply Lines Screenshot
Not to be confused with player cards, corruption cards are enemy modifiers selected by the game's AI director to make the game more challenging. You can view them on your card screen before you pick your own cards. These stacking negative modifiers alter the game in sometimes dramatic ways. Some modifiers may be armoring the weak spots on special enemies, increasing the health of zombies, or offering a copper reward for completing the level within a time limit.
These cards play a similar role to the player cards though in creating a semi roguelike experience. Each run of even the same map may be different based on the cards you bring, draw, or face from the AI director.
The game does not put a strong foot forward with the usability of the card system as it can be confusing and unclear. However, the breadth of cards and role they play in the game offers a lot of potential. The randomness and power growth added throughout a run via the cards is noticeable and can easily be a game changer to your strategy. You can also feel the impact of having weak cards and see the value in some of the harder to get cards. In terms of adding replay-ability to a PvE shooter, this is certainly not bad attempt.