Back 4 Blood's Special Ridden Were "Inspired by Gameplay Needs" with "Inevitable" Left 4 Dead Similarities

The structure of Back 4 Blood – from its name to the core gameplay experience to the developer – has inevitably attracted comparisons to the Left 4 Dead games. The special Ridden which serve as unique zombie variants are found in both the PvE and PvP modes have been a common subject for such comparisons. While Back 4 Blood's creative director Phil Robb said some similarities to special Left 4 Dead zombies was "inevitable," the special Ridden in the new game were designed more to meet gameplay needs as opposed to rehashing old ideas.

Whether you're comparing the new Exploder variant of the Reeker Ridden to a Boomer from the Left 4 Dead games or a Hocker to a Spitter, the similarities aren't exactly difficult to find. Back 4 Blood does boast more variants of its zombies than the Left 4 Dead games, however, with three unique "classes" housing three different variations of the different Ridden families.

Speaking to Robb during an interview before the game's beta began, we asked how Turtle Rock Studios went about designing these Ridden and if conscious efforts were made to avoid copying designs from the Left 4 Dead games. Robb said the team focused more on designing Ridden around what the game needed but agreed that some crossovers were bound to happen.

"I think basically our Ridden are inspired by gameplay needs," Robb said. "There being some crossover into the abilities that the Left 4 Dead zombies had is somewhat inevitable because we need a guy that can break up a party. We need a guy that can pin characters that are … that can mess with characters who decide to run off on their own. So, a lot of it is dictated by gameplay."

Continuing, Robb said the developers "took great pains" to give the special Ridden their own unique aspects and mechanics while avoiding "doing straight rip-offs of other zombies."

Whether it was because of learnings from past games or fluid designs alone, Robb said the team didn't really run into situations where special Ridden they came up with were completely out of line for Back 4 Blood. In the event an idea for one was too powerful, the team was often able to modify it and make it work instead of scrapping plans.

"We had a pretty clear idea – as clear as you can have – at the beginning of what kinds of mechanics we needed the Ridden to use or what kinds of things we needed," Robb said. "We didn't have as many dead ends as we did in past games where we came up with something and were just like 'This doesn't work.'"

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While players will be able to control the Ridden in the Swarm mode, they won't be playing as them in any campaign-based PvP experience since no such mode exists. Robb also spoke about that decision during our interview and echoed sentiments shared about the Ridden in saying that the team wanted to try something new with the Swarm mode.