We've spent Easter blasting through tunnels of the undead, and now we have some thoughts.
There were some mixed reviews of Back 4 Blood when it was released last fall. Many appreciated that it felt like the spiritual sequel to the Left 4 Dead series, but there were some complaints about mainly a flawed single-player portion as well as the system of playing cards that allow us to customise our adventure.
The first Back 4 Blood expansion, Tunnels of Terror, was released on Tuesday and I've spent Easter blasting through the undead in dark tunnels to see if this is what fans have been asking for. And what I've concluded is that there's no good answer to that question. Because Tunnels of Terror doesn't really do anything to fix what people were complaining about, instead continuing in the same footsteps, and it also has one of the least conventional DLC implementations I've ever seen.
This doesn't mean that what's on offer is bad, though, because it certainly isn't. On the contrary, those who loved Back 4 Blood get more of the fun, and the tunnels that await undeniably bestow a lot of extra variety. The seven tunnels in particular are the real draw here. But instead of serving as its own campaign or new chapters to choose from, Turtle Rock Studios has opted to hide the tunnel entrances along the levels. That means you have to pick a level, play it, and hope to find a tunnel along the way.
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The system itself isn't bad, but those who turned off cross-play in Back 4 Blood may have a hard time matchmaking players, and adding even more options has made it even harder to find Cleaners eager to slay zombies. That said, there's no getting away from the fact that it was a little frustrating to have to look for tunnel entrances when I was reviewing, as most of all I just wanted to throw myself into all the new stuff, something I assume is true for most gamers.
The tunnels are very well made and there are also epic weapons to come across for those who explore properly. The weapons are both well-hidden and well-guarded, though, so don't expect to have access to them often. In addition to being atmospheric, the cave systems are filled with enemies, with three of them (Ripper, Shredder and Urchin) being brand new. It's fortunate that Tunnels of Terror also offers two new Cleaners that have traits well-matched for the expansion, and I believe you'll at least initially want both in your group.
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The first newcomer is the firefighter Sharice, who brings a hefty addition of health to the group and is also extra resilient to trauma damage. When you don't quite know what to expect, she's a very safe bet. The second new character is Heng, a cook who has an easier time spotting where there are tunnel entrances along the level, as well as seeing weapon accessories. The tunnels are admittedly both large and not particularly well hidden (think huge meat caves), but it's nice to have a character to help get you started - although I have a hard time seeing Heng being useful for more advanced players.
To sum up the expansion, I think it feels on the meagre side to justify a price tag of $15, which is still around a third of what it costs to buy the game. It's possible to ask for more for that price tag, without being particularly unreasonable. Fortunately, this is mitigated by the fact that it is possible to share this DLC with others (I haven't tried it myself, though). So all it takes is one person in the group to buy, and everyone gets to play.
Sure, the tunnels are fancy, varied and well-designed, but both I and others I've played with wanted to get started with the new content right away. Having to choose an old level and look for any cave entrance on it is frustrating. In the end, it doesn't really feel like a full expansion and essentially it's the same game with two new Cleaners and almost all of the other content is stuff you have to try really hard to access. Because of this, it's not enough that it's actually really fun when it gets going - since that happens a little too infrequently for a higher score than a mediocre six.
6 / 10
When it gets going, it's very fun. New Cleaners are useful and fit the expansion well.
Tunnels are frustrating to find. Doesn't feel like much of an expansion. Quite pricey.