First off, I want to say "Welcome to Left 4 Dead 2". This guide is targeted towards any Newcomer who got this game via Steam Sale or Free Gift. I hope this guide will be of some help to you and shed some light on some confusion you may have about any game modes or gameplay tactics. Remember that this game is Co-Operative game so always work with your teamates. The real enjoyment of this game comes from who you are playing with and how you are playing.
My History and Creditability
I got this game years ago and this was MY FIRST game on steam. I started just like any new player having gone into Versus mode without first learning the concept of items, weapons, or the special infected. I found myself getting kicked from games without reason ( even though it was obvious due to lack of experience). In time, I spend hours in campaign mode, first learning game's goal. Picking a favorite weapon was easy enough because I brought over previous experience with aiming from another game. I soon met up with nice and skilled players. I learned just by watching them for awhile making up my own stratgies. Soon after, I established my own reputation within scavenge mode community.
You will see how much experience I have by looking at my profile and scavenge stats. You may also check out some gameplay videos on my youtube channel, just to see how intense the game can be and how it is important to work with your team. Wufei Chang
In this video, everyone did their own ''thing'' and had their own agenda on finishing the campaign. As such, everyone else died/incapped. While I tried to save them, their own mistakes bit them back in the end. (watch the video and you will see what I am talking about)
Our team worked together to finish with all of us alive, minus the unavoidable sacrafice. Here we all sticked together and assisted one another to finish.
Road to Experience
In this section, I will discuss a good method of learning the game step by step.
Gather anyone you meet and add them to your friends list. This is more effective if they are also new to the game. Get a lobby a going with them so that you may play with those people from which you will learn from them and they will learn from you. The game is more fun with interactive group than someone you met in random public game. Note: Always keep this in concept in your mind, "Learn from your mistakes". This also applies to anyone you see, so that you don't make the same foolish mistake.
Added Plus, get a microphone or headset to use in this game for easier communication rather than type things out.
As with a new player, I strongly suggest you play Campaign Mode or Single Player Mode. Start off with Normal difficulty and several maps before increasing to a harder difficulty. Should you jump into Versus/Scavenge, you will meet with unwelcoming Community that will kick you or blame you for loss. ( I do hope these people will not steer you away from game altogether)
After that, you may take the next step and venture into the Survival Mode. This mode is perfect to practice weapon/item usage with a constant barrage of common infected and special infected. Ideal to work on communication with your teamates.
Next up: is the underappreciated mutation mode Versus Survival This mode, (like Versus) puts your team against another team. Here, you can practice using the special infected and the Tank. Unlike Versus, the survivors will not be running ahead giving you a chance to attack. Unlike Scavenge, you are not on a time limit, so you may coordinate attacks with your allies.
Finally: Versus/Scavenge Mode. Put everything you learned and experienced against another team of survivors/infected. It's incredibilty satisfying to take out an entire team of survivors working with your teammates. Vice versa, when you survive all special infected attacks allowing your team to advance to the next area or next set of gas cans.
I will not say you have to follow these steps to the letter. You do what you feel like doing. But these suggestions above will give added practice to help you play better overall and thus carry over to other modes.
Overall Premise of Game Modes
Campaign: The goal is pretty simple here: Make your way to an extraction point (the end of map) with 3 other survivors. Common Zombies and occasional special infected will halt your run obviously. Dead allies will respawn in specific rooms/closets/bathrooms around the map provided that the door was never opened before.
Realism: Like Campaign, survivors need to make it to the end of the map. Unlike Campaign, zombies of all kinds are harder to take down, Player glow around survivor and items are gone, and survivors will not respawn unless with a defib or in the safe room next map.
Versus: This game mode is basically the Campaign game mode but with actual players controlling the special infected. Obviously, player-controlled special infected are a lot harder and more organized than AI-infected from Campaign. Points are obtained the further survivor progress on the map. Tie-breaker points depends on comparing overall damage inflicted on survivors from both teams.
Realism Versus: This is basically Versus Mode with Realism Rules. See both above ^
Survival: Survive as long as possible against hordes of infected with an abundance of supplies.
Scavenge: This short game mode requires survivors to collect and pour gas cans scattered around the map. The infected are tasked with stalling the survivors or killing survivors. This mode is time-based with countdown start when survivors leave the safe area. 20 seconds are added for each gas can poured. Tie-breaker is depended on time it took both teams to get X number of cans.
Mutation: This is a selection of assorted game modes listed above with twists and changes. Examples : Versus mode with Tanks only, Versus Survival, Melee/Chainsaw/Magnum only campaign, Campaign mode with 8 special infected. etc.
Get to know who you are playing as both Survivors and Special Infected. You ask Why? Because I find it easier to call on a teamate sometimes by who they are playing as rather than saying/typing their name with their numbers or symbols which can be confusing.
Left 4 Dead 2 has a unique health system than other games. The lower HP you have, the slower your running/walking speed is. A color glow will indicate your current state of HP. When you HP is depleted you will be incapacitated "DOWN". Another suvivor must help stand up. Note: If are revived after going Down twice; you will be in a Critical Condition, otherwise known as being "Black and White". Should you lose all your hp once more, you will die instantly. Pills/adrenaline will not get you of this state, only health kits. The defibrillator is used to revive a dead survivor. Once equiped, a red glow around the survivor's dead body will appear helping you locate it. Survivors that come back to life have only 50 hp with their Secondary Weapon and nothing else. (Their items should be scattered on the floor nearby)
There are two types of HP: Actual HP and Temporary HP:
Actual HP (Shown as a solid color) is given by using a Health Kit which usually brings your hp to 80. This HP stays constant unless taken damage.
Temporary HP (Shown as nonsolid color) is given by pills or an adrenaline shot. Temporary HP acts like real HP but it slowly goes down over time. Pills/Adrenaline shot are used for regain or increase speed. Adrenaline shots give you a speed boost to run through hordes or perform actions faster (not reloading). These actions include: Using Health kits, pouring gas cans, reviving DOWN survivors, and using defibrillators. Note: Use pills/adrenaline during emergencies when you do not have time to use a health kit.
Note: Your health bar is shown at the bottom for your screen but is also viewable to enemies on the infected side via tab key (in Versus/Scavenge). The other team will prioritze you as a target if you are low on hp.
Left 4 Dead 2 has a assortment of weapons split into different tiers which I will not bore you with details. You pick whatever you feel comfortable using. Keep an eye where you shoot and your allies shooting. Friendly fire is ALWAYS ON! and on realism and expert modes this really matters. Other than just shooting, survivors are able to shove back infected but can only do a limited amount of times before having to refill a stamina bar/circle (Can be done while reloading). Like in Call of Duty games, its always faster to switch to your secondary weapon than reloading.
Shotguns: Short range but high damage, good for horde control and quick special infected kills. Good for New players in all modes but not to use in Scavenge or Expert Difficulties. Simple missfire will hurt the team.
Sniper: Long range and bullets penetrate infected for multiple hits. My favorite type of gun.
AK-47: Good balance between firepower and rapid fire. Usually one bullet kills common infected. 2nd Favorite, Perfect all around gun.
Assault Rifle: Poor fire power but rapid fire and reload. I do not recommend this gun because of low fire power.
Combat Rifle: More fire power than Assault but less than AK-47. Decent rapid fire with its 3-round burst. I recommend this over Assault Rifle
Grenade Launcher : Yea I would not recommend this because of its blast radius for new players. Especially when in Realism or Expert.
Pistols: Not really useful unless you are DOWN but magnum is better.
Magnum: Absolute must have in Realism modes because it kills common infected with one shot regardless where it hits.
Melee Weapons: Always good to have to save bullets, nuff said.
Chainsaw : Pure fun, nuff said.
Throwables Coordinate with your team on which to use so you do not waste them by throwing any of the items below at same time. Example: Survivor C is boomed, so survivor A throws a pipebomb, B throws a molotov at the infected group gathered by the pipebomb, C throws a bile bomb thinking that will help him even though he is already boomed. (yes, i have seen this happen)
Pipebombs: Explosive that baits nearby common infected and kills them.
Bilebomb: Boomer puke that gathers/spawns common infected to specific location. This does not work if someone is already puked on. Never use this on tank. Best save this for an upcoming event/horde/finale or when half or your entire team is DOWN.
Molotov: This ignites any infected or gas can caught in its radius of explosion. Always use this on the tank. If you or someone else is surrounded, you may use this on yourself or thrown at survivor surrounded (Just don't do this in Expert or Realism).
The Special Infected are as follows from Left to Right: The Charger, Hunter, Spitter, Jockey, Tank, Witch, Boomer, Smoker
Note: All special infected minus Tank, Witch, and Charger have little hp and are taken out with one melee weapon swing, well placed gunshots or multiple shoves.
Here I will list the infected with two notes under each. One will say "Infected" meaning what this one does and how to use him. The other note will say "Survivors" in which how to counteract and deal with these when confronted.
Primary attack is to run fast in a straight line ram first survivor it hits. Any other survivor not hit first gets thrown up into the air taking some damage. When the Charger hits a wall or reaches its max distance with a survivor caught, it will begin to pound him into the ground dealing more damage as time goes until killed. Its Secondary attack is a punch with its one big arm dealing 10 hp damage.
Infected: It is always good for you to go in first as charger with your teamates coming in right after. Combine this with a spitter to deal lots of damage. Use his punches to hit someone who is low on hp and charge another after. On high elevation maps, you can charge someone of an edge to incapacitate or even kill them instantly depending how high you are.
Survivors: Be on guard when you hear him spawn with its bull-like sound.You will find this one to be lead his team in dealing a group attack. This one can bulldoze your entire team leaving you wide open to his allies' attacks. Watchout for him on high maps. Unlike other special infected, this will take 2 melee hits or almost whole clip of ammo. Shoving has no effect on the Charger, remember that.
This hoodied infected can leap high distances and travel fast by jumping off walls. To perform his pounce, hold crouch button when you are about to attack then mouse click. Your jump will depend on where you aimed so its good to aim at an Arch (higher then your target).
Infected:Do not crouch unless you are about to attack, because you make huge growl which will alert survivors. You may use the hunter to finish off someone who is DOWN or running off alone.
Survivors: Careful, a hunter jumping from a high point can take 25 hp instantly. Be sure to just shoot him and not shove him off your ally because he will be ready to pounce again. He can also pounce someone without crouching by wall jumping. Shoving at the last possible second, before he pounces you, will stun the hunter and leave him open to attack (Known as deadstopping).
At first, the Spitter's acid pool does little damage but this increases over time.
Infected: As a support, you always want to spit on someone who is caught by another infected. Your spit will ignite gas cans that have been touched by survivors only in Scavenge and Versus Finales. Spit can be used on stair cases or around corridors to by your teamates time to spawn. After you spit, your movement is slow at first but returns couple seconds later.
Survivors: Try not to stay in spit too long obviously. The spitter leaves a short green trail when it moves making it easier to find when chasing her down. AI-controlled spitters cannot burn gas cans.
Jockey's unique attack is to jump onto a survivor and control his/her movements until killed or shoved off.
Infected: You can steer a survivor away from others, into spitter's goo, or off a ledge. You can work with a charger by holding a survivor for him to charge off ledge as well ( known as a Setup). You cannot jump onto another survivor until after your attack bar/circle refills.
Survivors: Keep an eye on his jump patterns, shoving at the last possible second will stun the jockey and leave him open to attack (Known as deadstopping). A jockey will almost never work alone, Be alert.
Boomer is able to Vomit on survivors thus alert the horde to whoever is biled (boomed, puked on), This also happens when the boomer is killed. This explosion biles and knocks back any survivor that is really close.
Infected: As a Support, you can blind survivors thus confusing them. Do not spawn far away, always spawn around wall, corridor or high point. Boomers are highly best to bile someone who is DOWN. Walk close to and in front of survivor's line of fire to explode in front of them. In a high point, you can jump as a ghost and spawn while in mid air to keep your ghost speed and drop in on unsuspecting survivors (Known as a rocket boom). Careful your death explosion knocks back other special infected too.
Survivors: Shove the boomer back away from you and others then shoot him. Bile Bombs do not work if a survivor is Boomed. Pipebombs are effective here. Avoid using melee weapons on Boomer for obvious reasons.
Smoker can pull a survivor toward itself from a set distance and only if the smoker's circle crosshair is red.
Infected:Work with a charger to setup a kill on high elevation maps. Or cover another teamate that caught a survivor. A well placed smoker may hang a survivor off a ledge on high elevation maps.
Survivors: Shove a caught felllow survivor or shoot the tongue. A smoker's primary attack is not available for couple seconds if the tongue is broken. Watchout for charger setups. A dropped gas can or a last second melee swing will break the tongue if you are about to be pulled. You may shove the smoker if you are close enough while being pulled.
Primary attack is punch survivors which knock them way back. This punch can also launch objects like a car, forklift or garage dumpster at survivors. These objects incapacitate survivors with one hit but the punch does not, unless it is Expert mode. Secondary Attack is a rock throw. A piece of rock/cement is thrown despite the location of the tank. The Rock throw and punch will instantly incapacitate a survivor on Expert.
Infected: Be on the lookout for survivors with molotovs. Tab screen tells you their hp and items. Move in with your teamates and single out survivors if possible. Rock throw those who are trying to make a run for it.
Survivors: Avoid close quarters and hallways. Protect your teamate who has molotov, he is the priority target for the tank's allies. Repeated shotgun blasts drain the tank's hp. Keep an eye out for anything the tank would punch to launch at you.
This infected does not bother survivors unless startled. This is done by staying near, pointing flashlight, touching, shooting, or hitting with a throwable. It switches target when ignited by fire or if someone is in the way of its path too long. Normally, witches will incapacitate anyone it attacks. On Expert the witch will instantly kill with one hit.
Infected: Note: Players cannot control the witch. Smokers, chargers and Jockeys can bring survivors to the witch. Boomers can use the ensuing chaos to vomit on everyone.
Survivors: Avoid witches altogether if possible. Sometimes it will be sitting in your path, at which you or someone else must kill the witch with repeated shotgun blasts to the witch's head. Or you may back way and attack from a long distance.
The Community and the Vote Kicking Feature...
Here I will giving an explanation of the supposed "Toxic" and "Horrible" label given to the Left 4 Dead 2 online community, as well as explain the much needed Vote kicking feature.
If you are a new player who actually went into Versus/Scavenge modes so early, then I am sure you have seen the vote kicking feature used on you or a fellow/opposing teammate/player. The multiplayer community is not what I would call "Toxic" but a more fitting label would be "Unforgiving". There is a good reason for this, you have to remember that this game is heavily based on cooperative gameplay.
One problem with this game is that there is NO RANKING SYSTEM or FILTER to seperate new players with veterans. You (the Newcomer) may join in a Vs/Scav game and you may be up against the group of veterans. In which case they (enemy team) will priortize YOU as their target. The only other option they would use is to attack everyone else BUT you seeing as your lack of experience/aim/understanding of the game would pose them no threat.
Below are some reasons I have seen for vote kicking a player.
Having one person slow/weigh down the rest of the team will hurt the team's overall playing ability.
Inexperience shows when you are playing as the infected and have no idea how to use them properly.
Not many people want to play the game while helping/babysitting someone on their team who cannot defend themselves or hold their own.
A player who is unable to use the special infected properly.
A player who wasted a charger on a high elevation map by charging a survivor anywhere but off the edge.
A hunter going around and scratching survivors not knowing how to pounce.
A spitter (In scavenge) spits on survivors and not on gas cans.
A boomer puking from a great distance from survivors.
A tank who attacks alone without his team and gets kill very fast as well as getting ignited by a molotov easily.
A microphone spammer playing music, sounds that create unneccary noise and can hurt his team's awareness trying to hear for the infected.
A vocal spammer using commands/radial menu to have the characters say specfic lines of dialogue that create unneccary noise and can hurt his team's awareness trying to hear for the infected.
A survivor player is going around with pistols only or melee weapon only.
A survivor player is running off on his own and expects his team to keep with his fast pace.
A survivor player who is not aware of damage taken from falling down due to gravity.
AFK (Away from keyboard): A player who is not here is no help to anyone. In campaign, you can go idle (an AI takes over your character) but in Versus/Scavenge there is no SUCH option.
A Griefer: a person who purposely glitches the game or prevents his own team from progressing like setting off alarms, wasting ammo/items, and suicidiing.
A Teamkiller: a person who just shootings his fellow teamates for the fun of it.
Now I have seen many threads posted on the forums about new players frustrated by being kicked over and over. They make arguements which I have been said repeatly but are often countered with another suitable arguement. I will list them below:
Newcomer Arguement: There are so many tryhards/elitists that get mad over one mistake. Veteran Counter: All it takes is for one silly mistake for the infected to incap your entire team, or if you are infected, your failed attack will grant survivors more points and allow them to progress. Points snowball out of control thus making the game's winner obvious after one team makes it to the end and another team did not.
Newcomer Arguement: I am here to have fun not play like my life depended on it. Veteran Counter: Your version of fun should not overwrite everyone else on your team. Also applies to griefers and TKers whose fun is to stop his own team from progressing, you gonna defend their "Fun" too?
Newcomer Arguement: Sorry if I have a life and did not pour so many hours like the rest of tryhards/elitists. Veteran Counter: Game hours easily stack/add up game after game considering 1 full versus game can take over 1 hour and a 1 scavenge game can take 30 min - 1 hour. Campaigns also can take about an hour to complete. Hours are not definitive evidence of inexperience but they are a somewhat early indication of it.
Newcomer Arguement: How can we get experience with infected if you people keep kicking us. Veteran Counter: Back in the first years of the games release, your arguement would be valid. But with the addition of Workshop, Mutations, Mods, and Custom Maps, There are plenty of options for you to practice the infected. Single player Versus Mod and Versus Survival Mutation are just two examples. Back then they were not available, but they are now. Use them.
As with anyone starting out, you should find other people like youself to really have fun in this game. You can expect your friends to forgive any mistake you make and just laugh it off. Just do not expect the same treatment from a complete stranger in a Multiplayer game with random people who do not know you. Remember that.
It's been a long one, but I hope you learn something or have something to add to this for others see. Leave comments, suggestions below. You will find me in Scavenge mode mostly. Hope to see you around sometime. I will add more to this guide as time passes.
New: Veteran players, lets hear your story about when you first entered the game. I would say post it on discussion forums but the thread would just be forgotten after one day. Post it below for others to read.
I will also hope to make an in depth scavenge guide later.
Survivor skills and gameplay
This section will highlight basic skillsets you will need to play as survivor and well as some gameplay tips.
This first list applies to Campaign/Realism modes as well as Versus/Scavenge modes.
Stay with your team. This should be obvious, You cannot be slowing down your team but at the same time you cannot be running ahead.
Share your items. If someone else is hurt, help them out by giving them some pills/adrenaline. They are no help to you if they are moving slowly.
Listen to what characters say. Sometimes I notice problems without the survivor actually telling my anything (I mean typing/using mic). A Survivor could be in critical condition (black & white) and not tell me but his character would give clues. Character would say unique lines specific to when they are attacked by a special infected.
Know when to use your throwables. I have seen player waste these often thinking they are helping but they are making things worse. Example: Throwing a bile at the tank, throwing a pipe bomb randomly and away from the actual horde, and throwing anything at the same time as someone else.
This next list applies to Versus/Scavenge multiplayer mode where you are against player controlled special infected.
A team should NOT spend too much time looking around for items in Versus, it is ok in campaign/realism mode but common infected hordes will spawn if you take too long.
Knowledge of your surroundings. Know the map basically. You should be able to spot areas where you and your team are vunerable like a narrow alley, next to a ledge, or enclosed area. These are definitely places where special infected would attack as a group in Versus.
Listen carefully. A decent headset will tell you which direction a special may be coming from. How loud the their sound is tells how close they are as well.
Try to work on your reflexes. What I mean here is to speed up your reaction time, like shoving a hunter/jockey at the last possible moment before they reach you to stop them and leave them vunerable to gunfire/melee swing. Even more so if the opposing infected team know how spawn and attack VERY quickly.
Keep track of their spawns. Knowing who spawned in gives a clue to who else to expect.
Rule of Special infected : there can be either 1 Support (Spitter or Boomer) and 3 Incappers (Charger, Hunter, Jockey, and Smoker) OR there can be 2 Support and 2 Incappers. No two special infected of the same kind unless who is controlled by AI (a bot which can only be Hunter or Smoker)
Note: This Rule gets ignored RARELY as a glitch or on non-Official Server like a server that runs mods.