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Back 4 Blood updates end, just as things are getting good

Turtle Rock Studios says Back 4 Blood updates will come to an end as it focuses on a new game; sad news as the co-op zombie game is finally hitting its stride.

Back 4 Blood - General Phillips looks down forlornly

Turtle Rock Studios says Back 4 Blood updates are coming to an end. The developer, which also created the original Left 4 Dead (being known at the time as Valve South), announces that the co-op zombie game will not get any additional content following its three expansions as the team moves onto development of a new game. It’s sad news for B4B fans, as the most recent series of updates have helped the game to finally hit its stride.

In a post on its website, Turtle Rock Studios thanks players for “an amazing year” but explains, “This phase of our war against the Ridden now comes to a close.” It says that, as a rather small studio, “We don’t have quite enough folks to continue working on Back 4 Blood content while we spin up another game – yes, another game!”

The post adds that “Back 4 Blood will continue to operate,” pointing out that it’s available on Xbox and PC Game Pass along with PlayStation’s premium subscription service. The team says it will still continue to talk with fans on the official Reddit and Discord pages along with the game’s social media profiles, and concludes, “While we may be a bit quieter in the short-term, we promise that we’ll be Back, bigger, bolder, and better than ever!”

Given the apparent difficulty of maintaining live service updates while working on a new project, it’s understandable that Turtle Rock Studios has chosen to wrap up on Back 4 Blood development. But as someone who’s been actively playing the game more than ever before since the release of the last major update, it’s sad to see things come to a close so soon.

Best zombie games: a Hocker in Back 4 Blood with her four arms stretched out. She is wearing slacks that are tearing at the seams.

The third Back 4 Blood expansion River of Blood released in December 2022, completing the sixth act to the game’s campaign. While the act ends with a speech that feels pretty final (and especially so in light of this news), it does leave some loose ends open. The additional chapters added post-release are also some of the most fun in the game, as are the optional Ridden Hives introduced with the first expansion, Tunnels of Terror.

Since launch, Turtle Rock has also heavily rebalanced the game – including a big overhaul to the spawn rate of Mutations, the game’s ‘special infected’ that manifest as tougher Ridden opponents such as the spitting Hockers, the giant Tallboys, and the conspicuously named walking alarms, the Snitches. During the early months, they’d flood over the fences in such great numbers that it felt almost crushingly oppressive, even on base difficulty settings.

Back 4 Blood is in a much better place now, but it hasn’t been enough to bring players back in after such a rocky start, which also saw the game plagued with bugs and freezing issues alongside the busted balancing. It’s a shame, because my friends and I had an absolute blast playing through the campaign over the New Year break. The player count, however, has hovered around the 5,000 concurrents mark for most of 2022, not breaking 10,000 players since April.

Back 4 Blood - General Phillips and Mom clink glasses in a bar and exchange wry smiles

As such, it’s understandable that the team is moving on. That hasn’t stopped fans from expressing their disappointment in response to the news, saying they feel let down after Turtle Rock also stopped supporting their previous game, Evolve, after it struggled to find an audience. Some point to comments made by Turtle Rock after its acquisition by Tencent that the “Back 4 Blood franchise is here to stay” and query what this latest announcement means for that statement.

Ending support after just one year is a tough pill to swallow – and it’s exacerbated by a lack of tools such as community level creation or mod support. While Left 4 Dead didn’t see extensive official DLC support, mods have allowed both it and its sequel to maintain a thriving community over a decade after release (Left 4 Dead 2 still hovers between the 20,000 and 40,000 concurrent players mark, but occasionally leaps up even higher).

Developer ‘Bluejaysong’ responds to one comment, saying, “There were a lot of learning points from the whole experience and I can’t wait to apply it moving forward.” They’ll likely have an uphill battle to convince fans that they mean business next time, but hopefully the promising final months of Back 4 Blood are a sign of better things ahead.

If you’re still planning to check out Back 4 Blood – and I do genuinely recommend it – take a look at all the Back 4 Blood golden skull secret locations as well as the best place to farm Back 4 Blood supply points. We’ve also got more of the best co-op games on PC if you’re wondering what you and your pals are going to play next.