Get Ready to Swarm the Humans in Back 4 Blood’s PvP Mode

Turtle Rock Studios are returning to what they know with Back 4 Blood. As the studio behind the original Left 4 Dead, the studio understands what it takes to make a fast-paced co-op survival shooter. So far, the studio has shown us a lot about the game’s co-op campaign, AI Director and offline customization, but we had yet to hear about the PvP mode. During E3 2021, Turtle Rock Studios finally revealed Back 4 Blood’s take on PvP and it looks like it could be a bloody good time.

Swarm Mode is the PvP mode, and at a surface level, takes inspiration from Left 4 Dead’s versus mode. Swarm mode pits two teams of four against each other in a round-based match. One team takes control of the humans, or Cleaners as they’re known in Back 4 Blood, and the other takes control of the zombies, or Ridden. Teams swap between both factions in a best of three matches, with the Cleaners attempting to outlast the Swarm and the Ridden leading the Swarm to defeat the Cleaners. Beyond that, Back 4 Blood distinguishes itself with its playable Ridden and customization.

We’ve already been introduced to the Cleaners. Each has unique abilities, perks and starting weapons. Beyond that, there’s a collection of handguns, shotguns, SMGs and other weapons available for use, along with customization items like silencers and scopes. If you’ve played a shooter, hopping in as a Cleaner should feel right at home.

Ridden have a different task and playstyle that requires coordination to defeat the Cleaners. There are nine playable Ridden, each with unique capabilities. Breaking those down further, those nine Ridden can be grouped into three distinct categories. Tallboy, Crusher and Bruisers are DPS characters, capable of dispensing large amounts of damage, but at the cost of speed. Stinger, Hocker and Stalkers are your stealth characters that can climb objects and jump enemies from safe distances but are physically weak. Finally, Reeker, Retch and Exploders are tanks capable of delivering area-of-effect attacks that split up the Cleaners. Throughout the match, the Ridden team will earn points to spend on mutations that improve the effects of their abilities.

While players will undoubtedly find their favorites, staying on the fly and switching between the different Ridden to address the Cleaner’s strategy is the key to success. For example, let’s say that the Cleaners have locked down a key position together. A Retch can walk in and unleash a deluge of acidic vomit that forces the Cleaners to break up, allowing a Stalker to use the chaos to jump a Cleaner and pull them into the Swarm. It’s that type of synergy the Ridden team will need to emerge victorious.

Swarm Mode is shaping up to be an interesting take on PvP. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if it works. What Turtle Rock Studios presented looks interesting and entertaining, though we’ll have to wait to see how it all comes together in the real world. Luckily, we’re not too far off from everyone getting to play. The Back 4 Blood open beta kicks off on August 12 for all players. Those who pre-order the game can get a head start on August 5.

Back 4 Blood launches October 12 on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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