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Versus Mode Guide by FallenMeme
Version: 1.1 | Updated: 03/20/10
Left 4 Dead 2 Versus Mode Guide by Adam Haun To die, to sleep; To sleep, perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub. For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil Must give us pause... -Hamlet Introduction ------------ Left 4 Dead 2 expands on the original co-op zombie shooter by adding new maps, characters, and gameplay elements. The centerpiece of the game is Versus mode, where two teams play as both survivors and infected, competing for points with the capricious AI Director acting as referee. The multiplayer aspect is both a blessing and a curse -- humans are more fun and challenging than any bot, but it's easy for one bad player to drag down a whole team. New players are often confused and overwhelmed by the fast-paced and highly competitive Versus mode, but without a single player or low-difficulty practice version it's hard for them to get better. After seeing a lot of people making the same basic mistakes I decided to write this guide to help out. What this guide will do ----------------------- I'll discuss basic techniques for playing as the survivors and as each of the special infected. I'll describe common situations and give suggestions for how to deal with them (and how not to deal with them). I'll also make sarcastic comments. These can be safely ignored. What this guide will not do --------------------------- I will not cover controls, basic game mechanics, or any other entry-level material unless it's specifically relevant to Versus mode. My assumption is that you've played the game in Campaign mode. Also, I will not provide walkthroughs for any of the maps, although I may refer to them as examples. Between the procedural content generation and the variability of human players there's no way I can tell you what to do in any specific location. Finally, I'm not going to give a lot of numbers for damage and recharge time. Numbers are very popular in FAQs but my experience is that Left 4 Dead benefits more from a qualitative understanding of gameplay. Maybe the exact numbers are important for serious clan folks, but if you're at that level you don't want me telling you how to play anyway. If you're a beginner, technique and timing are far more important than worrying about whether you're making a 20 or 25 damage hunter pounce. I'm not a grandmaster and I don't play competitively, so I can't claim to know all the ins and outs of the game. If you see something that I'm missing, please feel free to email it to me using the address at the bottom of the FAQ. I don't need a ton of minutiae, though -- this is just to get people started so they can play without dragging down their team too much. Contents -------- I. Before You Play Versus A. Play Campaign Mode B. Listen to the Developer Commentary C. Learn to Talk II. The Easy Part -- Playing as the Survivors A. Overview B. General Techniques 1. Follow the Leader 2. Run and Gun 3. Stand Your Ground 4. Using Grenades 5. Healing 6. Right-Click Push 7. Flee for Points 8. Falling Down and Getting Up Again C. Dealing with the Infected 1. Common Infected 2. Hunter 3. Smoker 4. Boomer 5. Spitter 6. Charger 7. Jockey 8. Tank 9. Witch III. The Hard Part -- Playing as the Infected A. Overview B. General Techniques 1. Situational Awareness 2. Spawning 3. Choosing a Target and Timing an Attack 4. Right-Click Slash C. Infected-Specific Techniques 1. Hunter 2. Smoker 3. Boomer (and Common Infected) 4. Spitter 5. Charger 6. Jockey 7. Tank 8. Witch IV. Conclusion, Updates, and Credits To find a section, combine each number you pass along the tree. For instance, Dealing with the Spitter is II.C.5. Guide ----- Part I: Before You Play Versus Although there is no practice Versus mode, there are some things you can do to prepare for real play. I.A Play Campaign Mode This will help you learn the maps and practice playing as the survivors in a multiplayer setting. You should be able to beat all the campaigns on Advanced difficulty and make it through at least a few maps on Expert. While you're doing this, practice the following skills: * Shooting zombies while running * Identifying the special infected by sound and music * Quickly shooting a special infected off of another player Versus mode differs from Campaign in many ways. Here are some of the more important ones: * Difficulty is locked to Normal. * Special infected spawn continuously from the moment the survivors walk out of the safe room door. * Survivors cannot respawn after dying except with a defibrillator. * In each round the survivors start fresh with full health and a pistol. * The score is based only on distance traveled with special infected damage acting as a tiebreaker. Ending the round with higher health offers no benefit. * Four special infected can attack at once. * Each map is randomized only once. Both teams will encounter the same items and witch and tank positions while playing as survivors. However, the number and position of the common infected and the timing of random horde attacks will still vary. * Play is much faster. In Campaign mode you can take your time and thoroughly clean and search each area, but in Versus this is often a death sentence since you'll constantly be under attack. I.B Listen to the Developer Commentary Optional but highly recommended, this will give you background info on a lot of the gameplay elements and may draw your attention to things you didn't notice before. It's also a good way to familiarize yourself with the Parish campaign. I.C Learn to Talk Communication is extra-important in Versus. One of the keys to victory is coordinating with your team. The best way to do this is with a microphone, but if you're a fast typist the keyboard can work too. Good times to talk to your team include but are definitely not limited to: * Hearing a special infected * Getting attacked by a special infected * Moving away from the group * Planning a crescendo event * Moving through a one-way barrier * Planning a coordinated special infected attack Part II: The Easy Part -- Playing as the Survivors II.A Overview The goal of the survivor team is to get as many points as possible by moving as far as possible through the map without dying. Reaching the safe room is worth 25 bonus points per survivor. Backtracking cannot hurt your score except by taking away your safe room bonus if you die. To work together, the survivors must deal with conflicting needs: Need #1: Stick together to avoid ambush and better fight the infected Need #2: Keep moving to score points and minimize the time spent taking damage in each area A team that stays close while running quickly through the map is almost invincible. A team that meanders around and has to keep backtracking to rescue attacked players is doomed. Different players have different skill levels and strategies (e.g. explore for items vs. rush), which makes coordination difficult. II.B General Techniques Most of the same techniques used in Campaign mode still apply. The emphasis in Versus is on speed and mobility. II.B.1 Follow the Leader Pick another survivor (hopefully someone who knows what they're doing) and stay near them. Don't run off on your own initiative. Do shoot zombies and special infected when you get the chance -- just don't take too long. This is the simplest technique for beginners but is still useful since it keeps you from being a good target for the special infected. II.B.2 Run and Gun Run through the map, shooting zombies as you pass them without stopping. As they take slightly different paths, the survivors will tend to spread out in a line. The rear player has the most risk and the most responsibility, since they're both the biggest target for the special infected and the one best positioned to shoot any zombies chasing the group. Unfortunately, this is where less skilled players tend to end up. The front player is only slightly better off -- they get to pick the path, but have to make sure that everyone is keeping up. This technique works best with a tight group of players moving through a fairly small number of zombies. The special infected are at their weakest when they have to chase the survivors, so by the time they spawn you want to already be past them. The downside is that it's easy to get separated and surprises like tanks and witches can catch the players in a bad position. As always, communication is the key -- if you get left behind or have a special infected running at you, say so. When someone says "Let's rush!", this is what they want to do. II.B.3 Stand Your Ground Stand near the other survivors (no more than a medium-sized room length apart) and shoot at whatever threatens you. This is typically used to deal with a horde or tank. Players may move around as they shoot (if it's a tank) or stand completely still (if it's a horde running down a long narrow pathway). This formation has the highest offensive and defensive power. The special infected can easily get into position for an attack, but no attack can last long against concentrated firepower. The downside of this technique is that it involves taking damage without helping your score. An uncoordinated team that hangs around too long can suffer through multiple rounds of special infected attacks. To avoid this, move out of the area the moment the existing threat is gone. When someone runs into a room and says "Come in here, everyone!", this is what they want to do. II.B.4 Using Grenades Grenades are best used on common infected, just as in Campaign mode. The exception is the tank, on whom molotovs and boomer bile both work well. Pipe bombs are especially helpful for run and gun while molotovs are best for standing your ground. Pipe bombs and bile are great when you need a distraction so you can pick up a fallen comrade or make it to an escape vehicle. It's hard to find a bad use for grenades but it's easy to find bad teamwork. Be sure to tell your team when you find an extra grenade, and announce over the mic when you're throwing one. It's very common for two players to throw a pipe bomb at the same time. Try to have both molotovs and pipe bombs in your team's inventory. Note that since Versus uses Normal difficulty damage, running through a molotov won't hurt you very much. This can be helpful if you're surrounded by a horde. II.B.5 Healing Ammo belongs to the individual, but health belongs to the team. Give your pills and adrenaline to whoever has the least health, and don't hesitate to use your healthpack to heal a teammate -- they'll return the favor. An injured survivor is a magnet for the special infected, and a knockdown means one less person to help against an attack. The flip side of this is that health is a precious resource and must not be wasted. Don't heal until your health bar is red, or preferably until you've already been knocked down once. Healing in yellow is usually a waste. Don't leave any healthpacks or pills behind. Sometimes I see people at half health pass up pills because they already have some. Don't do this -- take the pills you have and grab the extra bottle. The only time it's okay to ignore healing items is when you're just out of the safe room and everyone's at more than 85% health. Try to time your healing so that it happens right before or after a major event. Here are some good times to heal (even when you're in yellow health): * Before a crescendo event * When you first hear a tank approaching (for mobility) * When you're too slow to keep up with a run and gun * After you've been knocked down twice and your screen is black and white A healing survivor is a target for the infected, so try to heal out of sight in small rooms or around corners. If your health is very low (<15), the special infected may try to run up and slash at you to put you on the ground without needing a special attack. II.B.6 Weapon Choice A player's choice of weapons doesn't seem to make a lot of difference, so use whatever you're comfortable with. Sniper rifles are rarer in Versus because your team should never stop to snipe, but they're not unheard of. Likewise, melee vs. pistols is left to your preference. Melee users should be careful about blocking the line of fire by running into a horde of zombies. The exception to all this is the grenade launcher, whose high friendly fire damage and slow reload time tend to do more harm than good. I'm not a grenade master, though, so maybe you can find a good use for it. Don't go crazy with friendly fire, but don't be afraid of it, either, especially when shooting at special infected or a horde of zombies surrounding another survivor. II.B.7 Right-Click Push Click the right mouse button to push away zombies, knock off hunters and jockeys, and disconnect smoker tongues. This is the fastest way to stop a special infected attack, and if you lack a melee weapon it's a requirement when you're surrounded by a horde. It's pretty simple, but remember that pushing an infected away doesn't kill it. I've seen people push a hunter off another survivor and then take a quarter health bar of damage because they never bothered to actually shoot it. Unless you're in the middle of an attack where half-seconds count or you're reloading and won't be able to attack for a while it's usually better to shoot special infected instead of pushing them. There are a couple situations that especially benefit from pushing. Hitting a teammate ensnared in a smoker's tongue frees them instantly, which is great if they're being pulled off a roof or if it would take a few seconds to shoot the tongue. In a run and gun, pushing zombies keeps them from getting in front of you and makes them easier to target. Also, if the survivors have an infected surrounded they can push it to death and avoid friendly fire damage. Note that the push doesn't work on the charger, tank, or witch. II.B.8 Flee for Points In many games, there comes a point where you know your team is doomed. You're widely separated, three of you are knocked down, and a horde of zombies is on its way. The only thing left is to maximize your points by sprinting towards the end of the map. Don't worry about saving your pills and grenades and don't stop to use a healthpack -- the only thing that can save you is raw speed. The special infected will be hot on your heels, so watch behind you. Smokers are usually instant death. Hunters, chargers, and jockeys can be dodged and killed. Boomers and spitters are more easily evaded. Pretend you're Rambo -- it helps. Skilled players can sometimes make it through the last third of the map and into the safe room all by themselves. More rarely, two players may flee together. This works best when the special infected are still tied up with the downed survivors -- perhaps a smoker and a jockey pulled them off a roof and have yet to drain their health bars. Two players are much more likely to succeed, especially if they get lucky with which special infected spawn. Abandoning your team is not something to do lightly. Unless there's a compelling reason to do so, you will piss off your teammates and may end up on the receiving end of a kick vote. If there's no horde or tank and the other players are all in line of sight, go ahead and pick them up. II.B.9 Falling Down and Getting Up Again A knockdown is a critical event for the entire team. Four active survivors can fight off most infected attacks, but three are much more vulnerable and two are almost certain to fall to a special infected attack. Thus, it's important to get downed teammates on their feet as quickly as possible. If a common (but not special!) infected hits the downed survivor in mid-pickup, the pickup timer will reset, so clear the area first if possible. If not, pipe bombs, boomer bile, and even a boomed teammate make great distractions. In a tight space your teammates should surround you while you lift. Urgency aside, your first priority should still be to rescue teammates from special infected attacks. Don't make them wait several seconds before you start coming after them. If you get knocked down, don't just sit there twiddling your thumbs. Shoot any zombies you can and keep an eye out for special infected. Your pistol can make the difference between a live team and a dead one if the teammate helping you up gets pounced by a smoker. You can't shoot very accurately but you can do at least some damage to nearby opponents. II.C Dealing with the Infected Each type of special infected has its own quirks, but one thing they all have in common is noise. The moment an infected spawns it makes a characteristic sound, and it will continue making noise until it dies. Each infected also has a distinctive silhouette which is visible at long range. The special infected move much faster and more directly than the common infected. If you pay attention to what you see and hear you can often kill the special infected before they get a chance to attack. Another auditory cue is music -- each infected has its own theme music that blends in with the overall soundtrack. If you learn to identify the songs you can sometimes tell which infected are coming up. Obviously you'll want to stop a special infected attack as soon as possible. Sometimes you can leave it to a teammate, but as a general rule if two or more teammates are attacked at once you should *instantly* move to assist. II.C.1 Common Infected On Normal difficulty the common (and uncommon) infected (aka zombies) do very little damage. As such, they act more like terrain than anything else. If there are few zombies, you can move quickly through the map. If there are lots, you have to go more slowly. A random horde can hold you still for 30 seconds or so. Common infected can help the special infected by boosting their attack damage. Aside from that, they're not much of a challenge unless you're on your own and surrounded by a huge horde. II.C.2 Hunter The hunter is not very hard to deal with. It mostly attacks in conjunction with other special infected, although a long-distance pounce can do decent damage on its own. Like all the special infected, hunters are most threatening to a player on their own. If one pounces a teammate, shoot it immediately since the pounce damage builds up quickly. If a hunter is trying to pounce you, run back and forth perpendicular to the pounces -- any lag will favor you. The timing is tricky but it is possible to block a pounce with the right-click push. It's easier to push a hunter after a near miss, so jam on the right mouse button if you can't line up a shot. Once you push, be sure to go for the kill since the hunter can quickly recover and slash at you. Hunters often move long distances by jumping. Some players will try to reach high places or do acrobatics. If you're lucky you'll be able to see the jumping hunter against the sky and shoot it before it can threaten you. Even a grounded hunter will sometimes poke its head out, so watch above you for a chance to shoot first. II.C.3 Smoker The smoker a bit more interesting than the hunter due to its ability to drag the survivors around. Watch for it when moving across high places and around corners. The smoker attack itself does less damage but the auto-aim and range make it very reliable. Its weakness is the tongue -- once it immobilizes a survivor, the smoker must wait a long time for its tongue to recharge. This gives the survivors an opportunity to hunt it down or run ahead. Without its tongue the smoker is very little threat. There is a trick for dealing with the tongue. When it hits, you have a couple seconds before you're immobilized. During this time you can try to shoot the smoker or (if you're close enough) push it to break the attack. Aside from that, your best bet is to stay away from ledges as much as possible to avoid making yourself a target. As mentioned above, you can push ensnared survivors to free them. If you can't reach them, shoot the tongue or the smoker. II.C.4 Boomer The boomer's main weakness is that it has to attack at close range. Boomers like to hide around corners and through doorway. If you hear a boomer doing this, shoot it through the wall. Skilled players will spawn close to the survivors and immediately try to attack, but there's always a brief window between hearing them and being vomited on. If you run around a corner and into a boomer, don't shoot it! Instead, push it away, then stand back and shoot. In tight spaces it can be hard to get the whole team away, but one vomited survivor is better than four. Be careful with the pushing -- if you do it too many times the boomer will explode. If you get vomited on ("boomed"), try to get to a wall or corner to make it easier to fight the horde. A helpful teammate may stand in front of you to protect you so be careful not to fill them full of lead. Booms tend to precede combo attacks, so listen for your teammates' cries for help. If your whole team gets boomed you might want to throw a molotov or pipe bomb to distract the horde while you stumble around fighting the special infected. I've found that having a large, high-resolution monitor makes it much easier to see through the bile, but I play on a 19" CRT so I'm blind for several seconds afterwards. :-( II.C.5 Spitter The spitter is a big threat under the right circumstances and harmless the rest of the time. The right circumstances (for the spitter, anyway) are when one or more survivors are immobilized. This happens during horde attacks, when helping someone up, when under attack from another special infected, when healing, etc. In all cases, your response should be the same -- immediately stop what you're doing and get out of the spit. Unless you are really truly seriously no bullshit one single second away from finishing that pickup, sticking around for the exponentially increasing damage will knock off a quarter health bar at best and put you on the ground at worst. It's easier to avoid the spit if you don't get backed into a corner. Also, note that a fallen survivor just inside the spit can be picked up by a player standing just outside the spit without either taking damage. The neon green glow of the spitter is very visible even at long range. If you hear the sound of a spit attack, take a moment to look around and shoot the spitter if you see it. The spit recharges fairly quickly, so you don't want to leave a live spitter around if you can avoid it (unless the person playing the spitter sucks, but we'll consider that an advanced technique). II.C.6 Charger The charger is a big damage dealer with high hit points. It can't be pushed, so you'll have to kill it to stop it. Oddly, the charger's charge is not as dangerous as it could be since lag makes it very hard to connect with. However, once charged a survivor will take damage very quickly, so kill the charger fast! At close range the punch is a serious threat, so counter with a melee attack or a clip full of bullets. The charge is most dangerous in narrow corridors. Try to stay behind obstacles or near a corner so you can dodge. As with the hunter, move perpendicularly. A miss leaves the charger vulnerable for a few seconds. Be extra careful near the edge of a death drop like the Hard Rain boat dock or the Parish bridge finale -- the charger can knock a survivor right off to an instant death. The Dead Center hotel windows are particularly nasty in this regard, so be on guard any time you hear a charger there. II.C.7 Jockey Like the spitter, the jockey isn't much of a threat on its own. Its attack does relatively little damage even over long periods of time. It's easy to shoot or push. But in combination with the other special infected, the jockey is deadly. Five seconds on a survivor's head can be enough to maneuver around a corner, over a ledge, or into a puddle of spit. It's hard to chase a jockey when you're under attack, so try to shoot it quickly. Remember that many walls can be shot through, so if the jockey makes it around a corner it doesn't necessarily mean you have to follow. Keep an eye out for jockeys in places like the window ledges of the first Dead Center map. A successful leap there is an instant knockdown since it only takes a moment to go over the edge. Jockeys have a long recharge time, so if you push one off you can kill it at your leisure. Surprisingly, one of the better methods for stopping jockey attacks is to stand your ground and shoot. Often you can kill it before it jumps, and even if it connects your teammates will only need a few bullets to finish it off. If you'd rather not get hit at all you can use a dodge then push method just like with the hunter. If a teammate gets pounced by a jockey, don't slowly chase after them with a melee weapon -- pull out your gun and shoot. It's much nicer for the victim. II.C.8 Tank The tank is the single biggest threat you can face in a map. That being said, it can be dealt with if you keep your cool and work together. The most important thing when fighting a tank is speed. Survivors in green health can outrun the tank. Survivors in yellow and red health can't. The moment you hear the tank music, check your health and heal or get ready to use pills if necessary. If the tank hits you once you'll probably fly into a nearby wall and get hit again before you can move. This usually ends with you on the ground. Tanks tend to focus on one survivor at a time so watch for an opportunity to pick up a downed teammate. If you're all in good health in a wide open area you can probably kill a charging tank just by dodging and shooting. Under ideal conditions, a good team can do this in 20-30 seconds. You probably won't have ideal conditions, so start by setting the tank on fire with a molotov or gas can. Note that incendiary rounds only set the tank on fire briefly. Fire damages the tank slowly and forces it to charge you. Start shooting. If the tank focuses on you, concentrate on not getting hit. If you need to, just turn around and run while your teammates shoot. If you can't set the tank on fire it may stay back and throw rocks to buy time until the other special infected can spawn. Try to snipe it. Don't forget that you can shoot the rocks out of the air. Trying to run past a tank is usually a bad idea since the new zombies will hinder your movement. The biggest danger when fighting a tank is the other special infected. If your team gets boomed it's usually all over since the horde will prevent you from running. Even a hunter or smoker can hold a survivor still long enough for the tank to get in a hit. Watch above and behind you so you can catch them the moment they spawn. Try not to leave the line of sight of your teammates. Although the tank spawn location is roughly the same for both teams, it does vary a little bit. It seems like the second team gets it a bit later, although I'm not totally sure about that. This difference can make or break your team's chances, so be sure to take advantage of it if it happens. II.C.9 Witch As with the tank, the other special infected are often a greater danger than the witch herself. Still, a one-hit knockdown is nothing to trifle with. The witch is not very sensitive to bullets whizzing past her, so don't hesitate to carefully shoot a smoker standing behind her. Don't forget to turn your flashlight off. There are three common methods for dealing with a witch. The first is to avoid her by running past. Obviously this is easier if there's a lot of room but even in a tight space you can usually avoid startling her. Move quickly, stay together, and don't get caught fighting infected. If avoiding the witch isn't possible, you'll have to kill her. One way to do this is by "crowning" her -- shooting her in the head with a shotgun. This needs to be done at very close range. I don't use the shotguns much so I can't offer a lot of advice (maybe someone will send me suggestions). Reader David Atkinson suggests aiming at the neck with an auto-shotty and going full auto until she dies. In any case, running up to crown a witch is a great time for special infected to attack, so be careful. The final method is just to shoot the witch to death. This method has a couple variants. One is to shoot from a long enough range that you can kill her before she reaches you. Another is to offer up a survivor as a sacrificial lamb. It's better if the lamb has low health to start with. Once the lamb is down the witch will start doing a lot of damage, so kill her quickly. This is another good time for special infected to attack. Be sure to kill the witch before you go after anyone else. Note that if the survivor who startles the witch dies, the witch will flee the scene without attacking anyone else, so don't bother shooting anymore. Part III: The Hard Part -- Playing as the Infected III.A Overview The goal of the special infected is to stop the survivors from earning points. The only way to do this is to kill them before they reach the safe room at the end of the map. This requires the infected to deal with three realities: Reality #1: Special infected are easily killed by survivors Reality #2: An infected acting alone is unlikely to do much damage Reality #3: Coordinated attacks must be timed precisely in order to work Winning as the survivors requires speed, but winning as the infected requires timing and precision. There will be long periods of time where you're waiting to spawn or attack interspersed with brief moments of opportunity. Survivors can kill an attacking special infected in as little as one second. Coordinated attacks against a prepared team are thus very hard to pull off. The key is to use distractions and positioning to your advantage. If one survivor is around a corner and the other three are fighting zombies, attacking the isolated one will result in much more damage. Likewise, if a random horde distracts the survivors you may be able to approach undetected. If no opportunities appear on their own, you'll have to work together to create some. III.B General Techniques Versus uses a very different set of controls and gameplay mechanics than Campaign mode and thus requires a different set of skills. Since there's no single-player practice for the special infected, you'll have to practice your techniques in a real game. What you can do in advance is learn the maps, which always helps. III.B.1 Situational Awareness Special infected can see each other and any moving survivors from anywhere in the map. Use this to your advantage. Are the survivors close together or strung out? Is one of them running off to explore? Are they nearing a terrain obstacle like a corner or doorway? Are any of them healing? Pushing a button to start a crescendo event? Shooting at distant zombies? What is your team doing? Is anyone getting ready to attack? Can you help them? Note that the halo around a stationary survivor will fade out after several seconds, so try to remember where they were. It's rare, but sometimes a clever survivor will turn the tables and try to ambush you. Pay attention to the info at the bottom of the screen and in the score window (hit tab). On the infected side, you can see who's controlling which infected, whether they've spawned (solid icon) or not (blinking icon). The circular gauge shows whether their special attack has recharged, so you know (for example) not to create a distraction for a boomer that can't vomit. You can also see how much time is left before your teammates respawn. In the score menu you can see the health of the survivors as well as which items they have. Pay attention to grenades and health, especially when you're the tank. If you don't want to look around you can tell whether someone's immobilized by an infected attack by watching their health go down. Sometimes scouting ahead of the survivors can be helpful. You can find witches, health, and large numbers of stationary zombies. If you're near a survivor who gets picked up off the floor, listen to the dialogue to hear whether they're near death ("white-screened" or "black and white"). You should be keeping track of knockdowns anyway but sometimes you forget. Keep an eye out for idle players ("AFKs") on both teams. Unspawned infected standing still a long way from the survivors are usually AFK. Try to talk to them, and if they don't respond, call a kick vote. It's very important to have four active infected, and going AFK without saying anything is rude. On the survivor team, an AFK is a golden opportunity to do some damage. You may choose to forgo it in order to be polite, but I haven't heard people get offended by such attacks. A good approach is to attack the non-AFKs and/or spit on the AFK. III.B.2 Spawning Spawning should usually be avoided until you're ready to attack. It slows your movement, costs you a lot of tactical flexibility, and starts making noise. One exception is if you're planning to attack from somewhere that doesn't have a convenient place to spawn. Unless you're a smoker, it's usually better to spawn ahead of or above the survivors. The infected are at their weakest when they have to chase the survivors from behind. You'll need to be out of the line of sight of the survivors behind opaque objects (not bushes). It would be nice if Valve would fix it so bushes count, but this is what we're stuck with for now. Usually if you put your nose up against an object and can see that all the survivor halos are behind it you can spawn. You'll also need to be at least several feet away from the nearest survivor, but this usually isn't a problem unless you're trying to spawn right next to them. Sometimes an object doesn't completely hide you, in which case you may have to duck or jump to spawn (yes, you can spawn in midair). In general, as you get closer to the survivors it becomes harder to spawn but easier to attack. With experience you'll learn the best hiding places and ambush spots. When you're in a hurry (e.g. following up on an attack) you'll want to spawn as close as possible to maximize your attack damage. III.B.3 Choosing a Target and Timing an Attack It's rare (although far from unheard of!) to knock down all the survivors in the first attack, so you'll have to wear them down. It's helpful to think of this in terms of intermediate short-term goals, such as: * Force the survivors to backtrack * Force the survivors to stand still and take damage * Knock down a survivor * Force the survivors to use up their healing items * Reduce all survivors' health bars to low levels * Kill a single survivor * Finish off the survivor team by attacking multiple members at once * Create a good tactical situation for doing any of the above There are two basic reasons to attack -- to deal damage and to set up for someone else to deal damage. If you're not going to accomplish either of these, don't attack! Leaping into the middle of the survivors to deal five points of damage and get killed in two seconds is a waste. But don't wait too long for the perfect opportunity or you'll never get anywhere. Balancing this takes experience. Sometimes (particularly against a skilled survivor team), there is no good course of action, and all you can hope for is to do a little damage and throw them off balance a bit. I rate attacks like this: Damage Value <1/8 health bar Bad attack ~1/8 health bar Mediocre attack ~1/4 health bar Worthwhile attack ~1/2 health bar Good attack >1/2 health bar Excellent attack Dealing damage takes time. Isolated survivors are usually the best targets for this reason. Don't take this too literally -- it's best if there's no help in line of sight, but things like hordes and tanks that take attention away from attacks are also isolating factors. Watch for survivors who ignore teammates in peril, too. AI-controlled survivors ("bots") have wacky situational awareness -- you can often move near them for a bit without getting shot, but they're undistractable and will instantly notice when you immobilize another survivor and will move to help. This can be a big advantage for the survivors, but the bots' premature healing and inability to be cheap is their downfall. All things being equal, you'll often want to attack the survivor with the lowest health. Damaged survivors slow down their team and give you a chance for a knockdown at an opportune moment. All things are rarely equal. For example, a downed survivor is weak and keeps their team from moving away. This is a valuable tactical situation. It's better to do a bit less damage and keep the survivor down (allowing your teammates to respawn) than it is to do a bit more damage and let them get away. Likewise, it may be better to attack a healthy survivor than a weakened one who's about to be taken down by a horde anyway. I can't cover every situation, but the list below should give you a basic idea of how to assign value to attack opportunities. Keep in mind that this will be affected by things like items (defibrillator?), location (right outside the safe room?), infected type (spitter, boomer), etc., so don't try to memorize it or anything. (Not that you were planning to do that, of course.) Target value (high to low) !!!! Last survivor standing !!!! Survivor about to die !!!! Survivor on the wrong side of a one-way passage (unstoppable kill) !!! Extremely isolated survivor !!! Survivor that will go down in a couple hits !!! Survivor helping another survivor off the ground !! Survivor about to attack another special infected !! Isolated survivor during horde attack !! Healthy survivor during tank attack !! Survivor using a health pack !! Survivor whose teammates have been boomed ! Slightly isolated survivor (around corner, etc.) ! Survivor under attack by horde ! Injured survivor surrounded by other survivors 0 Healthy survivor surrounded by other healthy survivors III.B.4 Right-Click Slash Every infected aside from the tank has a secondary melee attack. When you click the right mouse button, you'll slash at whoever's in front of you. This is one of the most underused attacks in Versus, which is a shame because it's tremendously useful. The right-click slash has these advantages: * Very fast * Doesn't immobilize you * Doesn't need to recharge * Reliable targeting * A few hits does a worthwhile amount of damage * Can be used to do extra damage against an immobilized survivor If a survivor's health is near zero, you can run up, slash them to knock them down, then use your primary attack on a neighboring survivor, immobilizing two at once. If you get really lucky you can slash down two survivors and primary a third! This can make the difference between a weak team and a crippled team. Being pushed by survivors is very frustrating. Wouldn't you like to strike back? Jam on the right mouse button and you might get in an extra hit or two. Hold down the left or right movement key while you do this and if the survivor doesn't hit fast enough you'll start circle strafing and slashing the hell out of them! Survivors who have trouble aiming or don't know how to push can easily lose a third of their health bar this way. Against a skilled team, you might do more damage without the noise and visual cues of a primary attack. If a survivor is trying to push through a horde you can run up behind them and slash them -- they won't notice you because they're already being hit from all sides. If you're a hunter or charger and don't want to risk hitting the wrong target with a primary attack, you can use the right-click slash for guaranteed accuracy. It takes three slashes to break down a door. If a horde is pounding on a door, give them a hand! III.C Infected-Specific Techniques The original Left 4 Dead focused on the basic trio of damage dealing (hunter), separation (smoker), and delay (boomer). The gameplay was fun and fairly simple, but suffered from problems with survivor camping and limited attack options. L4D2 adds three new infected to address these issues and broaden the gameplay. The increased complexity makes it more important than ever to be aware of your role in the team. Like I said in the introduction, I'm not going to give numerical stats for the infected because I think a qualitative understanding is more important. The numbers are out there on the net if you want them. III.C.1 Hunter Role: Direct damage Health: Medium Attack power: Medium Attack speed: Medium-Fast Immobilizes: Yes Movement speed: Fast The hunter's job is simple -- hurt the survivors at close range. The range is the tricky part. New players like to leap into the middle of a survivor team and die one second later. Don't do this. Instead, watch for isolated survivors or stage a combo attack with your team. Remember, your attack is only worthwhile if it lasts for more than a couple seconds. Note that the hunter screams as soon as its attack charges, so hold off on crouching until the last second if you're trying to ambush someone. If you pounce from a longer distance you'll do more damage -- I think up to 25. I wouldn't bother with this until you're more advanced since it's very easy to miss. The hunter suffers greatly from lag. I'm not sure why this is. The client-side prediction may favor the survivors or it may be something else. In any case, pouncing moving survivors is difficult since you'll tend to sail past them or bounce off. It's not uncommon to end up jumping in circles around someone while they shoot at you. If this happens, consider running (or jumping) away. The hunter moves fast and has a short charge time so a retreat won't cripple you like it can with the other infected. Lazier survivors will stop your attack by pushing instead of shooting, which can give another opportunity for flight. Hunters are less visible than the other infected, and also run quickly. This makes it easier to sneak up and right-click slash the survivors. The slash is also useful when attacking someone who's behind a downed survivor since the hitboxes make it almost impossible to attack the back survivor in practice. Speaking of downed survivors, be careful -- they can you shoot you off a target after you've pounced. III.C.2 Smoker Role: Break up the survivor team Health: Medium-Low Attack power: Medium-Low Attack speed: Fast Immobilizes: Yes Movement speed: Medium The smoker's job is to separate one survivor from the pack. Smokers don't deal much damage early in their attack, so to be effective you have to do one of two things -- drag the survivor to where you can hurt them at leisure, or force them to backtrack and waste more time. The latter option includes things like pulling the survivor off a ledge or ladder. Ideally this will be part of a combo attack that forces the entire team to rescue their ensnared friend. The best attack (and the hardest to pull off) involves trapping a survivor on the wrong side of a one-way passage such as a drop or elevator door. This is usually an instant kill, so be sure to try for it whenever you get the chance. The smoker is not cut out for close range combat. Try to attack from around corners or behind cover to keep from getting shot. The tongue can take a moment to lock on, so don't be in too much of a hurry to click the mouse button. Note that the hunter, charger, and jockey can all break your attack with their own. It's very common in smoker/hunter combo attacks for the smoker to grab someone and then have the hunter inadvertently tackle them while aiming for someone else. It's often better to let the hunter go first, although this can make the timing more difficult. The smoker can pull survivors into an alarmed car or a witch, so be sure to set up next to one if you get the chance. III.C.3 Boomer (and Common Infected) Role: Hold the survivor team still / Distraction Health: Very Low Attack power: Low Attack speed: Medium-Slow Immobilizes: No Movement speed: Slow The boomer's job is twofold -- keep the survivors in the arena longer (causing them to take more damage) and set up for attacks from the other infected. The best way to do this is to cover as many survivors as possible in bile. The key limitations of the boomer are its slow speed, low health, short range, and distinctive noise. Unless they're spectacularly stupid, charging the survivors from a distance is out of the question. Getting boomed isn't just dangerous, it's also annoying, so the survivors will be on guard the moment they hear you. You'll have to be fast and clever. Successful boomer attacks are generally divided into two stages: Stage 1: Ambush. In this stage your goal is to vomit on the survivors. The vomit attack takes a second to work, so you'll need to avoid getting shot or pushed. Attacking from above works well (survivors rarely look up). On the ground, spawn behind an obstacle or corner, run out, and start spraying. It works best when the survivors are clustered, but sometimes you can only get one or two. Bile doesn't fly in a straight light, so aim up a bit to hit targets farther away. Bullets can go through most walls, so standing still and hiding will probably get you killed. Remember, the survivors can hear you, and they *will* be listening. Stage 2: Suicide Bomber. It takes longer to recharge the vomit attack than it does to respawn, so don't bother waiting -- charge in. In this stage your goal is to explode on any unboomed survivors while doing whatever you can to damage and disorient the rest. Odds are you'll get shot as soon as you vomit, but if you don't, you can right-click slash blinded opponents or walk into someone's line of fire. You might get pushed around, but if you're lucky one of the pushes will kill you. Explosions are more disorienting than vomit because they change the survivor's camera angle. Whatever you do, don't get left behind. Chasing the survivors across the map wastes time and rarely accomplishes anything. As I said before, the common infected are like terrain in that they determine the speed at which the survivors can move. Most of them will be inactive and die without doing any damage. Only when the common infected swarm do they pose a real threat in terms of damage and mobility. Be sure not to draw them away from a good target -- booming a standing survivor can allow a fallen one to be picked up more easily! III.C.4 Spitter Role: Area denial Health: Low Attack power: Varies Attack speed: Slow Immobilizes: No Movement speed: Medium There is a very common misunderstanding about the spitter. I'm going to correct this right up front in all caps so you can't possibly miss it: THE SPIT IS NOT A FIREBALL. THE SPIT IS NOTHING LIKE A TRADITIONAL DIRECT DAMAGE ATTACK. DO NOT USE IT LIKE ONE OR YOU WILL FAIL TO HELP YOUR TEAM. YOU ARE NOT ATTACKING A SURVIVOR, YOU ARE MAKING THE GROUND ATTACK A SURVIVOR. The spit is an area damage attack that takes a few seconds to ramp up to doing serious damage. In L4D1 it was very common for the survivors to all back into a corner and camp during horde attacks. The spitter was introduced to counter this. Thus, the spit is only useful against opponents who are *not moving*. I see a lot of people try to snipe moving targets with the spitter. It never works. The survivors take two points of damage, and if the infected team is unlucky the spitter survives to screw up again. Don't do this unless you're about to die anyway. The best time to spit is when the survivors are held still -- usually by the common infected. A major horde attack or tight spot can keep the survivors in the same area long enough to take decent damage. A hunter, smoker, or (more commonly) jockey can force a survivor into the spit. In this case, the spit will add extra damage to the normal attack but not as much as it does on its own. There's really not much else to this -- if the survivors stand in the spit for a while, they get hurt. If they don't, they don't. Another use for the spit is to block a pathway. Survivors don't like running through spit and will usually wait for it to fade out, which can hold them in a room for a few seconds. This is rarely useful, though. A more interesting use is to detonate gas cans. This is especially helpful in the Dead Center finale. If the survivors throw gas cans down to the lower level, spit on them and in a few seconds they'll burst into flames! The spit recharges fairly fast, so it's a good idea to try to stay alive and spit several times (unless you suck, in which case, try a couple times and then die so someone else can have a turn). III.C.5 Charger Role: Direct damage / Break up the survivor team Health: Medium-High Attack power: Medium-High Attack speed: Medium-Fast Immobilizes: Yes Movement speed: Medium As with the spitter, there's a very common misunderstanding about the charger. Here we go with the caps again: THE CHARGER IS NOT A RANGED ATTACKER. THE CHARGE IS NOT IN ANY WAY ACCURATE. LAG COMPENSATION AFFECTS THE CHARGER MORE THAN ANY OTHER INFECTED. DO NOT CHARGE FROM A LONG DISTANCE OR YOU WILL FAIL TO HELP YOUR TEAM. YOU ARE NOT ATTACKING A SURVIVOR, YOU ARE ATTACKING A STRAIGHT LINE. The charger is a very versatile infected whose overall purpose is to attack tightly grouped yet mobile survivor teams. Its primary attack is the charge, in which it runs forward in a straight line, grabs the first survivor it hits, and sends any others flying like bowling pins. When it hits an obstacle, it begins smashing the captive survivor, doing lots of damage. A lot of people try to use the charge as a reverse smoker attack, but this is a bad idea since the charger doesn't auto-aim. What you want to do is go *through* the survivor team, hopefully knocking them over in the process so you have time to deal damage while your teammates attack. This is best accomplished in a narrow corridor like the path to the gun shop in Dead Center or the motel balconies in Dark Carnival. Out in the open it's very hard to connect with the charge, even at close range. You have to aim a little ahead of the survivor since the lag compensation doesn't handle the charge correctly. It's probably not worth trying unless you desperately want to immobilize someone -- you probably won't get a second chance if you screw up. Sometimes if all the survivors are in a corner you can knock them all over, but this is somewhat rare. Another use for the charge is to knock someone off of a ledge. This is tricky to pull off, but in some cases it's an instant and permanent kill if you succeed. The best and most well-known example is the hotel windows in Dead Center, but it's also common in the bridge finale at the end of The Parish. The charger has a very powerful secondary attack which is often more useful than the charge. Since the charger can't be pushed and has lots of health you can mix it up with a survivor, circle strafing and punching until they kill you. It's not uncommon to do half a health bar of damage if you catch them at the right moment. If you save your charge you can sometimes do combo attacks -- punch a weakened survivor down, then charge off with another one. The charger's Achilles heel is explosive ammo. It breaks your charge and keeps you from punching effectively. Be aware of what kind of weapon upgrades the survivors have! III.C.6 Jockey Role: Break up the survivor team Health: Medium Attack power: Low Attack speed: Medium Immobilizes: Yes Movement speed: Medium The jockey's job, like the smoker's, is to separate one survivor from the group. This is done using a short-range leap attack which mounts you on the survivor's shoulders and lets you steer them around with the movement keys. Most people seem to instinctively know how to play the jockey -- I guess there's not much else you can do with it. In case it wasn't obvious, the goal is to steer your target as far away as possible, or better yet off a ledge. Start by heading around the nearest corner or drop to keep the survivors from shooting you right away, then go wherever you can. This is great for punishing a lagging survivor -- their team will have to go twice as far to regroup. The jockey excels in combo attacks with the other infected. A boomer or tank can provide enough distraction to let you grab a survivor without being noticed. You can also guard an immobilized survivor -- when someone comes to rescue them, jump the would-be hero and move away. Now there are two people to rescue! Unfortunately, the jockey doesn't do much damage on its own, and once it's pushed off a survivor the leap takes a while to recharge. Also, the jockey makes a *very* noticeable high-pitched whinnying noise. This is just something you'll have to accept -- against a solid and attentive team the jockey is not very useful. You'll have to rely on your team and the Director to create opportunities for you. III.C.7 Tank Role: Direct damage / Hold the survivor team still Health: Very high Attack power: High Attack speed: Medium Immobilizes: No Movement speed: Medium The tank's job is to kill the entire survivor team. How easy this is depends on the health and weapon loadout of the survivors, the presence of common infected, what kind of support you get from your team, and the layout of the map. For something that's basically a giant slow-moving common infected (which is how Valve wants you to use it), the tank can be surprisingly hard to play. The biggest difficulty is the fact that a survivor in green health runs faster than you do. This leads to two options for using the tank. The first and most obvious option is to charge the survivor team and start swinging. If their health is low, you shouldn't have much trouble. This works best when the survivors are held still by common infected, so the boomer is your best friend. Go for the ones with lowest health first for a quick knockdown. Don't chase one survivor too far away or the others will regroup and come after you. Against a healthy survivor team, this strategy is suicide. They'll keep a medium distance and shoot the hell out of you while you run around looking like an idiot. For extra embarrassment they may swarm you with melee weapons. Running into this situation is a common newbie mistake -- don't do it. Sometimes there's no choice, in which case you might do a little damage by using the rock throw, which is hard to dodge at close range. You can also try hiding behind walls and obstacles until some eager survivor gets too close. The second option is to hide on a roof and throw rocks. The main advantage of this is that the survivors probably won't try to move ahead while you're still alive. This gives your team more time to spawn and do damage, or better yet boom the survivors. Have I mentioned that the boomer is your best friend? Because it is. Anyway, I'm not a rock master so I don't have any special kung fu for this strategy. Reader Michael Mair suggests that while the tank is picking up the rock you should aim away from the target, then turn to face them at the last minute to catch them off-guard. Players do tend to get close to the tank if they don't think it's aiming at them. Regardless of what you do, the first thing the survivors do will be to try to set you on fire. Unless you're playing Hard Rain and have a convenient source of water to put you out, you'll have maybe 30-45 seconds before you die minus whatever other damage you take. This means you'll have to charge. Obviously you should try not to get set on fire, but sometimes it happens before you take control of the tank. III.C.8 Witch Health: Medium-High Attack power: Very high Attack speed: Medium-Slow Immobilizes: Yes (through instant incapacitation) Movement speed: Medium The witch's job is to knock down a single survivor. "But wait," I hear you say, "the witch isn't a playable character!". This is true, but she's still part of your team. Think of her as a newbie who just needs a little bit of help. Or maybe a land mine. Anyway, you should always notice and locate the witch before the survivors do. Your goal is to get the survivors to move near or shoot the witch without killing her, then follow up on her attack. You can do this by forcing them to move (smoker, charger, jockey) or standing in front of her to act as bait (hunter) or making them shoot nearby (boomer). The survivors will often attempt to "crown" the witch by shooting her in the head at close range. Interrupting this attack will likely startle the witch. There's not much else to the witch, really. She's pretty straightforward. Part IV: Conclusion, Updates, and Credits I hope this guide has been of use to you. Questions, comments, suggestions, corrections, and contributions are all welcome. You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org This document was written by me over the course of a couple months using Notepad++ for composition and formatting and Microsoft Word for spelling and grammar checking. Every strategy in the guide comes directly from my playing the game or from reader contributions. No strategies were taken from any other source except when explicitly named. Update History 3/19/2010: Version 1.1 Minor corrections to formatting and grammar. Incorporated reader contributions and other improvements into the tank and witch strategies. 2/18/2010: Version 1.0 Initial release. This document is Copyright 2010 by Adam Haun. Reproduction is prohibited without express permission. The only exception to this rule is GameFAQs, which is so totally sweet it can do whatever it wants with my work. All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by their respective trademark and copyright holders.