So, the demo for Left 4 Dead 2 has been released for those that pre-ordered, everyone else can get their hands on it on the 3rd November.
There has been a lot of heated discussion on various forums about L4D2, mostly around the fact that it was stated that L4D would be supported and freely updated on an ongoing basis, yet Valve have chosen to release a new game a year after the last which includes elements proposed as updates to the old game.
The fear is that this will divide the on-line community and that Valve are ‘gouging’ customers by releasing a new full price game instead of a (typically cheaper) expansion to the old game.
There are also complaints about the loss of the original characters, the new Southern setting (and associated changes to things like atmospheric music and the daytime maps), the addition of weapons that share characteristics with the original weapons (is there much difference between an auto shotgun and a SPAS-12 auto shotgun?), the addition of melee weapons (and downgrading of the ‘push’ action as a result), the addition of incendiary ammo and fire-resistant zombies, etc, etc.
Looking a bit deeper, Valve had originally said that they started on new content for L4D but that some of the changes they wanted to make were so fundamental to the engine that it required a whole new game. This includes bigger hordes, the AI Director 2.0 which has the ability to change the environment (not just adjust frequency of ‘special infected’ and horde attacks) to modify the challenge to players, and several changes have been made to avoid ‘corner camping’ (the practice of hiding in an enclosed area to mitigate horde attacks) in particular the ‘crescendo’ events where players hit a button and hunkered down from the horde, now you hit the button and have to reach another location during the horde attack.
I can understand that if the changes were so fundamental then it was not realistic to expect these changes for free, but is it really worth the price of a whole new game? The demo doesn’t feel like a new game worthy of the ‘sequel’ tag, more like ‘expansion’, but the jury will have to wait for the release of the full game as it’s difficult to tell from the 2 stage demo released so far.