Even though it was released 11-years ago, Left 4 Dead remains a benchmark for co-op multiplayer shooters. Many of the innovations Left 4 Dead pioneered are still being used today. Its influence on action-games and zombie games is still visible almost everywhere you look. The upcoming Zombie Army 4: Dead War definitely has Left 4 Dead’s fingerprints all over it. However, one of Left 4 Dead’s most famous features isn’t being included in Rebellion’s latest.
I’m talking about the AI Director.
In Left 4 Dead, the AI Director controlled dynamic pacing, enemy spawns and game difficulty. Instead of levels featuring fixed spawn points and patterns, in Left 4 Dead, the AI Director would put enemies into play based on player location, status, skill level and more. This gave successive playthroughs a different feel and kept the game fresh.
Speaking to Rebellion’s Senior Systems Designer Vicky Boyce, Zombie Army 4 doesn’t feature a system like the AI Director. Instead, enemies are triggered by progress.
Zombie Army 4
According to Boyce;
It’s triggered by progress. It also triggers by the number of players you are at the time because we do feature our drop-in, drop out, gameplay.
What it will do is it will check the number of the players that you have in your situation and spawn whatever the right number of enemies is for that time.
Something the AI Director would do in Left 4 Dead was to swarm the player with enemies if they remained idle for too long. I asked Boyce if a similar system would be in place for Zombie Army 4 and she told me no.
It’s player-driven. We try to set encounters up to suit the area that you’re playing. It’s not something that we just want to throw a random zombie in wherever you are if you’re not doing anything because it might not feel right.
It might not sit right with the environment. Each environment will have its set enemies that we would like that we think work best within that area.
How this will impact on replayability remains to be seen, though, with the ability to play solo and co-op, you’ll be able to have a different experience while playing.
Zombie Army 4 will be available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on February 4, 2020.