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What makes the Left 4 Dead series iconic is more than its approachable gameplay. It’s the settings, the weapons, and most of all it’s the characters.
Left 4 Dead follows the story of 4 scrappy survivors who fight their way from the fictional town of Fairfield to north Georgia during a viral apocalyptic plague. The survivors make the game memorable in many ways, and players often find themselves pulled toward the personalities of one character over the others.
To call the Left 4 Dead series a cult classic is an understatement at this point in gaming history. Though Left 4 Dead came out over 13 years ago, it still receives mods from the community, new players are experiencing it every day, and you don’t have to wait long to match up in an online campaign.
It’s not a game that takes months to master. In fact, the mechanics are surprisingly easy to grasp. On the other hand, the act of surviving is far more challenging. Welcome to a Left 4 Dead Characters Guide.
Description and Overview
Francis looks a lot meaner than he actually is. Don’t let the tattoos and the leather jacket and the biker mentality fool you. I found myself getting help from Francis more than most others in my group.
Francis is another survivor who’s fond of shotguns, so be sure to let him go up front and simply blast everything away. His negative demeanor takes on a comical slant halfway through the campaign, and he ends up being a wildly loveable character.
Louis is meant to represent the gamer in all of us. His tie and casual business attire aside, he’s most likely to make video game references throughout your journey to safe rooms.
Like saying he’s Gordon Freeman from Half-Life or mentioning the iconic plumber, Mario. He’s a character that favors the submachine gun and is the most positive member of the survivor’s group.
Zoey grew up on a farm and learned to use hunting rifles at a young age. Now, during the end times, she’s a crack shot from 50 meters out. Zoey is tougher than she looks and is more than capable of sticking up for herself.
She’s closest with Bill and is always good to have in a high, sniping position as you progress through the levels. She wears a sweater that looks half like a tracksuit, sneakers, and jeans.
My main man, Bill. The Vietnam veteran and all-around badass, Bill is my survivor of choice. Who doesn’t want to play as the obvious best choice during the zombie apocalypse? Bill favors the assault rifle, and I’m sure it brings back memories for him.
In my experience, he’s also the most likely to throw a pipe bomb or Molotov with the going gets rough. Bill has the best quotes, as well. You can tell from his words that he’s not put off in the least by these zombies.
Perks and Special Abilities
There are no differences or special abilities granted to any of the characters. Despite what you may read online in various chat forums, Francis doesn’t take more damage and Bill doesn’t have extra health. There are no perks given to any of the characters.
Except for Zoey.
Though, neither perk is officially confirmed by the developers.
Zoey has a tighter reticle than other survivors. Why? Who knows. But it makes her a natural sniper. If you crouch with her, any gun she wields becomes a laser.
In my experience, Louis is always targeted more by special infected than anyone else in the group. But only when I play as him. If he’s a bot, there’s no difference. But if I play as Louis, it’s uncanny how special infected will go past other survivors to get to me. The smoker will opt to ignore Bill, Zoey, and Francis and instead choose me, cowering in a corner. It’s bizarre.
And again, you’ll find plenty of people online who will contest this with arguments till they’re blue in the face. But my experience is my experience. Louis has a target on his back. Be it boomers, spitters, smokers–doesn’t matter. He does not, however, move any quicker than other members of the team.
Will use assault rifles and pistols exclusively. In the absence of an assault rifle, he’ll use a submachine gun. But the man is a natural with an AR, so make sure he finds one. Bill is also most likely to throw an offensive item to help out the team. Why? Because Bill is the best, that’s why.
Will use submachine guns and pistols. And between you and me, he’s not that good with them. Many times I will see a special infected killed before they pop up on my screen, and when I check to see who got the kill it is never Louis. Zoey, Bill, and Francis kill everything before it can even show itself. Louis is more realistic.
Loves a good shotgun and probably has plenty of experience with pistols. He isn’t going to be jumping to the front of the group to power through zombie hordes, but he will post up in a doorway or chokepoint and hold the line pretty efficiently.
Is a natural Deadshot. Her tight reticle and love of sniper rifles make her an easy pick for long-range. She will hang back during most engagements and try to find leverage over the situation. I often turned to find her standing on top of stairs, a train car, or a balcony to get a better shot.
If you want each survivor to play to their strengths, be sure to equip them with their favorite weapons.
Key Relationships & Quotes
What makes the gameplay of Left 4 Dead so enjoyable is the constant commentary by the survivors while you play. It’s in no way annoying banter by annoying characters. It’s the way Left 4 Dead tells its story.
And the varied dialogue options you receive throughout the campaign are so prolific, that you’ll have to run through levels multiple times before you hear the same phrases and sayings.
Was originally supposed to have a relationship with Zoey. And in some early fan art online, players leaned into this fictional relationship. But now he’s just a washed-up biker from a gang that’s strikingly similar to the Hell’s Angels.
Francis’ thing is that he hates everything and everyone. There is at least one trigger in every level that prompts Francis to say, “I hate…” and then insert a thing he hates. “I hate hospitals. I hate sewers. I hate farms. Guys, I just want to say something. I. Hate. Helicopters.”
Doesn’t seem to have much uniqueness to him, aside from maintaining a positive outlook despite the horrifically grim surroundings he finds himself in. When the rest of the group is struggling, it’s usually Louis who cries out, “Look, Mercy Hospital! We’re so close!”
He has a desire to uplift and encourage the group. Louis tries to pick on Francis, but it doesn’t stick the same way that Bill’s insults do. “Hey Francis, isn’t this the alley you were born in?” In The Sacrifice Louis is wounded, and whenever you see him after that he’s usually sitting or bracing himself against a wall.
Is a rough-and-tumble kind of gal. In a realistic scenario, it would probably be Zoey and Bill as the last survivors alive. Zoey doesn’t have much comedy to offer the group, but she does care about keeping everyone alive. Whereas Bill or Francis will shout at the others to heal themselves or use their medkits when health is low, Zoey at least approaches it with kindness.
“Hey, come on. You need to heal up.” None of the survivors open up about their lives before the collapse, but Zoey comes the closest. In Blood Harvest, she mentions she used to live on a farm, before clamming up for the rest of the game.
The militaristic glue that holds the group together. At no point during the campaign does Bill find himself out of his element. Doesn’t matter if you’re facing a witch or two tanks at once, Bill keeps his cool at all times. He even seems familiar with traveling through the sewers when the group is working their way towards Mercy Hospital.
Bill is also the only member of the group who goes through legit character development. And by character development, I mean [SPOILERS]. In The Sacrifice, Bill fulfills his duty and delivers the most powerful lines of the series. Bill is more than the leader of the group, he’s the father–the grandfather if you will–and will do anything to protect them. Anything.
Left 4 Dead Characters FAQs
Question: Are there any unlockable skins in Left 4 Dead?
Answer: No. What you see is what you get. Of course, unless you open up the wide world of mods. Then you’ll not only have alternate costumes to enjoy, but you’ll also have other characters to play as. You can download the original sketches of the survivors to play as, or turn Francis into the symbiote Venom.
Skins aren’t confined to just characters, as you can change the skins of pill bottles, turn the Spitter into a pony from My Little Pony, and make your weapons just about any color or pattern you can think of.
Question: Why is the final chapter of No Mercy so hard?
Answer: Because you’re not playing Left 4 Dead the way it was meant to be played. Trust me, I died more than I’d like to admit on No Mercy’s final chapter before I finally beat that second tank and made it to the helicopter. Left 4 Dead has lots of environmental weapons to utilize, like propane and gas tanks. On the roof of the hospital in No Mercy, several areas act as mini armories for specific weapons.
Before you trigger the radio, make to explore the entire rooftop. You should find lots of propane tanks, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, and ammunition to use. Horde them as much as you can, and use the mounted gun above the radio for as long as you can. If you’re still not surviving, then you may need to call in some friends to play with or join an online campaign.
Question: What’s the hardest achievement to unlock in Left 4 Dead?
Answer: I guess that depends on what you find the hardest challenge in Left 4 Dead. At first, I thought the Z-Genocidist Achievement was the hardest. Kill 53,599 zombies? That sounds like a tall order. But I found that just beating the campaign on expert difficulty with realism was the hardest challenge for me. I could regularly get hundreds of kills a campaign run, so little by little I earned the Z-Genocidist trophy. But expert mode? That was almost too frustrating for me.
Question: How much do Left 4 Dead mods cost?
Answer: Left 4 Dead mods are completely free. And if you find anyone trying to charge for them, back away. There are thousands of mods to browse, and they feature everything from entirely new campaigns to highly detailed skins for characters.
You can add laser sights to every gun you pick up, you can change the tank’s theme song to anything you want, and you can replace billboards in the game with cute anime girls. But why would you want to do that? I definitely didn’t download that mod to see how funny it looked then decided to keep it, what are you talking about?
There isn’t much you need to know about the different characters in Left 4 Dead to start playing and enjoying the game. It will help you to know which ones to gravitate towards, but your playstyle and the overall gameplay experience shouldn’t be too different.
Unless you’re Zoey.
Otherwise, Left 4 Dead is a game that’s meant to be played multiple times in multiple different ways. Go through the campaign as each character, playing to their strengths, and you’ll find new dialogue and characterization every time.
If you want more zombie-killing action, be sure to check out this article about Dying Light and the cold-blooded tricksters within.
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