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L4D2’s Cold Stream DLC Released – What Doth Vic Thinketh?

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A late post for a late DLC release. The irony is so thick, you could cut it open with a chainsaw.

But at least I had time to properly write about my impressions – and, well, let me say this before you read on: less “Cold Stream”, and more “Lukewarm Stream”.

L4D2’s Cold Stream DLC Released – What Doth Vic Thinketh?

As previously announced some weeks ago, Left 4 Dead 2’s Cold Stream DLC pack was released a few days ago for the PC and Mac, as a free, automatic game update. Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 release of Cold Stream has been pushed back into next week, possibly around Tuesday morning.

Here is Cold Stream’s official webpage, with all of the new game content on display. We’re dealing with what can only be described as a shipton of new L4D2 content, including five new campaigns. Four of them were brought over from the original Left 4 Dead, and the other campaign, the eponymous “Cold Stream”, is an entirely new addition, originally developed by community mapmaker Matthew Lourdelet (creator of the 2 Evil Eyes campaign, currently working on Dishonored at Arkane Studios), but significantly redesigned and reworked by Valve themselves.

While these campaigns have all been in public beta for PC players since last year, there have been some significant alterations and removals in these new release versions – just check out the full update changelog.

And the other big addition is the ability to play every single Mutation, all the time – yes, that’s every single Mutation, all the time. It is kind of jaw-dropping, and I have to applaud Valve for this great decision, although there is the risk of significant player fragmentation, when you’re dealing with 26 different game modes.

There’s also no match browser for all Mutations (or for all game modes in general for that matter), which means that players who are simply looking for a quick Mutation match will need to manually select each of the 26 Mutations in order to find a populated match, on the difficulty setting they desire. This is easier said than done, considering many of the Mutations don’t actually have any active game sessions… which is pretty much the main downside of having over 26 different game modes available, but not having a central game tracker for all game modes.Still, I’m not complaining. Again, 26 different game modes! Think of the variety and replayability that L4D2 now has to offer for all players. Great stuff!

As for the Cold Stream campaign itself? Well, it’s received some really positive changes that have definitely turned it into a higher-quality experience, and it’s improved a lot since the last beta version Valve pushed out last year… but Cold Stream still feels distinctly subpar in many respects, when compared to the rest of L4D2’s campaign roster. A community mapmaker made it, and quite frankly, it shows. The environments and settings are uninteresting, and rather unoriginal, and the gameplay is nothing to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, though – it is enjoyable, and I encourage you to give it a try with some friends. But curb your expectations, because this is no Dark Carnival.

As for the Left 4 Dead campaigns? Well, they play really well, and Valve have applied some really great changes that actually make these a fair bit better than the L4D1 originals. As a matter of fact, I think it would be a pretty cool move if they brought a few of these changes back into L4D1 itself. Let’s not forget that some people still play it, and they could use some of that post-release loving too.

Now onto what’s missing from the DLC. And don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of stuff here, sure. But not only has the DLC been in development for over a year, but all of the DLC’s new content has been in public beta status for over a year. Even so, all the new content represents a rather meager offering to begin with – the L4D1 campaigns are, after all, campaigns we first played almost 4 years ago.

So what more did I expect, you ask? Survival maps for the L4D1 campaigns, and a few for Cold Stream as well. And what about some Scavenge maps for both the L4D1 campaigns and Cold Stream? And why not port over the L4D1 achievements to L4D2 for some added variety and replayability?

But what about the glaring bugs, like the L4D2 music in the L4D1 campaigns, or the L4D2 Southern Infected (both Special and Common) appearing in the L4D1 campaigns? Or the many broken vocalizations for the L4D1 survivors?

And what about the numerous broken Survivor animationsOr the hundreds of map bugs? And weren’t Valve talking about possibly including Steam Workshop support, or isometric real-time dynamic shadowing?

Don’t get me wrong here, I appreciate all free post-release content updates that Valve releases. But this thing took over a year to develop – they made the entirety of Left 4 Dead 2 in that same amount of time. And we mustn’t be afraid to criticize Valve just because they give us free things. ‘

Especially since with Half-Life 1 and Team Fortress 2, they set monumental standards for meaningful and substantial post-release support. But I’m not seeing that in Left 4 Dead 2. Not anymore, at least.

Still, I understand that Valve has its hands full at the moment with a variety of projects, announced and otherwise. But I do hope they don’t plan on neglecting Left 4 Dead 2 throughout this transitional period, considering they already sacrificed Left 4 Dead 1 over it.

And if they really do let L4D2 rot, so to speak, then the least they could do is resolve these glaring bugs and issues – that way we’d at least be left with a game that does work properly. And L4D1 itself is not without its fair share of issues and glitches, and I wish Valve could work a bit on that one as well.

But I suppose they are at least supporting L4D in some form, and that’s what counts. Well, as I always say: kudos to you, Valve, but don’t rest on your laurels just yet!

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12 Comments

  1. Why are Rochelle and Coach aiming at Ellis?

  2. As regular l4d player i agree with you 100%. I’m happy they still work on this game, but i think it isnt Valve quality applied here. After 1 year on “active” developement i was hoping for at least animation and vocalize fixes. This DLC looks more like one of updates we got through this year. Let’s hope they’ll do more later, then.

  3. I like this article, you made very interesting points. But I think they will mot see the light anytime soon. Why? Flatland.

  4. So at this point, is ALL the L4D1 in L4D2 now?

  5. I wish we had Blood Harvest survival.

  6. Left 4 Dead assets in SFM should get a mention here too, methinks. Overall though, I agree with your points.

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