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Since many people told us they still preferred Death Aboard than I Hate Mountains, I decided to give it a try and see how they addressed most of the issues people reported on I Hate Mountains. I was rather surprised to see that they still have most of the issues we have in their L4D1 version!
Got lost and walked in circle at least 3 or 4 times just like people on I Hate Mountains. Fair enough though, because levels are huge.
The event on the first map can be entirely slept through by camping in one of the corners.
Got a Tank right after exiting the safe-room on the second map and couldn't backtrack to fight it, got killed in the safe-room.
Got lost and walked in circle at least 2 or 3 times and most of the time, I didn't knew if I was progressing or going backward because the streets look all the same.
On several occasions, there was zombies in the rescue closets and I got kicked just after I was saved.
Unable to fire the event on the second level, I thought I would have to noclip through the door but after wandering around for 10 minutes I found a gray block that I was able to magically teleport in the sewers. I still don't know why an electric problem in the sewers would have anything to do with the door's opening system.
Same problem with the turrets than people had on I Hate Mountains, we can't aim correctly and they seem useless most of the time.
Bots are unable to correctly navigate in and out the sewers in the second level.
Global lighting and shadows are somewhat... ugly and it just looks like they just did the absolute minimum to light the environments.
Most secondary rooms are just big rectangular-shaped hollow rooms with nothing more than 4 walls, a ceiling and a floor. I doesn't really help with immersion.
I had some huge frame rate issues in the first, third and fourth levels, way worse than on I Hate Mountains, falling as low as 15-20 FPS in areas way less detailed.
I kept getting stuck in the environment, it seems they didn't clipped the geometry to ease the navigation. It's a nightmare when you backtrack facing a tank and keep getting blocked by every little obstacle.
Alarmed cars are not red just like the convention Valve used in both L4D1 and L4D2. I think they should have followed this convention.
There's arrows everywhere to guide the player because the levels are build like our own, with too much realism and not enough visual clues on where to go.
Most of the hordes seemed stuck somewhere and never managed to reach us or too few zombies at a time and where too easy to decimate.
Why the hell is there crickets chirping on the docks?
There's a supreme lack of ammunitions or they're located in places you're not even supposed to take a look at because I progressed through half of each levels without ammo.
Events are uninspired and unoriginal. Is it a national sport to attach trash dumpsters to cranes? Come on, there a lot of props, at least attach a cargo container! Not to mention 3 out of 5 events are classic alarmed doors.
Scripted events that kill you if you don't react faster than 1 or 2 seconds are just wrong. I'm talking about the falling car in the boat. Again, huge frame rate problems in there.
The boat level is awesome, I can't even start to think how they built it. I wish it was a bit more easy to navigate into and that they didn't lure players into dead-ends using the lighting.
The finale is visually awesome but on the gameplay side, it's a nightmare. Hordes need more than 2 or 3 minutes to climb up to the lighthouse and most of them fall during the climb, which means that there's only few zombies attacking survivors at a time when they're at the top.
The setting is exceptional, but this is not exactly a good idea when there's Tanks everywhere. Each punch throw you a hundred meters out of the cliffs and everyone kept dying from this. In No Mercy, there was a good number of obstacles to prevent you from falling, but here, there's too much holes to punch you though. It's also almost impossible to reach the 'escape vehicle' depending on where you were fighting the finale. It should have parked at the top or in the middle of the area. Not far from everything at the very bottom where it takes more than 2 or 3 minutes too reach.
Anyway, still a good campaign, one of the most awesome out there, but it amuses me to see that more than a year after its release, this campaign still has the same huge flaws that most people blamed us for having on the release day. I hope you'll see that we care about our campaign when we fix all these issues on I Hate Mountains in the month after the release!
PS: This is a personal review of Death Aboard made by me. This does not reflect the opinion of the Team or anything. I just thought I had to give it a try since many people told us to draw inspiration from it.
EDIT by moroes : + 1 for me.
I generally liked dead aboard but not as much as I hate mountains. Sometimes there was too much sandbox area in dead aboard that you could get easily lost in a pretty small area.
I think if people want to map a bit of multipath in a left 4 dead addon they have to always make sure that you can discriminate the little explorable area from the main path. A great and easy example of that is the first no mercy map.
You can go on the main streets but also inside the apartments but you have visual oversight on the fact that you actually crossed this part and you dont have to go back on the streets.
The scripted area with the car should isn't so bad, but they should make more audio and visual warnings in advance, if the objective is to scare the player away and set him up for the fact that they can be harmed by it, it needs more warning.
About the events.. Hmm, I have to think about the feedback we got on dbd, it seems like what alot of people like is to push a button, camp the crecendo and move on. If there's visual splendor allong the way it seems more great than the threats we wanted to create in dbd map 4:
Granted, we had to seriously optimize these events but I think we did and it's now what we want them, gives people a break and visual confirmation on what's happening. And isn't it mighty fun to battle both a zombie horde and a certain threat? (which you can see coming from seven days till sunday in our new version, don't worry)
I don't think in a zombie apocalypse, there should be only run, camp push a button but some real mild and avoidable danger.
In a mario game when you jump and you don't reach the other platform you fall and you die. Why is that so hard for left 4 dead fans to accept this?
I say this because on one hand, people want to jump out the window in ihm2 and on the other side, they don't like to get lost in the woods.. hmmmm
I also played Death Aboard and it was one of my first custom campaigns I played (no surprise, because it was one of the first released campaigns). The levels were huge, that's for sure and made them at some points even boring to play. Same goes for the vents. Two are simply "turn power on" with that old and overused powerbox. The second one got a bit spiced up by adding a second trigger in the sewers (for Nyk018: The electrics of the door are going down from the powerbox - right at the broken cable), but still. And except one event, all are just "wait until the way opened" and only once, we have a "start and hold out or run away". The car-event on Map 4 was kinda interessting to trigger, and as long as you know that you need to dodge, it's really easy (you don't even need to climb up the whole ladder - as soon as the container breaks, get down again). However, if you don't... not that fair, that's true.
Also, the first two maps looked really boring and too simple, the third was okay but still kinda bad - but hey, it's the oldest campaign out there, so it think, it's okay. Some areas looked similar, espically on the early maps, but it's still very liniar when you know from where you came.
The finale is something most people do wrong the first time because they don't know better (even in the newest version, there is a sign, which tells them they need to go elsewhere). I need to admit: I defended the top the first time, too (but didn't got punched down by a Tank) - but when I saw where the rescue was landing and got killed on the way down, I quickly changed my plan to something, what works perfectly fine: Hit the button and dash down to the docks. It works and you don't need to fear anything anymore.
Overall, I would say, with a lot of visual improvement and some overwork at the events, it would be a great campaign almost at Valve-standards (but still below). Currently, it sure is a must-play, but nothing you should play every day.