I’ve developed a new nightly ritual these past few weeks. I get home from work, eat dinner with my girlfriend then get on my computer to see if I can get a good game of Left 4 Dead 2: Scavenge going with a couple of friends.
If you’re not familiar with the game Left 4 Dead 2 or the Scavenge mode of play within, I’ll try to explain the new game mode briefly. (If you are familiar then feel free to skip ahead)
In the zombie infested world of Left 4 Dead 2, two teams, of four players each alternate between offense and defense, in timed best of 3 or best of 5 games.
A round is split in two halves, and begins with one team of four players as the survivors (human characters with weaponry) on offense. Their goal is to collect sixteen gas cans from a surrounding area to pour into a central receptacle before a timer runs out.
Each gas can poured in, scores the survivors a point, up to the maximum of 16.
The infected team (zombies with special powers of their own) begins the round on defense, and their goal is to prevent the survivors from scoring.
The first half ends when either the survivors have managed to score 16 points, or when the infected have prevented the survivors from doing so and the clock runs down to zero.
If the clock hits zero and at least one of the survivors is holding a tank the round goes into overtime. If the score, more time is added to the clock giving the survivors a chance to collect more cans. If the infected manage to make the survivors drop their cans, the round is over.
At the end of the first half, the teams switch roles and continue the round.
The team that scores the most cans in the quickest time wins the round, and the team that wins the most rounds, wins the game.
As you might have noticed, this game play mechanic sounds a lot like a competitive athletic team sport. (If we removed the weapons & zombies, and added balls in place of the gas cans perhaps even more so)
Like a sport, it can get very competitive, and that’s part of what drew me to this game mode.
It also appeals to me, because the goal is very different from the typical team-multiplayer objectives of first person shooter games. It requires great communication with your teammates to score all sixteen points as the survivors, and the same skills to effectively prevent the opposing team from doing so when your team is playing on defense.
I’ve quickly grown to love it, and win or lose, a great game of scavenge is one of the most satisfying multiplayer gaming experiences I’ve ever had.
But this is a rant right? So what’s the problem?
Great games of scavenge are hard to come by, and they shouldn’t be.
Simply put: Too few people are playing this great game mode.
Though most of the fifty or so friends on my steam list have left 4 dead 2 it’s hard to find 8 to want to play when I try to organize a match.
I can usually corral about three friends together. So we create a lobby, team up, and wait for other players to join.
And wait… and wait.
Inevitably a player will join, realize we’re a team, get scared (or bored of waiting also) and leave.
But Ajay… why not use the “Play Scavenge as a team” option in the game? Where you can create a team of four and look for another team of 4.
We’ve tried, and waited for twenty minutes.
Nobody else uses that system it seems.
So we’re back to playing against teams comprised of random people looking to play scavenge.
Occasionally, after waiting long periods of time we’ll get four players to play against and a game will start.
It’s a surprise if one of them doesn’t leave at the immediate start of the game, and an even bigger surprise if they all work together and offer an actual challenge.
Most often, the other team crumbles, people get angry and quit and my friends and I end up wasting a lot of time on an unsatisfying gaming experience.
Sometimes all four will stay, and we’ll kick the crap out of them, scoring 3 rounds of 16 points in a row, which is about as fun as winning a boxing match against a baby.
Rarely do we encounter a team worthy of competition, but when we do, its great fun.
Since I didn’t create the game, and I don’t have a connection to Valve’s marketing department, all I can do is advocate that more gamers play Left 4 Dead 2: Scavenge, in hopes that I’ll find more worthy & fun competition out there. If you’re reading this you could become part of the solution.
Get yourself a copy of Left 4 Dead 2, add me to steam & challenge me to a game of Scavenge.
I promise if at least 4 other people out there reading do as well then we’ll have a great game going.
Thank you for listening.