Since picking up The Orange Box I’ve been hooked on Team Fortress 2, Valve’s first excellent shooter; with the release of L4D one wonders what will be the better shooter. Personally I think that while starting out L4D will draw some of TF2’s fan base just from the newness factor; however I don’t think both games are in direct competition with each other. While both games are multi player based shooters, they both strive for different game play experiences.
Team Fortress 2 is more skill based in my opinion, with an expert player using his/her best class should be able to fight less experienced players and win. While the game is set up for a team based experience, a few good players can make a difference between winning and losing. L4D however is another story, you need your team to be in sync to stand a chance on expert mode, and one player is not going to cut it regardless if he/she is the best player in the group. The learning curve for L4D is higher starting out compared to TF2, thanks to friendly fire and the randomness of the zombie attacks. However as of right now before any content update from Valve TF2 has more variety then L4D with the various types of game play.
The main difference between the competitive natures of TF2 vs L4D is that in L4D the teams are playing different games. They are asymmetrically equal in L4D as the infected team is completely different compared to the survivors. It would be like in TF2 if the red team couldn’t use scouts, medics, or heavies, and the blue team couldn’t use demo man, snipers, and spies. Map design has a greater effect on matches in L4D as the infected must use the geometry of the land to set up ambushes.
Which leads us to this,” what game do I prefer?” Even though I’ve been playing nothing but L4D for the last week, I’m starting to feel the pull back to TF2. With only 4 campaigns I’m starting to see the repetitive nature of the game and versus mode desperately needs more maps. The director does an admirable job of keeping things interesting but there is a limit to how random a linear level can be. On some maps I’ve played them enough times to know where all the ambush locations are and it’s just a matter of going through the motions. Both games are great and I’ve more then gotten my money’s worth with each, however right now I think TF2 has more longevity then L4D as proven by the fact that people are still playing it after a year, whether L4D will still be played as much in a year remains to be seen.
Addendum: As mentioned this comparison is done with the more up to date version of TF2 vs the retail content of L4D. There is no guarantee that my complaints regarding L4D will be around in a year and perhaps a second comparison will need to be done once content patches are released for it.