It has come to my attention that very few people on TF2 SPUF play Left 4 Dead 2. This is a real shame because the game is very, very fun and in recent months I’ve found it consuming far more of my allotted game time than TF2 does. So I basically thought I’d just write a quick guide detailing two of my favorite loadouts in the hopes that this info might help you if you ever decide to pick the game up.

When I first started Left 4 Dead 2 this felt like my default situation. Hopefully these loadouts make your transition go a bit more smoothly.
When I first started Left 4 Dead 2 this felt like my default state of being. Hopefully these loadouts make your transition go a bit more smoothly.

Left 4 Dead 2 has a wonderful array of weaponry, and the best part is that all of it is perfectly suited to plowing through the hordes of infected you’ll be facing. If you decided to take on an entire campaign with only an SMG and the starter pistol, you’d probably find yourself more than successful. So that means that your weapons of choice boil down to personal preference, whatever guns you feel best fits what you want them to do. From my earliest days playing Left 4 Dead 2, I’ve held a soft spot for two different loadouts, both of which excel at different situations and I consider to be very good loadouts for new players trying to learn the basics of the game while aiding the team and keeping themselves alive.

Loadout 1: Tier 2 shotgun/Dual pistols.

The synergy in these two slots is obvious; the Shotgun deals massive close-range damage and specializes in crowd control at the cost of low base ammunition. The pistols compensate for this by providing a long-range damage dealing option and having unlimited ammo so you can basically main the pistols and only switch to the shotgun whenever you’re surrounded or feel threatened. The Magnum can of course substitute for the pistols and serve as a more precision-based Special Infected picker, but I prefer the dual pistols for basically functioning as a weaker semi-automatic assault rifle, especially at lower difficulties where you can kill up to 15 zombies per clip. The shotgun also serves well against both Tanks and Witches, and if you come across special ammunition you can use your pistol full time and save those fire/explosive bullets in your shotgun for when you really need them. When it comes to personal preference I prefer the Combat (big black one) over the Tactical (gray one highlighted in the pic below) just because the Combat’s tighter spread makes it easier to “crown” (one-shot) witches.

Also I'm not great at visibly telling the Tactical from the tier 1 shotguns, which matters when I'm picking up a weapon while under attack.
Also I’m not great at visibly telling the Tactical from the two early-game shotguns, which matters when I’m picking up a weapon while under attack.

Versatile damage-dealing options at every range
Gets maximum efficiency out of special ammunitions
Great for Witch crowning and crowd control
Short reload times all around
Pistols are accurate at very long range if you crouch before firing.

At its worst when fighting long gauntlet runs due to both slots requiring reload
Laser sights confer no real bonus to the shotgun
Not great against Smokers unless you get the drop on them
Dual pistols are less effective at higher difficulties (but then just use the magnum)

Loadout 2: AK-47/Melee.

Some people might prefer the versatility and lack of real downsides to the M16, but I prefer the AK-47 because its stats allow it to fill more battlefield roles. It’s the slowest-firing assault rifle, but that makes it the only one you can fire semi-automatically with light taps on the mouse. It’s inaccurate, but if you crouch it becomes capable of dealing reliable long-range damage. Additionally on normal difficulty it kills regular zombies in one hit, an ability which synergies very well with the two stats I just mentioned. The lessened accuracy while running can even be seen as an upside; a friend of mine once told me the AK-47 was his favorite shotgun in the game. The AK-47 is weakest when surrounded and requiring accurate close-range crowd control, which is where your melee weapon comes in. My three favorites are the Katana, Fire Axe and Machete because at least one of those spawns in every campaign, they have decent swing speeds with predictable damage arcs, and as bladed weapons they can sever Smoker tongues. At close ranges they can allow you to save a bit of ammunition when removing solitary roaming zombies, though if you adopt the strategy of mainly using the AK semi-automatically then ammo shouldn’t be a problem.

Also, when Boomer-biled you can hug a corner and just swing your melee wildly. Without a melee, you're forced to spam shove because firing blindly risks hitting your teammates.
Also, when Boomer-biled you can hug a corner and just swing your melee wildly. Without a melee, you should spam the shove attack (right-click) because firing blindly risks hitting your teammates.

One major con is the relative uselessness of special ammunitions; since the AK already kills most zombies in one hit it rarely gets to benefit from additional explosive or fire damage, and as your only ranged weapon it’s not as feasible to just ignore your rifle until a time arrives where the special ammo becomes useful. Witches also become something of a problem; when a witch is completely blocking the team’s path, you may find yourself reliant on teammates or putting yourself in harm’s way. In contrast, you become super powerful against tanks, dealing up to 2320 damage with a single magazine (that’s over half a tank’s health on normal difficulty!) In addition, if you find laser sights you’ll suddenly have one of the best guns in the game, since laser sights grant the hard-hitting AK-47 perfect accuracy on top.

Versatile damage-dealing options at every range
Gets maximum benefit from laser sights
Great for Tank killing and combat while moving
Reload keeps the flashlight pointing straight ahead

Without proper firing restraint you may find yourself running out of ammo
not great at getting real use out of the special ammunitions
No way to kill Witches without startling them first (or abusing stun)

Which loadout I use is largely dependent on what I expect will happen in the coming campaign. Am I about to play Hard Rain, which can contain up to twenty Witches? Loadout 1. Is it Cold Stream, where every map ends with a neverending crescendo of zombies? Loadout 2. Sometimes I switch mid-map; the most common hybrid loadout for me is Shotgun/Melee weapon if I expect to fight almost primarily in close range or if ammo is no concern, such as during finales. (Or if I’m playing in third-person where my ability to aim rifles or pistols drops to nil). Of course, as a co-op game you’re still heavily reliant on your teammates, so if you ever want a friend to join you in playing Left 4 Dead 2, hit me up! We’ve got evidence that Valve may be working on a sequel, so the time’s never been better to give it a try!

Maybe L4D3 will let you equip both at once. But for now, you gotta choose!
Maybe L4D3 will let you equip both at once. But for now, you gotta choose!