There have been many rumors of a possible Left 4 Dead 3 in development, but I’m not going to link to any because I think they’re all druid pocky. I’ll believe there’s a new L4D game when Valve says so, and beyond that you’re just taking the running Half-Life 3 gag and switching franchises. But that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to think of ways I’d love to see Valve evolve the gameplay and come up with ways to improve it in a sequel. I doubt they’d go as balls-out crazy as Payday 2 did in expanding upon its prequel, but there are definitely some avenues I think Valve could explore.
First thing’s first, if we take L4D2 as an example of how Valve looks at expanding the franchise, it’s likely we can look forward to more Special Infected and more weapons in a hypothetical L4D3. Which might seem like a daunting task considering how tightly-structured and spectrum-complete the current selection of guns are, but they can find some niches to fill even in the current roster. A double-barrel shotgun for example, or a compound bow like from that one concept art. At minimum take the Germany-only weapons and migrate them into the full game for everyone, I love the SG550 and would take it over the M16 in literally any situation. Also I’d love to see a slight rework of the secondary slot where certain melee weapons are classified as one-handed (crowbar, machete, nightstick) and those can be wielded at the same time as a single pistol. That’d make the choices more varied because katana and axe wouldn’t suddenly just be the best melees in the game.
Speaking of weapons, more scavengable weapon parts like the laser sights would be great. For example maybe silencers which prevent zombies from detecting you when you shoot them (silenced SMG could have that power by default), or a stronger LED flashlight that has limited battery before it must be discarded for the default one. A new grenade could be nice too, what about a utility grenade? I don’t know what they’d skin it as, but it could be a throwable that automatically revives any downed players you hit with it. Carrying one would sacrifice team firepower for a worst-case-scenario backup like the defibrillator. This would help players that wish to fill a designated support role specialize their loadout a bit more to their taste.
On the topic of Special Infected, they’d have to be more creative because you can’t just make them too similar to what you’ve already got. They’ve got to fill a new niche. According to the dev commentary, in L4D2 they designed the three new Specials to counter camping because that was a huge problem in Left 4 Dead‘s Versus meta, so I’d have to assume the new ones would be designed to counter speed-rushing, the direct community response that is now plaguing L4D2’s Versus. Problem is, the original specials were supposed to do that with the whole pinning mechanic. That’s why I think a Special who deals in slowing movement speed (her swipe attacks are tainted with anti-adrenaline that lower walking speed for example, and maybe she can cloak or hide on the ceiling to get the drop on those who don’t look up) might fill a needed niche. Or maybe a zombie that can hit the survivors with a psionic pulse that makes them unable to see their teammates (literally, just their teammates and their teammate’s held stuff) for like ten seconds. Inspired by a really surreal experience when I downloaded a faulty mod and the Survivors were all invisible the whole campaign, it was really challenging cause I had to watch where bullets seemed to be flying from and other context clues.
But honestly I’d rather see more Uncommon Infected, since those are more easily designed and placed. Perhaps a soldier infected who retained some of his military reflexes and inaccurately fires his pistol when alerted, and drops it on death like how riot zombies drop nightsticks. A zombie who could knock your held weapon out of your hand would certainly be infuriating, might even tie into the whole anti-rushing thing.
Perhaps as a consolation for adding slowing Specials, rework water so the smallest puddle doesn’t behave like a tar pit. Plenty of other Source games have full-on swimming capability, I’d love if water could just be another valid map element. Imagine having to swim across a lake and deal with some sort of aquatic threat, that could be pretty terrifying. I remember the first time fighting the icthyosaur in Half Life, humans are naturally scared of underwater combat due to being out of their element. On that note, I’d love if Valve would make weather fill more of a role. The dev commentary stated that they restricted storms to Hard Rain to give that campaign more of an identity, which is fine but just imagine how many cool things we could do if storms could be another thing for the AI Director to sic at any moment. Or snowfall which could obscure anything you drop on the ground, make it harder to notice pickups. If Valve’s being particularly ambitious there could even be natural disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes, though I suspect they would have to be scripted events within a dedicated campaign.
And finally, give the M60 some love. Poor thing doesn’t deserve to be so maligned. At least let the player reload from ammo piles.