I love Left 4 Dead 2, its one of my top three favorite games of all time. But while I vastly prefer Campaign due to encouraging cooperation and avoiding the more toxic saltiness of the Versus community, a normal pub is just too easy for me. I know I sound a bit arrogant saying it, but I’ve soloed the game without bots, there isn’t much I’m going to fear in a Normal-difficulty campaign with three allies of varying competency.

So that’s why I’ve developed a couple “mini-games” that spice things up a bit. I don’t want to do anything that negatively affects my teammates’ games, so these are mostly self-imposed challenges that breath some life into an otherwise run-of-the-mill run through a Valve campaign.

The first one and the most straightforward is to just up the difficulty to Advanced. Now, you traditionally don’t get teammates who are going to agree to a vote, so the best way to do this is just start your own queue and begin the campaign with three bots. What your teammates don’t notice when they join the server can’t hurt them, right? Advanced really does feel like the perfect difficulty when you can carry a team, because mistakes are punished and the Tanks are legitimate threats, and witches are no longer cakewalks to crown.

Slightly more entertaining (especially if you’re joining a pre-existing server that’s on Normal) is to restrict yourself to the least versatile, lowest-hitting loadout in the game: SMG (or sluzi) plus single pistol. You can further limit yourself (no grenades, no healing yourself) if you want, but the “respawn closet loadout” is usually enough to keep me on my toes. You can still do anything you want, but you won’t be able to clear entire hordes with a single AK-47 magazine or crown witches with a shotgun, and say good-bye to the amazing melee weapons and magnum. This is a great way to actually find out your teammates’ strengths, since you can’t easily do everything yourself.

Plus if you ever graduate to Competitive, you'll be prepared for the blanket Tier 2 prohibition. Picture by megaman196.
Plus if you ever graduate to Competitive, you’ll be prepared for all the Tier 2 weapons being banned. Picture by megaman196.

The next one might not be for everyone, but I also love playing campaigns in third-person. It’s absolutely not as easy as fighting in first-person, but I appreciate that Valve allowed players to choose it by typing “thirdpersonshoulder” into the console. Without any further edits, you’re pretty much definitely going to be reduced to shotguns and melee weapons if you hope to hit anything, but with this workshop mod you can get a pretty darn accurate crosshair, though scoping on the Hunting/Sniper Rifle is still broken.

Last but not least, if you want to make specials harder (or if you want to roleplay one of those oblivious teammates who constantly get pounced) this mod makes them invisible, save for barely-visible glimmers and shadows. It’s honestly terrifying, and you’ll get so much better at predicting when/where they’re going to come from even when you can actually see them. Specials are a force-multiplier for the infected hordes, so forcing yourself to rely on teammates to kill them can lead to some very tense gameplay.

Heck, if you’re feeling super ambitious, combine any of the ideas on this list! At some point, you’re basically playing a completely different game from your teammates, but I’ve had teams where I was pretty sure they didn’t know what game they were playing either.