For the longest time, the closest we had to custom weapons was a bunch of really awesome weapon skins in the Left 4 Dead 2 Workshop. None of them really changed the gameplay beyond looking sexy, even if I swear my aim got better whenever I used this revolver skin for the Deagle. But finally, Rectus had the brilliant idea to take the game’s support for custom melee weapons and modify those weapons beyond anything I thought possible. People had added custom melees into campaigns before Rectus (the most famous probably being the Foam Finger from Suicide Blitz 2), but his were the first that had so many scripting alterations that they behaved like entirely different (and previously nonexistent) classifications of weaponry. And his Custom Weapon Pack is awesome. Every single one of these guns adds an entirely new angle to the gameplay, revitalizing the Left 4 Dead 2 formula without breaking the artstyle or the campaigns (with one cheeky exception that was almost certainly on purpose). The entire pack has my highest recommendation!

1. Flamethrower: Fires continuous puffs of flame that ignite enemies (or friendlies). Has a lot of reserve ammo but will eventually run dry and the character will automatically replace it with a pistol and drop the empty flamethrower on the ground. The empty flamethrower can be refilled with a gas can. Probably the most requested weapon of all time, let’s start this breakdown with one of the hottest weapons in the pack. The flamethrower is a blast to use, possibly the most versatile weapon in the entire collection. The pressure gauge will actually drain as your approach empty, making it the only weapon in Left 4 Dead 2 with a diagetic HUD element, and the closest thing to a downside is how difficult it becomes to see as you fill your screen with deadly flame. However this feels like a perfectly acceptable downside to a gun that puts everything else in the game to shame. Seriously, the flamethrower shuts down special infected and hordes so harshly that I’d say it’s almost certainly overpowered in its current state, but there’s no denying that it’s insanely fun to use.

2. Rocket Launcher: Pressing Mouse 1 fires a deadly rocket at the crosshair which obliterates most infected in range. Deals 35 self-damage and, like all other other weapons in this plugin, gets replaced with a single pistol during bleedout. After firing its only shot, the character drops it for a single pistol and it cannot be picked back up. While not as versatile as the flamethrower, the rocket launcher fills a unique niche as a boss killer. It can eliminate any zombie in the game (even an Expert difficulty tank) in a single shot, while dealing only moderate damage (and temporary in-game tinnitus) to any players unlucky enough to be caught in the blast radius. I’d almost say this level of firepower should instantly incapacitate any player who doesn’t keep adequate distance, but even as it stands it’s the sort of weapon you probably only want one teammate to be carrying.

3. Barnacle Gun: Pressing Mouse 1 fires the barnacle’s tongue. If the tongue hits part of the map, it’ll draw the player to that spot. Player will move faster when airborne, so jumping is recommended. If the tongue hits a physics object, like a gas can, tongue will drag the object back to the player. If an infected (or teammate) blocks your path while you’re traveling, the barnacle will bite them for about 50 damage. I never thought I’d see my favorite weapon from the Half-Life franchise again! Specimen 1176 has reared his friendly head to fight an entirely different sort of zombie, this time to let you grapple your way around the map like a ninja. Now, I must note that it’s dangerous business to start swinging airborne in L4D2, because fall damage is absolutely brutal. Shooting the ceiling is just asking to 1HKO yourself, and most of the time I found it more useful to use the barnacle as a horizontal speed boost. There are several parts of various maps that get completely broken by being able to bypass horde triggers, like the giant gravel pile in The Sacrifice map 2, and in many other places you can become immortal by hiding somewhere the zombies don’t know how to path to.  So for the most part the barnacle grapple is for messing around with.

4. Syringe Dart Launcher: Pressing Mouse 1 fires a syringe, which is a projectile and has travel time. Holds five syringes, attempting to shoot too quickly after they’re drained results in a HUD message that “Syringe is recharging! X%” If syringe hits teammates, it’ll heal them for 20 temporary HP. Missed syringes can be picked up off the ground. Beyond melee shoves, there’s no way to deal damage to infected with this weapon. As longtime readers of this blog know, I love healing, so a support-oriented secondary weapon that allows you to spritz teammates with some quick heals is exactly the sort of mechanic I missed in L4D2. It’s a little difficult to hit teammates with due to its arc, and several time I missed shots that I thought were a sure thing, so it’s not the sort of gun where you’ll be able to heal on the run. Honestly the most powerful element of the syringe gun is that you can shoot incapacitated teammates to immediately pick them off the ground, just the sort of item I was requesting Valve add to Left 4 Dead 3. This is probably the secondary weapon I’d main if it were added to L4D2 proper.

5. Deployable Ammo Pack: Pressing Mouse 1 plays a short “drop” animation, whereupon a bottomless ammo pile spawns at the player’s feet. After use the character replaces it with a pistol. The Ammo pack is an unused Valve weapon concept that this pack adds exactly as Valve was planning to. It can be useful if the team is running low on ammo at some point in the campaign, but that’s honestly a problem that you only encounter on the highest difficulties, I never found a use for this weapon on Normal. Not to mention I’d occasionally pick it up and get dejected because I thought I’d found a health pack. The one place where this weapon shines is any build with a laser-sighted shotgun. You were probably going to carry a secondary pistol anyway for a long-range option, and laser-sighted shotguns are notorious for running out of ammo faster than other guns.

6. Recursive Bow: Pressing Mouse 1 draws the weapon back and fires an arrow, there’s no “holding the shot” like in TF2. Holds 20 arrows which you need to manually recollect off the ground. If you’re out of arrows, the character dry-fires which still deals damage at immediate range. There’s no way to know how many arrows you have left, unless you have fewer than six because the first-person arrows are literally removed from your weapon model as you run out. The bow-and-arrow was a weapon I’d always wished was included in L4D2, and I’ve finally got my wish! The weapon is kinda hard to aim, I wouldn’t recommend trusting the crosshair because I’m positive I’ve missed shots when the zombie’s body mass was right in the line of fire, but it’s worth it when you one-shot a Jockey before he can even get close. The arrows have great penetration, meaning you can clear a whole row of incoming zombies with a single shot. Despite its arrows being lethal at long-range, I found the bow excelled at immediate range due to the guarantee that you’ll hit and kill any zombies right in your line of fire.

In a way, it was kinda nice that Rectus was forced to create these weapons for the secondary slot only. That slot was pretty slim pickings before, what with offering only melee weapons and two types of pistols, and Rectus’ weapon pack creates a whole arsenal of exciting options that will seriously make you reconsider carrying a katana or Deagle the entire campaign. The weapons work great and at no point were there any bugs to make me think twice before picking one up. If you’re interested in making your own weapons for Left 4 Dead 2, Rectus has a guide here walking you through the process.