The Children of the Worm expansion has been out for just over two weeks now which is just enough time for die-hard and casual players alike to get to grips with the new additions and find the most overpowered builds to cheese their way through the new Act and No Hope difficulty.
With new weapons, a new cleaner and a brand-new enemy faction, there’s a lot of content to wrap your head around in this admittedly short and disappointing new expansion. While you’re likely not playing a game like this for its storytelling, you can’t help but throw your hands up in confusion as the seemingly insular Act doesn’t resolve in any satisfactory way or offer any explanation other than to save the new cleaner’s “Flock” … but I digress.
It’s no secret that players have been calling out to the developer with complaints over how difficult the game can be and how cruel the games A.I. director can feel at times. With the endless sea of Ridden and their Mutations ambushing you at opportunistic times with little to no breaks in-between, there’s barely any time to fulfil objectives, all the while your team’s health and trauma damage turns disproportionately sour. With what feels like a direct response to this, Back 4 Blood’s latest booster pack of cards raises a very fair question. Is this really how you’re choosing to balance the game?
In my playtime and more specifically within the Nightmare and No Hope difficulties, there’s one card in particular that has completely taken over the meta, so much so that everyone is using the same berserker type build where they can sprint through the maps with nothing but a horde of charred zomb… Ridden in their wake. I’m talking about the Expired T5 and I’m sad about it.
Deck creativity is personally one of my favourite parts about Back 4 Blood and is arguably why it has done so well up to this point. Currently, almost every card can be complimented by a bevy of others to create a unique and varied play session every time… when you invest into making a good deck of course. However, with everyone now using the same or similar build, things aren’t feeling so special or unique anymore. My favourite thing has now been relegated to a quick google/youtube search of what’ll get you through the game in the quickest way possible. The creativity involved in building decks and contributing to the overall team experience and everyone’s enjoyment is slowly dying out in favour of what is overpowered, self-sustaining and popular making the game feel stale.
The Expired T5 is detailed as follows: Create a cloud that deals 8 FIRE damage to WEAKSPOTS at the cost of 40 Rifle ammo and the offensive item slot. What it fails to mention (and that everyone capitalises on) is that the cloud follows the user for a limited time and can synergise with a myriad of other cards like the Weakspot modifiers, Sadistic and Pyro for extra damage and temporary health gains per kill while also triggering precision kill bonuses like Pep in Your Step for increased movement speed. A proper deck can one-shot any common Ridden in proximity to the cloud with ease. It goes without saying that the Expired T5 is utterly broken right now… but it’s not infallible.
Since day dot of the games release, you’ve probably already seen your fair share of Evangelo players sprinting ahead with a stack of movement speed and stamina bonuses to boot. On higher difficulties, like every hysterical character in an apocalypse movie, the likelihood of them getting everyone killed including themselves as they blaze a trail through the maps … or try to more accurately is high. More often than not you’ll find these players get caught quick and end up causing more problems for the rest of the team than they’re worth as they abandon all notion of team composition and cooperative play. The Expired T5 build while slightly more successful than previous iterations of speedrun decks is in no uncertain terms actively enabling a less than united approach of playing the game… which I think is a shame. Your only hope is to try and stay close to the T5 player (Which is likely impossible with their movement and stamina cards) as they trigger every horde and max out their own temporary health with Pyro (Which is just enough to survive the 25 second cooldown) before they make a mad dash for it again. It’s a sad suggestion but if you’re going for the No Hope Trophy/Achievement, The T5 build is the least painful course of action rather than hope for a well organised team right now.
While I’m not at all telling people how they should play the game given how fun it is to absolutely melt the Ridden with this card, I am asking them to consider other people’s enjoyment when they’re charging ahead and leaving the rest behind to die or follow limply behind. I can’t help but think that even with some rebalancing updates in the future, now that the Expired T5 alongside the Ultrasonic Wound Therapy and Crippling Frequency cards (Which create similar stacking auras of healing and damage reduction) are in so many people’s rotation it’s going to be hard to get them out without completely nerfing them to the point they’re useless. Personally, I’d rather them not be in the game at all and I’m concerned for how these gadget cards will affect other expansions and the player base going forward.