Valve has released a new update for Left 4 Dead 2 showing that, whatever the fans may think, someone over there is certainly paying attention to all their complaints. It makes substantial, not-so-substantial, and in some cases slightly bonkers changes to the game. Try this on for size: "Restored the knife's original horizontal swing trajectory." Knife is once more the best! Though the skillet will always hold a special place in my heart.
Some of the fixes seem like things that should always have been the case, such as only the original attacker being credited for damage caused by exploding props. Others are clearly in response to community requests, such as the addition of a bunch of new script functions, including "GetClosestCharacterWhoIsIT" which will return the closest character who is IT. Sounds like tag.
The real changes are across the game's many maps, most of which have received some sort of a touching up. In some cases this is as simple as fixing genuine bugs, like a spot on map 3 of Dead Center where players could get lodged on a vending machine: hey, may've taken 14 years, but Valve gets there in the end. On Dark Carnival they've patched "an elaborate SI out of bounds exploit."
Perhaps the best patch note of all comes for the map Swamp Fever. The notes start off strong anyway with the news that Valve's patched a "janky ladder" near the ferry event: I thought janky ladders were just the Source default, but what do I know. Then the news every L4D fan has been waiting for:
"By popular community request the TLS Swamp gator is now canonically named Fred."
I must admit to zero knowledge of the TLS swamp gator and the campaign to have him named Fred, but this is clearly God's work.
Pretty much every map in the game has had something tweaked or fixed, as you can see in the full notes, though in most cases it's fixing stuck spots, collision issues, moments where players could soft lock themselves from progressing, and (in Crash Course) stopping gas cans from falling between the finale buses. After all, they're no use down there.
When it gets to Blood Harvest one gets the sense that whoever wrote these patch notes is getting bored, because one of them just reads "Stuck in tree near shed." Who is stuck in a tree near shed? Do they need help? Is this a fix or a promise?
As well as all the bug fixes Valve has also rejigged the balancing in certain areas of the game. The Last Stand's finale now has simpler difficulty scaling that only increases on advanced and expert difficulties: "the intention is to curb player fatigue and confusion in addition to bringing it more in line with expectations from other finales." It's also tweaked how many gas cans players require in different team configurations and difficulties.
There's a big old list of tweaks to the Tank Run mode, most of which are minor with the final two being pretty spectacular:
Fixed issue where Tanks would not retain their slowdown when biled, if they were hit with another vomit jar while already being biled.
Fixed issue where Survivors could get instantly revived when hit with a car.
Finally, there are fixes for L4D1 Co-op, Survival and Versus modes (as it's been a while I should clarify: Left 4 Dead 2 includes all of Left 4 Dead's content). These include a change to the claw viewmodels which have apparently been wrong all along, and changing the noise levels to better reflect the original game rather than L4D2: making it harder for common infected to notice players. Defibrillators will also now convert to pain pills instead of medkits because "previously, when converted to medkits the game kept trying to spawn more defibs which led to an over-saturation of medkits." Then, and I'm really not sure how to take this one, "Changed to use much more accurate L4D1-like looking ragdolls."
Naturally, community reaction to such sterling support for a game that came out in 2009 has been to demand Left 4 Dead 3. Which, y'know, I'm down but seems as likely as any Valve game with a '3' in the title (the company's last statement was a few years ago and boiled-down to "absolutely not"). Others are just celebrating Fred. The best of all though are those fans piling in on a game they all love and still play, the ultimate zombie shooter, and saying with perfect irony: dead game.