I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead 2 for several years and it’s pretty much the only game I play, apart from FIFA 21 and Terraria on the odd occasion. I find it therapeutic killing zombies in my downtime.
For those who haven’t played L4D2, it’s a first-person shooter where you play as one of four survivors trying to survive the horde of zombies that is plaguing the world.
There are various game modes but I always play online realism expert mode, where you play with three friends or randoms and shoot and slash your way through the zombies to reach the end of the map.
Having ploughed several thousand hours into the game, I would consider myself a pretty decent player, so thought I would create this guide and share some tips on how to survive those pesky zombie hordes and Special Infected (SI) in online realism expert mode.
- Stay with your team
- Moving through maps
- Handling the common infected
- Handling the Special Infected
- Healing with med packs
- Pain Pills and Adrenaline Shots
Stay with your team
If you take only one tip away from this guide, it is to stay with your teammates at all times.
In realism mode, you can’t see the location of your teammates through walls like you can in Campaign mode. So, don’t rush ahead or lag behind to look for goodies or go exploring, otherwise, if you get caught by an SI, your teammates won’t be able to save you. Make sure you can see your teammates and they are able to see you so you can protect each other.
Moving through maps
Don’t rush through each stage. Take your time and kill every zombie you see so you can progress safely. You may have to track back, particularly if you encounter a Tank, and that zombie you decided to spare earlier may cause problems.
Hug the walls or the edge of the map as you work your way through maps. The game has a habit of spawning zombies out of nowhere at any time. When it does, you can quickly back up against a wall or camp in a corner and reduce the zombies’ angle of attack and therefore the damage you take if they make contact.
There are a variety of weapons with different tiers and the ones you choose is down to your personal preference.
Personally, I generally go with a Magnum as my secondary weapon as it allows me to kill the common infected from a distance, and either the AK-47, assault rifle, or combat rifle as my main weapon because of their accuracy and stopping power.
Chainsaws and grenade launchers are fun to use, but will annoy the hell out of your teammates if you’re constantly causing friendly-fire. Avoid them if you’re playing a serious game.
There are three types of grenades, with each being more effective in different situations: Molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, and bile bombs.
The team should save at least one Molotov cocktail for a Tank, as it will slowly reduce its health while it burns. It’s most useful when all players are low on health, allowing them to run from it while the Molotov cocktail does most of the work.
It’s also useful for when things get a bit chaotic or a teammate is incapacitated, killing all common infected instantly and helping to take down SI.
Pipe bombs should only be used when there is an incoming horde. They are particularly useful when a player gets puked or exploded on by a Boomer, giving them time to get into a safe position before the horde turns their attention to that player again.
If you’re playing a map that has an event where you have to make it to the safehouse as quickly as possible, having a few pipe bombs will help clear a path to safety.
Bile bombs are most effective when used during an event where you have to advance to a certain point in the stage as quickly as possible. Throw them to one side of the path so the horde don’t get in the way when you’re rushing through the stage.
Never throw a bile bomb at a Tank if there are no zombies around, as it will cause them to spawn and make killing the Tank even more challenging.
They are also ineffective against being puked on by a Boomer, as the horde will continue to go after those players, so save them for events or emergencies.
Handling the common infected
Aim for the heads of the common infected as this is an instant kill. This is harder than aiming for their bodies, but can save on ammo if you’re accurate enough.
If you’re shooting them from a distance, crouching will improve accuracy. However, if they are coming at you, standing can be more effective when shooting; if you miss the first zombie, you may still get head shots on those behind it.
When a horde comes, get into and defend from a corner. This will reduce the angles they can attack from. Again, stand while shooting to increase the chances of head shots. If you have a gun in your hand, try to only shove them back when you need to reload.
If you find yourself suddenly surrounded by zombies and can’t move, shove and kill the ones in front of you first, then take out those behind you as they inflict less damage from behind (-10 HP) compared to those in front (-20 HP).
If zombies are attacking an incapacitated teammate, get rid of the horde first before trying to help them up. This will reduce the chances of you being shot by other teammates.
Handling the Special Infected
Each SI moves differently and has their own method of attacking, so need to be tackled in different ways.
Jockeys are easily killed from a distance but can cause problems when they are close, especially when they pounce while you’re on stairs. It took me a while to block their pounce but with practice, I’ve managed to get the timing right and stop them making love to my head.
To stop them from inflicting damage, the safest bet is to move back to avoid their pounce. If you don’t have the space to move back, press shove just before you think they are about to jump. This will push them back mid-pounce. They can still scratch you and inflict damage once they land, so shove them again to give yourself space and time to attack.
Hunters are pretty easy to take care of. The only tricky bit can be getting the timing right to stop them from pouncing on you.
As soon as they crouch, press shove to stop them in mid-air and immediately move to the side as their momentum can carry them forward and scratch you, causing -40 HP damage.
If a Hunter has pounced on a teammate, kill them while they are attacking instead of shoving them off as they can pounce again or scratch you, inflicting further damage.
When you hear a boomer, move cautiously and keep your distance. If a boomer gets close to you, shove them and move back to a safe distance before shooting. If they get close to a teammate, wait for them to shove the boomer back and then shoot when they are far enough away.
If a Boomer pukes or explodes on you, get into a corner or room to defend against the incoming horde.
If they puke or explode on a teammate, don’t shoot at the zombies immediately surrounding them as you may cause friendly-fire. Instead, shoot at the zombies running towards your teammate.
These SI are the easiest to deal with because they are a tall target and have a low amount of health. The only time they can cause problems is when they attack in conjunction with another SI, when they spit at you while you’re surrounded by the common infected, or when you’re in a small space and escape is difficult.
When a Spitter is scratching away at a teammate who has been incapped, shove them away before killing them so neither you or your downed teammate lose HP to the spit that they release when they die. This will also allow you to help them up quicker.
With their relatively high HP and fast movement, Chargers can be difficult to kill, especially in tight spaces.
Avoiding their charges is easy in open spaces; just keep moving to one side. Keep moving back when they run toward you to avoid their punches.
In confined spaces, remain in position until they start charging, and then move out of the way at the last second. Jump onto higher ground if possible, like a table or a car, to prevent them from charging at you.
If they get to you and start punching, shoot at them while moving back if you have the space. If your teammates are right behind you, stand still and take the damage while trying to kill them, otherwise you may cause friendly-fire.
No matter how good you are at this game, Smokers can easily grab and incapacitate you, especially when things are kicking off with hordes, other SI, and Tanks. This is why it’s important to stick with your teammates at all times.
If a Smoker is about to attack but you don’t feel confident enough to kill it before it grabs you, you can get behind a wall or object and repeatedly and quickly move in and out of its view to prevent its tongue from latching onto you. Once it attacks and misses, you can move out and kill it.
However, don’t be tempted to separate from the group and chase after it, as it may get you with a follow-up attack or zombies may randomly spawn and overwhelm you. Again, stay with your team.
Tanks are the most fun to take on. It’s the thrill of everyone running away from this huge beast while avoiding its punches and rocks it throws.
When it appears, don’t advance forward as you may encounter more common infected which will make killing it even harder.
Make sure you have a route to escape. If possible, keep moving in circles so you don’t get trapped. If space is limited, run round objects, like vans and trees. Run to the safehouse if it’s in view and there is a clear path to it.
Witches shouldn’t cause players any real difficulty. Problems only arise when she’s blocking a path or players get separated and have to deal with zombies on the either side of her.
If she’s blocking a path, players should either shoot her then hide behind a door and let the others kill her, or throw a Molotov at her and then keep running or hide behind a door.
You can also stun her with a single shot to the head with a Magnum, hunting rifle, sniper rifle, assault rifle, or AK-47, then run up to her and repeatedly shove and attack her with a melee weapon. You have to act quickly as soon as she is stunned, otherwise she will recover and start chasing you.
I’ve seen players just run up to her and melee her while avoiding her swipes, but I’ve never been able to do this.
If the path ahead is crowded with zombies, throw a pipe bomb (if the team has one) far enough ahead not to trigger the witch so it’s safe to advance.
Healing with med packs
Med packs should be shared between the team and used on only those who need them. Only heal when your or a teammate’s vision is black and white (after being incapacitated twice). This ensures that the team has enough HP to make it through the stage.
Med packs should be shared between the team and used on only those who need them. Only heal when your or a teammate’s vision is black and white (after being incapacitated twice). This increases the team’s likelihood of having enough med packs to make it to the end of the stage.
However, if all players have red health bars (less than 20 HP), I would recommend healing at least one player so they can protect the others if they go down.
When you start a new stage, check your teammates’ health bars to see who requires a med pack the most. Just because there are four health packs in the safehouse, doesn’t mean you have to use yours.
If there are med packs left over after everyone has healed and are carrying a spare, leave them as the team may encounter a threat shortly after leaving the safehouse and might have to return to heal again.
Pain Pills and Adrenaline Shots
There are two other items that give players additional but temporary health points; pain pills and adrenaline shots.
The pain pills adds 50 temporary health points while adrenaline shots temporarily boosts health by 25 HP.
Try to use these items only when absolutely necessary, for example, when you are very low on health and there is an incoming horde, Charger, Tank, or spit, or if all teammates are very low on health.
Don’t give pills or adrenaline to a teammate while they are busy attacking zombies. Not only does it put them at risk of taking damage, but it’s also annoying!
If you have the choice of carrying one or the other, I would choose the adrenaline shot. I used to prefer the pain pills as it provided more additional health points, but now I prefer the adrenaline as it allows you to do things faster, including running from zombies and witches, healing and reviving yourself and teammates, and filling generators and cars with gas.
The team should carry at least one defibrillator if they come across one in case a player gets killed.
If a player gets killed near the safehouse and the team has a defibrillator, don’t revive them as they will be resurrected; save it for the next stage.
I hope this guide helps improve your survivability in the game. I’m sure the more you play the game, you’ll find your own little tips and tricks that are more effective than the ones I’ve offered and make you a better player.