Left 4 Dead Almost Didn’t Have Zombies Because They Were Too "Cheesy"
What's the first thing you think of when it comes to Left 4 Dead? Apart from the chatroom stylized '4' instead of 'for', it's probably zombies. It's hard to imagine the game without hordes of zombies now, but there was a point in time that the developers almost considered not including the undead at all.
During a discussion on the Kiwi Talkz podcast, former Valve writer Chet Faliszek revealed that the company's president, the one and only Gabe Newell, wasn't too keen on including zombies because he thought they were too cheesy (thanks VG247).
"At the time, once I went to dinner with Gabe and he was like 'if you look at zombie movies, Night Of The Living Dead is about racism, Dawn Of The Dead is about consumerism'," said Faliszek. In order to understand what his game was about, Newell asked him to elaborate.
"And I'm like well it's about working together, it's the game itself, it's a reflection of the game," he continued. "We'd kind of get pushed more and more because I remember [Newell] said 'well let's not do zombies, zombies are just cheesy.' At the time you did not have The Walking Dead TV series and all of this, so it was very cheesy."
So, Faliszek had to think of a way to include zombies in his game, without the cheesiness that comes along with them, like in an old-school horror movie. In order to combat that, he decided to make some characters way more self aware of their situation and the stereotypical zombie movie tropes surrounding them.
"So I was just like why don’t we just take the characters and the world, and make some of the characters in the world aware that they’re in a zombie movie essentially," he said. "Zoe and Lewis understand that like 'oh my god this is the thing from movies,' but they play it seriously."
We recently learned that Telltale's The Walking Dead series initially started off as a Left 4 Dead spin-off. Skybound Games released a short documentary in honour of the tenth anniversary of the series, where design and direction lead, Jake Rodkin, shared that the game was originally pitched as a narrative-driven spin on Left 4 Dead.
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