Observing Left 4 Dead Relationships

Notice: Don’t forget to check out our latest update to this post, “Dissecting the Casts of Valve’s Left 4 Dead Series“

This post is a quick sneak peek into our forthcoming article that focuses on the evolution of the casts of Valve’s Left 4 Dead series. An interesting feature of the original campaign posters is their equal-weight character distribution: The placement of the characters rotates evenly, with very little utilization of character-specific poses and personality-emphasising traits. In the five LD41 posters (the new Crash Course included), Zoey and Francis both cover all four placement slots, with Bill and Louis found in three out of four. Illustration below:

Left 4 Dead 2 Posters 2x2+1

This seems to be about to change in Left 4 Dead 2: In the two campaign posters revealed so far - Swamp Fever and The Parish - there are marked differences compared to the previous game.

As we know, there is little to no interpersonal narrative progression in the first game, for reasons elaborated in the forthcoming article. To name an example, though, Valve’s Jason Mitchell revealed that potential “romantic tension between Zoey and Francis … did not playtest well”1. But as has been promised in several2 interviews3, this is about to change. My question is, then, does the manner and style of character positioning illustrated below foreshadow the storyline of the game? What the posters do, most certainly, is reveal to us principal features of the characters’ personalities:

Left 4 Dead 2 Posters 2x1

Here’s my twopence worth psychological analysis of each character, based on nothing but the posters and the posters alone (for substantiated information on the characters, you could visit Zombicidal): Firstly, there is specific physical interplay, not seen with the other characters, between Coach and Rochelle; Coach, always at the back, seems reserved, mindful and slightly unsettled. Rochelle, active and courageous, is at the front, but also seems to find solace and relief in having Coach - not the other two - covering her back.

Ellis and Nick, then, are more rogue, with Ellis always the most expectant and the keenest on making progress. Nick is wary of his company just as much as he is of the overall situation.

My argument is the following: Based on the original set of posters, even if personality-oriented conclusions could be made, not nearly to the same degree and distinction as based on mere two posters out of five. I may have taken a jump-start and my analysis may be unsubstantiated, but there is no denying the implications are there. Are you looking forward to more character interaction in Left 4 Dead 2?

  1. http://www.l4d.com/blog/post.php?id=2081 []
  2. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/left-4-dead-2-interview []
  3. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/06/before-its-time-valve-explains-left-4-dead-sequel-to-ars.ars []

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