Left 4 Dead 2 vs. The Walking Dead

Left 4 Dead 2 on the set of The Walking Dead
Left 4 Dead 2 on the set of The Walking Dead

I do declare, there may be a zombie apocalypse in Georgia, according to a popular video game and television series. Since Georgia is the headquarters for the Center of Disease Control and is known for its Southern hospitality why not invite zombies to a cotillion? The video game Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2) and the television series The Walking Dead (TWD) begin their southern exposure in Georgia. Left 4 Dead 2 begins in genteel Savannah, while The Walking Dead starts in rural King County, Georgia. The game and TV series striking similarities extend beyond the setting to the characters, encounters, mutants, and even the weapons. Let’s begin with the physical and behavioral parallels of the survivors.

Characterizations: Appearances and Personalities

Left 4 Dead 2 Survivors: Ellis, Coach, Nick and Rochelle
Left 4 Dead 2 Survivors: Ellis, Coach, Nick and Rochelle

The characterizations of L4D2 survivors are Nick, Coach, Ellis and Rochelle. Nick is akin to TWD’s The Governor and Sheriff Rick Grimes. All three have dark hair, athletic builds, and are middle age. They demonstrate heroic leadership qualities with a suave demeanor. Although, The Governor and Sheriff Rick have their own personal flaws such as their psychotic tendencies, they seem to represent the internal battle between good and evil in all leaders. Next there is Coach; he is a cross of T-Dog and Tyreese from TWD. Coach, T-Dog and Tyreese are substantially strong men, each with a sensitive side for humanity. However, when the opportunity presents itself, these men become warriors and battle with a forceful vengeance. Then there is Ellis, who compares to Shane Walsh and Daryl Dixon from TWD, undeniably representing the Old South with down-to-earth, straightforward, schoolboy charms. Rochelle is the only female survivor in L4D2. The physical characteristics of TWDs Michonne and Sasha mirror the animated character Rochelle. These women have survival instincts, and they ruthlessly battle the infected. The Walking Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 share similar characters that experience close encounters.

He Walking Dead Survivors: Daryl, Tyreese, Rick, Sasha
The Walking Dead Survivors:
Daryl, Tyreese, Rick, and Sasha

Encounters: Mud, Messages and More

Throughout the game and TV episodes, there are similar physical and circumstantial encounters. For example, there are several scenes that encompass industrial stairwells, which are integral to impediments yet, vital for survival. Meanwhile, the survivors in TWD and L4D2 search ransacked stores for medical supplies, weapons, and ammo. Another similar setting is the swampland. The survivors in L4D2 navigate through the swamps to slay zombies. In the Swamp Fever campaign, the zombies camouflage themselves in the mud. While The Walking Dead episode Isolation features a horde of Georgia’s zombies trapped in the mud trying to feed upon TWD survivors. Another nature condition featured in both is the rain. The Hard Rain campaign in L4D2 and TWDs episode Still experience severe rain. Hard Rain is an audible challenge; the sound of unyielding rain makes it a difficult to hear. Daryl and another survivor experience hard rain while they are trying to escape a horde of zombies. They sought shelter in the trunk of an abandoned car as the zombies passed by. The torrential downpour of the Georgia rain kept them safe; the zombies could not hear them. The channels of communication are another shared characteristic of L4D2 and TWD.

Digital communication is gone; replaced by written messages. For example, in L4D2, there are graffiti tags that lead to safe houses and messages about CEDA (Civil Emergency and Defense Agency). In TWD, there is spray painted directional arrows in the prison tombs and on the interior and exterior of buildings. When the survivors of TWD are tragically separated they use zombie blood to help direct each other to Terminus, “a sanctuary for all.” The survivors of L4D2 reach their Terminus when they complete The Parish campaign. After reviewing these close encounters, there are related mutant zombies.

Mutants: The Boomer, The Charger and The Security Guards

Left 4 Dead 2~ The Boomer
Left 4 Dead 2~ The Boomer

There are many zombies in both L4D2 and TWD and a few special strains of zombie mutations. Each of these mutant zombies has unique physical characteristics. These mutants are, The Boomer, The Charger, and The Security Guards. The Boomer is a bombastic zombie that spews his own bile. When The Boomer vomits on a player, it attracts a swarm of zombies, and a battle ensues. The survivors in TWD find a corpulent zombie trapped in a well which closely resembles The Boomer. They try to remove the bloated zombie, but the mission fails. The bloated zombie bursts in half and slides back down the well. His bile has now contaminated the survivors’ water source.

The Charger in L4D2 is an enormous mutant that moves pretty fast for such a large creature. He charges the players in the game and unyieldingly knocks them to the ground. In TWD Otis, a large Southern gent moves pretty fast when necessary and can charge through zombies. Furthermore, these characters like to wear overalls. The mutant Security Guards in L4D2 wear protective armor and can only be killed from behind. The player must shoot this mutant in the back. The Walking Dead survivors’ encounter prison guards in riot gear. They are also difficult to kill due to the armor. However, Daryl in TWD finds the sweet spot in the base of the skull and takes out the prison guards. These prison guards drop their batons just like in the game and the survivors now have a new mêlée weapon.

The Walking Dead's Boomer
The Walking Dead’s Boomer

Melee Weapons: The Axe and Katana Sword

Left 4 Dead 2 and The Walking Dead use the following weapons: pistols, M16’s, assault rifles, and shot guns. These weapons would be a survivor’s first choice for zombie defense. However, the concentration in this section is about secondary weapons. Left 4 Dead 2 and The Walking Dead use the following mêlée weapons: axe, crowbar, machete, baton, bat, Molotov cocktail and katana sword. The most prized mêlée weapon in L4D2 is the katana sword. This mêlée weapon allows the player to precisely execute a horde of zombies. It can destroy The Witch, slay The Charger, hunt The Hunter, splay The Spitter, stop the Smoker, eradicate The Jockey and damage the ominous Tank. Michonne makes her entrance on TWD showcasing the katana sword. She uses the katana to exterminate zombies and slay The Governor. In season three of TWD, there is a heavy concentration of mêlée weapons. For example, in the episode Sick the prisoners use mêlée weapons, one of which is an axe. The axe is a recurring mêlée weapon in both TWD and L4D2.

Prisoners in The Walking Dead with Melee Weapons
The Walking Dead: Prisoners with Melee Weapons
Left 4 Dead 2 Melee Weapons
Left 4 Dead 2: Melee Weapons
The Walking Dead~ Michonne and Katana Sword as a Melee Weapon
The Walking Dead: Michonne and Katana Sword as a Melee Weapon

“Axe me a question I dare you.” This confrontational directive is from Rochelle, the female character in L4D2. The axe appears to be an important mêlée weapon for both TWD and L4D2. We begin to see the significance of the axe in the first episode of TWD. Rick uses the axe to disembowel a zombie, so he and another survivor can wear the internal organs and pass undetected through a horde. The axe is also a popular mêlée weapon in the video game; it first appears in the Dark Carnival campaign. The axe can be used to kill the infected zombie clowns. Another place the axe can be found is in the zombie epic World War Z. The survivors of WWZ use an axe, a crowbar, and a bat. This is another salute to the mêlée weapons in L4D2 and TWD. To wind up the comparisons between the game and TV series, there are striking physical resemblances, similar scenes and encounters, and it continues with comparable mutants and weapons. Left 4 Dead 2 and The Walking Dead teaches us which weapons to use to defend ourselves against a zombie apocalypse. Keep a mêlée weapon close. Who knows when the zombies will leave Georgia?

The axe is a preferred Melee Weapon in Left 4 Dead 2, The Walking Dead and World War Z
The axe is a preferred Melee Weapon in Left 4 Dead 2, The Walking Dead, and World War Z

Works Cited

Left 4 Dead 2. Developer Valve Corporation Turtle Rock Studios (DLC). 2009

The Walking Dead. Production Frank Darabont, Distributor AMC Fox International Channels 2010-

World War Z .2013. Director Marc Forster. Production Plan B Entertainment

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Left 4 Dead 2 is better.

  2. Bonilla

    Well if anything Left 4 dead copied the character structure from The walking dead since that’s been on shelves since 2003.

    • Jacque Venus Tobias

      Bonilla, I was wondering about that do you think you could write something up I would like to know more.

  3. Yuk Brito

    Both are awesome.

  4. I think it is more interesting to compare the games though.Here is my description of both of those games:

    Left 4 Dead 2
    – A four person, co-op, zombie shooter
    – Lacks realism
    – Full of troll zombies

    The Walking Dead
    – A single player, story driven, zombie adventure
    – It has barely any FPS elements
    – It is purely decision based

    • Jacque Venus Tobias

      I would really like to see you write an article about the games. I have not played The Walking Dead game so if you have time, you have a pretty good start already.

  5. Helen Parshall

    I love the way this article grew from the submission desk to now. Thanks for the excellent analysis – I know nothing about Left for Dead but I want to reading your finished piece. :]

    • Jacque Venus Tobias

      Helen, you were the first supporter a huge Thank You! In addition, thank you to all the editors and family members who helped make this one come together. Cheers!

  6. This is like comparing apples and oranges…

  7. Left 4 Walking Dead!

  8. Very excited for the next season of TWD. I just hope they do a better job of consistently delivering on episodes.

  9. This show is great except for uneven pacing. Season 4 was amazing in some parts and just okay in others. It was focused on wrapping up S3 and setting up S5. Which makes me think S5 is gonna be balls-to-the-wall awesome.

  10. The best Zombie entertainment ever. Haters can go away. Love twd as well as GoT, House of Cards, etc etc

  11. In The Walking Dead, I wish they would have slowly developed the idea of Zombies increasing their speed over time. At this point they’ve become boringly slow, too easy to kill. Make them more lethal somehow.

  12. Brittany Goodin

    I’m not a huge fan of TWD, for reasons mentioned above. Pacing. There are entire episodes where nothing happens. Well, I don’t know about now. I’ve only watched a few episodes between the first and second seasons, but I can definitely see the parallels between L4D2 and TWD. Love the game, but never thought of the show in comparison to it. Nice work.

    • Jacque Venus Tobias

      Thank you Brittany for your compliment on the parallels. On the episodes you speak of regarding nothing happening those are sometimes a nice break, akin to a day in your life when nothing really happens and that can be a good day as well.

  13. Mo Sadek

    This is really interesting! There are so many connections I never realised. I love L4D2 and TWD, just never thought of them like this.

    I’m pretty sure the axe is a weapon used in every zombie game, or at least all of the ones that I’ve played. And shotguns. I guess it’s all just part of the cliche.

    • Jacque Venus Tobias

      Thank you very much Mo for seeing what I was going for in this article. Keep gamming and keep supporting your local zombie.

  14. Liz Kellam

    My favorite show and game all in one! I played the game before seeing the show, so my friends and I make L4D references when watching the show. How would they react to seeing a witch or a smoker? Or – They sure could use a health pack about now!

  15. Jacque Venus Tobias

    Hi Liz, this is exactly what I was going for in this article, glad you enjoyed it! I can see Daryl getting Jockeyed right now crossbow and all.
    You made my day!

  16. I’d rahter play L4D2 than try and watch the tv show walking dead

  17. Actually, the axe first appears in “Dead Center”. It is found in every level of the game.

  18. There does seem to be a cultural zeitgeist here that is absent today.

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