Shacknews - Steve Watts

Left 4 Dead 2

Once again, Valve is offering early access to a game if its fans jump through a hoop or two. This time it's Left 4 Dead 2, and the offer is a piece of the Cold Stream downloadable content. A blog post outlines the details.

The developer is currently in the testing phase, and is offering an incentive for the community to become bug-finders. If 20,000 people earn the "Stream Crosser" achievement by the end of the day on Sunday, July 10, Valve will release Dead Air (from Cold Stream) on July 22. Stream Crosser is awarded for surviving a campaign of Cold Stream, so it shouldn't be too unobtainable. If you don't own the game yet, it's just $5 until 10 am PST today.

Valve previously offered early access to Portal 2 in exchange for playing indie games. This netted users the anticipated game about 9 hours early. Unlocking DLC for an existing game probably isn't quite as exciting, but early is early.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
A new Left 4 Dead 2 downloadable content pack is in the works, developer Valve has announced, featuring the three remaining Left 4 Dead campaigns that have yet to be ported over to the sequel as well as a new community-made campaign.

The new community campaign dubbed 'Cold Stream' is being made by Matthew Lourdelet, maker of '2 Evil Eyes,' which was Valve's first L4D2 featured campaign.

Valve is also soliciting opinions and suggestions from players. The work-in-progress campaign will be available for all to play "in the next few weeks," and a forum has been set up for feedback and suggestions. Valve explains that following the story-heavy DLCs The Passing and The Sacrifice, this new pack will add no new story or audio, so if you have an idea which calls for neither, head on over to the forum and suggest away.

The yet-unnamed DLC will be released for PC, Mac and Xbox 360 "sometime after Portal 2," which launches on April 20. Valve says that it will be subject to "Valve Time," the process whereby projects take as long as they take rather than being rushed to deadlines, noting that this "is a good thing, not a bad thing."

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Shacknews - Jeff Mattas
Left 4 Dead's new DLC, 'The Sacrifice,' launched today, and in a move that's as much awesome as it is likely to cause some Xbox RAGE, Valve is selling both titles on Steam for a deep discount. The Mac version of Left 4 Dead 2 went live today as well, for the same ultra-low price.

If you still haven't experienced the joys of shooting the undead with friends, the latest Steam sale is an awesome excuse. For the duration of the sale, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 can be purchased for a mere $6.79 each, or bundled together at an even deeper discount of $10.19. And of course, you get all of the delicious DLC with the PC and Mac versions for no extra charge, including 'The Sacrifice.'

Those playing the game on the Xbox 360 are also able to download 'The Sacrifice,' but it's 560 Microsoft Points ($7). In fact, when compared to the current Steam sale, it's more expensive to buy all of the console-based series' DLC than it is to purchase both full games (which include all DLC for free) for either PC or Mac.

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Shacknews - Xav de Matos
The latest downloadable content for Left 4 Dead 2 (and presumably last for the original) is set to launch next week. "The Sacrifice" DLC follows the original Left 4 Dead cast as they journey South, losing one of their own team members along the way.

While there is one real conclusion to the story, as evidenced in the previous DLC "The Passing," players will have the opportunity to re-write history and select which team member will fall in "The Sacrifice." It won't change the franchise's canon, but it'll make you look totally badass.

Watch the video on Shackvideo.

"The Sacrifice" will be available for free for PC users and for 560MS Points ($7) on the Xbox 360 when it launches on October 5.

While Valve has kept silent on a previously reported Mac version of Left 4 Dead 2, the trailer lists "OS X" as one of the DLC launch platforms. Looks like it's happening after all.

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Shacknews - Brian Leahy
Valve has confirmed that 'The Sacrifice', DLC for both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, will be released on October 5 for the PC and Xbox 360. It will be free for both games on the PC, while the Xbox 360 DLC will cost 560 MS Points ($7).

"'The Sacrifice' is the prequel to 'The Passing,' and takes place from the L4D Survivors' perspective as they make their way South," reads the press release. "In addition to advancing the story, 'The Sacrifice' introduces a new style finale featuring "Sacrificial Gameplay" where players get to decide who will give their life so the others may live."

In L4D, 'The Sacrifice' will include the campaign and maps playable in Versus and Survival. In L4D2, the DLC will yield the same campaign, which is played using the L4D characters, and the first game's 'No Mercy' campaign as an added bonus. Both campaigns will include L4D2 weapons and Special Infected. The maps will be playable in Versus, Survival, and Scavenge modes, as well.

PC Gamer, which correctly placed the DLC's release on October 5, also reported that 'The Sacrifice' would launch alongside the Mac version of Left 4 Dead 2, but Valve made no mention of this in its release. Shacknews has asked Valve for more information on a Mac launch for L4D2 or L4D.

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Shacknews - Xav de Matos
The original Left 4 Dead crew are about to make a big sacrifice, and the long promised prequel comic that delves into the past of the zombie killing squad is launching very soon.

To prep for the October 5 release of The Sacrifice downloadable content for both the original Left 4 Dead and its sequel, Valve is releasing a hefty 150-plus page comic detailing the original cast's backstory and the events leading to one of the team's death. The first part of the four part series hits the web on September 14 (that's tomorrow!).

The Sacrifice Comic Covers

Valve also revealed it will bring back the week three mutation "Follow the Liter" for Left 4 Dead 2 players. The originally unpopular mutation--according to Valve--limits teams to scavenging one gas can at a time, forcing them to also wait for a fresh can to respawn once destroyed or used. Let's see if second time is a charm for this mutation.

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Shacknews - Xav de Matos
[Update: 08.22.2010] Valve has reportedly told PC Gamer that "The Sacrifice" will launch on October 5. The PC and Mac version will launch for free while the Xbox 360 version will cost 560MS Points ($7). According to PC Gamer, the Mac version will launch on October 5. Shacknews has contacted Valve to confirm the Xbox 360 version of the DLC will release alongside the PC and Mac.

[Original: 08.21.2010] Last night on GameTrailers TV, Valve's Chet Faliszek revealed info on upcoming downloadable content for those still waging war on the zombie threat.

(Note: The GTTV video contains spoilers on "The Passing" DLC.)

Faliszek revealed a new downloadable content pack, dubbed "The Sacrifice," is coming to both the original Left 4 Dead and its sequel, Left 4 Dead 2. A precursor to the previous DLC "The Passing," the upcoming pack will tell the story of how the original Left 4 Dead team lost one of its team members to the zombie outbreak.

Since Valve was already busy bringing the original team to Left 4 Dead 2 in order to tell the story in "Sacrifice," Faliszek said the team decided to bring a fan favorite campaign from the original game into its sequel. "No Mercy" will be included in the upcoming DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 players, adding the sequel's game mechanics to the popular original campaign

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Shacknews - Xav de Matos
With a dozen Left 4 Dead 2 "Mutations" released in as many weeks, Valve has collected a detailed breakdown of the modes developed to tweak the zombie-infested title's gameplay.

According to Valve, the most popular Mutation has been Realism Versus. The mode, which is now a permanent fixture in the game, captured the attention of 41% of all players the week it was initially released, making up for 22% of the each player's minutes when it launched. As a comparison, Survival Versus was only played by 25% of players for a total of 4% of their time with the game the week it was released.

Chainsaw Massacre was the most tried Mutation, netting 52% of Left 4 Dead 2 players during the week of its release and making up for 14% of game their game time.

Valve promises more Mutations are on the way and says they will continue to tweak past Mutations as well as bring back some old "favorites."

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Shacknews - Brian Leahy

The Left 4 Dead 2 mutation for owners of "The Passing" DLC for the next week is "Headshot!". In this mode, only headshots and decapitations will drop enemy zombies.

"Shoot them in the arm, shoot them in the leg, shoot them in the chest - it just doesn't matter! The only way these zombies are going down is with a head shot. Other hits will stumble them back, but only a head shot or decapitation will kill them." This mutation is available for the campaign.

Additionally, a patch has been applied to the PC version of the game via Valve's Steam digital distribution service. The Xbox 360 version will eventually see these changes implemented.

Valve describes the changes on the Left 4 Dead Blog:

While not removing Defibrillators, we have made some changes to them

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Shacknews - Chris Faylor
Our "Show Us Your Left 4 Dead Art Contest and Giveaway" has come to a close--the votes tallied, the commenters randomly chosen--and now it's time to announce the winners.

Simply narrowing the one hundred twenty eight images we received--located here and here--into twenty finalists was a tough task. The votes submitted by our panel of judged reflected how difficult it was to pick the five winners out of those twenty finalists--in fact, we had to call in additional "tie-breaker" judge.

So, without further ado, the winners (and prizes) of our Art Contest:

...