I occasionally play Left 4 Dead 2 with some friends for a couple of hours every month or so. Since we don't play particularly often, we don't have much chance to really get better at the game through practice. We haven't been able to spend time iterating on strategies or improving our teamwork skills.

Right now, we're in a place where Advanced difficulty is just a bit too difficult and Normal is too easy. We want to play the game feeling like we're a totally awesome SWAT team, up against incredible odds but coming out on top due to superior tactics and awareness. Instead, we feel like frightened civilians running away from a zombie apocalypse. It's fun, but it could be much more with a higher level of teamwork and tactics.

For example, last night we were failing on the Crescendo Event midway through The Quarter in The Parish campaign on Advanced difficulty. On the 5th try, one of us said "Hey, it looks like that corner below the balcony would be a good spot to hold." On our next runthrough, we were incredibly effective during the event: we maintained good shooting angles, protected each other, didn't get split up, and nobody got knocked out. In short, we felt awesome.

So to keep getting that feeling, I'm primarily interested in:

  • Formations to establish a good defense when we need to hold a location
  • Formations when on the move, to get from point A to point B and defend each other
  • Different roles each team member could fill at any given moment
  • Terrain details to look out for when we need to make a stand

What can we be doing to work well as a team?

  • 2
    I found my teams did best when we moved quickly close together. Person on point should always be checking the person at the rear, and people at the rear should always be clearing the way for the person on point. Roles will change as you move, and you should never allow yourselves to be significantly split up.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 20:12

3 Answers 3


Regarding formations: the best advice is to "corner up" which really means "limit the size of the angle that you must attend to." A wall at your back is a flat corner :)

Again with formations: pick a portion of the available angle of attack and cover it. Leave the rest of the field of fire for your team to handle. Allow and expect your team to get your back and sides. Glance around to make sure they are doing their job.

Keep an eye out for guns when defending: swapping guns is quite a bit faster than reloading, and you will have unlimited ammo.

Don't try and kill everything: your teammates can handle it. Even in horde situations, it may be possible to let them handle it and keep your rounds ready for specials.

Don't shoot your team. FRAG rounds have splash damage and are super dangerous to yourself and the team. On elite, you can kill yourself with a single frag shotgun round at point blank to a zombie.

On the move: stay close, groups of 2 if you must, never alone.

On the move: hug the side walls of corridors so you are not blocking your teamates' ability to provide support fire.

Avoid random running around and charging.

If your teammate is being pummeled or hunted, resist the urge to go point blank: you are run the risk of blocking shots from your other 2 team members.

Don't use bile ever. It will call a horde which wasn't there before. HOWEVER it can be useful for gauntlets to buy you time to revive someone or to advance to a switch quickly.

Bile and fire is a popular combo: but bile calls a horde that wasn't there before, so again: avoid bile.

l4d2 plays music when there's a horde. It queues up just before. Listen for it. Identify the place where the most zombies come from, and throw either fire or a pipe.

The tank can/will switch targets based upon damage being dealt. If the tank switches to you, you may be able to kite him away from the team until one of them damages it enough to get him to turn. repeat.

Infected usually spawn where they can't be seen: therefore visual coverage of an area inhibits infected spawning. One particular place this is helpful is on carnival: the last gauntlet before the concert arena: they spawn endlessly in the right-hand passage to the safe room. Get eyes on it: one person up each passage.

And finally: hordes and specials spawn based upon time among other factors: the slower you go, the more hordes and specials you have to fight.

  • I find that using bile is best against a tank. It blinds it and it turns the horde against it.
    – Eddie Paz
    Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 0:43
  • 1
    you must be talking about cornering up with the first game. cornering up in l4d2 is not advisable in all situations and can incapacitate an entire team under duress from hoard and a spitter gets in there.
    – Jonathan
    Commented May 5, 2012 at 21:05
  • 1
    @defaye Don't stand in my corner... there's usually three other ones; find them. "cornering up" is a tactic from L4D1 where everyone piles up on each other. I believe horatio meant us to use the standard tactic of increasing situational awareness by reducing the scope into what is the field of view that is the available real estate on your monitor. Even with eyefinity you still need your back against a wall; without it you need to find a corner. And in L4D2 you need to get your own bag.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 23:27
  • I really do not get what part of my argument you're picking apart. I have already said "you must be talking about the first game" as spitters are a direct counter to camping in all its forms. This available field of view real estate you speak of is a general tactic that should be applied in every moment possible - that much goes without saying.
    – Jonathan
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 10:26

Situational Awareness

The single most effective combo is good headphones and microphones for everyone. With a good set of headphones you'll hear the specials coming in, where your friends are in trouble, the direction of the horde, etc. There's nothing more satisfying than hearing the spit from afar and jumping up onto a bench or table before it even lands or meleeing your teammate while the smoker's tongue is just starting to reach them.

This also includes always knowing where the exit is located. Seriously, when you get on an airplane they point out the emergency exits. You should be doing the same when you play. Where are the objects you can jump onto to avoid a spit? Where is the door/window from which you can bail when a surprise tank spawns? Where are the high points from which a hunter can pounce on you?

Call for Help

If you find yourself overwhelmed, lost, or incapacitated, call for help from your teammates. Don't wait for them to figure it out on their own. As you get better at playing together, you'll often be able to sense when someone is about to get into trouble and can go help proactively. Until such time, speak up!

Also, if you're deviating from the path or see something of note, give out a shout. Someone may have missed the horde or tank music or didn't see the ammo pile.

Radio Delay

There is a not-insignificant delay between you saying something and your friends hearing it, somewhere around two seconds. Think about all the trouble you can get into in two seconds in this game. This is how people get killed by getting smoked backwards after their three teammates have dropped down from a ledge. This usually happens because the first person yells "Okay, drop!" right as he's dropping through the hole. Everyone else hears the order two seconds later, but the guy watching the rear doesn't see his teammates all drop.

Learn the Maps

Know where all the weapon drops are. Learn where you can find melee weapons, health and throwables. On campaign mode you have time to shop for goodies. As you get to expert and realism, you may find it starts costing too much. Often the person in front can do a little shopping as long as you keep an eye on them.

Often with my friends the leader will step off the path to pick something up while the others pass by and then rejoin the group in the rear. The key is that everyone knows this is happening and that you don't all do it at the same time.

Plan Ahead

Pick your route before you start the map and follow it. Are you going through the park or to the right or left? Decide early and only call an audible if it's warranted. If you change the plan, make sure everyone acknowledges the change or makes it obvious that they know. There's nothing worse than having a straggler get picked off and lose a kit or die because they didn't know the rest went left instead of right to fight the tank in the open.

Mix Your Weapons

Unless you're all ace shots with the hunting rifle, it helps to mix up the weapons. If you have someone good with the shotgun, make sure to take one even in tier one. They can clear large hordes as long as they're fully loaded. Having at least one person with a hunting rifle or military sniper is great for picking off smokers and dealing damage to a tank throwing rocks from the roof (less common in campaign).

Conserve Your Ammo

I have the horrible habit of double-tapping the auto-shotty on hordes. I do it with the AK and M-16 which is perfect, but it's a waste with the shotgun. I make up for it by killing what I'm shooting at and not firing unnecessarily. There's nothing worse than being stuck with a single pistol when a horde shows up.

Conserve Your Stamina

Shoving the horde back to give yourself time to reload, escape, or get a better shot is very helpful. Since you fatigue after a few shoves, make sure you don't overdo it. And when you do, swing in an arc to get more bang for your buck.

Kill the Specials

All but the charger can be knocked off your friends with a shove, but that's often not the best option. While taking the time to kill the hunter mauling your teammate might cause them to lose another 10 or 20 HP, batting it away just gives it another chance to pounce and do more damage--perhaps at a worse time. Take advantage of the fact that they are a stationary target and unload on them.

If you're close enough to shove, switch instead to your melee weapon and take them out. I lost count of the number of times I've put four or five point-blank shotgun blasts into a hunter without a kill. Sometimes it just doesn't register. Then again, I've had the same thing happen a few times with a melee weapon. :(


The worst time to throw a pipe bomb is right when you hear the music for a horde spawn; you'll only kill two or three. Wait until the horde is close to you (twenty feet or so) and then throw the pipe towards the horde to allow as many as possible to surround it before it goes off.

If you're going to throw bile, be smart!

  1. Out of the line of travel. Never directly in front (duh) or behind you (swimming upstream).
  2. Into a fire if possible. Mmmm, barbecue!
  3. Don't be there. Seriously, chuck that vomit and run like there's no tomorrow. It calls a horde, but that's fine if you're no longer around to see it.

Fire is your friend. If the horde is spawning from a room or over a fence, drop fire between you and them and keep booking. Make sure you save at least one molly for the tank, though. :)

Most important: Call your throws. There's nothing more annoying than a pair dueling pipe bombs or having someone throw a bile right after your pipe. I call these out every time I decide to throw, and whenever possible I give two seconds before I throw to account for the radio delay.

  • "Pipe out"
  • "Puke out"
  • "Fire out"

When it comes to lighting the tank on fire, call out ahead of time who's going to throw the first molly so you don't waste fire. This matters more once you start playing versus where the tank will actively dodge the molly and try to trick you into throwing it from far away.

Corner Up

L4D is about moving and stopping, moving and stopping. Whenever it's clear, you should be moving your ass. But when a horde comes or in an event, it's time to crouch to the ground with your backs to a wall/corner. If you can funnel the horde through a choke point, put someone with a melee weapon in front, crouched and swinging away, while the others stand and shoot over their head. Knowing that the melee weapon can kill most of the zombies, only fire on specials or if you start to get overrun.

Gather Your Assets

Most events will have gas cans and/or propane tanks lying about. These are perfect because you can set them up before starting the event and save your throwables for emergencies. Don't waste a gas can by throwing fire on it or put them so close together that lighting one lights them all.

Be careful if you store gas cans where you're cornering up! A careless shot while turning to pick one up to throw can ruin your day. This is more important in survival, but I've seen it happen many a time in campaign and versus. Your safe little corner can quickly become your grave.

  • Nice. The only thing i would have changed is to save primary weapon for hordes/tank and use pistols everywhere else.
    – Albort
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 6:21
  • The problem is that when you move up to expert realism, you're gonna need a headshot on the common for the kill with a pistol. I definitely use my melee when I have one, but the AK is so fun to shoot! :) Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 7:07
  • True. Don't wanna be caught in an realistically expert horde with only a pistol.
    – Albort
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 9:01

Most importantly shove boomers back. Jockeys, Tanks, and Chargers can push you off a balcony or into the deep water killing you each time. If you are playing survival, don't grab a shotgun: you will regret it. Instead grab a sniper rifle

  • I think that this is better as a comment rather than a full answer.
    – Timmy Jim
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 13:41
  • Please edit your answer to fully suit OP's question.
    – Mano
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 14:40

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