Left 4 Dead Training Ground


Have you got what it takes?



Welcome to the L4D Training Ground. Herein you will find all the tips and tricks necessary to complete the campaign under expert mode without breaking a sweat.

Before we begin, I'd like to share my two reasons for writing such a guide. First and foremost, I find that after all this time, the average level of online players is still far short of competent, especially with L4D2 on the brink of release. Secondly, with the help of this guide, I aim to improve not only your individual capabilities, but also your ability to work coherently with team members, hence improving the overall multiplayer experience.

As far as my credentials go, you'll be delighted to hear that I'm an avid Counter-strike 1.6 player and a very very keen strategist! (Can't get enough of turn-based/real-time strategy games!)

At the end of this guide, you should be more than capable in holding your own on expert. You'll begin to wonder why your teammates keep limping beside you while you remain green and healthy without using a single healthkit. This is no exaggeration.

Now with all that said and done...let's begin.



There are four main aspects to cover.

1) Firepower

2) Movement

3) Special Infected

4) Teamplay


Lesson #1: Firepower

Understand the most fundamental aspect in any survival game - superior firepower


Which gun?

Throughout the game, you will often need to decide which tier two gun to take. Every gun has it's pros and cons and so ultimately no gun is the best. Please use your professional judgement according to the situation.



  • Good all-rounder (can handle both short AND long range)
  • Highly accurate (one bullet headshot equals one kill)


  • Burst firing is a must (spraying eats up too much ammunition))



  • High damage bullets (shooting a strand of hair off a zombie kills)
  • Very useful in long hallways (bullets travel through multiple bodies)
  • Easy long range headshots


  • Risk of shooting teammates when zoomed in (carelessness on either part)
  • Small 15 round clip not fit for short range (especially a horde of zombies)



  • Ridiculously good for clearing hordes
  • Great for those small corners or rooms in finale maps
  • At point blank range, can easily eliminate a witch


  • Not fit for long range (especially smokers and tanks)
  • High risk of shooting teammates


Burst firing

Note that this is only necessary when you pick up the Assault Rifle. If you prefer using a Shotgun or Sniper Rifle, please move on. This is my favourite gun in the game. Why you ask? Simply because the AK47 was my favourite gun in CS. Don't be alarmed that I'm carrying on an aspect from a really old game - L4D was made by the same company and built on the half-life 2 engine, which was originally used in CS Source.

Unfortunately, it's not at all easy to teach you burst firing, since it is a matter of using your professional judgement (deciding the number of bullets per burst). Naturally, practice makes perfect, so if it is your first time hearing this, don't expect to get it right on your first go. It took me several months to figure out how to burst fire like a pro, back when I played CS for the first time in 2000.

The golden standard is that you aim for the head, crouch and fire in 2-3 round bursts. This saves precious ammunition, saves you time, improves accuracy AND also in the off-chance that your friend decides to run across your line of sight, you reduce the likelihood of hitting him/her.

I recommend you reduce your mouse sensitivity in your game settings - it will greatly improve your accuracy in the long term. Moreover, I suggest swapping the crouch and walk keys on your keyboard so that pressing [SHIFT] will crouch, and [CTRL] will walk. It's only optional but I find this that this helps reduce the strain on your "pinky finger", which can deter most players from continual crouching.

Anyhow, this is the general guideline.

At long range:

  • Crouch and fire in 2-3 round bursts
  • If unable to headshot a zombie with 2-3 rounds, then best you move closer (otherwise it's a waste ammunition and you're better off with a Sniper Rifle)

At medium range:

  • Crouch and fire in 2-3 round bursts at standing zombies**
  • Crouch and fire in 3-5 round bursts at running zombies**

At close range:

  • Perfectly fine to spray as you should have more than enough ammunition saved through burst firing (and bearing in mind that on expert, one zombie hit drops 20% life)
  • Pull down your crosshair when spraying so that the recoil gives you multiple headshots

** Of course if your team tactic is to run and gun then feel free to spray all you like

NB. I admit that I love using the Sniper Rifle but no matter how well I snipe, my ability to kill standing zombies at long range is far worse than when using the Assault Rifle. Once you are well trained in the arts of burst firing, you'll find that there is virtually no need for scopes in this game as you'll be able to headshot zombies much faster with the Assault Rifle.


To Kill or Not to Kill?

It's a small question to ask yourself at times: you will need to selectively kill wandering zombies in the map, depending on your team tactic. What I mean by this is that if your team is deciding to "run and gun" and rush to the saferoom, then there is NO need to kill all zombies in the map. Quite obvious but bear in mind that not all games don't go as smoothly as planned. The concept is to only kill the zombies in the way on your path from A - B.

However, as I am writing this guide for online gaming in mind (where all hell can break loose just because of one negligent or self-serving guy), I find that it may as well be best you clear out most zombies anyway. It is much easier to get through a map reducing the zombie count as you go, rather than sparing them for a horde rush, which will most likely get you killed from the extra zombies. Besides, it's very rare to have your team stick together at all times and rush to the finish line on an online game - someone will always fall behind or choose the path seldom taken.

That said, please don't just kill everything in sight. The AI Director will be VERY cross and will send his special minions constantly to whip you back on the fast track.


Melee Attacks

As you already know, melee attacking with your weapon is pretty much the only thing that can save your arse (please forgive my profanity but it's getting late and I think I'm becoming more restless). Why should I need to remind you then? I'm not.

What I'm pointing out to you is that simply holding onto the right-click mouse button forever will not do in the case of a horde attack. The secret is to hold the right-click mouse button in moderation.This is because between the animation of hitting the zombie with the butt of your rifle, there is a split second when you are vulnerable to be hit. This may be a cause of concern when that second zombie is a metre away from you when you just melee'd back that first zombie. In this case, you could have shot the first zombie down and melee'd the second one back, saving you that 20% of life.

Time your shots and melee attacks in order to not get hit. In the case of a huge horde, you'd probably expect to find yourself alternating between firing and hitting - repetivitely firing off a quick spray before fending with the melee.

NB. In case you have not realised, the melee attack fans out at about 120 degrees and not just 90 degrees, giving you that little bit more protection to the edge of your viewpoint. Bear this in mind when fending off a horde, in order to face the direction that would minimise your exposure.


Bombs Away!

Molotovs, pipebombs, fuel canisters, and gas tanks. You really need to utilise them to your best potential in order to get through most of the map unscathed. Fortunately, these offensive items are usually quite plentiful so there shouldn't be any need to hold back on them - except if you are past the mid-way point of the map or need to save the molotov for a tank. The point I raise here is that many players find themselves regretting their conservative gameplay once stumbling upon a new batch of explosives (in this case, you'd need to throw each and every one of them on the spot, resulting in one colossal waste)

Just a reminder that fuel canisters and gas tanks are equally good as molotovs and pipebombs when used appropriately. By "appropriately", I mean setting them onto the ground a good distance away from you. There are just too many cases where players believe they are doing the right thing by keeping a stack by their side for use when necessary. Wrong. By doing so, they are basically digging themselves a fiery grave - often leading to the death of the whole team within seconds (a stray bullet or melee attack can set the whole place alight). I might also add that you need to put some distance between each of the canisters, otherwise just one can set off a chain reaction of explosions (unless that is what's intended).

Finally, it's best you watch what items your teammates carry. If you ever have a choice between a molotov or a pipebomb, choose the type your team is lacking. The rule of thumb is to have two molovovs and two pipebombs in your team. Pipebombs are obviously much better for zombie control and outshines the molotov (which can kill teammates when used incorrectly) but you will need to have at least one molotov ready to take down a Tank at short notice. I recommend having two people carrying molotovs because you can't always trust the one "designated-molotov-dave" to survive or use it appropriately (he/she might throw it but miss the Tank!)

NB. A word of warning to those new to L4D, please do NOT ever throw a molotov when your team is hiding inside a room or a tightly confined area. Even pipebombs can bounce off the head of a zombie and back into the room! Use explosives with caution - if your stupidity doesn't kill you, your team will!


Don't Shoot Friendlies!

Unfortunately this is much easier said than done. But you should at least have the decency not to shoot a zombie that is in front of your teammate. It's not like your friend can't handle one stray zombie alone. What you could do to help is run up and help him/her melee away that zombie, then the two of you can blast it away together.

The golden rule is to NEVER shoot a zombie within an arm's length away from your teammates. The only exception to this rule is when the zombie is behind your teammate. Even so, sometimes you're at a bad angle making the risk of friendly fire too high - you may kill the zombie but you'll end up inflicting more damage to your friend than that zombie could ever do!

Simply put, when in doubt - don't shoot!



Lesson #2: Movement

Learn about the terrain, using cover, fallback zones, and tactical positioning


By far the most undermined and neglected aspect of the game. No matter how good you are at meleeing and headshotting, if you do not take to heart the importance of movement and positioning, you and your team will inevitably fail. L4D is a survival game, where you need to watch your health JUST as much as your aim. I can't stress this enough.


The Crouch-Walk

Remember that time you were running on a perfect green bar and the very next second, you were suddenly staring up at the sky with your pistols drawn? Well, you can't say it's not your fault - you weren't even crouching.

This is one reason why you can't win the game with your headshotting skills alone. More than often, your cause of death was somehow related to friendly-fire. On expert, one shot from a Sniper Rifle can put you on the ground. Carelessness augmented with the unpredictable touch of lag is just as lethal as a Tank on rampage.

That is why those in front must always walk whilst crouching. It's another reason as to why you might fare well with swapping your crouch and walk keys on your keyboard. 75% of the time, you're crouching anyway so do your "pinky" a favour and move the crouch to the [SHIFT] key.


Tactical Positioning

As a survival game, you need to keep your bearings in check. If you've always thought of L4D as a simple two-button-mouse-clicking game, think again. It's no different from playing real-life paintball in a way.

As aforementioned, you need to crouch-walk your way through most of the game to avoid friendly-fire. But you can't just walk into the open and crouch there. Always utilise the environment to your advantage. Stick to the walls, duck beside cars and garbage bins, and find some cover behind office desks. In doing so, you limit the amount of exposure by your side(s) and/or back - perhaps a zombie can still reach you but that's much better than two or three of them.

When you advance, analyse your surroundings and spot those tactical positions as your next target location. Keep doing so, and before you know it, it will become second nature to you and you'll start seeing L4D in a new light.

Just a side note to new players, please advance with caution. Try to avoid moving into a teammate's line of sight as you never know when they will open fire. Either run around them from behind or crouch-walk in front.


Shelter is a Need Not a Want

Zombie hordes can be called in at the very whim of that damned AI Director. Usually enough, there will be some form of shelter nearby. But oh shit!! You've forgotten to clear out the room just earlier! Nothing can be worse than having zombies chase you from behind while you're running towards a building, opening the door(s) to find half a dozen zombies still loitering inside. And you know what happens when you get chased from behind...

As you advance along the map, please ensure you always have at least one cleared out building to fallback to. Sure, time is of the essence but safety first, right? Buildings are your inanimate friends - especially those with doors. Just don't be caught outside!

NB. Toss a fuel canister or gas tank just outside the doorway. When the zombies come close, blow them up to smithereens and watch them burn!


Stick Together Team

Real teams stick together. There's no such thing as heroes in this game. I'm sure you've had your fair share of re-enacting Rambo in previous first-person shooter games, but doing so in this game is nothing short of suicide (how often have you seen that tiny yellow dot screaming for help at the end of a Smoker's tongue?)

Now I'm pretty sure you all know that sticking together does have a major downfall - friendly fire. When advancing, please don't follow the guy in front in a straight line. You know damn well what happens to Lemmings. Not only does the guy in front obscure your view, he/she will get into your line of fire. Then when you accidentally shoot him/her, it becomes your obligation to apologise. If you're following someone up ahead, follow in a diagonal path. This way he/she will always be in your screen without blocking your vision, and allowing your team to cover the map at different angles.

Always have one person keep a watchful eye on the rear - never underestimate how sneaky that bastard AI Director can be!


Lesson #3: Special Infected

Test your knowledge and refine your tactics to take down all kinds of infected


Congratulations. You've gotten the gist of killing standard zombies. But now, things start getting messy.


  • Run into either an open, spacious area or a house.
  • Fire only if you and your teammates are a safe distance away from the Boomer's explosion (infects and causes damage). If closeby, melee attack to knock him back, then fire.
  • If infected with Boomer vomit, hide inside a room, house or corner and let your teammates cover you.
  • Don't bother with headshots - only one or two bullets in the gut will suffice.


  • Don't stay in the open - quickly find some cover or hide in a house
  • You can tell the location of the Smoker by identifying his green smoke.
  • On Expert, the Smoker will never miss if you are caught in the open for longer than two seconds.
  • Take advantage of the Smoker's two second reaction speed. Once you found cover, strafe out and fire a snapshot of bullets and quickly duck back in. Keep doing this and the Smoker's tongue will either miss or he'll die.
  • Try to get in the habit of shooting the Smoker the moment you get strangled. This is vital if you are the last survivor alive - whatever you do, don't hit the right-click mouse button!
  • If your teammate is caught by a Smoker's tongue, either shoot the Smoker or shoot the tongue. It may be faster to melee attack the tongue instead.
  • Don't be a hero and chase the Smoker down to the end of the map - if he catches you first with your tongue, you're too far out to be saved.
  • If you're carrying a Shotgun, and the Smoker is too far out, don't chase after him. Use your pistol(s).


  • Don't stay in the open - quickly find some cover or hide in a house
  • If you are caught in the open, and the Hunter is dead ahead - strafe like crazy (don't press the forward [W] or back [S] button, hold either left [A] or right [D] and move your crosshair to the direction of the Hunter at all times). He will never be able to pin you down and each time he pounces, you can put a few bullets into him. Just be careful not to bump into any obstacles while strafing - a hit from even a zombie is enough to slow you down.
  • If you are caught in the open, the Hunter is dead ahead and it's too late to strafe - either shoot or melee like crazy. If lucky, the Hunter is already near dead, or if timed correctly, you can stun the Hunter during his pounce.
  • If you teammate is caught by a Hunter, melee the Hunter if you are close enough. If not, shoot the Hunter off (beware of hitting your teammate when firing at the hunter).


  • Not as much of a threat as the others as you can always avoid or creep past her with the lights off. If she starts to stand up, don't move a muscle!
  • Unfortunately, she'll sometimes be blocking your path, meaning you have to kill her to progress.
  • Best way to kill a Witch is with a molotov and a door. Otherwise, I recommend someone be the bait and shoot at her from long range and run all the way home. The bait does NOT stay and fight because the Witch has much more health on Expert and kills in one hit. The rest of the team chases the witch, shooting at her as she runs (Shotgun headshots will help here).


  • Have at least one molotov ready to be used on short notice. The Tank will burn to death in approximately 40 seconds on Expert, so save your bullets and run like hell. If there is a ammo stash nearby, feel free to pour bullets into him to have him die faster.
  • When running for your life, try to run in pairs - this way you avoid being ridiculed by the AI Director who likes to sneak a Boomer, Hunter or Smoker into the mix.
  • Stay away from cars, which the Tank can punch into you. Ouch!
  • Watch out for his rock throw, which has a 100% chance of hitting you if you're caught (with your pants down) in the open.
  • The Tank apparently has his genitals stuck on the wrong side of the body. Shoot his upper back if you want him dead fast.
  • When on you're knocked to the ground, the Tank will not necessarily finish you off unless you shoot him with your pistols. Therefore, stay on the ground and stay quiet. The Tank might just switch targets and you just might be saved. Of course, shoot him if he's already in the middle of humping you.
  • If your friend is about to get humped, you could be a hero and melee the Tank from behind. This allows your friend to be saved but also greatly disturbs the Tank as he will turn around to chomp you down - so run like a bitch!
  • If the Tank is chasing after you, lead it through windows! This mama Tank is soo fat, he has to squeeze his way through for several seconds before he comes out on the other side. Shoot the fat bugger from behind when he gets stuck.
  • Lastly, please don't hide in a room with your flashlight off. The Tank is exceptionally good at sniffing out your arse.


Lesson #4: Teamplay

As a team, learn to stand together and fight as one


This is a short lesson on teamplay. It didn't seem to fit in with the other categories but I believe it is of equal significance. We've already covered friendly firing and how to avoid being "friendly fired." You've also learnt the importance of sticking together as a group to cover all avenues of ambush. The last aspects of teamplay involve communication and the fair use of medicine.



I'm sure that at one stage of your L4D experience, you wondered why you had more fun playing with a team full of terrible players than with a band of professionals. The answer is communication. After all, it's a bit of a bore when no one actually chats at all...you might as well play with bots!

To be a successful team, you really need to communicate with each other. Even if you don't have a microphone, it's far better typing than it is just being a mute. Of course this isn't mandatory, it's up to you whether you want to open up to your team members and let them know your suggested plan of action, or notify them of any spare weapons or items around. Being the only one who sights a Smoker, you could let the others know in common courtesy. Heck, you could even tell the others you'll throw the first pipebomb, just to avoid throwing it in synch with another teammate.

Again, these little things are all optional but they do add up to create a greater multiplayer experience for you and your newfound friends. It is a multiplayer game after all. Even a simple "sorry" to the person you've accidentally shot encourages better teamplay. If you plan on finishing this game without typing a single word, why bother playing with people online? Just be thankful that there's no such thing as covering fire, flanking, frog-leaping or attacking-withdrawals as in real-life paintball/skirmish.

With that little bit of communication, you can easily turn L4D into a far greater gaming experience.



Once again, you need to start thinking more on a team level than just your individual self. To survive in Expert difficulty, it's quite important to have all your teammates alive. An easy justification - maximise your firepower in order to minimise the number of zombies that reach you. You also need those extra pair of eyes to guard a certain flank. That's just one reason for giving away those pain pills or medikits.

The other reason is that your actions will boost camaraderie amongst your team members, encouraging them to work together. That poor soul you saved earlier will usually return the favour when you least expect it. Even a single act of good faith can set off a chain reaction of events - if everyone starts sharing their meds more often, even the most tight-arsed medicine-hoarding player will succumb to peer pressure.

Now there will be times when it's more feasible to NOT offer any medical aid. One is if the wounded team member happens to be a bot. You know what I mean, right? In this case, the most you should ever give is a pain pill! This is a little cold but it's not like bots will resent you for it. I mean, if they don't know simple emotions, then how can they even value their own life! Is it so hard to get them to hide together with you in a house behind the doors!? *restrains from ripping out hair*

Another time is..well..sort of taking advantage of a glitch. If one of your teammates have died and are finally respawned for rescuing but here you have someone limping on their last legs - ask them if you can kill them instead. Explain to them that once you do, they'll instantly respawn with 50% of their life in the same room with the other person waiting to be rescued. This would save you a health kit.

Lastly, just a friendly reminder to the new players out there: medikits heal 80 hit points so don't go wasting it unless you're in the red. However, if you're in the face of imminent danger like in any Expert finale level, I'd suggest you use it if your health is in the low orange zone.


Summing It All Up!

  • Use the right gun for the right situation
  • Learn to burst fire if using the Assault Rifle
  • Reduce your mouse sensitivity
  • Swap your crouch and walk keys
  • Don't waste your time killing unnecessary zombies
  • Time your melee attacks
  • Don't be too conservative with explosives
  • Make sure your team carries at least one molotov
  • Avoid shooting zombies close to teammates
  • Crouch-walk when in front
  • Use the environment to provide better cover
  • Always have a cleared-out room to fallback to
  • Always travel in pairs or as a full group
  • Always have someone guard the rear when advancing
  • Communicate regularly with your teammates
  • Give medicine and you shall receive



Thanks for reading my strategy guide. Yea I know it was a bit lengthy..but that way, I'm sure I've taught you everything I know. Hopefully you got something out of it. Please feel free to rate and comment on it below. Now let's go hunt some zombies!

- Thirsk

19/10/09 · 6:17pm

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