Infected Rework Suggestion #18045

(WARNING: Very long. There’s a summary at the bottom if you just want to read that)

It’s come up in a majority of discussions about Virus’s balance, here and on the Discord server, that the Infected can be very boring to play as – mainly since they can’t do much other than run and die – and I don’t think this is news to anyone. But, despite complaining so much, I haven’t bothered to share my thoughts about it in suggestion post form, so I’m going to do that now.

This is kind of a mix of several ideas people have proposed in the past, but I haven’t heard anything quite like this yet, and I hope it seems promising enough for the devs to consider adding it, maybe? As a mutator, perhaps?

Patient Zero - Smoke Cloud

This ability isn’t a unique idea, but I think only giving it to the first infected is. Anyway, the first infected can throw down a smoke cloud that slightly obscures survivors’ vision and will infect anyone who stands in it for too long. The first infected has this ability for the entire round, but it’d be buffed while they’re enraged, increasing its range considerably.

(Smoke cloud demonstration)

Every Other Infected - Screech Speed Boost

This also isn’t a new idea but I think this is a bit of a unique take on it. Basically, infected players’ right click roar/screech/whatever now provides a short speed boost to themselves and others around them (Survivors within range would also receive a boost to give them more of a chance to escape).

I think it would be interesting if this effect could also stack, though, so if a big enough group of infected all come and scream together, they could get a considerable boost and rush into a survivor camp. This could be very powerful if also combined with the smoke clouds, too.

This kind of goes without saying, but screeching would need a cooldown (or even limited uses depending on its strength) to prevent spamming this.

(If it was added, the screech boost would look a little something like this (It wouldn’t actually. I lied. Sorry))

Map Design Differences

A major issue with buffing infected like this is that each Virus map’s balance varies wildly: for example, Desertion and Subway strongly favor survivors, but Catzek and Corrosion are much more fair for infected. So, these secondary abilities could feel perfectly balanced on one map but overpowered on another. To address this, you could introduce Virus Strains.

Basically, each map is assigned a specific strain, and strains just affect the infected’s strength. Strains could affect movement speed, speed boost strength, and/or smoke cloud range. This allows for the infected’s abilities to be tuned to fit best with each map individually.

It’s maybe not the most elegant solution, but I think it’s a fair alternative to needing to strike a balance that fits each map equally, which would be much more difficult (probably impossible).

(Each strain would be shown when selecting maps, and the current map’s strain would be displayed in the scoreboard. They could even have little icons and be themed for each map, but that bit’s not really important.)

Summary (tldr)

Here’s a “quick” summary of everything proposed here. It’s still kind of long, sorry.

  • Patient Zero / First Infected gets a toxic smoke cloud to push survivors away from a spot
    • They have this for the entire round, but while enraged, its range is buffed

  • All other infected players can screech to give a small speed boost to themselves and nearby players
    • This effect stacks, allowing infected to orchestrate a push into an area by huddling in a pile and screaming together
    • Survivors are given a short boost when within range to give them more of a chance to escape
    • Screeching should have a considerable cooldown to prevent spam

  • Each map is given a Virus Strain which balances the infected’s abilities
    • This allows the infected to be balanced for each map (ex. if smoke clouds are balanced on one map but too powerful on another, they can be nerfed on the other map by giving it a weaker strain)
    • Each strain and its effects are shown in map selection screens, and the current map’s strain is shown in the scoreboard

I think strains arent a good idea, because I believe the only gameplay change from map to map should be location and layout/strategy.
But I do like the idea of giving more abilities to the infected, it’s definitely too one-sided for survivors at the moment. I think as long as it’s well telegraphed a screech to speedboost for a bit would be fun- or maybe a lunge that’s on cool down?


Yeah that’s fair. I mentioned in the main post that I don’t think it’s the best solution, but while writing I felt like there could be an issue with the abilities’ power varying too much per map (ex. smoke grenades with a range tuned to cover Subway’s open areas would probably feel too large on Corrosion). I felt like the post would feel incomplete if I didn’t address it somehow, so that’s the idea I immediately came up with.

Either way it’s not really important though. I mostly just want to see the secondary abilities added.

These are some novel, intriguing ideas. While I can’t say I particularly agree with idea of a smoke cloud that results in infection (would probably be better off just being a visual obstruction, if existent at all,) the idea of a stacking speed boost could be a considerably more interesting way to encourage a bit more coordination from infected players.
However there might need to be a diminishing returns system in place because say, you had 10 infected all roar at the same time in close proximity to each other but not a survivor, if it was a 2% increase for each infected, that’s a flat 20% movement speed increase, for all of them. Solo surviving can already be quite a challenge so this might tip things too far in the other direction if it’s a flat, additive increase.

Patient zero being special in some way, even after enraged ends, is also a neat idea. Maybe it would be preferable for infected in general to have a flat 5% speed boost from roaring, and patient zero can have an AoE rallying cry that adds an additional 5% to nearby infected? There’s already a lower-pitched roar in the game, so maybe that could be used whenever patient zero roars in general.

As a slight aside, I believe roaring (unless you’re using a controller, I think?) has a 5s cooldown. So the cooldown is probably fine already, though it might be good to extend it to 8s while a roar speed boost only lasts 5s.

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It’s come up in a majority of discussions about Virus’s balance, here and on the Discord server, that the Infected can be very boring to play as – mainly since they can’t do much other than run and die – and I don’t think this is news to anyone.

While infected certainly need a buff, I also get the impression that a lot of people do in fact, just run and die ad infinitum. When infected gameplay is a tad bit more complex than just hoping for people to not be paying attention.

  1. For example, swinging with left click, is this a completely game changing mechanic? Sort of yes, kind of no. It does actually extend infected reach to help them get somebody who’s close but not quite directly contacting, and because the infected hitbox is actually tied to the infected model (it’s possible to infect people on the other side of thin walls by swinging at them) it can prove quite helpful for ensuring that you infect somebody and they don’t just… phase through you. On the flip side however it makes an audible noise that can alert particularly aware survivors who aren’t paying attention to their radar, and the range extension isn’t all that great either.

  2. Another thing that I’ve seen many people not do is trying to actively evade incoming fire. Not just hiding around a corner, but actually trying to bait out shots or throw off the survivors’ aim. While it’s still highly likely you’ll die anyways because, well, if you’re a regular infected going up against ten Tommy Guns… yeah… not fun. Sometimes just getting closer to people can pressure them into bad positions, or cause them to waste lots of ammo, or distract them while another infected goes for a pincer maneuver. Generally the most effective way of doing this is to approach survivors at an approximately 45 degree angle while continually trying to change directions slightly to present a smaller target and also to throw off peoples’ aim.

  3. A last note comes from a sort of combination of things listed in the above blocks of text. You can try to pressure people into bad situations. For example if you notice somebody always tries to backpedal directly away from you, you can try and angle yourself so that they backpedal into a corner, effectively trapping themselves and giving you a good shot for taking a swing at them. Or if somebody is holding certain sightlines with a plasma altfire charged and ready, you can try to bait them into firing so that you can (somewhat more) safely cross that sightline. Sometimes just simply the act of being a nuisance that’s hard to hit and actively draining ammo and attracting tons of attention can allow a fellow infected to get a good opportunity to strike. Heck, sometimes even crouching has its uses since most people aim center mass, meaning that with the proper timing you can crouch to suddenly reduce your speed and throw off people who were actively trying to predict your movements, or even have tons of one-hit-kill shots fly mere centimeters over your head.

Again, infected definitely need buffs, but a lot of people also appear to view things in an overly simplistic manner which may result in a total overcorrection that makes it borderline impossible for survivors to exist unless they’re playing in the absolute sweatiest ways possible.

I think that the first infected should be kinda like a “leader” with these abilities to encourage team play. Maybe they’re slightly bigger or a different color or something.