(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.)
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