Before diving into this article I have to cover a few things. First, this article is part of the Left 4 Dead collection. You can view the collection here. Inside the collection, you will find level dives, reviews, and more.
Second, this article contains various YouTube videos and links to the Left 4 Dead wiki. I do not know the people who made the videos personally but be sure to give them a like and subscribe. They did amazing work.
What is a Character Dive?
A character dive is where I go over a character, their backstory, what I think of them, and any other information I find to be important about them. For this article I am going to do character dives for all four main characters: This means that this article is going to be pretty meaty!
The first time I played Left 4 Dead and saw the character list, Zoey was an instant pick for me. At the time it was because she was the only woman on the roster and since I am a woman I tend to gravitate toward female characters.
Over time my reasons for considering Zoey my favorite have shifted. Now that I am older, I pay more attention to the voice lines. Instead of playing Zoey because she is the only woman on the roster, I now play her because she is a likable and relatable character. Her relationships with the other characters are notable. It’s her relationship with Bill that has me appreciating their characters more.
Who is Zoey?
Zoey is a college student who was studying film on a scholarship. Her official age is not stated but I am guessing she is at least 19 years old if not slightly older.
Her parents were divorced. Zoey had a closer relationship with her father who was a movie lover and a cop. Her relationship with her father makes her relationship with Bill make a lot of sense.
Zoey was light hearted and seemingly carefree with the other survivors until Bill died. In the Passage campaign you can hear the way her personality has shifted. She takes on the role of a leader within the group, and becomes more confident standing up for herself.
Now that we have covered who Zoey is we can properly discuss her character. I did not have the chance to read any of the comics for this project so I am using the wiki, game, and YouTube to form my opinions. It will be like this for all of the survivors.
Her likeability is her biggest strength.
Zoey is extremely likable: She often jokes with other survivors and the backstory you get through her voice lines makes her seem endearing. Her comments about being the last woman on earth are funny and I can understand where she is coming from, making the comment even better.
When she calls for the survivors to get inside the safe room you can hear the urgency in her voice. She clearly wants her friends to be safe and needs everyone to hurry up so she can relax for a second. Her voice actress nailed all of Zoey’s voice lines, I rarely ever find her annoying to listen to (aside from the almost there voice line.)
The way she speaks to the other survivors is interesting.
- When speaking to Francis and talking about a first aid kit she will sometimes say “Francis, if you aren’t going to use that first aid kid, can I have it?”
- When speaking to Bill about his first aid kit she will sometimes say, “come on man, use your first aid kit.”
- When speaking to Louis she will sometimes say, “Louis, if you aren’t gonna use that first aid kit, can I have it, please?”
The choice to have Zoey and the rest of the survivors have voice lines like these makes them pop and come alive. One of my favorite voice lines that she has goes like this…
- When reviving a survivor: “Alright tiger, up and at ‘em. Nobody’s leaving anyone behind, you’re going to be fine, but we gotta keep moving.”
There are numerous examples of Zoey being a likable character. She is eager to help her fellow survivors and is not in a rush to leave anyone behind. It is because of these qualities that I think she stands out from the rest of the Left 4 Dead survivors.
Bill is a 60+-year-old combat veteran who I used to hate when I was younger. I could not stand his attitude or any of his voice lines, and I did not understand his character. Hearing him speak would make me cringe or roll my eyes. In truth, Bill was my second most hated character in the whole game.
However, while working on this project my thoughts and feelings about Bill changed significantly. I no longer see him as an annoyance, but as the group’s unofficial leader who is holding the group together. Bill is an important character who serves a greater purpose.
I misjudged Bill and this time during my playthrough it hurt to sacrifice him. Especially when hearing the voice lines from the other characters.
Who is Bill?
Bill is a 60+ year old combat veteran. He fought in the Vietnam war: This experience has proven to be extremely valuable.
Bill is an absolute badass who fought his way out of a veterans hospital after a nurse became infected.
Although his relationship with Zoey is the one relationship he seems to treasure the most, Bill does everything in his power to keep the other survivors alive.
Now that I don’t hate Bill’s character, thinking about him always seems to send me down a mental rabbit hole. I find his character to be extremely important to the group and Bill sets up for Zoey having a personality shift: I believe this would lead to more character growth if Left 4 Dead 3 was ever made (I can dream.)
Bill and the War
Bill served two duties during the Vietnam war. His time serving has made him uniquely equipped to handle the infected: Bill is very adamant that fighting the infected is not the same as fighting humans. I believe his experience is why he became the group’s unofficial leader.
Bill has an extremely close relationship with Zoey and he goes out of his way to make sure she is safe. Their relationship comes through in a variety of voice lines. If I had to guess, Bill had a daughter or something and Zoey has filled the role of being his surrogate daughter. I do not think Bill is attached to Zoey just because she is the only woman in the group. I believe this relationship is important not only for the game but also for the player. Characters having connections, especially in team based games with a limited roster, help the player become closer to the characters as a whole.
Bill is interesting because I think his combat experience might have been his biggest boon but also a hindrance to his character development. Bill would do anything to keep his group alive even going as far as to leave other survivors behind to die. I think Bill being sacrificed completes his character’s ultimate goal of making sure his group is safe, no matter the cost.
Francis is one of those characters I just don’t care about. I am indifferent to his existence and find his character to be flat. When I was younger I was drawn to his “cool personality” and how he treated the infected through each campaign.
For me, Francis does not get more interesting until he interacts with the Left 4 Dead 2 cast. I will not be covering those interactions in this article.
Who is Francis?
Francis is a cocky biker with a horribly flat backstory. I am not going to dive into it but you can read it on the wiki.
Why won’t I dive into Francis?
I view Francis as being a “filler” character. He has some funny voice lines but overall I could do without him in the game completely. Unlike Bill and Zoey, Francis appears to be lacking a personality to dissect. Since I don’t find any aspects of his personality interesting I will send you to the wiki and to this YouTube video.
It is hard for me to attempt to discuss Francis. I understand his character type, his motivations before the apocalypse and I even find him funny sometimes: This is where everything I have to say about Francis ends.
I have to get this out of the way before we dive into Louis. I hate him. Every time Louis speaks he makes me cringe.
Louis is too positive. Almost every reaction he has is positive and despite hating this positivity I find Louis to be somewhat interesting.
Who is Louis?
Louis was a Junior Systems Analyst for his company’s IT department. He is a positive and upbeat character who always seems to know how to twist any situation to make it more positive.
Despite my hatred for Louis I do find him to be an interesting character. I believe his positivity is not a shield or coping mechanism. I think Louis is truly happy about the apocalypse. Of course he could just be a happy man, and all the power to him if that’s the case.
I find his lack of any real attachment to any of the other characters to be extremely interesting as well. Overall, I feel as though Louis was given the least amount of character out of the four survivors. It is a shame because I do think he could have been further developed through voice lines.
The character images came from the Left 4 Dead wiki.
- Zoey: Image Source.
- Francis: Image Source.
- Bill: Image Source.
- Louis: Image Source.
- Left 4 Dead wiki: Survivors.
- I had no hand in making the YouTube videos. Check out Wow Such Gaming for more Left 4 Dead videos.