You could say that Alien Swarm is like Left 4 Dead because it has 4-player co-op and it’s made by Valve. But then you could say Left 4 Dead is like Call of Duty because they both contain guns and zombies.
The fact is, you can’t really compare games using their surface appearance. Alien Swarm is the only free non-competitive Valve game. Alien Swarm brought the Source SDK and Source modding in general to people who had never purchased a Valve game before.
Sadly, Alien Swarm was all but abandoned by Valve, with no updates to the core game since 2010, the year the game was released. But because it’s free and open to modding, anyone can continue from where Valve left off. Or, for that matter, take it in a completely different direction. For example, Lambda Wars is a Half-Life 2-themed real time strategy game.
But I’m not here to talk about total conversion mods. And you’re not here to read about them. Let’s talk Alien Swarm.
Although Swarm Director 2 improves gameplay on several official and custom maps, it does not contain its own content. Instead, a list of suggested custom campaigns and a place to download each is included with the mod, and fixes for bugs in those maps are written in C++ as part of the mod’s code. Additionally, if you have Reactive Drop installed, Swarm Director 2 will load the Extermination, Operation Cleansweep, and Paranoia campaigns from it.
We also add new features for mappers, the biggest example being a new pair of entities that can be used to make ceilings, bridges, or basically anything that would normally block your view in a top-down perspective but would make sense for someone looking through the eyes of a marine to see and for light to bounce off of.
A lot of the new features concern marine bots and don’t even require mappers to do any extra work. For example, bots automatically detect the most frequently used method of creating elevators, trains, and other places where the team needs to gather in one spot, and will gather inside if the squad leader is there. Bots will also automatically gather inside level exits, drop healing beacons as medic and ammo from the ammo satchel, and flank shieldbugs when fighting them.
Alien Swarm’s birthday is a mere 15 days from now, on the 19th of July. It will be 5 years old. In these five years, over 800 years of Alien Swarm game time has been logged. More than 2,250,000 people have played the two missions required to get the TF2 hat. Here’s to another 5 years.