Pwn the Podium:
Left 4 Dead and the Undying Quest for Gold!

Left 4 Dead's Survival mode has turned me into an obsessed lunatic. When I first tried it, I thought getting a bronze medal would be tough, and a gold, impossible. But as they say, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." Or as the zombies say, "mrraabarragglabragalagarbababal!!"

When poking around the interweb for tips, I was discouraged to see people excitedly throw their gold-winning times in forum threads without any elaboration. Even worse were gold-medal user vids that attracted comments from people who matter-of-factly stated how easy that particular map was. Am I just that plain bad, or is this a vocal minority? Well, here are some relevant facts, courtesy of Steam (as of October 2010):

Even if we assume only a slight majority of logged Left 4 Dead players haven't even bothered with Survival mode, that still means only half of the minority has earned a single gold medal, and a sliver of them has achieved gold across the board.

Does that not make this a worthy challenge?! Mrraabarragglabragalagarbababal!!

This page is a proposed strategies "reminder" sheet for the Survival group, as dysfuntional as it may be: me (TOP), Wheelbarrow (WHL), kaibar (KBR), thimble (THM), pwan, doggie (DOG), and whoeva else (Hamster, AI Francis). Peace.

It's also a log of what worked on maps for which we earned a gold medal: it's meant to offer any L4D-playing passerby some tips on what seemed to work out for us. This isn't a walkthrough, and the spots mentioned or dismissed aren't necessarily the best or worst places for a gold medal; they're just what happened to work for us.

  The Generator Room (a.k.a The Subway) 5:12 5:12 3:59 3:59 --
  The Gas Station (a.k.a The Sewers) 10:38 10:38 6:37 6:35  6:37
  The Hospital 10:09 10:09 10:09 10:09 --
  The Rooftop 13:15 13:15 3:31 -- --
Death Toll
  The Drains 11:06 11:06 7:29 7:19 7:03
  The Church 7:42 6:16 7:42 7:42 7:42
  The Street (a.k.a. The Town) 10:47 10:01 -- -- --
  The Boathouse 5:20 5:15 5:20 4:04 --
Dead Air
  The Crane 11:14 11:14 2:52 2:52 --
  The Construction Site 6:50 6:50 6:50 3:33 6:50
  The Terminal 13:00 13:00 13:00 13:00 --
  The Runway 6:19 4:45 6:19 6:19 --
Blood Harvest
  The Warehouse (a.k.a. The Tunnel) 5:54 5:54 -- -- --
  The Bridge 6:21 6:21 -- 3:08 --
  The Farmhouse 10:23 10:23 10:23 10:23 --
The Last Stand
  The Lighthouse 10:42 10:42 4:02 6:27 4:15


  The Rooftop – 13m 15s*

Next Legit Strat

Option 1: Camp the rooftop and be very wary of protecting pulled teammates.

Option 2: Try some under-the-stairs crap. (Apparently, this is a method to use in Campaign.)

Option 3: Camp the upper rooftop?

Rejected Strats

Too soon to say...


It upsets me that the entire radio-room area has been modified so much. I found the 2-2 stairs spread very therapeutic.

* I think this time is tainted because our Survival pal, Hamster, showed us a placement that caused the hordes to never find us.


  The Terminal – 13m 00s

Gold Strat

Spread along the wall/gate (left end shown in the pic) with 2-3 shotguns for tanks and crowd control. Riflemen can focus on Special Infected.

Lots of mollys on the counter, and the ammo stash is nearby. What's not to like!

More open space compared to the corner under the stairs means Hunters have less prowling space and are less of a surprise.

When doing an ammo run, try to cheat a molly/pipe from near the washroom, to help conserve those that sit on the counter.

Rejected Strats

Tried the back corner underneath the stairs with 3, but could only get Silver-ish times. While the ammo pile was close enough, the big stockpile of mollys at the counter was out of reach. (Well maybe it wasn't... bawwk bok-bok-bok!)

Tried the washroom, split in pairs at the privacy entrances, but would easily be overwhelmed. Also, it reminded me too much of the washroom from Doom 3. No, ma'am!


After the hordes spill over the second-floor railings to attack you, are they already weakened? Maybe it only takes one shove to knock them out permanently. I have submitted this question to Quirks and Quarks.


  The Crane – 11m 14s

Gold Strat

This area is so small, there really aren't many options. Turns out the very spot where you spawn, on top of the building, is a good one. Whodathunk?!

The tank often spawns on the next building (where the crane-lowered crate will take you in Campaign mode). If you're on the roof, chances are he'll make a bee-line at you and fall straight into the alley between the buildings. Idiot!

3-4 M16s/rifles are great for all the Special Infected you'll have to deal with, which usually involves long-distance shots at the windows across the roof. If a Tank does show up, you're right by the weapons pile: shotty-boom-bawdy!

Rejected Strats

Squatting on the actual crane platform is normally OK during campaigns, but is pretty bad for Survival: hordes are guaranteed to rain on you while the Weather Girls scream in harmony, and it's too crowded for 4 to operate for the long haul. Sitting here makes me hate my teammates, and even myself.

Standing in the fenced area and using the barriers to your advantage seems balls-y and doable, but it requires über coordination.


I used to think this was the last place I'd get a gold, if ever. Thank god my L4D junky friend Hamster took charge and showed us how it's done.


  The Drains – 11m 06s*

Next Legit Strat

Option 1: Try the elevated corner where you flip the switch. You're closer to the ammo pile.

Option 2: Try the elevated corner where the medkits and pipes are. You're closer to the goodies. For these first two options, the elevation slows down the hordes, and you can get quite a few shots in on the Tanks before they climb up.

Option 3: Stick to the old plan: starting out in the large drain pipe, and battling back hordes with pistols. Fall back to the tunnel whenever a Tank arrives, or once the hordes start to get too thick.

Rejected Strats

Abandon the drainpipe-to-tunnel routine? Not sure if we've hit our ceiling with a Silver time using this method. Special Infected accumulate in the open sewer, so heading in to get ammo is always really risky.


There don't seem to be many goodies to use on this level: a few pipes and a propane tank in the far corner. Maybe there's an area across the bridge that opens up once it extends?

* This time is not legit in my books because our L4D junky friend Hamster showed us a trick that allowed us to go to the safehouse. I eventually could not take it anymore and left the room, looking to redeem myself before being subjected to god's will.


  The Street – 10m 47s

Gold Strat

On this straight stretch of road, there are few options. Camp the very back corner by the right "ramp building," with well-timed runs to the table for ammo, pills, and pipes.

Preparation: first grab mollys/pipes at the front end of the street to save the pipes on the table. Move the two jerrycans to your camping corner: it's all you'll get. 2+ shotties is great, and a must for quick clean-up the occasional fence-climbing mob at the rear. A hunting rifle is helpful since Smokers are visible from the end of the street and the second-storey window on the right side.

If you stay in that back corner when a Tank arrives, he may actually get stuck underneath the ramp that leads to the second-storey window. Stooopid!

Rejected Strats

Tried a shifting tactic where you start at the minigun with your buds surrounding you. By being this far forward, sometimes the Tank would not spawn in front of you beyond the hill, and would attack from behind. Too chaotic an option.

Also tried starting at the table because it meant being able to use M16s/rifles for regular use, then grabbing a shotgun when a Tank showed up. This disposable gun tactic, A.K.A. "The Schwarzenegger," is really cool, but puts you awfully close to the second-storey window to the right.


Getting a gold using "The Schwarzenegger" is a dream.


  The Lighthouse – 10m 42s*

Gold Strat

* This time may not have been legitimately earned. My L4D junky friend Hamster asked me to go to his server. Next thing you know, we're at the top two levels of the lighthouse, and only once did a Tank manage to find us. I recall there being some pathfinding glitch when you're there -- not sure.

In terms of a legitimate re-do: a shifting tactic might be worth trying to perfect: start at the corner outside of the house where you spawn (for easy ammo pick-ups) until you can't handle it no more, then fall back to the Lighthouse top (which you've prepared by stockpiling jerrycans), or the small generator room.

Rejected Strats

I'm ready to give up on camping the very top of the lighthouse for now. If a Tank gets up there and hits someone, that could be the end of that Survivor.

Tried a 2-2 split, with a pair on the Lighthouse and a pair by the fence at the end of the road. Turns out this was kind of -- what's the word -- oh, moronic.


The amount of jerrycans and propane tanks on this level just makes me sick. It feels like you need to spend an aeon setting up.

Pick any wall on this map and watch the hordes do home reno work on it.


  The Gas Station – 10m 38s

Gold Strat

Blow up the gas pumps. An eternal flame will come from the ground (after the wild-ass fire dies out). Position the team behind this flame, along the wall, to coax the horde to climb over the rubble and through the fire to get to you. Most of them will set themselves on fire, requiring no attention from you.

If everyone's rocking M16s and hunting rifles, you should be able to take care of most special infected as they approach from across the lot. The ammo pile is right beside the team, so everyone can go to town with the trigger.

Rejected Strats

Camping near the hole in the stockroom. It seemed promising because hordes usually end up climbing up, making it easy to knock them back down, and Tanks would slowly climb up as well, allowing the team to 90% it. The main problem was the primary weapon ammo would run out before the 10-minute mark.

Tried to make a stand at the corner by the lift. However, with the Hunters down low and Smokers up top, it just felt like too much was left to chance.


I verified you aren't able to break the barrier that leads to the small room above the dumpster by firing 120 shotgun shells into it.


  The Farmhouse – 10m 23s

Gold Strat

Head for the barn attic. Although it's cramped up there, you're right by the ammo pile and a table full of mollys. To start, collect the jerrycans and stash them behind you. Try to use them in place of mollys earlier on.

At least 3 shotties would be nice, since you need to take the Tank down as quickly as possible (ideally, before he hits anyone).

The Hordes only come through the opening and up the ledge/rafters; Special Infected only climb the ladder. A 2-2 split should be fine, with all 4 focusing on the ledge when the Tank climbs up.

Rejected Strats

Abandoned the Tank tactic where everyone runs to the end of the rafters when the Tank theme starts. This can work because being there seems to confuse the Tank. If/by the time he climbs up, he should have taken quite a bit of punishment, and should be rather easy to take down.

A variation of this is to have a pair of guys go to the rafters (a rifleman and a shotgun user). The rifleman focuses on Special Infected below, and the shotgun toter warms up the Tank.

Unforunately, with both variations, there are many variables for a mistake (falling, getting pulled, the Tank actually staying on the rafter) that leads to cascading failure.


There are plenty of fire-starting goodies around, more than normal for a Survival map. Don't be shy to use them at the window opening, or the floor just below the rafters when you suspect a horde and Tank will show up around the same time. You've got plenty to work with. Also, don't forget the jerrycans on the ground floor of the barn.


  The Hospital – 10m 09s

Gold Strat

Go to the two-door room at the end of the hall with the ammo pile. Melee and shoot one of the doors for what feels like 30 minutes. (Don't worry about the other door; a Hunter will touch it with his pinky finger, after which it will disintegrate.) In the sweet-ass camping room, you'll find a few pipes, mollys, and a bed for each of you.

To conserve the items in that room, start by taking pipes/mollys from near the elevator or the room at the end of that hall. On ammo runs, try to snatch a molly from a room along the way.

At least 3 shotties are ideal. The room is small; if a Tank shows up and everyone focuses on him, he'll be down in a couple of seconds. Have fun when two Tanks show up.

Rejected Strats

We once tried camping right at the elevator, "just to see"...


  The Church – 07m 42s

Next Strat

Option 1: Stack the corner closest to the saferoom door. The main "horde channels" (the open wall, the door, the window farthest from your corner) are about the same distance from here. The ammo pile and stash in the adjacent room are close by.

Option 2: Try the back alley behind the church again. The silver time isn't legit: the last time we tried it, it was on a server where ammo was unlimited (which is pretty funny if you think about it). Regardless, it's worth trying again: this position ensures the Tanks do not make sudden appearances. Need an M16/rifle for Smokers in the bushes outside.

Rejected Strats

Camping the corners on the altar is annoying, as hordes pile into the church on paths that are perpendicular to your view, making it hard to mow down the packs.

Standing on the piano didn't work out so well. You're allowing hordes to surround you; isn't bottlenecking them a better idea and a more effective use of shotgun spread/rifle penetration?


The demented jackass in the safe room makes it really hard to talk a plan through before triggering the hordes. I hate him. Ding dong! Ding dong!


  The Construction Site – 06m 50s

Next Strat

Option 1: Keep trying lining up against the wall inside the building, sticking to the "left" half. (You'd think this would work nicely; why doesn't it?)

Option 2: Try camping the corner by the barricade that you ignite (at the end of the alley in the pic). There are only two real approaches, and at least when you ignite a jerrycan or throw a molly, one of them is blocked off completely.

Rejected Strats

It feels like camping the scaffolding outside is a lost cause, whether on top or within (as shown in the pic). You are too vulnerable to Smoker pulls, and the chaotic layout doesn't funnel the hordes very nicely.

Camping the corner beside the scaffolding did not work out, although I don't rememeber why. I must be blocking it out.


What happens to the alleyway past the barricade after you blow it up? Investimagate this.

I never liked this map. Or its stupid face.


  The Bridge – 06m 21s

Next Strat

Option 1: Sit on top of the train where all the mollys are, as you would if you camped instead of ran in Campaign.

Option 2: Try camping the tiny shack across the tracks from the train in #1.

Shifting tactic: Start on #1, then fall back to the shack permanently after an ammo grab.

Rejected Strats

Too soon to say...


  The Runway – 06m 19s

Next Strat

Stay near the caution tape by default, but shift left to be "behind" the plane whenever a Tank's arrival is imminent. Hopefully he'll get stuck.

Maybe 3-4 M16s is the way to go.

Try stockpiling the jerrycans behind you at the caution tape.

Rejected Strats

The hill behind the plane works well in Campaign mode, but in Survival the hordes rain down on you from above. And they smell like asiago cheese.

The far corner by the damaged boarding bridge didn't work out. The Special Infected's approach is blocked by the corner wall. You are too easily surprised. The "other" far corner didn't seem to work either, although we didn't give it much of a chance.

A 2-2 split on/in front of the gas truck has its benefits: close to the supplies and minigun, and hordes/Tanks can set themselves on fire. The problem is Special Infected attack from all directions; it's too unpredictable to be reliable. But maybe we just suck.


This was my favourite finale for a while, mainly because I think it was the first we finished together without a casualty. Yet the Survival mode version kind of sucks.


  The Warehouse – 05m 54s

Next Strat

Option 1: Stick to the decent Campaign spot, camping up on the platform by the wall, just by the fallen beam that acts as a ramp. You are reasonably close to the ammo pile, as well as the room with the medkits/pills. Grab mollys/pipes from one of the far warehouse corners to start.

Option 2: Try rushing through the door after triggering the hordes and camping different positions along the upper floor. Find out from where hordes, Special Infected, and Tanks originate depending on your position. The only problem here is lack of ammo and medkits.

Option 3: Try a shifting tactic and combine the two, perhaps ending on the upper floor through the doors?

Rejected Strats

Too soon to say...


Top Hat: Another option is to camp the closet upstairs past the door.

Wheelbarrow: What? What closet? Past this door?

Top Hat: Yeah. Past that door are stairs that lead to a closet.

Wheelbarrow: Stairs past this door? I don't understand how you get there...


[Incoming attack!]


  The Boathouse – 05m 20s

Next Strat

Option 1: Camp the upper floor.

Option 2: Use the minigun on the deck; have a pair watch the rear deck.

Camp the lower deck at the rear.

Squat on the cluster of rocks far to the "right" of the boathouse (if you're looking at it from the water).

Rejected Strats

Camping the far far right corner, right by the water, and past the cluster of rocks doesn't seem to work well. The Tanks often get lost looking for you, which sometimes means the first encounter will include a pair of them.

Standing along the buoy line prevents Hunters from pouncing on you, but Smokers too often ruin the party, and the Tank's seeing-eye rock always does a number on someone.


Why does it look like zombies can run faster in water?

This map is so huge it makes me sick.


  The Generator Room – 05m 12s

Next Strat

Option 1: Camp the room with the minigun: 1 on the gun, 1 firing/ready to assist the gunner, 1 firing out, and 1 shotgun watching the hole. The benefit is you can drop down the hole to replenish.

Option 2: I've seen people move upstairs after the first (or a later) wave and camp the platform directly above the minigun room. One rifleman needs to focus on the door down low by the molly table, as it seems most of the Smokers come from there.

Option 3: Use a shifting tactic, and start with #1 for as long as possible, then move to #2 after you've replenished ammo for the last time.

Rejected Strats

The corner with the pipes, a spot that's fine for Campaign, is no good here.


I hate you.


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