- "Safe house ahead!"
Officially termed a safe room (also known as a safe house), this is the mission goal in both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 chapters save for finales. Once all Survivors are inside a safe room and have closed the door, the chapter's results and/or scores will roll and the next chapter will load.
A safe room is a barricaded room or building which enables Survivors to rest, heal and resupply themselves. In Campaign Mode, they also give teams a chance to take a break and discuss plans for the next chapter. Safe rooms are easily identified by red, heavily armored metal doors. Chapter ending doors are solid and have only a peephole. Chapter starting doors are fundamentally different in design, being locked with a crash-bar and featuring a large aperture window providing a wide field of view, giving the ability to shoot infected positioned outside of the safe room.
Safe rooms are extemporized from pre-Infection permanent structures (e.g. a hotel kitchen), from random opportunities (e.g. a railroad caboose) and by deliberate construction (e.g. the safe room at the end of the sky bridge at Metro International Airport).
All safe rooms are equipped with First-aid kits, ammunition and weapons. Weaponry is usually Tier 1, but Tier 2 weapons will be supplied in those safe rooms prefacing final or second to last chapters. Occasionally, a safe room inventory will also offer grenades or pills/adrenaline. Many (but not all) safe rooms will have secondary weapons available for survivors to use.
All safe room walls bear graffiti left by previous Survivors. Valve stated in Left 4 Dead's commentary that the concept of safe room graffiti was intended to fill in some of the plot and contextual backstory that Left 4 Dead would otherwise lack.Evidently, CEDA encouraged the construction of safe rooms. Multiple posters throughout the Left 4 Dead games carry instructions showing how to build a safe room. CEDA's checklist included the following:
- An adequate supply of water.
- Non-perishable foods.
- A First-Aid kit.
- A flashlight.
- Necessary prescription medicines.
Another checklist involves:
- Seeking shelter underground in a windowless room.
- Ensuring all openings have been securely obstructed.
- Securing the room with plastic sheeting and duct tape.
- Listening to the radio for further instructions.
Since these instructions are located in completed safe rooms, it is impossible to determine whether CEDA or uninfected local residents actually built specific safe rooms. Nevertheless, the standardized construction of safe room doors does suggest that CEDA had an inventory of these items on hand prior to the infection, which they distributed quite freely once it became clear that orthodox quarantine measures were failing.
As a general rule, the safe room is the only part of a map where Survivors are completely safe from Infected attack.
Door management is key factor in game play. If a door remains open, any Infected may enter the room until the door is finally closed. If an Infected horde is blocking the arc of a door's aperture, the door cannot be closed until this impediment is removed and the door's outline is picked out in white. Finally, if an Infected enters the safe room, it must be killed or pushed out of the room before the chapter will end and the next one can be loaded.
Common Infected who notice the Survivors inside will often try to reach into the safe room through the bars in the exit door. They usually pose no threat and can be disposed of very easily by gunfire or melee.
Safe Room Tactics Edit
The Survivors Edit
- Be proactive about the Infected outside. Shoot what is seen and clear the area for a safer, easier departure.
- As soon as one Survivor leaves the safe room, the music cue will change, and the Special Infected will be allowed to spawn. Leave the safe room and start the chapter quickly. If Survivors dither in the safe room for a long time without attempting to leave, the Director will eventually grow impatient and spawn a Tank to destroy the door if the bar was taken off. So, make sure only get the things you need and leave the room quickly.
- When in Versus mode, try to leave the starting safe house as soon as possible since wasting time gives extra time to the Infected to plan and launch a first strike. The longer a team lingers, the better the odds of the Infected mounting a well-coordinated first strike.
- When in Versus, the safe room door will open automatically after about a minute, so it is better for a co-op team to form a plan quickly and get out into the open. When the door is opened, it is recommended that all Survivors leave the room quickly so that the Infected team will not be able to achieve what is referred to by the player community as "Insta-Spawn", the quick re-spawn of fallen player-controlled Special Infected.
- The starting safe room door cannot be closed after being opened in Versus mode.
- In campaigns, safe room doors do not open automatically so players can take all the time they need.
- Before leaving the safe room, it may be a good idea of waiting other players who are still in the loading screen, especially if other players have low-end PCs or high server latencies (their computers are far from where the game is hosted), as this allows them to stock/swap weaponry, heal up, and grab ammo. Leaving without waiting can be a problem on higher difficulties due to bots being quite ineffective at handling hordes; by the time a player has finished loading and has taken over their character, he/she may have already suffered heavy damage from Common Infected (or Special Infected in event of abnormal long duration loading). Players who are still loading will usually show "Idle: Nick" (the name varies depends on which character the loading player is using) until they're finished loading.
- The Witch has a nasty tendency to spawn very close to safe room entrances. The easy way to deal with this problem is to have the team open up on her simultaneously or let an auto-shotgunner sidle up and either Cr0wn her or let her have half a magazine on full auto. An entertaining alternative is to have a Survivor startle the Witch then run to the nearby safe room. Since the Witch cannot break down the door she will simply run away at this point and leave everybody (note this still works in Versus since it's not necessary to close the door; the player just need to be in the safe room to confuse her).
- Occasionally, if a Witch is between the Survivors and the safe room (i.e. the safe room door is visible), the AI for computer controlled Survivors will conflict and they will run directly to the safe room, ignoring and startling the Witch.
- If faced with a Tank, running back into a safe room is questionable since AI Bot team members will not follow but will stand their ground and fight.
- Tanks can also break down beginning safe room doors when the bar is removed, making them significantly less safe.
- On certain levels such as The Crane, Infected can reach through holes in the wall surrounding the safe room and do damage, so stay clear of these.
- A common trick is to trap the Tank inside the chapter ending safe room and, since he cannot break the door down, he can be dispatched at no risk by gunfire shot through the door or with a Molotov. This is extremely helpful online, especially on Versus mode, since it is relatively risk-free and a player's health status generates points at the end of each chapter in the original Left 4 Dead.
- This ploy can also be used to good effect in games on Hard or Expert difficulty. Let one Survivor lead the Tank into the safe room while other Survivors shut the door. This sacrifices the Survivor inside but keeps other teammates alive. The Survivor's inventory items will drop in the safe room while the recently deceased will respawn in the next chapter.
- In Left 4 Dead 2, players should never run into a safe room thinking it is safe because the Director may decide to spawn a Special Infected or two inside. To make matters worse, the Director may spawn an idle Witch inside the safe room. A rare glitch has even been seen where if both doors are closed but not everyone is inside yet, the Director may spawn a Special Infected out of sight on a two-story safe room, such as in the middle of Hard Rain.
- Riverside First Church is the only Left 4 Dead chapter to feature a Special Infected regularly spawning inside a safe room, namely The Church Guy. On occasion, a Special Infected may spawn in a safe room and lie in wait for the Survivors.
- Watch out for the window on the exit door, some Special Infected can attack through the window; however, the Special Infected are only allowed to spawn after someone has left the safe room:
- Boomers can vomit through the window but the resultant horde can be easily defeated as long as the door is closed.
- Smokers can attack the Survivor through the window.
- Spitters can spit through the window.
- The number of infected of a level can be significantly decreased with the use of a Bile Bomb and starting safe room door. You can do this by:
- Leaving the safe room and throwing your Bile Bomb in
- Closing the safe room door and stepping away to prevent zombies from attacking you
- Allowing the zombies to attack the safe room door.
- Even after the Bile wears off, the infected will continue attacking the door. Since the door is unbreakable, they will become stuck.
- Because a limited number of infected can be present at one time, the infected stuck at the safe room door will decrease the number of infected that players will encounter during the level.
- AI survivors should not be present during the execution of this tactic because they will automatically shoot the infected.
The Infected Edit
- While the door cannot be breached, Infected can sneak in when the Survivors are nearing the goal. Often, one person will break away and attempt to run to the safe room, making themselves vulnerable for attack by pinning infected.
- The safe room is the last point where Infected can really team up on the Survivors. Make the most of the final point by organizing in front of the safe room, and then keeping one Infected inside the room for good measure. Try to position a Boomer outside to vomit or explode on your target, as the Horde that will quickly come will further slow the Survivors down. A Spitter can also spit in front of a safe room to delay the Survivors from getting inside (if they don't want to take damage), or into the safe rooms to force the Survivors to get out.
- While the Infected cannot spawn until the Survivors exit the safe room, it also gives a good opportunity to organize a powerful first wave. Organize the Infected team early to hit them just as they are coming out. The sooner Survivors are hurt, the sooner Survivors will have to use their first-aid kits.
- Try to hit the Survivors before they enter the safe room as a Tank, even if you spawn very close to the end. Even if the Horde is entering the safe room and have the Survivors occupied, the Survivors may try the trick stated above if they can, which you cannot escape.
- If your team is skilled enough, try to keep Survivors in the beginning safe room. As long as one Survivor doesn't leave the safe room, you can respawn almost instantly. Also note if all the Survivors leave the safe room and go back in, this no longer works (this feature is not applied to Left 4 Dead 2).
Safe Room LocationsEdit
- The Apartments― In the basement of an apartment block next to the subway.
- The Subway ― Inside the store room of the pawn shop, presumably built by the shop's owner.
- The Sewer― In the staff lounge behind the hospital's main reception desk.
- The Hospital― In a temporary room in the construction site on the 28th floor of the hospital.
- The Alleys ― In the center of a warehouse.
- The Turnpike ― Inside the generator room of the overflow pipes.
- The Drains ― Inside a converted railway carriage in the train station.
- The Church ― Inside the church's vestibule, occupied by the Church Guy. It is unknown whether the Church Guy built this safe room or simply found it later.
- The Town ― In the back room of a storage garage.
- The Greenhouse― Inside the kitchen of the Harbor View Hotel.
- The Crane ― Inside one of the storage rooms in the Self Storage facility.
- The Construction Site ― Inside a hastily built structure made of wooden boards and metal bars at the entrance to the airport terminal. This is the only safe room in the game that is entirely constructed for this purpose, rather than an existing room that has been converted.
- The Terminal― Inside one of the airport's passenger jetways.
- The Woods― Inside one of the offices of the train depot.
- The Tunnel― Inside a maintenance locker room alongside the train tunnel.
- The Bridge― Inside a wooden shack at the top of the ridge next to the fallen bridge.
- The Train Station― Inside a converted railway carriage at the end of the railway bridge.
- The Docks ― Inside one of the offices in the Brick factory.
- The Barge ― A destroyed office room behind the grocery store near the Port.
In Left 4 Dead 2, each level contains a safe room, with slight differences from the first game's safe rooms. Some safe rooms are larger than the first game's, such as an entire convenience store, as opposed to a single room.
- The Hotel ― At the exit of the hotel lobby.
- The Streets ― The Mall entrance by a parking lot that was being used by CEDA.
- The Mall ― A back room in The Mall's maintenance corridors.
- The Riverbank ― An office room near the park.
- The Underground ― A maintenance room on the other side of Rayford near the bridge.
- The Highway ― A small shack off to the side of the park's main entrance.
- The Fairgrounds ― The entrance to The Tunnel of Love.
- The Coaster ― The entrance to the roller-coaster.
- The Barns ― The entrance to the stadium where The Concert finale takes place.
- Plank Country ― A large short pipe under a bridge.
- The Swamp ― A small house in The Shantytown.
- The Shantytown ― A small shack near The Plantation.
- The Milltown ― A small building across the street from The Sugar Mill.
- The Sugar Mill ― A gas station on the other side of the Sugarcane Field. Once the next level loads, the safe room door is switched from an entrance door to an exit door.
- Mill Escape ― Same building as from The Milltown, but with the safe room doors reversed.
- Return To Town ― A small, previously barricaded house with basic medical supplies.
- The Waterfront ― A small convenience store/voodoo shop.
- The Park ― A maintenance room under an overpass.
- The Cemetery ― The back office of a store.
- The Quarter ― A maintenance room at the base of The Bridge.
- The safe room door is still easily defensible after the bar is removed from the door. If a player removes the bar and closes the door, Common Infected cannot get in.
- In The Sacrifice trailer, a Jockey can be seen next to a broken safe room door.
- Beginning safe rooms can be breached by Tanks once the metal bar has been removed.
- The beginning safe area on each campaign can be broken into by the Infected, as none of them have secured doorways; No Mercy starts you off on a rooftop, Crash Course starts in a parking lot, Death Toll begins on a highway, Dead Air starts inside of a greenhouse (though the only way to enter it is the same way the Survivors exit), and Blood Harvest has them begin in the middle of a forest. However, despite the fact that almost none of these are actually rooms, in Versus mode, it will tell the Infected that they can't spawn because the Survivors are still in the safe room, and they are not allowed to spawn inside of the area. This is likely an attempt by Valve to make sure new players aren't frustrated by being able to be attacked in a starting area, and to balance the game in general (safe rooms outside are more considered "safe zones").
- The music that plays at the beginning of a level when in a safe room is actually homage to the zombie walk music from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead.
- Special Infected may sometimes spawn inside the ending safe room. However, in Death Toll, all the safe room doors are closed upon arrival, meaning the Infected who spawn inside aren't able to escape since they can't break down the door.
- Safe rooms do exist in real life, with steel doors and concrete walls that are meant to withstand hurricanes and tornadoes. Valve may have based the game version off these.
- Except in safe houses made of train cars or in Hard Rain, the exit doors are often barricaded, and the Survivors moved the barricade to the door behind them in the next chapter, dooming any future Survivors. Though one may argue, since safe room doors can be opened outwards or inwards, all the future Survivors would have to do was clear the barricade (or shoot it) and then go in. This would be dangerous to the other Survivors, as they may be under attack by the Horde. However, they never barricade the door they exit, leaving that point of entry available to any Survivors.
- Due to the location of safe rooms (train cars, stores, and other random areas) as well as the construction of the doors (they seem to be homemade out of scrap metal rather than professionally manufactured), it is likely that the safe rooms aren't provided by CEDA or the military, but instead are built by the original occupants.
- Despite CEDA posters warning the occupants to seal off the room completely to prevent air coming in, all safe rooms have a view slit on the entry door and a large barred window on the exit door. However, several articles of graffiti disregard these instructions, claiming the Infection is not airborne.
- Although the CEDA attempted to discourage citizens from storing firearms and ammo within Safe Rooms, some defiant Survivors disobeyed this and there is graffiti that openly criticizes the CEDA.
- The entry safe room door the Church Guy hides behind has a small wooden plank across the view hole, possibly because he doesn't want to see anything outside out of fear. This is strange, however, since he sometimes comments on the clothing of the Survivors.
- There are some areas in Left 4 Dead that, although not actually safe rooms, Common and Special Infected cannot break through, not even the Tank. Examples include a steel door room in Dead Air, just outside the second safe room, and the one on the elevated wooden platform in the train yard area within Death Toll. These doors resemble freezer doors, and there are two in total.
- These doors also exist in Left 4 Dead 2. However, they cannot be opened or closed and are always in a stuck position. Examples includes the steel door in the kitchen of the coffee shop in the first level of The Parish, just before the safe room. Another example is in the second level of Dark Carnival in the kitchen near the shooting gallery where you obtain Gnome Chompski.
- In certain cases, there are safe areas within levels that inhibit or prevent access from Infected, have supplies, and give a breather for the Survivors. Many of these are right before a crescendo event, allowing the Survivors to prepare. Whitaker's Gun Shop is an example, as it houses several health packs, all Tier 1, Tier 2 and sidearm firearms, and generally no Infected appear until the convenience store Save 4 Less door alarm is sounded. However, the door to his shop can be breached by Infected.
- Various safe rooms have spots that prevent the next map from loading when standing in them. Known locations are: On top of the water cooler before the boathouse in Death Toll, standing inside the restroom on the other side of the church door, and standing against the door leading from the airport to the runway.
- In Versus, as an Infected, you can spawn inside the beginning safe room after the last Survivor has left and is out of view.
- A very rare glitch allows an AI Infected to spawn inside a safe room with both doors closed if all the Survivors are not present (such as at the end of a chapter). This seems to happen in two-level rooms or a safe room with multiple rooms in it where one of the levels or rooms is out of view (at the end of Chapter 3 in Hard Rain, at the foot of the bridge in Chapter 4 of The Parish, and at the end of Chapter 3 in Cold Stream).
- In Versus, the special infected can spawn through ending safe room doors by jumping into the door in ghost mode and spawning just exactly while inside the door itself. But the trick is very difficult to perform if the player is not skilled, although it is less difficult when playing as a Jockey.