The Special Infected – Database: Episode 4

The Special Infected – Database: Episode 4

Hi, and welcome to Episode 4 of ValveTime Database. In this episode, we’ll be returning to the Left 4 Dead
series to take a look at the Special Infected. We previously discussed the series’ infamous
Green Flu during Episode 2 of Database, so be sure to go check that out first if you haven’t already, as it covers a lot of groundwork and should
get you pretty set up for this episode. While the Special Infected all play unique
roles on the zombie battlefields, the origins of these unique mutations are relatively unknown, so we’re going to try and examine the creatures as best we can using some of the most popular theories and a
variety of symbolism found within the games. In total, eight powerful infected types are
shown to exist in the Left 4 Dead series – six special infected: the Boomer, Smoker,
Hunter, Jockey, Charger, and Spitter; and two “boss” infected: the Tank and Witch. One particular theory we’ve recently
been considering is the possibility that the eight special infected may represent the seven deadly sins as based on the list created by Pope Gregory I in AD 590, with supporting evidence coming from Peter Binsfeld’s pairing of each of the sins with a greater demon created in 1589. When asked to comment on this theory,
Left 4 Dead’s lead writer Chet Faliszek responded, “Come on now, we can’t ruin the fun and comment!”, so take this theory with a grain of salt. As we talk about each of the infected, we’re going to be revisiting this theme throughout the episode. The special infected each have their own
trademark mutations and appearances, all caused by the Green Flu. The mutations’ effects on the Boomer
give it its oversized appearance, as evidenced by the grossly swollen
belly buttons and improperly fitting outfit seen on all variations of both the male and female Boomers. This may be caused by the virus hijacking
or dissolving the body’s digestive tract in an effort to produce and contain bile. After exploding, the Boomer’s remains appear hollow, suggesting that most of the Boomer’s
body and organs have been digested or repurposed to contain and produce bile. In a regularly functioning body, bile is used to aid in the breakdown
of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. The repurposing of the digestive tract
may cause starvation and malnutrition, resulting in rapid swelling from a condition known as Kwashiorkor. As an overweight mass of bile, the Boomer
may be representing “Gula,” or Gluttony. Given that Boomer bile attracts zombie hordes,
its vomit attack supports this idea. Beelzebub, the demon representing gluttony,
is also often referred to as Lord of the Flies, while having control over lesser demons
much in the same way the Boomer is the only special infected type to have indirect
control over the common infected horde. The Hunter’s mutations, on the other hand,
appear to be directly related to improved fitness, potentially related to elevated levels of lactic acid
present in a host’s bloodstream and muscles, helping to improve their strength and stamina after mutation. The Hunter may represent Superbia, or Pride and Hubris. This may also related to the demon Lucifer, the fallen angel. The Hunter, possibly a fallen survivor,
had belief in their ability to survive, as shown by the duct tape keeping the loose
sleeves tight against the Hunter’s limbs, limiting the possibility of being bitten. Before falling victim to the Green Flu, it’s possible
Hunters overestimated their own immunity, which wasn’t nearly as divine as their pride had them believe, ultimately leading to their downfall. As for the Smoker, there are a number of
theories on how this particular infected received its signature tongue, if it is a tongue at all. One theory suggests that the smoker’s
tongue is actually its intestinal tract, expelled from the body at high speeds
by inflating it with the smoke. Another theory suggests that the infection has
developed fungal-like properties within the Smoker similarly to how some real-world fungi
develop tentacle like-structures. Yet another theory suggests that the
tumorous growths on the Smoker’s face are actually muscular structures used
to propel and retract the tongue. Whatever the origin of the Smoker’s tongue, the mutation appears to be more continuous
than that of some other special infected. In Left 4 Dead 1, the Smoker features
only minor tumorous growths and a single, long tongue hanging from his mouth. In Left 4 Dead 2, however, which is set two weeks later, the Smoker features much larger facial
tumors and multiple additional tongues protruding from the Smoker’s back, head, and throat. These exaggerated mutations,
along with some slouching animations, help players quickly distinguish the
Smoker from the common infected, a visual technique Valve used to help players
identify characters by distinctive silhouettes alone, a lesson learned during the development of Team Fortress 2 which has since been applied to Left 4 Dead and Dota 2. Avaritia, or Greed and Avarice,
may be represented by the Smoker. The Smoker’s main role involves
attempting to isolate sole survivors, sometimes in ways that make it difficult or impossible for the other infected to assist with the kill. In Dictionnaire Infernal,
avarice is shown as the demon Mammon, who represents wealth in the bible. It is mentioned that Mammon taught men
to wrest away the Earth’s riches, much in the same way the Smoker
wrests away one survivor from the group. He is depicted as a man tightly gripping a sack
of money, hoarding it away from others, much in the same way the Smoker’s tongue grips a survivor. The Jockey and its under-developed legs and
hunched appearance may suggest that they are suffering from some kind of
spinal disease, growth defect, or similar disability before or after becoming infected. Luxuria, Lechery, or Lust may be represented by the Jockey as they attempt to isolate survivors
from a group for their own benefit by quite literally riding them through crowds. [Ellis from L4D2]
Is this thing humping me?! [James]
In Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal,
Asmodeus, the prince of lechery, is depicted as having chicken legs, and can be seen riding a tiger. This gave rise to his title “the devil on two sticks,”
something later translated to “the lame devil.” Spitters, similarly to Boomers, may be the result of the virus hijacking the body’s natural digestive functions,
in this case to produce stomach acid. This may be caused by an illness such as a bacterial
ulcer being present before infection with Green Flu. Burn wounds and signs of serious erosion can be seen
around the Spitter’s mouth and on her chest, suggesting that while her body is overproducing stomach acids, it is not entirely immune to their effect. The Spitter’s signature unhinged jaw appears
to be a direct result of exposure to the acid, as the gums, tongue, skin, and even part of the jawbone appear to have melted away sometime after infection. This may also be the reason the Spitter walks so erratically, as her internal cavities and muscles may
be degrading due to exposure to the acid. The spitter may represent Invidia, or Envy,
which is often represented by The Leviathan. Over time, The Leviathan, originally a depiction
of Satan, began to represent the Hellmouth, the literal mouth of hell, or “the throat of the dragon,” which fits right in as a description of the Spitter. Tanks are characterized by their extreme
aggression and large muscular frame, a mutation that could be caused by a condition
known as myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy, which causes the body to produce very little myostatin, the hormone responsible for inhibiting muscle growth. These mutations and the increased
aggression are theorized to be related to the use of steroids, human growth hormones,
or creatine supplements in the bloodstream of the infected person. If a tank goes too long without hitting a survivor,
it will die quickly, seemingly out of frustration. While important for gameplay purposes, this may indicate that the tank suffers from an extreme chemical
dependency on adrenaline and catecholamine, the hormones associated with anger and aggression. However, this theory may be disproven
by the existence of the captured tank featured in “The Docks” chapter of the “The Sacrifice.” While the fresh blood on this Tank’s hands and arms could indicate that it recently killed someone or something to satisfy its frustration, it seems more likely that the Tank is bleeding
after having broken the restraints on its wrists. It’s worth noting that the Tank encountered in “The Docks” also features a Marine Corps symbol tattooed on its chest. This may further support the idea that the
Green Flu was engineered to be weaponized, as shown by a “Live Specimens” sign
sprayed onto the side of the train carriage. The Charger’s mutations, like the Tank’s, are thought to be the result of adrenaline or
steroids present in the victim’s bloodstream. However, the disproportional muscle development may be caused by steroids or drugs applied locally. The prevalence of adrenaline shots found
in Left 4 Dead 2 may be evidence of this, as CEDA may have been using adrenaline shots as
a way to treat or slow infection which backfired, accidentally creating the Charger. This may explain why the Charger is
not found in the first Left 4 Dead, since adrenaline shots were not yet available and were likely still being manufactured or distributed by CEDA. Ira, or Wrath, may be represented by both the Tank and Charger. As discussed, the Tank features a rage meter which
builds up when they have successful attacks, which on depletion, kills the Tank. They must be in a constant state of
heightened aggression in order to survive. Since Chargers are speculated to be
related to the Tanks’ mutations, affected by steroid/adrenalin shots given by CEDA, they would fall under the same classification. The Witch is unique, as she appears to
maintain some of her mental faculties more so than the other infected. Her extremely depressive state allows her to ignore survivors unless she is directly disturbed by violence,
loud noises, physical contact, or harsh lighting. She may represent Acedia, or Sloth and Discouragement. Acedia is associated with a lack of care or concern
with one’s position or condition in the world, leading to the inability to perform one’s duties in life. This depressive state can be brought on
by a biological state called Torpor, a physically inactive state observed in animals usually caused by a reduced body
temperature and metabolic rate, potentially explaining the Witch’s extremely pale skin. Torpor is often used to help animals survive
during periods of colder temperatures, as it allows them to save the energy that would normally be used to maintain a high body temperature. If the Tank expires quickly due to the overactive adrenal glands, then the relatively docile Witch, who can be
entirely bypassed if she remains unprovoked, may have a much longer lifespan,
allowing for the sickness to spread, even after all of the other infected specimens have died. Acedia is represented by the demon Belphegor, who is sometimes cited as trying to disprove
that marriage results in happiness, which may explain the significance of the Witch Bride. Regardless of their biological and cultural foundations, the special infected clearly illustrate Valve’s ability to reveal lore through gameplay and in-game imagery in very subtle ways. With last year’s leak from Valve’s project tracker JIRA hinting at Left 4 Dead 3’s development
and the recent reveal of Source 2, it will be interesting to see how the series
potentially mutates in the near future. And that brings us to the end of another
episode of ValveTime Database. Be sure to share suggestions for future
episodes in the comments below, to subscribe to our YouTube channel,
and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with all the latest
Valve news and developments. Thanks for watching and bye for now.

100 thoughts on “The Special Infected – Database: Episode 4

  1. so, by each game the old infected look worse and new infected rise?smokers gonna be covered in tumors, rest in spaghetti.

  2. No when the aggression meter runs out it doesnt kill the tank you just stop playing as the tank (so it could mean that its frustration takes over so much that even the crazy zombieness gets taken over)

  3. I believe the witch is still partially sane and weeps because of what she became, until startled and the flu takes control

  4. I think the jockey represents envy. He has an inferiority complex due to his size and stature and tries to take control of others bodies because he thinks of them as desirable or hates somebody who has such a body.

  5. I think the Hunter used to be someone who liked to do parkour. The risks and ankles are taped because it keeps air in the jacket, allowing them to stay in the air just a little bit longer than usual.

  6. If Left 4 Dead 3 comes out I want a zombie that can fly and it grabs on to a survivor and drops them from a high place and survivors have 3 seconds to kill the flying zombie.

  7. Charger: farmer

    Spitter: prostitute

    Hunter: robber

    Jockey: disabled person

    Boomer: fat guy who eats alot…?

    Witch: emo women who was depressed

    Smoker: guy who smoked alot

    Tank: steroid taking guy

  8. I think the Hunter was a normal survivor then got bit and tried healing it's wounds with duck tape but it wasn't part of the 22% of the population that can survive the green flu

  9. I have a what if tho…. what if Warcraft was the result of left 4 dead and warcraft happens in the far future just a random thought lol

  10. This video told me the lore of the special infected and gave me a science lesson at the same time. I'm not complaining.

  11. I think the hunter just uses duct tape for lower windresitance that will reward him with higher leaping distance and accuracy. AND HOLY SHIT, HE'S SMART ENOUGH TO PUT DUCT TAPE ON HIS CLOTHES!!

  12. the sacrifice trailer smoker+spitter part is the best foreshadowing ever, if you look at it now knowing that they are great combo; though in the trailer I think smoker is not so interested in her

  13. <_< >_> Lactic acid doesnt help to improve strength and fitness. Lactate does by giving an alternative to oxygen when not enough oxygen is present.. lactic acid is the biproduct of lactate being metabolized by the body, and it causes that burning sensation in your muscles while your exerting yourself. It actually does the opposite of trying to make you fit, and continually builds up to help stop you from exerting yourself and damaging yourself further.. kinda like how we have strong mental inhibiters that prevent us from utilizing our muscles to their full extent.. to stop us from causing severe damage to ourselves by doing things like ripping muscles from bones, causing fractures, more torn muscles and ligaments, and such.

    Lactic acid is a preventative measure, not an enhancer of sorts


    Let me explain creatine to you
    every single adult should take 5g of creatine a day to improve their health with no negetive effects

  15. The hunter and smoker have similar mutations just the smoker had it on the face while the hunter on the arms. Could very well explain hieghtened relfexes.

    The spitter had the appearance of a prostitute, maybe std/sti's coupled with the virus created this complication

    The witch is always a skinny underwear clad woman with raggedy hair, maybe a drug addict caused this complication.

    The charger is green with thick skin, maybe a swamp mutation to deal with creatures like alligators or the marsh environment

    The boomer could be the original form of the virus, a form serving mostly widespread infection though puking and destruction over environmental adaption

    Overall i suspect that the virus couldve simply adapted to different environments creating these different forms, or maybe the different lifestyle choices caused the virus to react differently to their bodies than the others.

  16. i think the tank might represent "greed" as it is shown killing all the common infected to make room to kill the survivors for him self (this was on the left 4 dead trailer)

  17. Can we just stop with all of these Seven Deadly Sins theories? Not everything represents the Sins and how the hell does a Jockey represent lust? =.=

  18. well this sure is new information to me where the word mammona (we add the a to the end here) comes from, wealth and riches of all kind under one word, of course it would have religious background, everything does.

  19. The duct tape on the hunter's arms and legs is something that people who do parkour often do to decrease wind resistance.

  20. And here's another fact about the hunters the reason they have tape is because parkour I do that to have less wind go against me when I climb run and jump great distances so when they were alive they probably did it so they could move quickly and jump farther and be able to move like it they do. and how did the infection make it stronger and be able to take the much force and mass when it lands after jumping off a ten story building?

  21. Eh, nah, for that you would have to go for the whole "Papa is angry and wants to kill everyone" also wtf it literally are the exact same things that another YouTuber used

  22. To clear up some questions that some of you may have on The Smoker and its "tongue" I have found it is in fact an intestine and a tongue, first off, after look through the files of left for dead 1 and 2 I found the texture map file and took a very close look at both of them in both games and found that they were both rough and bumpy, like a tongue, yet smooth and slightly ribbed in appearance, so it is both a tongue and intestine.

  23. What about in Death Toll when you round the corner in the underground tunnels after moving the bridge and fighting the horse and the tank is just standing there? That’s not a state of constant aggression, so why was it just standing there?

  24. i think the smoker was infected with tubercolussis before he was infected by the green flu
    and or the cause of getting that huge tounge and bubble like structure is that the smoke doesnt have enough space in his body that it makes a storage on the face it self

  25. I'm surprised you never went into some of the theories about how Witches are formed, the one that I believe is that they are formed in female infected that suffer from Depression, Schizophrenia, or extremely high levels of stress (hence the Bride Witch, the stress of her marriage and being infected led her to be a witch rather than a normal zombie)

  26. I think the hunters were survivors who bandages their arms to restrict blood flow if they were bitten incredibly quickly, most of them did turn once bitten or infected however the reduced blood flow allowed their immune system to fight back the virus eventually leading to the hunters having the first symptom of heightened aggression along with increased stamina and strength due to the viruses attempts to mutate the body. this kept the majority of the hunters brain active allowing the hunter to understand risk and be patient, stalking its prey.

  27. For the Boomer trivia, that isn't its belly button that's oversized, that's one of its organs bursting out of its thin skin caused from the bloating.

  28. What if left 4 dead is just a movie franchise that would explain why wolf would joke about it in payday and the movie posters

  29. I am really late to this but if they did represent the 7 deadly sins that that would be incredibly unoriginal and I would be disappointed that they weren't made using as much creativity

  30. overthinking this to hell , its just zombies and valve probaly thought these zombie design looked it and used them, not basing them on religious writing from the dark ages about demons

  31. I'd think the hunter would be wrath, considering his screams and how he attacks. Though his screams may be for echo location. Whilst the Tank would be pride, like a body builder's self image.

    Really cool nonetheless.

  32. 9:58 – 10:01 "Hinting at L4D3 development linked" -ValveTime Me: its been 10 years bb, you still sure about that?

  33. The witch knows she is a monster. That's why she's crying. When you mess with her the infection fully takes over,and when she kills someone she gets sad and runs away.

  34. Spitter are only present in the female form. Given that their tits are floppy and their belly is protuberant, it's obvious to conclude that prior to their infection, they were pregnant women, and their acid spot is the consequence of the dissolvement of the fetus in their belly.

    I'd say that all the special infected are the result of the interaction of the virus with unique physical characteristics of the infected, as illustrated by my comment about the spitter. With that in mind, Boomers would be the result of the infection on overweight people, Jockeys, on handicapped people, Tanks, on beefy guys, Hunters, on parkour practitioners, Smoker, on cigarette users. The only two that would be hard to explain using this line of thought would be the Charger and the Witch, which I cannot fathom an explanation to their unique infections.

  35. Um… keeping clothing TIGHT to the skin is not at all conducive to not having that clothing punctured. Actually quite the opposite, loose clothing is better because it has the chance to bunch up and provide better protection as well as re-direct a blow or snag – tighter clothing to the skin would help something to puncture it. Rather, duct-tape on the clothing is more likely of use when scaling or climbing, so you don't get caught on anything and make a fatal mistake or abortive leap. This would seem to hint that the infected that excels at climbing was in life adept or at least experienced in 'parkour' and similar acrobatics.

    Additionally, the Boomer is wearing extra-sized clothing with flexible material which would seem to hint that the infected was already somewhat obese in life. Looking too much into things is a real blasty-blast. Surprised nobody called you guys on the "tight vs. loose clothing" faux pas.

  36. The hunters duct tape is actually for parkour the tape is used to protect the joints and improve aerodynamics so maybe he was using parkour to get away from the zombies and got too cocky and got hilled

  37. The Marine Tank makes more sense to me as being a Marine on the military train who turned, killing all of his buddies inside the car with him. The car was then hastily labeled with "live specimen" and be brought somewhere for testing and research a cure for the virus and how to combat tanks. Not every day you get a tank in your custody.

  38. 10:04 i saw that exact building in a dream i had years ago it was about half-life 2 i cant remember it clearly but it was a broken plant covered building just like that but acting like a combine outpost and in my dream i remember ending up fighting a strider
    with alex the sorrounding area was covered in moss and rocks incasing the area around the building with only a cave to get in and out and just a hole for light at the top of the rock

  39. The Hunter being a Fallen Survivor theory is kinda wrong and its too far t9 be right

    When you play the Passing Campaign, the uncommon infected in that campaign was a Fallen Survivor, they ran when they saw you and the model if the the hunter was change in Left 4 Dead 2 , the arm was replaced

    The hunter was probably a parkourer or a jogger, this can be comfirm because they wear hoodies, and they can do like spider man moves plus Nick said when he saw a hunter for the first time " He thinks he wanna jog with me "
    Ye this really fit

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