New Left 4 Dead 2 DLC Breaks GeForce GTX 400 Cards

Last Thursday, Valve released "The Passing," a much-anticipated update to its popular Left 4 Dead series that features the protagonists of the original L4D meeting up with the Left 4 Dead: The Next Generation cast. In addition, the DLC promised new weekly "Mutations," new co-operative modes of play, and an as-yet unidentified bug that crashes the game on any GeForce GTX 400-series product. We're assuming this last is not a hidden feature.

Google for "L4D2 197.41," the latter being the latest set of GeForce drivers and the only set, including beta versions, that supports the GTX 400 series, and the very first post is titled "GTX 480 + L4D2 = Crash." We ran into this problem ourselves last night while trying to benchmark in Left 4 Dead 2; the game loads the intro and menus flawlessly but crashes as soon as a level is loaded. Occasionally, a level will load for a split second, but typically the program dies after playing 1-2 seconds of audio.

Ahh, the undead Tunnel of Love. Brought to you by Half-Life, circa 1998.   

The 'solution', for now, is to run the game using Medium shaders. This works, insomuch as it gets the game operational, but the video quality is lousy to say the least. We can't categorically state that there's no other workaround to restore visual detail, but we adjusted multiple game settings using both the driver control panel and in-game options without seeing the slightest effect. The problem does appear to be on Valve's end—the 197.41 drivers have been out for weeks and L4D2 ran just fine with them right up to last week's DLC.

There are reports that this problem is also affecting other GeForce cards, but we haven't had time to confirm that. If you own both Left 4 Dead 2 and have a GeForce card running the 197.41 driver series, feel free to drop a note confirming or denying if you see the problem. We notified Valve yesterday when we first encountered the problem and confirmed it was popping up in multiple places; we haven't heard back from the company but are hoping we'll see a fix in place soon. The good news is, owners of the new cards can keep slaughtering zombies—they'll just be a little uglier than usual.