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The Atrium

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C1m4 atrium
Chapter 4
The Atrium
Campaign Dead Center
Dead Center Chapter Chronology
Chapter 3
The Mall
Chapter 4
The Atrium
"CEDA's not gonna save us. Any ideas?"
"Okay, So plan A is to find this car...Plan B is we stay in this mall and die."

The Atrium is the final chapter to the Dead Center campaign, serving as the campaign's finale. In gameplay terms, it is a derivative of Scavenge Mode requiring players to collect a set number of Gas Cans depending on game mode (e.g. in Single Player mode the target number is eight cans and AI bots will not help complete the task) and refuel a stock car while under attack from Common and Special Infected―including Tanks.

Finding Liberty Mall completely overrun and abandoned by CEDA, Ellis comes up with the idea of escaping in Jimmy Gibbs Junior's stock car, which fortuitously had been put on public display in the mall just before the Infection hit Savannah. Unfortunately for safety reasons, the car has had its gas tank emptied and this requires the Survivors to scurry around the zombie-infested mall atrium retrieving a requisite number of Gas Cans and pour them into the car's gas tank before the car can be started and rammed out of the mall's front doors.

The chapter opens with the Survivors entering the mall atrium and instantly gaining the sickening realization that, yet again, CEDA has failed them and they must fall back on their own wits and resources in order to escape. Ellis' stock car escape plan is quickly conceptualized as they descend to ground level in an elevator and put into effect immediately thereafter. Gas Cans are distributed singly and in pairs in three zones in the mall atrium: the ground floor, up the stairs to the stock car's right-rear, and up the stairs to the car's right front quarter.

An ammo pile and four health packs are in plain sight on the counters of a central atrium service kiosk.

Common Infected spawn as a series of mini-hordes seemingly triggered by players entering a map hot spot. As a general rule, these are not particularly daunting on account of their small group sizes and the long distances they must cover in order to attack players (for example, they are nowhere near as numerous as their counterparts in Dark Carnival's The Barns gauntlet crescendo event). In the normal scheme of things, Tanks appear periodically in this finale and follow the usual choreography of appearing after a momentary lull in Common Infected activity. Special Infected do make a sporadic appearance, but again these are somewhat underrepresented.

Strategy Edit

The atrium inside the elevator

The Survivors in the elevator.

Also see: Tactics

All campaign walkthroughs are done on Normal difficulty in single player, and are meant to give tips on what to do and generally point out things that might otherwise be missed.

There are, of course, a few key things to always remember:

  • Stop, look, and listen.
    • Being observant might alert you to something nasty ahead of time, like a Witch, Special Infected or Tank, and allow you to prepare yourself.
  • Teamwork.
    • This cannot be stressed enough. Left 4 Dead is supposed to be a cooperative game. Communicate with your teammates, if you're playing with others, or if you're by yourself with the AI, point out things they might otherwise miss. In all cases, watch out for each other and take care of each other. You are not going to survive the zombie apocalypse by yourself.
  • Be ready for anything.
  • Don't panic.

The Atrium has a fast car. Survivors must fill it with gas cans. But, of course, the Infected won't let them do so.


The Survivors start in a hallway with two bathrooms that usually contain supplies. The hallway then leads out to an elevator on the top floor of the atrium, which is to be the finale's venue. As they approach an elevator across a sky bridge, game characters will take stock of what they see and express their dismay at, once again, having been left in the lurch by CEDA. Inside the elevator, Ellis will explain his plan of fueling up Jimmy Gibbs Jr.'s stock car and driving it out of the mall to New Orleans. The finale starts when the elevator doors open.

Atrium going to the fuel

Searching for fuel.

Important: Co-op teams must be very careful not to shoot the cans accidentally; this will destroy them, creating a fire and forcing the Survivors to wait until they respawn.

Tactics for Gas cans during The Atrium:

  • Adrenaline cuts pouring times in half, so a good tactic is to pile the required number of cans up next to the car, take an adrenaline shot and start pouring.
    • Adrenaline is also very helpful for the Survivors to escape from a Tank, groups of common infected, and reach important supplies. However, this tactic may not always be beneficial against certain Special Infected, like the Smoker.
  • Have only one Survivor at a time pour gas into the car. Attempting to pour while someone else is doing likewise is impossible and the game will post a caption saying, "Wait! Another Survivor is pouring!"
  • Bringing a Gas Can from the preceding chapter counts towards the final total of cans needed to complete the finale, though using it as such might cause a glitch.
  • Do not put gas in the car while being healed, as this will cause the game to freeze.
  • AI Spitters cannot destroy gas cans like they do in Versus. Even if they hit a gas can with an acid patch, the can will not be destroyed (though the yellow aura will flicker as it does in Versus or Scavenge).
  • Instead of running with a single can in hand, you can "juggle" gas cans. Throw one ahead of you, pick up another, throw it forward, move forward, pick up the first can, throw it forward etc. Done right, and you can juggle 4 or 5 cans at a speed only slightly less than a normal run (this is not actually juggling; the cans are expected to hit the ground and hopefully roll forward a bit).
  • You can throw the gas cans down to the car. This method helps greatly when getting cans far from the car, playing on higher difficulties or alone as bots cannot grab the cans and reduce the rate they are collected. If using this method while playing alone, the Tank should spawn when you are 1-3 gas cans into the car.
The atrium the fuel on car

Putting oil in the car.

Co-op Team Tactics: In an all-human co-op team, work in pairs instead of as a group when throwing the cans down to spread out the horde and make the process quicker. This plays to the fact that the horde is programmed to pursue the center of mass of the Survivor group. Pairing up confuses their logic and forces them to spawn the horde farther away and in fewer numbers.

When operating as a two-person team, have one person act as cover protection against Special Infected (i.e. Hunters, Smokers, and the like) while their buddy grabs the cans. In this regard, the above-mentioned tactic of throwing the cans down to the ground floor regularly frees both players to operate in run-and-gun mode as they move to and from stock car gas can locations.

Have one or two players camp near the car and ready to fill up the gas, and the rest look for gas cans is a good tactic.

When playing solo, the Survivor bots will follow the human player around as they cannot collect gas cans. Again, the can throwing tactic mentioned above is well suited to this mode of play.

Speed is of the essence as a Tank will spawn after a set number of waves of Infected. The bottom floor of the atrium is very open, so his rock-throwing ability can be very deadly if cover is not found quickly. Fighting the Tank on the upper levels can also prove deadly, as he can potentially punch a player off and down into a fatal plunge to the ground floor. Molotovs and Bile bombs can be found all throughout the level, so they should be used liberally on the Tank.

In truly dire straits, a player can shoot one of the fuel cans to set a Tank on fire. Naturally, this is tactic of last resort since it may be necessary to wait until the gas can respawns.

C1m4 atrium0007

Escaping the mall!

When the requisite number of gas cans have been poured into the stock car, it is simply necessary for all Survivors to stand on the car's podium to signal success and play the cut scene.

Important: When the last can is ready to be poured, ensure all Survivors are on (or very close to) the podium because a never-ending horde and Tank are triggered the moment the last can goes in. This means that if one player is a long way away when the last can goes in, they stand a real risk of being isolated and incapped―and even worse, holding the finale's conclusion in suspension until they have either died or have been resuscitated and brought to the podium. Failure to observe the "everyone on the podium, the last can's going in" principle has been the cause of many disappointing ends to otherwise highly satisfying episodes of game play.


The SurvivorsEdit

The Survivors can use nearly the same tactics as in campaign mode. The only major difference is that human-controlled Spitters will purposefully try to destroy gas cans dropped from higher floors.

Half and half

This method requires two players to cover each other at the car, while the other two go around collecting gas cans and throwing them down to the two players on the ground. One person can pour the gas while the other person covers them. This is risky when doing Scavenge or Versus, as a pair of Infected such as the Hunter, Jockey, Charger, or Smoker may ambush the two stationary Survivors before they get the chance to save the other.

All for one and one for all

This method has all Survivors travel together to collect gas. Two players will grab gas cans, while the other two take care of swarms. Once you collect a pair of cans, DO NOT throw them down! Walk down and pour them both in, then go collect two more. This is a good strategy for Versus or Scavenge games since it prevents the Spitter from igniting cans that have been tossed down.

Risky Procedures

This method has (like All for one and one for all) all four Survivors traveling together. However, instead of simply going downstairs and pouring each gas can in, the Survivors toss several gas cans down, fairly separated from one another, and once a few have accumulated (usually every can on a given floor) the Survivors go down and pour them into the car. This is exceptionally useful if the players know that they can defend themselves well.

The InfectedEdit

See also: The Boomer, The Charger, The Hunter, The Jockey, The Smoker, The Spitter, The Tank

The Survivors may be immune to infection, but they're not immune to death; no one is. Work together and prove that no one can survive the rampant virus, one way or another.

Overall Tips

  • Survivors that have been separated from their teammates are significantly more vulnerable to attack than Survivors that are in groups. Make an effort to attack Survivors that are far from their teammates, as you will be able to deal significant damage before they are saved and you are killed.
  • The Survivors all have outlines around them, showing their status and location. Green means they're healthy. Yellow means they're hurt. Red means they're low on health. Purple means they've been covered in Boomer bile. You can probably discern which to seek out first, if possible.
  • Think like a Survivor. When you play as one, when are the worst times that something could come at you? Exploit that knowledge.
  • Teamwork, as aforementioned. Has a Boomer gotten its bile all over the Survivors? Jump one of them or a clean one. They can't see their teammates' aura until they're clean...and by then it might be too late.
  • As much as teamwork is a strength for you and your enemies, a lack of it will be their downfall. If you can focus all of your energy on killing one of the Survivors, the rest will be that much easier to take down. Not only will they have one less gun, but they will have three Survivors to your three incapacitating Infected.

The Boomer: When playing as the Boomer, cause as much havoc as possible. Vomiting on those with gas cans could cause them to panic and drop their can. This could also lead to shooting the can. A popular strategy in this level is spawning and waiting either behind the car (or in the upper floor levels right behind it), waiting for Survivors to start pouring, and puking on them. If you happen to explode next to a dropped (yellow) can, your explosion will send the can flying away.

The Charger: DO NOT attempt to charge from a height, because you will fail. Attacking groups or loners, the Charger is always the best shot. There are a lot of straight hallways that the Survivors must travel through to get cans. Also, a Charger can break through the glass railings on the upper floors while he's charging. If he manages to charge a Survivor off these ledges, it can cause incapacitation or death. Charging a Survivor while he/she is pouring makes an easy target for a charge, seeing as they can't move for a few seconds while pouring. The Survivor also drops the can, and can potentially be very far from the rest of the Survivors.

At the top floor of the far staircase (by the car), a good Charger can pull off the Insta-kill. As long as at least two Survivors reach the base of the top floor section of the stairs you can charge one and send the other crashing to their death on the atrium floor below!

The Hunter: Aim for those with gas cans—they will drop them directly next to you, and any savior with a shotgun is sure to hit it. If a Smoker has somebody, pounce someone else, preferably the ensnared Survivor's rescuer. Also, if you stand on the fourth-story ledge, just above the car, and you wait until a Survivor tries to pour a gas can inside, they are helpless for a 25+ point pounce. Another spot for this devestating 25+ pounce is on the top floor to the right of the lift shaft when looking at the car. Crouch on the glass ledge and aim directly above the car enlined with the hight of the third-floor walkway oposite. If lined up correctly, you will be able to knock off 25 health from the unsuspecting Survivor. If you go to the third floor and go to the cans on the right of the staircase, a Hunter can hide in the hole above it. There is also a closed door in the hole that doesn't lead anywhere. Another spot for a 25 damage pounce is near the elevator the survivors must go to in order to have access to the first floor. Pounce on the top of the wooden support frame from the opposite direction of the elevator. Move forward a bit, and then look upwards and pounce. You will get on a invisible, see-through wall. Just go forward, wait for a survivor to pour gas into the car, and pounce.

The Jockey: Aim for Survivors on their own—these can be easily dragged into the many closets where hordes spawn. When attacking groups, aim for Spitter goo or attack in a pair, one Survivor will take massive damage. Try to get Survivors that are pouring cans into the car (they are usually by themselves), plus there is a chance they might panic and drop the can, which a Spitter can easily destroy.

There is a spot on the third floor, between the stairs from the ground floor and the pillar next to it, that does not have a railing and never has any glass. It is easy to steer a Survivor off this ledge, forcing them to hang from it until someone comes to help.

The Smoker: Go to a high vantage point in the atrium and cause plenty of damage. Remember, you need to be able to run away and recharge after an attack. Alert a Hunter to pounce your prey's rescuer and wait patiently. Smoking Survivors that are pouring is a great way to buy more time, separate the Survivors, and expose a can to be destroyed.

The Spitter: Spitters are very valuable in this level, as they can hide in the upper levels (specifically the 4th that only Infected can access) and constantly spit on the car or any other high-value target on the lower floors. Spitter goo can ignite dropped gas cans (the ones with orange highlights). This is an invaluable ability when Survivors are throwing down cans from upper levels, as this will greatly delay the time it takes them to recover more cans. There is a spot right above the car which can be used on Scavenge and Versus. Simply wait here and spit at those trying to fill the car; you do not need to aim much.

The Tank: Remember to use concrete for those pesky, fast Survivors. If on the second floor, whack your opponent over the edges. Be careful of the many fuel tanks that survivors may scatter about the place in case of fire, but this could be used to your advantage to delay the other team's progress. You are vulnerable when you are out on the ground in the open and especially when you are climbing, so ensure that you spend minimal amounts of time on ground floor.


L4d2 3

Ellis and Rochelle in the Mall atrium

In this level, you can use nearly the same tactics used in Campaign mode. Keep in mind that:
  • Unlike campaign mode, the amount, location, and types of supplies always stay the same. Gas cans are always in the same location, as well.
  • There are now 16 possible cans to collect. Three are on the first floor, seven are on the second floor, and six are on the third floor.
  • No Tanks spawn in Scavenge mode
  • All Survivors automatically start with a medkit and pills
  • There are three adrenaline shots on one of the kiosks in the safe area. These can prove to be valuable (as you run faster and can't be slowed down while carrying the cans), can revive teammates quicker, and can fuel the car quicker.
  • There are usually multiple items laying around the can locations (i.e. Pills, Molotovs, and even Tier 2 weapons)


See also: The Survivors

The Survivors reach the Atrium, Ellis' plan is put into motion, but to their shock, there are no Gas Cans to be found. With an endless horde hot on their tail, how long will they hold out?

Overall Tips

  • Teamwork is essential to long-term survival.
  • In this mode, most of the popular choke points, closets and easily defensible corners are removed. Even if you find one that has not been removed, it is not recommended that you fight from there as The Tank will quickly defeat you when he arrives.
  • You have an infinite amount of time to prepare. Use this to your advantage. Take as much time as you can to set up gas cans, propane tanks, oxygen tanks and to find a good place to fight from.
  • When searching for a place to fight from, remember that you need a location that not only limits where the horde attacks from, but also gives you a fair chance against the Tank. You either need to be able to fall back and deal with the Tank easily, or have a good enough vantage point to kill him before he can get too close.
  • Ammunition is a problem. Unless you are being overrun with Infected or fighting a Tank, try to use your pistols as much as possible. Conserving ammunition should be a priority, as trying to get more during a horde attack can often be fatal. When you do head out for ammunition, remember to take at least one teammate with you.

This map takes the Survival round. Players start off near the info booth where they would find health kits, weapons, ammo piles, etc. The info booth contains a Propane Tank, two gas cans, an Assault Rifle, Combat Rifle, Tactical Shotgun, Sniper Rifle, both ammo upgrades, fourth health kits, and two Bile Bombs. The closed booths contain the radio to start the horde, a grenade launcher, a Magnum, and throwable items such as the Molotov and Pipe Bomb.

Rusty Woud has dared to do the impossible and actually set up a "run-round" where the survivors use mobile strategy to gain good time. Him and his team have put expert skills to set up a "racetrack"ish style mode of surviving where they run round a chosen path around the mall floors with tanks burning out behind them. This tactic is only effective with good communication and skills.

As for general stationary tactics, here are 4 nice spots to hold:

Top Floor Edit



  • No extra weapons (you can't take the weapons up the stairs).
  • The high distance. If a Tank punches you from the top floor, you'll fall to your death.

Second Floor Edit


  • Much closer to weapon area.
  • Ammo refill.
  • Same items as the above floor.
  • A defibrillator by the ammo.
  • A Propane Tank.


  • Falling from this floor leads to incapacitation.
  • Can only be accessed by the stairs on the elevator's side or by climbing all the way up to the third floor and jumping down.
  • Close to two Infected spawn points.

Starting AreaEdit


  • Large volumes of supplies nearby.
  • Some gas cans and a Propane Tank.


  • Very easy to get surrounded.
  • Tanks and Hordes cause problems.

Information Kiosk RoofEdit


  • Very good vantage point, difficult for most infected to reach you.
  • Supplies very close by.


  • Smokers and Spitters are an obvious threat to your team.
  • Survivors that have fallen off will have difficulty getting back up with relentless hordes.
  • Unless the initiator is quick, s/he may not make it to the roof unscathed.
  • Bots cannot pathfind their way onto the roof.

Gas cans and Propane Tanks are all over the place; place them in a spot you want to stay in for a long amount of time. Each floor has throwable items such as the Molotov and Pipe Bomb, Pain Pills, Adrenaline, and ammo replenisher. The third (or second if you call your starting place ground), is close to the staircases. The second (or first), is not recommended because this is where Special Infected and the Tank usually like to spawn at.

Mini-hordes also seem to come; they don't come in massive amounts like their other Survival maps. 

Easter Eggs Edit

  • The stock car and its driver are likely references Dale Earnhardt Jr., a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver who drives the 88 car and Richard Petty who drove a Dodge Daytona and a Plymouth Superbird in 1969-70, respectively, in NASCAR with the characteristically huge spoiler and blue paint. He would get his name from five-time NASCAR champion owner Joe Gibbs.
  • The Uncommon Infected is Jimmy Gibbs Jr. himself. He is said to have 1000 health and will spawn, though only once and very rarely. He is immune to fire and covers your screen with motor oil like a Mudman with mud. The Survivors also have special lines when seeing his zombie.

Notes Edit


Infected Jimmy Gibbs Jr.

  • If the console command "noclip" is used to get out of the mall when the stock car in the finale exits, players can see there are no Infected outside and there is no route available where the stock car can drive to.
  • This is the only finale in which the cinematic does not fully show the rescue vehicle whisking Survivors away from the Infected. While vehicles usually disappear from the final shot as the credits roll, this cinematic ends with a freeze-frame of the stock car as the Survivors jump it through the crowd, reminiscent of The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Oddly enough, when stepping out of the elevator, you are told "Rescue is Coming, Defend yourselves!" even though you're required to fill up your vehicle.
    • Left 4 Dead did this as well, when you refuel the plane in Dead Air during the finale, it says "Rescue is Coming, Defend yourselves!" even though it's sitting right in front of the fuel tanker.
  • The CEDA Worker Infected do not spawn in this chapter.
  • Jimmy Gibbs' stock car isn't actually solid; Infected that get "hit" by the car do not die.
  • Interestingly, while in the glass elevator, Ellis will explain his plan to escape the mall which is to use Jimmy Gibbs Junior stock car. Part of the plan is to "find the car" even though it is clearly visible from the elevator (as is the layout of the atrium). During a recent update to the PC version, this was changed to "Find a Gas Can."
  • Infected spawn if you fail to reach the main area of the lobby in time. Heading back to the safe room (the hallway) will spawn them depending on time and difficulty. Oddly enough, even though an "Incoming Attack!" is shown, Common Infected do not spawn, only Special Infected.
  • The rescue vehicle is a 1968 Dodge Charger.
  • If you create a lobby so that others may join you, but then play the game on your own, the game will expect you to retrieve 13 gas cans even on Easy. Playing the game in single player mode does not have this effect.
  • When playing online alone, although the car requires 13 gas cans, sometimes the game will think you only need eight. This causes the game to spawn Tanks and hordes as if you were escaping even though you would still need five more gas cans.
  • If a Witch spawns on this level, she will be sitting down, instead of wandering like in the rest of the campaign. She is most likely to be found right when you open the elevator.
  • Much of the level is reused in Survival and Scavenge, though the number and position of supplies differ.
  • If the "noclip" console command is used to get to the ground floor without using the elevator, the finale can be started by pressing the use key at the information counter.
    • You can also do this without noclipping by simply activating the elevator, killing a teammate, and then revive them when they are floating up (it will act similar to the elevator on The Hotel where the Survivor will float and be revived above the elevator). This won't start the horde and you will have to start the finale by using the information counter (works on both the PC and 360).
  • As you turn the corner to the elevator after you leave the safe room, there is a plank of wood, a space, then a support frame. If you jump into this space correctly and move forward, you will scream and be instantly killed.
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The Apartments / The Subway / The Sewer / The Hospital / Rooftop Finale Price chopper
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The Hotel / The Streets / The Mall / The Atrium
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