L4D2 Custom Melee Weapons

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<Left 4 Dead 2> Left 4 Dead 2 allows for user created custom melee weapons. Weapons can add to the overall atmosphere of a map and give players an incentive to check out what cool things you've done. This tutorial covers the process from rigging through packaging your weapon into a VPK file for easy download; it does not, however, cover any modeling or texturing. If you looking for a tutorial on how to model weapons, you will be able to find tutorials through Google. This guide uses 3DS Max 2010. Other modeling programs will work fine, as long as you have the correct plugins to handle SMD import/export rigging.

This tutorial covers creating both the v_ and w_ models, so that your weapon looks correct in both your 1st person and 3rd person views (as well as displaying correctly for other survivors).

Note.png Note: A lot of the information covered in this tutorial is not entirely accurate. We are still waiting on Valve for proper documentation. Until then, we will make do with what we can.

To do: Update tutorial with correct bone rotation for v_melee models.

Basic Requirements

You need the following tools in order to create a working melee weapon:

  • Left 4 Dead 2 Authoring Tools
  • Cannonfodder's MDLDecompiler
  • 3DS Max 2010 (or similar program)
  • Wunderboy's 3DS Max SMD export plug-in Version 1.5
  • Wunderboy's 3DS Max SMD import plug-in Version 1.0
  • Notepad++
  • GCFScape Version 1.7.5

Picking a Weapon

Creating custom animations takes a lot of work, and is something out of the scope of this guide. Thus, we will be picking a melee weapon of similar size and proportion to what we are creating. In my case, I am creating an ice axe, which has similar animations to the crowbar. Obviously, not every kind of melee weapon is possible - for example, Cloud's Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII would be too large to work with any animation set (to my knowledge, at least). Examine the weapon you plan on using. Test it in first and third person and look closely at the animations. That general movement will be the same for your custom weapon, so make sure it seems realistic.


You will need to create multiple folders for the basic setup. The first of these is your addon folder.

C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\left 4 dead 2\left4dead2\addons\weapon_name
Note.png Note: weapon_name should be the name of your weapon; for example, my folder is "iceaxe."

Under your addon folder, you'll need to create a few more folders.


To do: This tutorial is incomplete and needs to be finished.