Back 4 Blood: How To Survive Brood Lair (Ridden Hive)

Learn how to survive the Brood Lair Ridden Hive

Back 4 Blood is full of different levels for players to explore. Yes, those with a practiced eye might notice their team backtracking through some familiar levels more than once. But those areas lead to different places every time you encounter them.

The Ridden hives, unique in-between levels released with Back 4 Blood’s Tunnels of Terror DLC, are no different than the rest of the campaign. There are six other hives for you to run through, and each one is built with various dangers, obstacles, and bosses.

If you’ve ever found yourself running around a Ridden hive, wondering where the exit is, where the skulls are, and how the hell you survive, wonder no more.

Brood Lair is one of the longer Ridden hives to explore in Back 4 Blood. It’s designed like a maze, has tight, winding passageways, and its Skull Totems aren’t located on the beaten path. It’s a serious trek from start to finish, but if you want to get out unscathed, read below.

Preparation phase

First, check out the graffiti. Like any good Back 4 Blood saferoom, there are plenty of environmental cues around the map to tell the story of what happened here.

Like many Ridden hives, Brood Lair is an old abandoned mining facility. The hallways are narrow and deadly. You might think you can use them as a funnel to group Ridden together, but you need to realize they’re funneling you.

We recommend lots of Molotovs and large healing kits to get through this map. Funneling Ridden through the fire from a Molotov cocktail only helps you kill them quicker. And the length of the map makes it a war of attrition near the end. You’ll be happy you brought the large healing kit.

Back 4 Blood — Preparation

Step 1 — Follow the lights.

When you first enter Brood Lair, you are greeted by tall walls of webbed flesh. They make up a small labyrinth; the Ridden want you to go a certain way, and you’ll have to oblige them for now.

Important things to note about this level:

  • No Skull Totems hide in this maze, so you can blow through if you like.
  • You can avoid dead ends if you follow the small candles and flashlights throughout the level.
  • Mutations and smaller Ridden will respawn in areas you’ve previously cleared, so no place is safe for long.

But if you follow the lights, you’ll eventually find large double doors that lead deeper into the mine shaft. That’s where we’re headed next. Pass through the doors and enter the next phase of Brood Lair.

Step 2 — Find the right flesh bridge for a skull totem

Make your way through the mine tunnels until you find a passageway that leads up. This takes you to the next level of Brood Lair, a level of flesh bridges. The bridges span left, right, and center, with the center bridge attaching to an elevator shaft in the middle of the cave.

The middle path is the one that leads to the next level, but there are goodies both right and left. Heading left will send you to a few web-covered caves holding items, copper, weapons, etc.

Heading right will lead you to a large cave with a pillar you can climb up. Resting on this pillar is the first Skull Totem.

The nice thing about flesh bridges is they all connect in some way so that you can find the central elevator shaft quickly enough.

Back 4 Blood — 1st Skull Totem

Optional step — Pick up the golden skull.

Once back on the central flesh bridges, head to the cave that leads down to the first level. Before going down, as you stand at the mouth of the cave, look down at the ground below. You should see a pillar of stone and flesh standing on its own. Resting on the far end is the hidden Golden Skull trophy for Brood Lair. Hop down, grab that sucker, and we’re moving along.

Step 3 — Clearing the rubble.

Full disclosure, there are no Skull Totems in this section. It boils down to you and your team clearing narrow passage after narrow passage as you work your way to the next level. 

You’ll pass a few mine shafts, carts, and dead ends that may be your undoing. This part is all about survival and combat, so lean into your strengths and focus on making it to the next section.

You may get turned around a few times. The extra tunnels all loop back around to the main mine shaft, and it might take a few circles to realize that. But helpful arrows are spray painted on the walls to guide you. And when in doubt, follow the Ridden.

Step 4 — Drop and pivot for the second Skull Totem

After that grueling area of combat and death, you’ll come to the iconic neon yellow ladder, signifying a section of no return. Climb up the ledge, but don’t drop down the other side just yet.

Below you will see a large cavern, with several barrels of petrol to explode and probably plenty of Ridden waltzing about. This part can get a little hairy, but before you fly through and murder everything in your path: there is a Skull Totem in this room.

Clear as much of the room as you can from the ledge. When you drop down, pivot to your left, and you should see an extension of the cave that leads to the second Skull Totem.

Grab it, clear out any remaining Ridden, and prepare for the next phase.

Back 4 Blood — 2nd Skull Totem

Step 5 — Spelunking with guns

The next area is bereft of any Skull Totem yet full of enemies, so prepare for another tough fight. If you got a Sleeper corruption card, this is where they’ll really hit you. Luckily, no bosses will spawn. Just lots of mutations and Ridden. More narrow passageways and little room to kite Ridden. Use your Molotovs, if you have any left, and make your way through to the next series of doors.

You’ll know you’ve made it when you see doors with a big white 03 painted on them.

Step 6 — Look at that, Skull Totem number three.

Once you’ve made it to the final level of Brood Lair, you climb the final series of ledges up, and you can see doors with 03 on them. You’re in the home stretch. And the final Skull Totem is not far. 

In order to leave this area, you’ll need to find a Ridden node hiding somewhere. The way out is blocked, but you can follow the umbilical cord to the node you need to destroy.

The node is hidden behind a flesh web that you’ll have to break down. And look at that; next to the flesh node is our final Skull Totem. Grab that bitch, destroy that node, and we’re home free!

 Back 4 Blood — 3rd Skull Totem

Step 7 — Don’t fall now.

The bridges that hang over chasms in Back 4 Blood are somehow far more deadly when located in a Ridden hive. Bots need help managing them, and we’ve found that any little bump can cause our character to fall off. In short, be careful.

The final stretch is just a single flesh bridge. That’s it!

But you’ve probably activated an infinite horde and are being bombarded by Ridden as you attempt to cross it.

Take your time, work as a team, and get to that ladder.

Remember: only one team member needs to reach the ladder for the whole team to get evacuated.

Back 4 Blood — The Flesh Bridge Exit

Wrapping up

Another Ridden hive in the bag. Brood Lair is spread over three different stories with several unique sections. As long as you’re team is progressing upward and you see doors with higher and higher numbers on them, 01, 02, 03, you’re going the right way.

Brood Lair is mostly tight corridors and blind spots, so bring cleaners and teammates who aren’t reckless and run ahead all the time. If you keep going upwards, take your time, and don’t die, you’ll walk out of Brood Lair a few Skull Totems richer.

Ridden hives aren’t the most straightforward levels to navigate. With warped mutations and all kinds of corruption cards, it doesn’t hurt to have a few helpful tips.

And that’s what we’re here for.

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About Victor

Writer. Gamer. Outdoorsman. Victor has written across multiple mediums, with some of his work appearing in anthologies, magazines, and websites like,, and When not writing, he is usually gaining inspiration for writing from the library of video games he owns. If he's not indoors, Victor is outdoors climbing mountains, hiking forests, or otherwise conquering nature.

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