State of Decay 2 is releasing at a time when the market seems to be full of ‘open world’ and ‘survival’ games. This might be a tough pitch to sell but as an exclusive, I found State of Decay 2 to be highly enjoyable experience overall despite having some flaws and facing glitches that could get in the way of my enjoyment.
State of Decay 2 can be an incredibly slow burn. It can also be considered a slog and requires your constant attention. It is not an easy game by any means, however this doesn’t mean the game is not fun to play either. I wasn’t able to play the original State of Decay so as a newcomer, it was a bit difficult to figure out the gameplay and mechanics that seemed to focus on surviving in a world where teamwork and community was essential for survival.
It is easier to see from my perspective if you know that I am just not that big on games where you need to micromanage resources and work towards your survival. One such example is Metal Gear Survive that was released early this year and while it was a decent game, I found survival elements distracting even though the gameplay was rather solid. I might not have played the original State of Decay but judging from what I have seen so far, the sequel just seems to be a more expanded version of its predecessor.
The opening of the game is what I would call rather abrupt. It just puts you right in the world forcing you to figure out most of it on your own. This approach can be a double-edged sword because it helps with the theme of the game — which is surviving in this post-apocalyptic world without any outside help — but it can also prove to be a little difficult for the newcomers like me who started this game fresh without any previous experience.
There is no story introduction to let you know of the world and how exactly it turned out this way. What was the cause of this zombie apocalypse? Who are the lead characters and what are their motivations? The narrative element of the game is something that I found to be missing the mark on several occasions. The cutscenes appear low profile with a static camera and poor animations. The writing is non-existent and there is a lack of world building that could have helped the game stand out more among the crowd.
The sacrifices to the story make sense once we head deeper in the game. The focus here is on creating a community and then letting it thrive in this difficult world. This is obvious right from the beginning as you start the game, the first option is not a ‘new game’ but for starting a community. You can have a grand total of 3 communities saved on your profile which tells a lot about the design of the game. Basically, if you are playing State of Decay 2 hoping to get a narrative driven open world zombie game, this is not the game for you at all.
So far, this might sound disappointing but it does get better. When you start building a community in State of Decay 2, this is when the game truly begins to show its appeal. As you start with a basic community, you will be tasked with various objectives. These range from gathering resources, getting more members for your community, building and upgrading facilities for them and making sure that they stay safe. The last point is really important since it is possible for a character to permanently die in State of Decay 2, which will happen if you fail to protect them.
As you start with basically nothing, it will take a while before you able to gather enough resources for your community to survive. The clock keeps ticking and the more days you spend, the harder it gets, since the resources will keep depleting each day so you have make sure that they don’t run out. This constantly keeps you on the move, searching the surrounding locations and scavenging whatever you can find to bring back resources to your community. I found the tutorial confusing in the explanation of these mechanics and it was more of a case of trial and error to learn how to actually handle a community.
The missions in State of Decay 2 are fairly basic. You can team up with other survivors and will mainly work on gathering resources. The main story objective requires you to eradicate the Blood Plague. This sickness will effect the community and often result in the death of some of the community members if you are not able to cure them. The progression in the open world requires you to clear the locations that are infested with zombies. These will be usually marked on the world map with blood and feature a Plague Heart that has to be destroyed. These can be quite tough to tackle if you are not prepared for them and sometime the preparation will take a while and leads you to the same gameplay loop of looking for survivors or resources.
Melee combat is simple button mashing mixed with occasional dodges if you are surrounded by zombies. The combat doesn’t appear to change much between the different controllable characters. The third person shooting is not as precise as a standard shooter but gets the job done. Getting a headshot will be your priority since ammo is limited. Again, it feels like there are a lot of elements at play here, from the melee combat to the exploration. You can even discover abandoned vehicles and then find gas for them to make them usable again. If there is one thing that I felt like was done rather well, it was the design of the post-apocalyptic world.
State of Decay 2 shows potential if the developer can try to fix some of its more glaring flaws. It never feels like a perfectly polished game like some of the exclusive from other competitors, but it is not a bad game either. I discovered plenty of bugs when playing the game and while most can be harmless, they can still dampen the overall experience of playing the game. There is a lot to keep track in State of Decay 2 and the game has plenty of replay value so if you are worried about this aspect, there is no reason to do so. Right now, I hope the developers can iron out most of the bugs that are present at launch and I see no reason why the game won’t improve as more time is spent on it.
State Of Decay 2 Review (Xbox One)
Game description: State of Decay 2 is an upcoming survival video game developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Studios. It is a sequel to the 2013 video game State of Decay. The game is scheduled to be released on May 22, 2018 for Windows and Xbox One.
State of Decay 2 is another example of a game brimming with potential that ends up feeling bloated. It could have worked a lot better with a more polished experience but right now it appears to be all over the place with a focus on quantity rather than quality.