It’s been years since the zombie craze started in earnest, and nearly just as many since games based around “zombie survival” took over gaming. These titles, which started as mods for games like Arma, led to DayZ, which led to H1Z1, which led to PUBG, and then Fortnite. An entire industry has evolved off people trying to survive the apocalypse, and the hijinx which comes with such a goal.
Now here we are, with State of Decay 2, a perfectly acceptable “vanilla” experience in the context of this video game world in 2018. It’s here to deliver the thrills and desperation a survival game has, but without the thrills of PVP. The game still comes close to delivering what people want out of the genre — a sense of place, a living and breathing camp that you can upgrade — but it feels too much like it’s trying to be something it can’t be.
State of Decay 2 is essentially Far Cry 5 (or any Far Cry/Ubisoft game) combined with The Sims, combined with DayZ. Unlike Project Zomboid, the game has refined its systems into something anyone could pick up and play. It’s accessible, but it’s also a lot of work.
While the game is fun, especially with up to four people since the game can allow drop-in, drop-out multiplayer with friends, even the co-op is a situation in which the game is *so close* to being what it should be. For everyone except the host, the game won’t save, leaving out a sense of permanence or home that a dedicated server would allow. You also have to stick near your friends otherwise they’ll teleport to you. In other words, you can’t leave a few people at home to cook and help out while you scavenge for supplies.
But, for $30, you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a solid experience with friends and don’t want to get hardcore and go the PC route with DayZ (which is really coming into its own), or any other survival sim out there. Just be warned: the game is really ugly on the original Xbox One, and it delivers on promises made from other games years ago, but doesn’t advance the genre in any meaningful way other than being a decent appetizer for someone who does it right in the future.
Dan, what do you think?
So, here’s my problem with State of Decay 2. Nothing is wrong with this game. The combat is solid, the resource collection and strategy is solid, there’s a smooth, fun progression. It’s just that everything is a bit too uninspired.
We’ve seen this kind of game a lot: Kill zombies, build a fort, zombies attack fort, defeat zombies, rinse and repeat. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if you just want to make that game, but everything about it needs to be perfect. There’s not a lot of difference in the basics between this game and Sunset Overdrive, for example, but the combat for the latter is way, way more fun. There’s only so many times I can sneak up on a zombie, stab it, and then rob the building it’s in before it gets repetitive.
It’s a bit like going to a mediocre buffet. If you’re hungry, it’ll do, and nothing is bad. But you won’t remember what you ate, either, and I have to admit I’ll take a memorable meal over just eating some fuel.
State of Decay 2 releases on May 22. Review copies were provided by the publisher.