Microsoft may have the most powerful console of this generation but the one thing it lacks is the exclusives to show off the potential of the console. With State of Decay 2 we have a Zombie survival game but one that is equal part base building and equal part zombie horde killing. Let’s find out how the game fares.
The story is not the key component of State of Decay 2, however, it does have plot points to get you going. You chose from 4 different pairs of individuals each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Each of the pairs brings their own backstory to the game. Once you have decided which role you want to start out with, you begin the game at an abandoned army base camp. The base camp acts as a tutorial to get you used to the basics of combat. Once you’ve gone through the tutorial, you come across a soldier and a doctor. After the tutorial is complete, you get to choose between three destinations where you can settle down and build a base with these 4 characters.
Overall, the story isn’t a highlight of State of Decay 2. Don’t expect something on the lines of The Last of Us, or World War Z or I Am Legend. The story is to get you from point A to point B and give you a broad spectrum of things ‘to do’ in the middle. You will however have the opportunity to make a more personal story during the course of the game. You will come across other survivors in the game and how you chose to behave with them will affect gameplay and the narrative structure you decide to follow. You can either help them, ask them to join your team or simply trade with them. Each choice has its own pros and cons and soon you will realize that there is some merit in recruiting people, and some merit in domination. Another interesting part of the story is that if one member of your faction dies, it isn’t game over. The game continues and you will have to control another character. If you have spent time building the stats of one member of your team, then losing him/her will be a bummer.
Like we said, the overall story isn’t the hook in the game, it’s the story that you make for yourself which will determine how the story progresses.
Third person action mixed with base building RPG is the best way to describe State of Decay 2. You will spend a lot of time running, finding resources, stabbing through hoards of zombies, and scavenging a car so you don’t have to carry all the resources back to base on your back. When it comes to the base, you will need to stock up on food, ensure moral is high, your faction is getting enough rest and building an incubator to cure your teammates in the event that one of them gets bitten by a Zombie. You can expand your team by recruiting people. You can also expand your base by taking on new location. You will have to clear these locations of Zombies first.
The diversity between base building and third person action adventure could have been a lot of fun, but in the long term it starts feeling repetitive. It will be exhilarating at first to go and find resources to build an incubator to cure a partner who has been infected. However, once you realize that resources aren’t that scares and the process of the game is a rinse-and-repeat cycle with exploration and base building thrown into the mix, the game starts getting repetitive easily.
Inventory management is another thing to be concerned about as you can only carry limited resources with you on your back. You can find backpacks with higher capacities, but you still need to pit stop at your base ever so often that it can get annoying.
State of Decay 2 supports online multiplayer as well as AI support from your faction. With the AI support, you can call on one of your teammates if you are in need of resources such as ammunition, call them to aid in battle so on and so forth. However, if you are playing with a friend online, the experience of exploration and base building can be a lot more fun. State of Decay 2 is better enjoyed with friends rather than alone.
Overall, the gameplay, though fun at the beginning will start losing steam after a while. You do have a decent arsenal of weapons at your disposal from mealy weapons, to rifles and shotguns but they aren’t as fluid or diverse as you have in other third person action games.
Let’s get the worst out of the way. The game is buggy. Getting stuck in rocks, and in the walls of cabins will happen a lot. This is the biggest drawback of the game.
Graphically, the game isn’t anything to write home about. The characters models look alright, the environments, though lush at times don’t pop or bring the wow shimmer to your eyes. The zombies are well detailed and have good animations with their movements. From the sluggish movement of the larger zombies to the fluid speed with which the smaller ones attack you, their animation will drive a sense of urgency in you to take them out and that’s a good thing.
The game environment is large, but not as large as lets say Far Cry 5 which has a more lush environment. The games framerate isn’t very stable either with noticeable stutters even on the Xbox One X, which isn’t a good thing.
Graphically, the game wont wow you.
One aspect where the game succeeds is its sound design. If you have a nice pair of headphones, or a surround sound system, you will appreciate the sound design of the game. From the quiet of the night to the rattling of boxes while you search for resource, the sound is beautifully laid out. You have the ability to “fast search” boxes and this can sometimes lead to a lot of noise attracting a hoard of zombies. The cries of the zombies as they approach you adds a touch of urgency to the tension which makes the gameplay momentarily more immersive.
Moving to the weapons, the swish and swipes of the knife and axe to the thud of a baseball bat making contact with a zombies head, all sounds satisfying. The guns in the game sound good too although not as pronounced as the guns in games like Gear of War or Far Cry 5.
The voice acting in the game is passable. It doesn’t have the emotions we’ve seen in games like the Last of Us. The conversations are more about, now we need to build this, or we need to stock up on those resources, or it’s a good idea to head over to that tower, so on and so forth.
|Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platforms: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Windows 10
Tested on: Xbox One X
Price: Rs. 1924 (Microsoft Store)
Overall, surprisingly, the sound design of the game is good.
State of Decay 2 – Verdict
If you are one that likes the concept of base building and resource management, then State Of Decay 2 is the game for you. If you are looking for an action adventure game filled with zombies, then I recommend you go back and play Left for Dead. The game does get repetitive which is its biggest drawback. You can build a large faction to manage which will keep your hands full with resource gathering and taking care of the people in your community along with killing zombies on the go, but it is a rinse repeat cycle. This isn’t the exclusive the Xbox One X deserves as its appeal will be to a niche audience and the game does nothing to showcase the power under the hood of the One X.
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Sameer "Psycho Mantis" Mitha
I live for gaming and technology is my muse. When I am not busy playing with gadgets or video games I delve into the world of fantasy novels.