It’s time to venture out into the zombie filled wastelands of suburban America in Undead Labs sequel State of Decay 2 brought to the Xbox One and PC by Microsoft Studios. You’ll find, in my State of Decay 2 review, this is a open world survival game that is both fun and flawed.
Up to 4 players can co-operate salvaging the suburbs for supplies, building outposts, recruiting survivors and dealing with constant zombie threat. State of Decay 2 (part of the Best Games Out in May Feature) offers an online and offline experience of living in the post zombie world. Other players are either allies or rivals, including PVE and PVP modes.
The real life/death consequences of infection, illness, loss of moral, dwindling resources and conflict creates a realistic gritty survival game, with the odds stacked against you.
Review Side Quest
Look to your left, the first thing you see on your left is your weapon! how will you use it to survive in the zombie filled suburbs of the State of Decay 2?
Mine was a chocolate biscuit (cookie)… don’t think i’m lasting long, but I won’t die hungry! Get in the comments at the end and let me know your answer!. And please share this other gamers can get involved and enjoy the review.
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How does State of Decay 2 play?
State of Decay 2 immerses you in the post zombie apocalyptic fantasy world that many modern TV shows have painted. However you aren’t the hero who gets to slay the undead horde and turn around the infection with some miracle cure.
State of Decay 2 is realistic survival simulation that brings together third person perspective combat with the community management and player development of a roleplaying game.
As you scavenge the suburbs for food, weapons, building resources and medical supplies you have to think ahead. The possibility of true character death from either the zombie infection or rival scavenging factions is a likelihood.
When i started playing State of Decay 2 i literally went out to kill zombies, for a few hours i wandered around with my team of survivors slaughtering. Yes you can play in a Dead Rising style if you wish, but if you look under the surface of a fun zombie killing game you will find so much more.
The outpost management system holds the level of detail that you expect of a strategy resource game. You can choose what to build. Will it be a watchtower to defend your outpost? Will you build a garden to provide much needed food resources? Or will you build an infirmary to heal and tend to the infected?
The choice is yours, but with those choices comes consequences. If you make too much noise you attract more zombies and that lowers morale, makes your community tired and edgy. People threaten to leave, they get tired earlier when out of the outpost and your world starts to slowly fall apart.
Outside of your base there’s a whole world! A world of ruin, despair, burnt out cars and zombies! The other part of the game is deeply focussed around the mechanic of resources. In the post patient zero world all resources have to be gathered. You and your team will need to go out into the local area and scavenge.
When you scavenge you need to explore all manner of buildings warehouses, stores, garages and domestic homes. Each one contains searchable rooms and searching can make noise.
It’s a gamble between searching quickly and making noise or getting caught by zombies whilst you search. So grab what you can and run back home! Looting resources add to your outpost building as well as providing weapons, add ons and recovery objects for stamina (used for melee fighting), health (survival) and repair (for weapons longevity). So resource scavenging is fundamental too success.
From the perspective of game controls, Undead Labs have given the player the option to pretty much configure the gamepad to suit any play style. I found the default controls and buttons combinations to work for me. But there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to remap the buttons.
Smashing up the undead
This is my favourite part of State of Decay 2. No doubt any Zombie bashing fan will enjoy dismembering or traumatising the horde. There a range of different melee weapons with different combat styles.
Decapitation and dismembering with edged weapons was my favourite. Bludgeoning and trauma with blunt edge weapons like pipe wrenches also works well. But be careful, as going full out spartan warrior may leave you an exhausted wreck with no stamina. No stamina means no way to fight and no way to defend yourself.
No zombie game would be complete without guns, however guns make noise, noise attracts more zombies, more zombies means more peril. There are some occasions when guns are needed however. Some zombies scream to bring over more of them. This is by far worse than a few gunshots!
Guns are fun, but you’ll need to use them wisely . Going all John Wick is fun in State of Decay 2, but ammo is scarce and guns can jam at the worst time!
Killing with vehicles
Vehicular slaughter is present in State of Decay 2. You can jump in your chosen automobile, gas it up and head out into the suburbs on a scavenging run.
If you chose to run down zombie your car will take damage, do it too much as it will become a wreck requiring repair or servicing to make it road worthy. Not all cars are made equally, my favourite is the 4 seater pickup truck with snow plow.
It plows through zombies with an effortless glide! Your companions will also helpfully as they open their doors to hit zombies if you line up the car correctly, which is useful as it limits damage.
But like guns, cars are noise and attract more zombies! Surely that’s a good thing as more zombies equals more Carmageddon. But do remember to fuel them up on occasion. I just wish there was a car wash to remove all the gore from my paint work!
Presentation and Graphics
State of Decay 2 plays adequately on the Xbox one (which was used for this review). The Xbox one X enhances the game in the graphical department and would make it closer in comparison to an equally high end PC equivalent.
But for the purpose of this review the graphics looked middle of the range. I witnessed several graphical problems during my review and whilst irritating hopefully can be patched post release. Zombies becoming merged with each other and not being able to move. Zombies appearing in the sky and falling down to the ground.
Doors to buildings appearing to be open but not actually open. Some of the textures used on building are slow to appear but it doesn’t affect the gaming experience.
Clunks and Crashes
The outpost control and customisation menus feel a bit clunky sometimes and a few times i found i was taking the wrong items out of storage or losing the selection box. The method of selecting a person then performing an action works at a basic level.
For example, putting your current person into the infirmary requires you to change to a different person which can be a juggle at times. You need to be careful if you want to switch people as it can cancel story quest progress at times which i found rather frustrating.
The same can occur if you switch characters to deposit resources into your outpost when you have an active story quest in place. It just about works and at times i wished that menu’s were a little more organised and logical in order. It just about works.
A few times State of Decay 2 did crash during play. Once during a fight at night time with lots of zombies my character became stuck in a loop of trying open a car door leading to a full game lockup. Frustrating!
A few times during story quests I was unable to collect an item and delivery it as i couldn’t quite interact with an AI person. Sometimes the camera angles don’t always work and lines of sight aren’t really the best during combat. Hopefully these minor faults can be rectified.
State of Decay 2, just needs a bit more polish to make it look nicer and play better. It could be updated of course but it would be a lot better if these were in place now.
Zombie world survival is the purpose of this game. The main story mode starts with quick tutorial level with a walk through a military base refuge centre. After a learning about how to play you’re quickly dropped in a middle American suburb and told to find a suitable location for building a safe outpost.
Once completing the outpost search and getting it up and running you are drip fed story quests. These are either in the form of goals for you community, or radio requests from other survivors who need your help.
Your main currency in State of Decay 2 is influence. This is provided in many different ways. Completing story requests, slaying zombies, clearing out infestations, finding resources and helping other community enclaves are but a few ways.
You then can spend you influence on upgrading and modifying you outpost or adding further locations to your community. Careful consideration should be given to choosing which building to add and outpost to build as initially you have limited space.
I chose food, medical and building supplies a priority in my first game. The choice you make will affect how you community develops and your outpost grows.
The open world nature of the game brings together both PVE and PVP elements of game play. During my review I was only able to experience offline mode with no online co-operative gameplay. My scavenging and zombie clearing exploit were amicably supported by my AI controlled people.
If you play online you can expect to co-op via Xbox Live with 3 other players. The online experience can be tailored with the usual private party features or opened to anyone who wants to play.
One of the features I really liked was the Radio station feature where you can request assistance for finding resources from other enclaves. They would scout for you and provide locations for finding resources. I also like the whole community enclave element where you can choose if you want to help or ignore other groups.
For example the Booze hounds who party all the time, have a goal of producing alcohol. You can support them if you think its a good idea but you have to ask all the members of your outpost community if they agree or disagree. Likewise ignoring other groups will lead to distrust and lack of community cohesion.
Surviving by killing
The zombie filled world is presented as a bleak reality of survival and State of Decay 2 succeeds in representing this in its gameplay.
Being a big fan of survival games really helped me get immersed in State of Decay 2. One of the things i really liked was the open world nature of the game which left me with choosing how i wanted to play and what i would do.
I liked the threat of permanent character death, yes I did lose a few characters during my review. Your community is affected by these events. Community morale is lowered, people become stressed, fight or threaten to leave.
Should you have a weak community, you have to send out injured or fatigued people which really adds to the tension since you can aren’t a fully effective unit for fighting zombies.
Should You Play State of Decay 2?
State of Decay 2 expands the zombie survival open-world in the first game well. I found it easy to complete hours of game play. I’m intrigued to find out where my community of rag tag survivors ends up in 6 months or a year later.
Who will remain, who will be the leader and who will fall to the zombie horde. State of Decay 2 plays out like a zombie TV show where you control the direction and script.
Overall i enjoyed playing State of Decay 2. There are 3 actual towns to explore. The map is large and driving from one end to other uses a lot of gas and takes a while. The outpost-building mechanic was one that I really enjoyed and community management too.
State of Decay 2 has everything that a zombie survivalist would want. It really does need some polish to fix graphical and gameplay faults however. i’m confident that some of this will fixed post release, but some of the crashes are quite off putting.
Gamers who will suit this game…
Fans of zombie survival games will enjoy this title. If you have played Dying Light or Dead Rising and enjoyed those games then you will be pleased with State of Decay 2. Likewise if you have played the original game this sequel will suit you.
Gamers who enjoy resource / community / base building games will enjoy State of Decay 2 as it has depths that would be found in an RPG or City management / building game.
It won’t be for everyone but, if you like these kind of games it’s worth picking up.
Round up table:
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Open world environment||GUI’s aren’t intuitive||Graphical faults|
|Permanent death||Quests sometimes have to be abandoned||Game crashes|
|4 player cooperative||Bad Camera angles|