State of Decay 2 Review

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State of Decay 2 on Xbox One

After looting a nearby neighborhood, my vehicle loaded with backpacks of supplies and crafting materials, I close the trunk, fill the tank with the fuel I brought with me, and jump into the driver’s seat. The horizon is littered with mutilated bodies of the undead, and as the sun sets, a zombie falls from the sky right in front of my car. This moment pretty much sums up my time with State of Decay 2 – an engaging survival experience with some really glaring performance issues.

State of Decay 2 feels very familiar to its hit predecessor Xbox Arcade. Players are thrust into a zombie apocalypse and must scavenge materials, weapons, and other survivors in order to build a community and destroy the Plague Hearts that have caused the undead to invade. That’s about it in terms of story, with your characters having fairly vague backgrounds aside from their previous occupations and traits. You’ll occasionally get a personal mission for one of your survivors that will provide a little extra context to the world, but it’s all pretty straightforward and more just a reason to have you do something outside of their fetch game loop.

You’re taught most of State of Decay 2’s mechanics in its opening tutorial, which lets you choose your starting characters before you start digging around and setting up your first home base. From here, you’ll largely repeat the process of gathering materials and crafting resources, upgrading your community base, and hunting down the multiple Plague Hearts scattered across the map. It’s simple enough, but there’s definitely a sense of satisfaction in bringing back a truck full of resource-packed backpacks. However, the finicky inventory management system can become a bit of a headache. Instead of being able to select an item from the trunk of your car and replace it with an item you select from your survivor’s backpack, you have to exit the trunk menu, open your inventory, drop an item on the ground, open the chest menu, remove an item from the chest in my inventory, use it, then pick up the item on the ground. I’m not entirely sure this is meant to add a touch of “realism” to inventory management. It just came across as tedious and cumbersome to use more than anything else.

Despite this fairly simple gameplay loop, there are plenty of things to consider at all times. Are you ready for your business? Can you carry more resources? How should you spend these resources? Do you help other survivors in order to develop a friendly relationship with them, or do you leave them and focus on your own community? Managing your community and its resources becomes just as important as killing zombies and destroying Plague Hearts. Without a stable resource income, your survivors may not be able to fully recover or become so frustrated that they get up and leave altogether.

However, taking care of your base is not limited to building all the facilities at your disposal. You will have to choose the facilities that will help you in your approach to eliminating the plague hearts. It’s a similar story when it comes to recruiting new survivors into your community, picking those with the best or most advanced skills, and leaving those who don’t. Traits affect the morale of your fellowship, while skills determine what upgrades or abilities you can use at your facilities. For example, only someone with herbology skills can upgrade your medicine garden to level three. As such, you’ll need to be picky about who you let into your community. It’s not strength in numbers here, because the more people you have, the more resources they will drain.

Other Survivors, known as Enclaves in State of Decay 2, are meant to add an extra wrinkle to the equation, asking for your help in acquiring resources or finding a lost Survivor. These are timed, however, and more often than not I found myself in a dilemma. Should I burn my car’s gas and help the Enclave across the map to keep them happy, or save my precious fuel reserves and hope they aren’t too pissed off? Whether you choose to help or ignore the Enclaves ultimately affects your relationship with them. Help them and they will give you resources and trade with you. Some of their survivors might even be happy to join your ranks. Ignore them, however, and they’ll turn hostile and shoot you on sight.

Unfortunately, the Enclaves will never give you too much trouble, even if you ignore their every request for help. They stick to their bases, so you’ll never see them wandering around when scavenging, and a pistol shot to the head is enough to take them down. And then there’s the whole zombie issue to factor into all of this.

As you’d expect, there are zombies just about everywhere you look in State of Decay 2, and their numbers can certainly be overwhelming if you don’t prepare properly before venturing out. They are not all the same, however. You have your standard zombies, Blood Plague zombies which can infect your survivors and kill them if not dealt with quickly enough, and “special” zombies. These range from Shriekers – who scream to lure others to your position, to Bloaters who explode in a cloud of poisonous gas when downed, to Juggernauts – hulking zombies capable of tearing you in half and holding good against a high-speed truck. Defeating any of these unique zombie types will net you Influence (the in-game currency) as a reward, and it gives you plenty of reason to pursue them if you don’t have enough Influence to expand. your community as you wish. . However, I found that, other than the Juggernaut, these weren’t much of a problem compared to the regular zombies I was used to slicing and dicing. After seeing so much of what State of Decay 2 is already doing in the previous game, not having more of these new, powerful zombie monsters that are hard to fend off feels like a missed opportunity.

Luckily, State of Decay 2’s combat is pretty proficient and satisfying to use, so if you find yourself on the verge of losing a survivor, it’s pretty easy to see what you did wrong that led to the untimely death. . For the most part, melee weapons are the order of the day, forcing you to close in, but it’s at least quiet. You can use guns if you find one, but they’re also incredibly loud and will draw more undead towards you. Ammo is also scarce, and you’ll want to save as much of it as possible. As a result, State of Decay 2 almost trains you to use guns as a last resort, which only heightens the sense of realism in this survival-focused adventure.

As you progress through the map tackling Plague Hearts and upgrading your community and facilities to give you access to new crafting menus or basic perks, the challenge begins to grow. tone it down a bit. While taking my first Plague Heart took me a good few hours to get into a position where I felt ready to take it (and my base wasn’t going to crumble in the meantime), I managed to wipe the latter two released within five minutes of each other. Likewise, the “endgame” activity of establishing your community’s legacy is a good idea and sets it up so that your survivors can be used in another community, but the whole thing takes 30 minutes to complete. end, and is not really To feel as if you had truly created a lasting legacy as a result.

Despite State of Decay 2 ending, there were still a whole bunch of buildings I hadn’t scavenged for resources, and the constantly respawning infestations certainly provide enough content for dedicated players to keep working on. ‘they don’t want to separate from their community as soon as the option presents itself to them. If you’re looking for a zombie survival experience, State of Decay 2 has plenty to keep you playing. That’s if you can deal with its poor performance.

state of decay 2, xbox one, may 2018

During my first hour of playing State of Decay 2, the HUD flickered, rendering text unreadable and my minimap useless. The aforementioned zombie falling from the sky was not an isolated case and continued to occur while driving around the city. The survivors whom I had asked to accompany me disappeared when leaving my base. Icons on the map were not appearing, which resulted in an overwhelming number of infestations that hurt my community morale. Several cars were lost due to getting stuck in terrain that even the “Take me off” option you can access from your radio specifically to get you out of glitches couldn’t solve. Screen tearing, frame rate drops, and texture pop-ins were also reported fairly consistently.

More disappointing, however, was when we came to experience cooperative multiplayer. You can play with up to three other friends in cooperative multiplayer and have them help you in your efforts to recover or destroy Plague Heart. Unfortunately, when we tried to play cooperative multiplayer with a friend on PC, we kept getting errors that prevented us from checking it. You also have the ability to call for help and volunteer to help other players in need via your in-game radio. When we tried to use these we didn’t come across anyone, although that could be due to the servers being silent before the release. Whether it’s issues with the game’s online infrastructure or Play Anywhere compatibility, we’re not entirely sure, but just a word of warning that co-op play was not at all possible for us during the time we spent with the game.

I had a lot of fun with State of Decay 2… when everything was working. Its main gameplay loop is repetitive, but there’s a sense of satisfaction in watching your community grow from a small base with no water or power to a dominant force in the city capable of supporting itself, which I love. advanced. If you’re able to look past the technical issues and poor visuals, there’s a great zombie survival game here. That being said, it feels like a half step down from the original. Aside from co-op and a few new zombie types, there’s not a whole lot of new content that really pushes the series forward. If you were a fan of the original and just want more, you’ll feel right at home here, but if you were looking for major upgrades over its predecessor, you might be disappointed.

Rating: 3.5/5 – Fair


Advantages

  • Compelling and satisfying gameplay loop.
  • Massive map with plenty to collect.
  • Community management is great fun.

The inconvenients

  • More “special” zombies would have been nice.
  • Disappointing legacy missions.
  • Disappointing performance and frequent bugs.

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