State of Decay 2 Review for PC

State of Decay 2 Review for PC

Survival of the Unfittest

The surge of zombie fueled games may have subsided somewhat from its hyped heydays a few years ago, but that hasn’t stopped developer Undead Labs from doubling down on the Microsoft exclusive success of State of Decay a blend of open world survival horror base management action-adventure RPG that has yet to be emulated. State of Decay 2 doesn’t mess with the original concepts, instead beefing up the management options while stripping down the linear narrative.

The story is almost completely player driven, with progression based on the needs of the survivors within your community and resources needed to keep everyone alive. Food, medical supplies, weapons, and repair parts are just a few necessities scattered around three large zombie infested maps. Each venture could result in the permanent death of your character, keeping the stakes high. The game wastes little time in thrusting tough decisions in your face. Do you ration food when it’s low to stave off starvation at the cost of morale? Do you kick one person out of the enclave to make room for someone with more useful skills? Do you trade with a neutral faction or attack them and steal their supplies?

Every destination I set out towards had a purpose, none felt frivolous or casual, and all carried the dread of failure. One memorable outing had me leave my safe house in the dead of night in search of food for my starving survivors. And in State of Decay 2 , when it’s dark, it’s dark, with only the eerie moans and possessed eyes indicating the presence of nearby undead. The food supplies were quite a distance away, my van was getting low on gas, and a zombie infestation lay between me and my target. My machete broke during a melee with a faster, stronger Feral zombie, my health dropped dangerously low, my van ran out of gas on the trip home, and the weight of the supplies made it a slow and cumbersome trudge back to safety. These consistent moments of survival and necessity had me pondering my next steps, even when away from the game, and yearning to get back to my survivors.

But they are a fickle bunch, each prone to their own needs and personalities, some practical and others annoying. You’ll never satisfy everyone’s needs, again setting up tough choices that makes each player’s experience a unique one, and each playthrough different. Different “bases” have different built-in amenities and other slots to dedicate to utilities of your choosing, such as a workshop, garden, infirmary, watch tower, and more. These workable slots allow you to craft various items, apply buffs, and can be upgraded and modded, all at the cost of specific resources, with some needing prerequisites or specialized skills to access. State of Decay 2 ‘s focus is by far more on the survival aspect than simply slaying zombies.

State of Decay 2 Screenshot

Of course, the zombies still manage to add some zest to the grand adventure, with an unhealthy variety of walking dead types, such as the previously mentioned Ferals, the crowd alerting Screamers, the miasma filled Bloaters, and the tank-like Juggernauts, each requiring special care to minimize health loss and permadeath. The newest and most hazardous zombie variant are the Blood Plague zombies. These red-skinned, red-eyed walking corpses will fill a plague meter on a successfully hit character. When full, the unfortunate soul contracts the Blood Plague, turning into a zombie unless given a cure, or euthanized. Taking out a Plague Heart, a mound of flesh and organs that attracts Blood Plague zombies, can supply you with the samples required to fashion the remedy, but it’s no easy feat, getting harder with each one destroyed.

State of Decay 2 Screenshot

The three State of Decay 2 maps offer stunning but foreboding vistas to explore in any way you wish. It’s an open world, and follows the tradition of being littered with glitches. Most seem minor, such as doors not opening and closing properly, vehicles and characters getting stuck in walls, zombies dropping from the sky, and not being able to dismiss an exhausted partner. However, in a game where survival is key and death is permanent, the thought of these minor bugs causing major damage is something the devs better fix sooner rather than later. One thing that probably won’t get fixed are the unwieldy controls. Though dodging is a useful tactic and the game has decent targeting for ranged combat, melee can cause issues if your character isn’t lined up just right with an enemy. The same applies outside of combat, where dancing around ladders and doors, finding the miniscule mark to refuel a vehicle, and dealing with a wonky camera in tight spaces are issues you’d rather not worry about while foul moans creep closer.

Cooperative play has been begged for since the first game, which finally sees daylight in the State of Decay 2 , and in some respects it is a welcome addition. Taking on zombie hordes with three friends makes the task simpler, and goofy antics like playing songs with car doors and squatting on corpses adds some levity to the grim backdrop. However, only the host of the session reaps tangible rewards, with companions merely pocketing Influence to spend back in their game. Also, players are tethered to the host and can’t roam the countryside at their leisure. It’s more prudent to stick close anyways, and there’s a sizeable amount of slack before you’re zapped closer to the leader, but not being able to do things like split up and have a pair race back to defend the home base while the others continue ridding a house of an infestation limits the breadth of tactics the game could have offered.

State of Decay 2 Screenshot

The game also doesn’t look great. It’s a far sight improved from even the remastered State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition , but still presents scantily detailed character models and jarring animations. There isn’t the “jankiness” that became a staple word in describing the first game, but motions are far from fluid. The water effects are also lackluster, however the lighting and shadow effects set the mood of the full day cycle with a disturbing eeriness. The music is subtle but effective, and takes a backseat to the necessary sounds of the lingering undead scattered everywhere. The voiced lines start to sound repetitive after hearing similar calls for help, but at least they are well scripted and well delivered.

State of Decay 2 is full of improvements and additions over its predecessor, yet strays little from the original blueprint. If you enjoyed the first game, then you will certainly lose plenty of hours in the sequel, scouring the undead ridden lands for supplies to keep your community alive and thriving. However, if you were hoping for groundbreaking changes to the horror survival formula and pristine technical accomplishments, you will be disappointed. Nevertheless, for a bargain retail price, and as a launch title for subscribers of the Xbox Game Pass, it’s definitely worth of a look while keeping some change in your pocket.

The world looks far more apocalyptically beautiful in the sequel, but character models look dated and are lacking in detail and crisp animations. 3.3 Control
Gunplay and driving are the highlights. The rest of the controls, as well of camera, are a nuisance in most other games, but a genuine concern in a game that has permanent consequences, like this one. 4.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
A subdued but effective music score and soul piercing effects convey the anxiety and foreboding that permeates every step of the game. The constant voice chatter can get redundant though. 4.2 Play Value
There’s a lot of content and replayability offered for a budget price tag, however it doesn’t do anything extraordinarily different from the first game. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Use your community’s unique array of individuals to forge a path through the game that is personal to you. Your choices shape the identity of your community, ensuring that no two stories are alike and remember – once you lose a survivor, they’re gone forever thanks to the return of permadeath.
  • Explore an open, simulated world filled with dynamic zombie and human enemies, friendly survivors to recruit into your community, and valuable resources and gear necessary to keep your people alive.
  • Play solo or with up to three of friends in co-op multiplayer where each player maintains command of their own personal community and roster of characters. Invite friends to join your game, or drop into theirs. Work together as you explore the deadly post-apocalyptic open world, make decisions with long lasting consequences, and look out for your fellow survivors while sharing the rewards of your accomplishments.
  • Develop each survivor’s traits and skills to improve their capabilities and strengthen your community. Collect resources to build and fortify your base, unlocking crucial new facilities and valuable community options along the way. Manage the relationships and goals of your survivors to build a strong community that has a lasting impact on the future of your world.

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