April 1, 2013

PAX East Preview: State of Decay

A Zombie Survival Simulator


ew games truly stood out to me at PAX East as much as Undead Labs‘ upcoming XBLA title, State of Decay.  Not only is this game pushing the boundaries of what can be accomplished in an XBLA title, but they’re developing a game that could easily pass as a AAA retail title.  The shear size of this game is staggering, covering a massive 16 square kilometer area with absolutely no loading screens and every building inhabitable.  State of Decay is going to be a game that will swallow your life whole and never let you leave.

The story behind this game is nothing new: the mother of all zombie outbreaks has decimated the human population and you are left to pick up the pieces and put your survival skills to the test.  It’s a story we’ve heard and played a thousand times before, so what is Undead Labs doing to make this a unique experience? First of all, this isn’t just a run of the mill 3rd person shooter.  It’s a zombie survival simulator.  Think you have what it takes to survive the zombie apocalypse?  Now you can put your skills to the test.  How will you survive this catastrophe? Will you gather together other survivors and establish a base of operations? Will you raid the local police station and stock up on as much ammunition as you can carry and shoot everything that moves?  Or will you quietly gather food and resources and take out that stray zombie in old fashioned melee combat so as to not attract anything else?  All of these options are completely up to you in this dynamically generating game.

SoD Screen 1

State of Decay is about managing just about everything in this new world you find yourself in. It’s about managing the people you have gathered around you and finding the right people to help you survive.  It is about managing your resources, making sure you have the right facilities in the base you have established.  Do you have enough rooms for the survivors to rest? Do you have a medical facility for the doctor to work? Do you have a kitchen for your cook to make food for everyone? What bout fences and sentries to keep the zombies at bay?  All of these things are under your control.  As zombie infestations begin to take hold in the town you’re currently occupying, they will also need to be managed lest they begin to expand and over run your operations.  Gathering food and supplies from the surrounding buildings should be foremost on your mind if you want to keep everyone’s health and morale up and keep them with you. If you don’t keep everyone happy, they may leave you, or worse.

Another new concept in State of Decay is the removal of a main character in this story.  You, as the player, do not control a single character. You control all of them.  If the currently controlled character gets tired, hungry, or injured, they will not be effective until they rest.  Switching off to another member of the team will allow them to rest and allow you to continue unhampered.  Additionally, each character will level up different skills depending on how you use them. One may be your melee expert by continually using such weapons as a baseball bat.  Another may become your scout with constant use of the binoculars and another could be your firearms expert.  The possibilities are endless and are completely up to you.  Most importantly, however, is to keep everyone alive; death is permanent in State of Decay.

SoD Screen 2

As mentioned before, this is a huge game and staying in one spot for too long won’t prove smart. Eventually you will have foraged all the surrounding buildings and there will be nothing left for you.  The food is going to begin to run out and your people’s morale will start to fall.  It will be time to pack up what you can and move to another area and set up a new base of operations again.  State of Decay is allowing you complete control of your world. You do what you want to do to survive.  In a market full of zombie survival games, this is the only one that is truly a Zombie Survival Simulator.

While the game I played was not near completion and still has some issues such as tight, unresponsive controls, some pop in texture issues, and bugs causing zombies to be stuck in fences, what I saw was a game that is truly pushing the envelope in what we can expect from future games of this genre.  This is not one you will want to miss when it gets released later this year for XBLA and PC.

SoD Screen 3

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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