I have played about 6 hours of State of Decay 2 at the time of writing. I found the first game after a recommendation by IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey back when it was released on Xbox 360 and thoroughly enjoyed my time in that world. I felt like I had done enough when I was able to move my community to the large warehouse in town. I was distraught at the moment where my original survivor after hours and hours with them and tonnes of character improvement, bit off more than he can chew and died. That was that. Ouch.
So, it was no surprise that I would want to dive into Undead Labs follow up to a quietly successful game. This year’s instalment has come with more expectation as it now had something to live up to and improve upon. It has been touted as a ‘Full Price’ game and the marketing campaign reflects this, whereas the original was much more of an ‘indie’ project. As such I forgave the bugs in that original while now I expect these to not exist.
This is definitely still ‘State of Decay’, I wanted more and that is certainly what I have been given. The core gameplay remains the same as the original. Gather supplies, bring them home to keep your shelves stocked with medicine, food, ammunition and materials. Monitor survivor moral, switch between your survivors when they are injured or tired. This is the game. It’s the same. That’s cool but I feel like I wanted a bit more so far. The largest mix up of gameplay is the addition of ‘Plague Zombies’ that hit harder and infect you if your hit too often. If you can’t get a cure, then you must choose what to do with that survivor and make a hard choice. You can go to Zombie lairs to destroy ‘Plague Hearts’ and rid an area of these dangerous foes however as you would expect this is high risk. In a sense this is an improved version of ‘infestations’ from the first game and that’s fun (infestations are still an optional task in ‘State of Decay 2).
The maps are much larger and adds an extra worry in my mind of fatigue for my survivors if I’ve explored too far from home, in addition vehicles now use up fuel. I was halfway home the other day and really worrying about my fuel consumption. My character was tired, stamina was a lot lower than it should have been and my fuel is running out. This is the fear that State of Decay 2 succeeds in delivering a Zombie survival experience.
In a sense State of Decay 2 is a simulator in that you really do have to manage your resources carefully, alongside managing the people in your community all while still needing to face fear each time you leave your compound. Running low on medicine but have 2 injured survivors, uh oh now I have to go looking for medicine with my one remaining healthy survivor. If something goes wrong here, then I am definitely in trouble.
Helping here is the ability to radio other survivors and be pointed in the direction of the items you are in need of which is helpful but now I’m having to push further and further out of my area to collect these items as I have cleaned out the small area surrounding my home at this point.
Weapons still come as ranged and melee weapons, with the addition of a ‘close combat’ weapon. This leaves you with a small knife when your axe breaks miles from home. Again, this is where the game succeeds well, by making you worry. My axe and gun are both ‘worn’ and could break at any moment and then all I have is my small knife and a long journey back home. Stealth kills have become a key component to my play and as it should be this slows me down. I have no choice, if I just run I won’t make it back home, I need to take an extra 20 minutes, but I should make it safely, but its not a certainty.
Further new additions come in the form of specialising skills when you level them up so far. ‘Fighting’ asked me to then specialise between ‘blunt’ and ‘bladed’ for a character and then gave them enhanced damage and an extra attach for those style of weapons. The addition of ‘mods’ that can be installed to your facilities is a neat idea but not one I have played around with much in these early stages.
I’m enjoying my time with State of Decay 2 and its worth it so far on Xbox Gamepass, but for a full price purchase I’m not so sure. For it to be worth that then I hope in a further 6 hours’ time the game has progressed somewhat and shows me some new things rather than now just living in this rinse and repeat world for the rest of my gameplay. If so, then perhaps buying the updated version of State of Decay 1 may be a cheaper but good option.
Have you been playing State of Decay 2? What do you think so far? Is this a game that will keep you hooked for a while or just a passing enjoyment for a short amount of time? I would love to hear from you about this. Get in touch on Twitter, Facebook and e-mail.
Thanks so much for reading.