Shambling its way into the next-generation console market is State of Decay, a game Game Rant has reviewed back when it was making its debut on Xbox 360 one year ago. The game impressed with its unforgiving nature, intuitive sandbox structure, and low price point, and now Undead Labs has returned to bring the open-world zombie apocalypse simulator to current generation consoles. The Year-One Survival Edition includes both the Breakdown and Lifeline expansions, as well as texture enhancements and lighting improvements – though the game still has some issues.
The first thing players will notice is how unforgiving the game is – when a player dies, that character is no longer in the game. Their death will effect the moods of other characters, and the player themselves will become one of the other survivors, with a completely unique inventory and skill-set.
As characters are used and gain experience, they level up their respective skills, making them more useful but also more valuable. Much like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it’s easy to get attached to certain characters, which makes it all the more upsetting if they get torn in half attempting to escape from a horde of zombies.
In State of Decay, players can explore 12 square miles of zombie-infested towns, mountains, and farmland. A large portion of the game is spent expanding a player’s base camp, clearing out zombies, gathering daily supplies to ensure the group’s survival, and searching for new survivors. Players gather influence with each successful task, using it within their own camp so that they can make large decisions, like uprooting their camp to a new area, tasking group members to build items, and bringing along allies to watch the their back in dangerous situations. There’s an underlying plot within the game that will lead players down an interesting and challenging path, which the expansions compliment nicely once gamers are finished with the main game.
Combat in the game is fairly simple, with melee weapons forcing players to get down and dirty quite frequently. Ranged weapons are plentiful, but scarce ammo makes them a luxury (or emergency) piece of equipment. Plenty of altercations with zombies can quickly get out of hand as noise attracts more undead neighbors, so players will become accustomed to both sneaking and placing auditory distractions, which attract zombies in one spot while the player sneaks into another. Players will have to pick and choose their fights, as attempting to slaughter each zombie will quickly lead to a character’s untimely death.
The game also features vehicles, which need to be regularly repaired before they break down. Though they generate a decent amount of noise and attention from the undead, the world in State of Decay is too large for just foot traffic, so vehicles will be the only real option for traveling across the map. Vehicles are also key for managing inventory thanks to their increased storage capacity.
Despite the drastically improved hardware running the game, we ran into several stuttering issues and framerate drops throughout our playthrough. This is a problem that plagued the original release, and it’s a little off-putting to see that the same issues have transferred over to the Xbox One. Coupled with long load times, it becomes clear that as much as the Xbox One affords the new lighting engine and moderately enhanced textures, State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition both looks and feels like a previous generation game.
Thankfully, the rest of the bundle makes up for the occasional graphics hiccup. The inclusion of the Breakdown and Lifeline expansion packs means gamers will have several more hours of content once they’ve completed the main game, which in itself offers plenty of replayability. The expansions offer new characters for players to control and new camps for them to set-up, which in itself is enough to keep them plenty busy.
Undead Labs has created a stellar title, and fans of both the zombie genre and role-playing games will find State of Decay‘s unique gameplay systems quite enjoyable, though the game will throw players into the kettle without much explanation. Strangely, that steep learning curve is what makes the game so appealing; players will feel like they have accomplished something once they learn how to survive in this world.
Coming in at a resonable $29.99 price tag, players will get a huge return for their investment with State of Decay. Graphical issues aside, this is a phenomenal and ambitious game with a world that will challenge and entertain players for hours.
State of Decay: Year-One Edition is available now on Xbox One for $29.99.