Grizzly Gaming

Thursday, May 16, 2013

State of Decay, open world zombie sim, set to shamble onto Xbox Live Marketplace this June

I like to be surprised by my video games, though I rarely am anymore. Stories get spoiled, features of new titles are leaked online, and new details about unreleased, even unannounced, games are made available for anyone to see every day thanks to the internet. One of the last times I was surprised by a video game was probably “Bioshock Infinite” but I honestly can’t even recall an instance before “Infinite” blew my mind.

Given that it is relatively difficult for me to be surprised by games anymore is partly why I’m already extremely excited for an upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game titled “State of Decay.” Somehow, this title completely eluded me until last week or so. I had heard of it in passing months and months ago when it was still called “Class3” but had no idea that its name had been changed and really had no idea it was due out so soon. “State of Decay” has a tentative release date of June and according to an internet rumor, could be released as early as June 5.

Developed by Undead Labs, State of Decay is an open world, zombie apocalypse, third person action game that focuses on base building, relationships with NPC characters and, most importantly, survival. Players will have the opportunity to create safe havens, upgrade them with buildings like medical tents or gardens, recruit NPC characters to your group, as well as being able to venture out into the massive open world to collect supplies or just kill a few zombies. There is also a story underneath all the other cool features State of Decay is bringing to the table to make this one of the most complete zombie apocalypse simulators to date.

Players will start the game as Marcus, who has just returned from an extended hunting and fishing trip in the deep wilderness to find that civilization has been overrun by undead abominations. Marcus has many talents, such as woodcraft and natural leadership, and these skills will play a role as the game progresses. As I mentioned before, you’re able to build bases and outposts in State of Decay and those safe havens will be populated by NPCs (non-player characters) that you meet randomly while exploring the world and run across others during story missions.

NPCs are useful for many reasons. I’ve read many reports that say that while you are out scavenging, you can call NPC characters to your location to collect any supplies you’ve found and take them back to base. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to recruit your NPC buddies to follow you around and protect you wherever you go, though. Another useful aspect of your group members will be that once your relationship with them is high enough, you will be able to play as them and thus be able to take advantage of that character’s particular strengths and traits. What I’m not sure of is how exactly you will be raising your relationship with NPCs. Hopefully it isn’t some tedious process like the “hanging out/dating” mechanic in Grand Theft Auto 4.

And while the relationship building and base building mechanics are very interesting aspects for a zombie game, some gamers will be much more interested in exploration, scavenging and, of course, zombie killing. With a large map to explore (the size of which is allegedly 16 km2), players will be able to find and use numerous firearms and melee weapons. From the Wikipedia entry, there will also be a mechanic of weapon degradation as well as a method of leveling up your skills with firearms, leading to higher accuracy and fewer weapon jams. This method of leveling up weapons will almost certainly extend to melee weapons as well. You’ll also apparently be able to craft silencers for your guns as loud noises will attract zombies more than anything else. Also, there will apparently be three classes of melee weapons – light edged, light blunt and heavy weapons.

All of these elements make for a very interesting premise. Most zombie games in recent memory have only focused on one aspect of the experience. “Left 4 Dead,” for example, focuses on fast-paced, shooting action across linear levels while “Dead Rising” features more of an open-world landscape but focuses on goofy, arcade action. What sets “State of Decay” apart is the focus on stealth and survival. Though you’re more than able to go out and kill zombies, it seems that that course of action is pretty reckless and you would be better served by staying out of sight as you go about your business.

While it sounds like you’ll eventually be able to construct a self-sustaining base of operations, you will probably need to scavenge for all your supplies at first. The interesting part of this is that every resource in State of Decay is finite. If you venture into a town and secure the last of the food from the local grocery store, expect that store to still be empty if you ever return. Zombies you kill may respawn, but any found and collected items are gone forever. The finite number of resources also extends to weapons as well as cars. For example, it will be completely possible to wreck every car on the map and leave you without the use of wheels for the rest of the game.

But wait – there’s more. (I’ve always wanted to say that and actually mean it) As if “State of Decay” didn’t sound awesome enough on its own, Undead Labs already has a follow-up title in the works. As mentioned earlier, “State of Decay” was originally called “Class3” when it was announced. I noticed on the Wikipedia page for State of Decay that Undead Labs has apparently already announced plans for a follow-up called “Class4.” Whereas State of Decay is only an Xbox Live Arcade game, Class4 is allegedly going to be a full, stand-alone console title. But the most interesting piece of news about Class4 is that it is going to be one of the first fully realized massively multiplayer online titles available on consoles.

It was rumored that State of Decay would feature some form of online co-op, though it was eventually scrapped. Luckily, Undead Labs isn’t letting go of the dream of an MMO on consoles so easily. Though I’ve already related pretty much all there is to know about Class4, I will say that its concept reminds me a lot of the uber-popular zombie mod, DayZ. Interestingly enough, there is also allegedly a standalone “DayZ” title in the works for PC with the possibility of it being ported to consoles. Will both be out at the same time and possibly competing for the same market? Only time will tell.

Though I only just rediscovered State of Decay, it’s already rocketed to the top of my “most anticipated” list. While zombies have become stale to some, I’m still very much a fan of the zombie genre. The focus on long-term survival in “State of Decay” really piques my interest in terms of a zombie apocalypse video game. I will definitely be picking this title up when it’s released so be sure to be on the lookout for a full review later this summer.


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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