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Not So MMO: State of Decay 2 Review - Everything Old is New Again

By David Holmes on May 22, 2018 | Columns | Comments

State of Decay 2 Review - Everything Old is New Again

Way back in 2013 the then new game developer company, Undead Labs, produced its first game for the Xbox 360 with a port to PC later, State of Decay. While at times buggy, it was a great game that delved into the zombie survival genre and made its mark. Now we have State of Decay 2, a sequel that promises to do more than the original and quite possibly scratch that zombie itch. This is our State of Decay 2 review.

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The store page for State of Decay 2 describes it as the ultimate zombie survival horror game where you and up to three friends build a community of survivors. It's up to you to establish a base, develop your characters' abilities and manage resources to survive as a group in a world where choices matter and every decision has lasting consequences. All of that sounds great in theory, one of the most asked for thing in the original game was the ability to play online with friends. The first question you have to ask, is this just an improved version of the first game with multiplayer thrown in or is this truly worth time and money? Let's dig deeper.

You start off by picking one of four different two-person groups to begin the tutorial and learn more of State of Decay 2. All of them had interesting background stories and varying skill sets. After getting through the basics of combat, the game truly opens up and gets you started on the road to zombie end times survival by picking your first base. It is here in base and resource management that the game really shines. With limited living and building space you have to make choices like is the garden that will give me one food resource a day worth more to me than a workshop you can use to repair and salvage weapons. Of course, as you progress deeper into the map and beyond chances are good that you will a really good base to lay claim to that can support more people and more buildings. But beware because eventually resources will run dry and thus begins the next part of the State of Decay game verse cycle. Packing as much as you can up and moving to a different map to continue your journey starting semi fresh with only the chosen few.

State of Decay 2 is a game of choices as pointed out above but also in other ways. Someone could randomly steal some food and you can chase them down, then the decision is on that character you are controlling at that moment. Demand your food back, let it go, shoot the person and take everything they have on them. Things like this not only affect your community of survivors, but how that particular character is viewed not only by his group but by the world at large. Throughout the course of the game you will play as different characters. You can't play just one person, after an amount of time they begin to fatigue and get tired, causing their maximum stamina to be lower and lower. This system makes it so that you are switching between certain characters to not only relieve fatigue but also injuries and to work on the skills of those other characters you play. That's right not only do characters get tired but they also can be injured, from something simple like a hurt ankle up to actually getting bit by a zombie. Bitten characters have to be put on bed rest which slows down the progress of the disease until you can make a cure or until it's too late and a decision will be made.

While the base building and resource management of State of Decay is one of its main focuses, you cannot overlook the action style combat. While things are busy happening at your base, you take the character of your choice and go off to find items, resources, possibly other survivors and special zombies. You could set off on foot to scavenge by yourself or pick one of the other survivors to come with you. You could also decide to drive off in one of several different vehicles in the game. Of course, going that route means making more noise and possibly attracting more zombies, but that also means you have trunk space which you can throw things into. What you can carry back is limited by how big your backpack is and the main resources your base needs are in giant rucksacks which weigh you down and can only be carried one at a time, unless you can a car. All this while choosing to be stealthy sneaking around zombies perhaps performing stealth take downs with your knife or charging in with your baseball bat using the games in depth melee system or going loud with a gun of varying types to really put the hurt on the zombies.  All of these different playstyles work and can be quite fun.

The story of State of Decay 2 sometimes feels like it's just there to help move you along at times and learn things. Which isn't a bad thing. More often than not, I was just off by myself happily routing out zombies and scavenging supplies to make my base bigger and to up morale. The "End Game" as it were for the game revolves around Plague Hearts. These masses of goo are like zombie spawning grounds that must be destroyed to root out the new more powerful zombies. Destroy them all and you "win". Once you do that you create a legacy of your survivor group which can carry on to the new group you make in various ways.

Ok, so sounds good so far, right? More than just a simple HD upgrade to the original game? But what about multiplayer? State of Decays 2 multiplayer co-op experience can currently at times be buggy, but when it works it's really nice.  UP to three people can join the host and are tethered around the host for performance reasons. The host makes progress in their game while those who join keep the progress on the character that they decided to play with as well any items they find in extra searchable items made for them. They can also decide to drop items on the ground for the host to help them out. Overall the co-op feels like a nice extension of the main game, since the game itself isn't story heavy this felt like a nice way to play with friends and have the elusive thing called "fun".

State of Decay 2 does a lot of things right to improve on the original game did. There are currently at the time of this writing some bugs which can make it rather frustrating at times. Overall it can be a great zombie group survival simulator with some great action gameplay. Don't come to it looking for some massive story telling experience, the content is there though. At USD $29.99 for the basic game it's worth the price.


SCORE: 7/10


Pros

  • Great base/resource management gameplay
  • Solid melee action combat
  • Good variety of upgradable vehicles
  • Variety of ways of to play the characters and your community
  • The legacy of your other survivors carries over to your new community for playability
  • Good price point

Cons

  • Simple story meant to help guide you and for events that occur
  • Buggy at times

Game key was provided for review purposes.