Who doesn’t love a game that has Zombies, Monsters or Robots? Well what about one that has all three at the same time plus a whole lot more? While I am generally not a multiplayer third person shooter player, the back story Yingpei Games, formerly known as Epic Games China tells about the Earth being assaulted by extra-dimensional creature that comes through the portal gates which Earth invented is an intriguing one. These gates opened the way and has turned the Earth into battle ground where you have to fight pretty much anything you can imagine. I headed over to En Masse Entertainment, the publisher who also brought us Tera to see what all the buzz is about with this new Unreal Engine 3 shooter, Zombies Monsters Robots that had just entered Open Beta.
You are only allowed a single character so take a few minutes with character creation. While there are not a lot of options, the character models are well done. Once you add costumes to your Mercenary, you really start to get into the ambience of the game and are ready to kick some butt. Loading up you have to decide if you want to enter the PVP Lobby to compete against other live players in various game modes or PVE lobby to go on missions alongside other players and battle against computer-controlled enemies and bosses. Once you choose which play-style you wish to partake in, you are presented an impressive list of lobby names, which spreads the population and allows you easy meet up with friends and avoid heavy populated servers. Pick your lobby and you are ready to begin your adventure, but first how about 6 tutorials? While many advanced players may be inclined to skip them and jump right into the carnage, you are rewarded with gear and experience for completing them all. They don’t take long and at the end of them I was level two and have learned some of the unique approaches to crouching, blind-firing, healing teammates and melee that ZMR utilizes. You can also repeat these tutorials at any time, just hit the Basic Training button and run through them, so even if you skipped them originally, you won’t miss out.
Now you are in the lobby and it is time to prepare for carnage by setting your loadout. You need to equip your Primary, Secondary, Side Arm, Grenade and various units. While you start out with just basic gear, you quickly earn more options so returning to the lobby to swap things around becomes a habit. While ZMR is a Free to Play game, as you would expect from En Masse they have numerous currencies in game including EMP which is purchased with real money. These currencies are used to maintain the timers on the temporary equipment. You earn a permanent version from quests, the shooting gallery (Bullets earn by completing missions) and loot cases (Requires EMP to open). You can combine items of the same type to add the available time together to free up inventory space. If an item runs out of time, you can purchase revive token and it is back in you inventory ready to use again. The timed gear is an interesting approach to generating revenue and while there are many different ways to purchase items, I never felt pressured or required to use any of them beyond the loot cases.
I jumped into the PVE lobby and was presented a number of Daily Quests (both PVE and PVP). The Daily time-played which earns rewards for completing 10 min to 120 mins of completed matches, a level-related mission based on your and a random number of missions from a predetermined list. There are also Events or Progressive Objectives which come available for a limited time frame. This is a great way to get your feet wet or hands bloody as it were. Just select a quest to complete and join up. Or you can just choose a room in progress and join the fun without regard to quest objectives, either way you will be in the thick of it soon enough. It was crazy just how many quests you have available to you even at level one and that most were not map specific. You could complete them easily just by being aware of the objectives and playing the way you want. The last one I did just had me do an execute maneuver 5 times, which is hard than you may think because if you get excited and just kill everything outright, you have no one to execute. The quest system is very well done and refreshing for such a fast paced game that doesn’t have any open world progression.
Currently there are 16 maps to choose from, each with their own separate objects and modes, many of which you will visit in both PVE and PVP modes. Each map has a unique approach to solving the objective and has varying levels of difficult that can be selected for the PVE maps. Co-operative modes (PVE) pit you and your allies against groups of themed AI opponents and the level of difficulty (Normal, Advanced, Expert or Nightmare) determines your rewards in addition to the scenario that may also be completing. Assault Mode is a 5 player map, Massive Assault are larger maps and support 8 players. Assault Ops is a 5 player map that has an end boss to defeat. Kill Every Thing maps don’t have round timers because to progress you must kill everything to progress further. There is a Kill Every Thing 2 maps that also have secondary objectives like killing so many monsters with a shotgun. Paranormal-Ops are like the Assault Ops but allow 8 players to work their way through the objectives to the end boss.
You may have to defeat waves of incoming monsters that may be coming from all direction in a maze. If you survive the waves then you get to take out the big boss. Or you may have to move through a map utilizing barricades to slow down the waves of monsters and defeat them, standing still will definitely ensure your speedy death. Assault Ops, Kill Everything maps are just like they sound, your team needs to kill everything in the wave, sometimes setting traps, repairing doors and anything else you can do to slow the next wave down. Paranormal Ops in the Sweetwater Mine where you work your way through unlocking switches to allow you to escape to the next level. I braved the Mines a number of times, it was so much fun to have to work your way through each level of the area, fighting never ending waves of mobs to find a switch to flip to let you proceed. And the end boss, a pair of massive Centipedes was epic.
PVP maps have various modes also. Team Deathmatch is a 2 to 16 player blood bath that continues until the assigned kill limit is achieved. These types of matches can have limitations applied to them to step them up a notch like limiting the weapon types, adding friendly fire and team balance. Elimination, don’t die because if you do you out until everyone on your team dies and the next round begins. Free-For-All is a last man standing battle, there are no teams so watch your own back because everyone else just wants to shoot you in it. Demolition is one team needs to plant it and let it go boom while the other team trying to prevent it but stopping the players or defusing the bomb. King of the Hill is all about controlling the objective points, hold your ground or go take the objectives.
At first it felt like I just had no hope of competing against higher level PVP players, thinking possibly there was gun or equipment imbalances. But after practice I came to realize that it was more of the case of me not properly understanding and utilizing the cover available on the maps. Gun balancing is actually very well done in ZMR. Skill and knowledge is needed to make your weapons effective. While some guns may feel over powered you have to take in consideration the map you are on. I love to play the sniper, but when playing short ranged maps with very little cover, I was face down and frustrated. Breaking out my pistol and learning to utilize cover fire, I was back in the game scoring kills. Another hard lesson to learn, which was refreshing, is ammo management and timely reloading is very important. Firing steady streams of bullets may get you kill occasionally but you will be out of ammo quickly and need to find an ammo crate. Got an opponent that is owning everyone, be patient and go for a kill when the field goes quiet, everyone has to reload some time and that is when you strike and end that kill streak.
The most recent major patch entitled Mercs vs. Monsters added a PVP mode that allows you to play as the bad guys. That’s right, be a zombie, monster, demon or robot that each have their own unique abilities. Mercs vs Monsters is the unique mode where you pick to be a Merc (1 of 16 pre-defined classes) or a Monster (11 to choose from) and then go at it until there is 60 kills on one team or 10 minutes are up. The interesting thing here is you start as the weakest type of unit and as you get kills you earn points to allow you to upgrade to a different unit, but once the points are spent, they are gone. To get to be the strongest unit for your team, you need to kill a lot and not die very much. It is crazy fun to be a zombie that can run very fast across the map attacking the soldiers from the other team, just remember they can guns and you only have your hands.
After playing both PVE and PVP maps, completing quests and progressively getting better and getting stuff dead, I realized just how addictive the dynamic action of cover, blind fire, dodging and active reload system really was. Getting the daily 120 min quest complete seems to be upon me before I even realize it. The graphics, map designs and quests are so engaging and fast paced, the time just flies by. Also the full on customization of guns and gear that lets you upgrade your arsenal of weaponry plays to the crafter in me. There is a surprising number of outfits available lets you switch up your looks whenever you feel like including an absolutely hilarious panda outfit. If you like first person shooters, you are going to thoroughly enjoy ZMR as much as I am.
Franklin Rinaldi / Chief Sarcan is a Retired Navy Chief who plays and discusses MMO's regularly on his YouTube and Twitch Channel when he is not writing guides and articles. He also frequently streams for MMORPG.com and is an active and positive supporter of the gaming community. You can find Chief Sarcan on Twitter @Chief_Sarcan.