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State of Decay 2 Review (Xbox One/PC)

by on May 17, 2018
Details
 
Release Date

May 22nd, 2018

Developer

Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios

 

How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?  Would you stick to survival or attempt to restore humanity?  Would you write your own rules and make people fall in line?  In 2013, State of Decay gave gamers the chance to live this scenario and work towards surviving in a post-apocalyptic world.  With the arrival of State of Decay 2, you have the chance to continue this scenario in an improved and massive zombie simulation.

Survival is the name of the game.  State of Decay won’t waste your time with too much backstory or flashbacks about what led to the zombie outbreak.  We know that the game takes place about 18 months after the initial outbreak.  And to be honest, that is all the information we really need.  We can see in the beginning moments that the world is not ok, and you have no choice but to survive by any means necessary.

While we don’t any deep exposition about the past, we do get some backstory on the characters that you initially choose to start the game.  Reading these stories gives the game a nice sense of realism.  You won’t start the game as a seasoned fighter who can headshot a zombie from 150 yards.  You will have characters with mechanic skills or strong wits.  These are ordinary humans stuck in an extraordinary situation.

They may be average joes at the start, but you will upgrade and improve each character that belongs to your community.  Improving is a must, as you need to manage which character needs rest and recuperation.  As a character gets tired or injured, you will switch to someone else in your community.  Characters may have missions that you can complete, so switching is essential and rewarding in State of Decay 2.

In the beginning, you will quickly learn how much effort is needed to survive in this world.  For starters, you need to find a suitable base for your crew.  Of course, you can’t just pick any home.  You will need to clear out your potential base of any unwanted visitors.  Once your base is established, you can slowly begin work on making it a suitable home.

Nothing comes easy in this world, and you will quickly learn that everything must be found or traded for.  You will spend countless hours searching nearby homes and buildings for anything and everything you can possibly carry.  You will need items to build, food, medicine, weapons, and many other supplies.  And these supplies will be used on a constant basis, you looting and scavenging will be a daily task.  Eventually, you will use parts and resources to build new additions to your communities, repair weapons, and build things that make your life easier.  Long story short, loot every building you find!

As you upgrade your community, you will have the chance to expand and recruit others to your community.  In the beginning, it can be pretty manageable.  But as you expand, you will need to concern yourself with the needs and morale of your community.  You will also need to find time to maintain truces with other people in your area.  If you slight them, they will remember and make life miserable.

In a way, this is my biggest gripe with State of Decay 2.  It is very difficult to manage and maintain when you are by yourself.  In a way, this is a very realistic expectation if you were in an actual apocalypse.  It is more difficult if you are alone.  But I would like to see some adjustments to the difficulty scaling when you play by yourself versus playing in co-op.

Speaking of co-op, that is the real shining beacon in State of Decay 2.  Co-op is brand new to the series, and it is a welcome addition to the franchise.  Up to 4 players can take on the zombie horde and create a massive community.  If you are hosting the game session, then the other players will be tethered to you to a certain extent.  You won’t be able to split apart and visit opposite corners of the map.  But you will have enough room to explore towns and gather what you can.  If you are helping the host, you will share in the rewards, so you won’t leave empty-handed.

In my opinion, the game plays so much better in co-op.  There are still plenty of challenges, especially in wiping out infestations and dealing with survivors with less than friendly intentions.  Your base and members of your community are under constant threat, and having friends help you is very enjoyable.

The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward.  You will use both melee and ranged weapons to kill the zombie horde.  Each melee hit or sprint will cost you stamina, and your stamina will permanently decrease if you don’t rest and take care of your character.  Not all weapons will last forever, so repair or find new weapons.  There are a ton of weapons and vehicles to find and use.  The menu system is fairly easy to figure out and you should have no problem discovering where to look for upgrades and to find out what your community needs.

Problems do arise with other technical aspects of the game.  State of Decay 2 looks a bit unpolished.  I was hoping for some graphical upgrades when I played on my Xbox One X but came away disappointed.  The texture looks a bit matted, and the details are not as crisp as I would have hoped.  I would have loved to see some improved framerates on either my X or PC but didn’t notice anything past 30 frames per second.  I personally did not find any game breaking bugs, but my co-op time did have a few bugs that caused some hiccups in our fun.  Please understand that these things didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the game itself, but it is noticeable.  I think we can assume that future patches may address these concerns.

State of Decay 2 is impressive in its scope and amount of content.  You will spend hours upon hours building your communities.  If that isn’t enough, you can try out a few different maps with different environmental challenges to overcome.  It really is amazing to think that this game is only $30!  It’s also included in the Xbox Game Pass.  The graphics could use some more polish and the game is very difficult when playing by yourself.  But despite these setbacks, State of Decay 2 is fantastic survival simulator that recognizes the amount of work that needs to go into surviving in a post-apocalyptic world.

State of Decay 2 launches May 22nd.  Those who buy the Ultimate Edition will be able to play starting May 18th.  If you are still unsure, check out the first 20 minutes of the game!

 

Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.

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Positives

Tons of content
Character switching and upgrading
4 player co-op a welcome addition
Amazing price point

Negatives

Difficulty imbalance between single player and co-op
Not very polished

Editor Rating
 
Gameplay
A-

 
Graphics
C

 
Story
C

 
Replay Value
A

Total Score
B

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Bottom Line
 

State of Decay 2 is impressive in its scope and amount of content.  You will spend hours upon hours building your communities.  The graphics could use some more polish and the game is very difficult when playing by yourself.  But despite these setbacks, State of Decay 2 is fantastic survival simulator that recognizes the amount of work that needs to go into surviving in a post-apocalyptic world.

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