After a long day at work, dealing with bureaucrats who quibble over the wording of a finding, and then take 3 weeks to review your changes, after slogging through 60-odd miles of traffic, there’s NOTHING that relaxes me quite like facing vicious-but-brainless hordes, with an endless hunger and rage. . .and kill them.
Let me clarify, since I live in the DC area, and there are too many groups that fit that description here. No, I’m not talking Congress, I’m talking ZOMBIES. And my particular mode of enjoyment comes from Undead Labs’ “State of Decay”.
The game itself runs on PC and XBox One, and has two expansions: “Breakdown” and “Lifeline”. The original game, starts you as a random survivor (the characters are, alas, stock and “pre-rolled”), as you find a home, gather allies and supplies, and if you’re sufficiently skilled (and lucky), escape the valley where the Zombie Apocalypse has broken out. Cars and buildings, wrecked and otherwise, litter the landscape. Valuable resources are available. . .if you can find them, grab them, and still fight off the zombies. Mode is semi-sandbox, with both random missions AND a set of storyline missions , culminating, as mentioned, a shot at exiting the Trumbull Valley, and presumably, getting outside the outbreak. . .
The “Breakdown” expansion is the same valley. Except, the game is in sandbox mode. I actually recommend this mode for starters: build your skills, learn how the system works, and basically roam all over Trumbull Valley in search of food, medicine, ammo, weapons, building materials, and fuel. You’ll learn where to look for certain kinds of supplies, and once you get enough, you upgrade your facilities, or even move to a new spot. All the time, building trust with other groups of survivors, rescuing people, and basically wreaking havoc on the Living Dead. . . . Yes, there are Missions, but they’re random. There is only one storyline, once you’ve racked up a sufficient score: find an RV, make it ready to exit. . . .and then load and go. At that point. . .it ends, gives you a score. . .and resets you to the next “Breakdown Level”. Where supplies are scarcer, there are more zombies, and they’re more aggressive. Rinse and repeat: I’ve played it up to Breakdown Level 5. It’s taken a year of playing and learning the system. It goes up to Breakdown 10. . .
The “Lifeline” expansion moves from the country to the city, and switches from survivors to military, trying to hold back the onslaught. It’s back to Mission Mode, both random and storyline. I’ve never made it all the way through. Yet. One quibble about “Lifeline”: all the playable characters are military. But it’s obvious that nobody in the Developers group were. You don’t call Sergeants “Sir”, and the senior guy on a base is not always an “Officer”. And, generally, you’re going to be limited to military weapons to start. Instead, everybody has a different starter weapon or weapons, and it’s not usually an M-4/M-16A2. And, the one thing that bothers me about the firebase (aka “Black Friday” ) is that there are no Ma-deuces in the lookout towers. After all, there’s nothing that fits a zombie apocalypse like belt-fed .50 cal . . . .
But that’s me quibbling over details, none of which subtract from the sheer fun of going Full Conan on the Undead. And speaking of movies. . . there are more than a few nods to “Zombieland”. One of your skills is “Cardio”. All rations look like. . .Twinkies. And, remember to enjoy the little things. . . . (grin)
Which all was pretty darned cool in 2013. But it’s 2015 now, and the mad coders at Undead Laboratories just released the “Year One Survivor Edition. Graphics, which were pretty good, are now full 1080 HD. New skins, new weapons, and an updated combat system. The videos are amazing. . . (videos open in new windows)
Still a standalone game, there is no team play. I’ve spent several hours in the new version. So far, the deltas from the “old” version:
More skills and higher levels. You used to max a skill out at Level 5, I’ve got several to Level 7. There’s more attack specialization: you now have a “special” attack available. You also can specify things about your endurance: are you a long-distance runner, or do you prefer combat endurance (i.e. for you Ringo fans, it’s getting your Faith on. . . .). As your skills increase, special abilities open up. And not everyone has the same special abilities. You have choices of WHICH special ability, but once you choose. . . it’s locked. Choose wisely. Another interesting aspect: as you do more things and pass more achievements in the game, more playable characters open up. This especially makes the “Breakdown” scenario interesting, you originally have 1 or 2 choices of starting characters (3, if you buy it on Steam by June 30, 2015: she comes as part of the “Prepper Pack”. . . and she’s one kick-ass toon. . . )
There are more and different types of vehicles. Compacts. Full-size. Three different kinds of pickups. SUVs and Minivans. Even Muscle Cars. The graphics are flat-out amazing, and, as per gaming tradition now, zombies have glowing eyes.
The mission pace seems a bit faster, you have to decide WHICH mission to do. I tend to follow chains that lead to more survivors joining my group, which means I can move to larger sites with more facility slots. Even so, this game is ALL about your decisions. SOME decisions (facilities, amongst them) can be rolled back and developed a different way: this primarily applies to your shop and medical facilities. Missions expire, and when they do, you lose standing with whoever “sponsored” the mission. Accidentally frag or burn a buddy, and you lose points for that, too. If your reputation gets too low, you can’t take supplies out of the common store, or direct the building and upgrade of facilities. Which, BTW, require an ever-increasing amount of supplies. . .
But there’s a catch here, too: supplies, even a low levels, are not as abundant as those in the “old version”. So, again. . .Choices.
In the “LifeLine” scenario. . . somebody’s been watching a lot of movies and playing a lot of games. There’s Signal, that you can’t stop, but need to find. And in Chinatown. . . you’ll find the Wing Kong Trade Exchange. No hint on David Lo Pan. . . And those “CLEO” Zombie mods for Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft: they pop up, too. . .
Now, the kicker: what do you need to run it ?
For the New Hotness of the Year One edition:
- OS: Windows 7
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 / Athlon X64 3400
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: GeForce GTX 470 / Radeon HD 5850 / Intel HD 4600
- DirectX: Version 11
- Hard Drive: 4158 MB available space
- OS: Windows 7 / Windows 8
- Processor: Intel Core i5-750 / AMD Athlon X4 760K
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: GeForce GTX 560 / Radeon HD 7770
- DirectX: Version 11
- Hard Drive: 4200 MB available space
For the perfectly playable older version: