State of Decay 2 – Review
Follow Genre: Survival Action Adventure
Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: PC, Xbox One
Tested on: Xbox One

State of Decay 2 – Review

Site Score
7.3
Good: Giving the fans what they want
Bad: More of the same without room for big improvement
User Score
7.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

When the first State of Decay game came out, it gathered a large number of fans due to the refreshing look at zombie survival gaming. The way you took a base, explored surrounding areas on the map and progressed in a classic zombie story really hit it off with players all around the world. It was an unexpected treat for many. Some development years later and about five years difference between the first game and the sequel release, it’s here. It’s State of Decay 2.

Story

First off, there are a couple of couples you can choose from before you start. These couples have varying background stories and history together but in the game itself, you will take little notice of the differences. Sure, every character’s name and appearance can be different, but the main story stays the same, core points included. So as it starts, you and your buddy are running away from a horde of zombies. You hope to find some shelter in an established encampment that’s protected by the military. As you arrive, you notice everything is hauntingly empty and nothing but corpses and left-over loot is awaiting you. An accident happens, and a powerful zombie bites your buddy, infecting him with a strong new virus (in the world of State of Decay, normal zombies their bites will not turn you into a zombie as well. They just hurt). A strong zombie appears and doesn’t seem so threatening anymore as it gets shot in the head. Another survivor is calling you to run to him, and you both escape a horde. From this moment on, the main story starts, beginning with finding a cure for your buddy.

The biggest choice you get is at the start where you are allowed to choose a direction to go, which is essentially selecting a map. Want to go to the Valley, the Plateau or to the Hills? You won’t know what it looks like until you decide to go somewhere, but it certainly adds the main part of replay value by discovering new environments. No matter the map you choose, the main story will be the same and you will get loads of extra things to do. Survivors hanging around you on the map calling out for special missions or proposals, and side-quests that will give you either an advantage for your base or helps survivors with their personal issues.

Graphics 

Now, in terms of graphics, the game doesn’t feel much like something for next-gen consoles. Don’t shoot the messenger, it’s just a fair observation. The most beautiful screen you will see is at the start of your story where you will be riding into the sunset. Other than that, there is not much special about anything in terms of beauty. When looking for the strongest part graphically speaking, the strength lies in the same parts as its predecessor: The unique buildings and people inhabiting what’s left of civilization between an undead horde. The graphics are doing the best job in this game when it’s about forming a credible world of survivors. The survivors might not be that much in-depth themselves, and you might not be able to interact with everything around you, but at least it’s fun to look around and imagine what could have happened precedently to your arrival.

Sound

There’s something ”weird” about the sound in State of Decay 2. It’s unusual, yet it fits the gameplay. Most of the time, providing you are not in an extremely dangerous situation, there is calming music in the background like you are landscaping or meditating. It’s fitting because a lot of the game feels like taking care of yourself and your fellow humans. This aspect is represented by the soft side of the music, allowing you to look at everything from a certain distance. Only when taking extreme actions such as clearing out nests of infected zombies, the music changes to something imminently dangerous and cinematic. Besides that, there is pretty good voice acting and fitting sound effects.

Gameplay

State of Decay is a sandbox type of survival game, where adventure and action go hand in hand. The goal is to maintain and grow a settlement of humans in the middle of hordes of zombies. Survive long enough to progress the main story, while handling the events you need to deal with in an apocalypse. There are zombies, infested houses, other groups of survivors that want something for themselves or from you, and many boxes of loot to be found that can aid you in progressing and surviving. Besides your base, you have an option to claim outposts, meaning whatever building you can find that gives you some advantage such as extra food each day or more bedding to house more people in your own group. The number of outposts is rather limited though, so like with everything in this game, think carefully which one you choose.

As soon as you have a colony, which is early in the game, you can switch between inhabitants to go out and do whatever you want. Sometimes this will be a quest that progresses the story, sometimes it will be looting nearby places, and sometimes it’s a more personal matter that the survivor you play with needs to deal with. No matter the case, there is always something to do. Which can be good or bad depending on the way you look at it. There’s almost no way you can do everything on your quest-list and also keep everybody alive and happy. To make things worse, State of Decay 2 has a strict no-rewind policy. Meaning lots of save-states, but even worse, you can’t pause the game unless you close it down. This will infuriate some people, but at least it’s quite realistic and original in terms of survival.

Because of the gameplay mainly focussing on surviving as a theme, the gameplay is actually rather contradicting of nature. On one side, it’s almost like playing the Sims, simply keeping everybody happy in your colony and trying to build new things. On the other side, you will feel the imminent pressure of problems coming your way. Growing groups of zombies, multiple infested houses. Not to mention the special zombies scattered across the map who will screw up all your plans if you encounter them. Much like the first game, the only real breather you will get is the one when finishing the game. Also, building up a new life is no pleasure. No matter the starting location, you will not have access to any water or power, and very limited building space. This means the game asks you which buildings you value most. A workshop to repair weapons? A toilet that increases morale? Maybe a guarding tower to hold off upcoming hordes from a distance? It leaves you relatively free in choosing these limited facilities, provided your storage and people meet the necessary requirements such as knowledge of gardening or medicine. If not, you will have to scavenge for those outside your base as well.

When looking at its predecessor, State of Decay 2 didn’t change much. Actually, it’s just more of the same. Probably a relief for fans, but it also feels like it missed out on some potential. There isn’t much depth in characters and their conversations. Often, when you decide to check out a request from other surviving groups outside your base, you have a chance of pissing off one of your own people without any real reason. The lack of building spaces for makeshift facilities feel like you miss out on a lot, and there simply isn’t that much of a ”base” feeling. More like every survivor is a Tamagotchi that needs its health to be kept up and whines every now and then. There could be way more details like actually replanning and rebuilding some of the house you occupied or reinforcing walls versus real dangers coming to your base. Choices like these would have actually made the game awesome instead of ”pretty cool”. As of now, it’s fun to run around smashing heads in and gather supplies to make Zombieland great again. But the fact that it’s more of the same as the first game, plus gameplay where you basically are stressed and running around to gather things without giving you a relaxing moment to enjoy what you are building up to, hold the game back as the sequel it could have been.

Conclusion

State of Decay 2 is partially hard work to keep your Tamagotchi-people alive and make a thriving community. The other part is fooling around on a few sandbox maps where you are allowed to do whatever you want. Killing zombies, finding quests, finding resources, claiming buildings. It’s all rather fun if you are not a perfectionist. If you are, the lack of timers and sometimes overflow of strictly timed quests can be murderous if you just want to have a calm time and play a zombie version of the Sims with meditative music in the background. It’s maybe not everything you expected from the second State of Decay five years after the first has been released, but there is still enough to do and at least the game delivers on what fans could have expected. It’s unique, and compensated by a market price of half the regular big games go for nowadays (about € 29,99/$29,99), it’s a good game where you can spend quite a few hours.

 

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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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State of Decay 2 - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Pim Hoogeveen
Pim Hoogeveen


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