State of Addiction
Let me tell you why I was so excited for State of Decay 2. Back in 2013 when State of Decay first released, I had bought it and played for a couple of hours. I then had to leave to go on a camping trip with a girlfriend at the time along with a friend of mine. Now I love camping, but if there is one thing I remember from that camping trip, it’s how much I talked about State Of Decay. All I could think about was how badly I wanted to go home and play it. I talked about it so much and so passionately that my friend that came with me camping, also bought it as soon as we got back. We still reminisce about it to this day.
Today in 2018, as I’m writing this review, I’m itching to get back to State of Decay 2. This was one of my most anticipated games of the year and I’m so glad that it’s finally here. The series moved from Xbox Live Arcade game to a full fledged Microsoft major exclusive. Just a few days after it’s release, it has already sold over a million units and hopefully after you read this review, you’ll understand why.
If you’re new to the State of Decay series, it’s an action adventure survival game that focuses on group survival. It has a sprinkle of RPG elements that blend really well. The story is simple, survive. There is a very in-depth base building mechanic that works well and has you taking care of a large group of survivors. The group that you belong to will always been in need of more resources, singular desires, or in need of protection. The game is basically just preparing, going on supplies runs/helping other survivors, heading back to base, and then doing it all over again. I know this sounds kinda simple and boring, but it’s so much more than that.
State of Decay 2; A Great Survival Game
Just to state right off the bat, State of Decay 2 is a huge improvement from it’s predecessor. It’s much better graphically, it runs more smoothly, its mechanics are better explained and more in-depth, and the survival and combat mechanics are bigger and better. There are many more options with base-building as well. It’s took me about 2 minutes of playing to say out-loud “Wow this feels a lot better”. The game isn’t clunky, the characters and driving don’t feel rigid and combat feels a lot more free and realistic. The jump from the first game to the second feels so good. I had been playing the first State of Decay for a few days prior to release and even though it was still delightful, it felt dated. Everything in the game is more detailed, the voice acting is better, character models are better, driving cars feels more realistic and less jarring. Like I said, the game is just a lot better than the first and you feel it as soon as you start playing. It’s pretty obvious this game had a larger budget and the backing of Microsoft, which probably led to more time making the game look and feel better. I’m sure the actual gameplay elements came from reception of the first game and boy, did Undead Labs listen.
If you like survival games, you will absolutely love this one. Survival is what this game is about and if that’s what you’re looking for, that’s what you will get. Now, instead of just gathering survivors that are all the same, you need to find people with a certain set of skills to improve your home base, morale around camp, and combat skills. You can also now teach them a secondary skill such as cooking, gardening, construction, electrician, and much more in order to run/upgrade some the sections to your base. You will either need to find other survivors and recruit them, or there are textbooks that you can find that give members of your community the basics that they need to know for that skill. Sounds interesting, right? That’s not even the start.
There are triple the amount of facilities that you can build for your base that can be upgraded in multiple ways. Instead of just building whatever, where ever, certain things can only be built indoors or outdoors, and now there are small and large facility slots. The larger slots lead to bigger and better rewards such as more food, better healing, and many more benefits. You can also install mods to your facilities. That exercise bike you found? You can install it to your storage and get someone to pedal away to give you power. Thus you can have refrigerated storage to store more food. Hopefully you have a community member that isn’t busy and loves exercise. You now also have to worry about power and water. Does your new facility need power in order to work? Better have built a generator or solar panels, or maybe power up that exercise bike mod. Does your garden need water? Build a facility like the rain collector. All of these things make the base so much more in-depth and give a plethora of gameplay options.
A new base mechanic is also morale; how your survivors feel and if they enjoy life around camp. If your morale is low, they wont want to work, won’t heal as quickly, and may even start fighting. Improve moral by building a lounge for people can play cards or watch movies together. Or maybe by having lots of supplies and running water and power in your base, your friends will be happy. It’s just another thing to worry about along with the onslaught of all your other problems. State of Decay 2 really improved upon their community and base mechanics, it feels like you always have something new to do, whether it’s gathering new materials, making sure you have power and water, building new facilities, or maybe even finding a bigger and better home. If you love building a community and watching your base flourish and improve, you will fall in love with this game… or lay awake at night wondering if your building the right kind of base for your community like I did last night.
Getting Out In The World
But what’s it like going out into the world you ask? Not too much has changed. Yes there are still endless zombies, you have to go out and skulk around for supplies and there is even still the odd special type of zombie. So what’s new in the newest installment of State of Decay? Plague zombies, and they can become a real bitch. They basically just your normal zombies with glowing red eyes but if they attack you, your plague meter fills up and you get very sick. If you go untreated, your favorite character may turn into a zombie, or you may have to execute them right in the middle of your community. Weirdly enough, no one really stops you. Worry not, there is a way to stop the blood plague from turning you into a flesh junkie. By killing plague zombies, they drop plague samples that you can turn into a cure if you have a medical facility. So where are all these plague zombies coming from? If you see a building with red haze coming out of it, that’s because there is a plague heart in it. It’s basically a building that has this weird alien looking heart that has to be destroyed. it’s like an infestation from the first game but much harder to get rid of.
Plague hearts are hard to kill and each one you destroy makes the next one more difficult. Attacking them also brings a herd of plague zombies to your door. As for the other improvements, communities you find are much easier to help out and it’s easier to improve your relationship with. Driving around feels a lot less stiff and now you can repair your cars if they break down or even explode. Your vehicles can also be improved if you have a vehicle workshop and someone who is a mechanic.
Now you also have to worry about your gas consumption with your vehicles. Yes, now you can’t just drive forever. So if you’re going on a long trip, you better bring a can of gas with you just in case. One major flaw that has really frustrated me with State of Decay 2 is how easily your vehicles can get stuck. Maybe you’re just getting back from a supplies run and you have 6 rucksacks of supplies in your trunk? Better hope you don’t go slightly off road and hit a small rock or else your car gets stuck and you cant move an inch anymore. You’re either going to have to run for miles for a new car, back to camp, or abandon your goods. This has happened to me more times then I can admit and makes my blood boil with frustration.
One of the most requested features that Undead Labs bring to State of Decay 2 was multiplayer and they made good on the request. Multiplayer is basically that your friends can come into your world, accompany you on missions and supply runs and just help you overall. But that’s pretty much it. Yes they can get some supplies and rewards for helping you but really, there isn’t a whole lot of benefit to playing together. But to be fair, it is fun to play with your friends and that’s what playing video games is all about, having fun. Also, if you’re in need of help, you can request that a random player join you in order to give a much needed hand. It would have been nice if Undead Labs made the State of Decay multiplayer in the sense as you live in the same server as your friends and you co exists and maybe resources can replenish that way everything isn’t taken so fast by everyone else. One can dream.
State of Decay 2 Has It’s Problems
As much as I’ve been praising this game, there are some short comings.
The story is pretty much non existent. The characters are randomly generated, just like the world and all the story related tasks don’t really have a story to begin with. With the craze of zombie games a few years ago and the popularity of The Walking Dead, zombie stories are starting to get old o even if there was a deeper story in this game, i doubt it would be anything ground breaking. To be fair though, State of Decay 2 isn’t about story nor should you be buying it for story. You should be buying it if you love survival games. The 2nd thing is, as I’m sure you have probably heard elsewhere is yes, this game does have some bugs in it. For me honestly, it happens very rarely, but sometimes random cars will go flying in the air, zombies get stuck in weird positions, I run into an invisible wall, or something small. Are these bugs game breaking? Absolutely not. For me they weren’t even mildly frustrating at all so don’t really worry about it. Plus I’m sure Undead Labs is working on fixing the problem. They also have a handy feature that lets you backtrack a few seconds just in-case you do bug out and get stuck somewhere. Although a big plus is that there are three maps for the player to choose from that all offer a nice new set of home bases. The bad thing is that these three maps really don’t stand out that much from each other and probably could have just been mashed into one giant map. All in all, these things pale in comparison to the entertainment this game provides.
You’ve Survived Another Day
If you’re buying State of Decay 2 for what it is, a zombie survival game, then you will absolutely love it. The base building and community mechanics are fantastic and there is always something to do in this game. Building up your characters but also having the possibility of them dying means you get attached even though they are randomly generated characters. You shouldn’t be buying this game if you want a great story because it’s just not there. Yes the game has bugs but it’s never game breaking and might just be unpleasant to see. Is this game of the year material? No. But it’s one hell of a survival game with very in-depth mechanics and sometimes just because a game focuses on one aspect, it can lead to hours upon hours of fun. The 40$ I payed for this game will be well spent as I replay this game on and off for the next couple of years. I’m going right back to playing State of Decay 2 when I finish this review.