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State of Decay Preview – How Will You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?

What would you do if the undead suddenly populated the streets and the world suddenly stopped? Would you sacrifice other lives in order to protect your own? How will you survive the zombie apocalypse?

These are questions asked of the player by Undead Labs, the team behind State of Decay, an upcoming ambitious zombie-survival open world simulation currently under development for the Xbox 360 and PC. One of the independent games on display at PAX, State of Decay impressed me so much that going back and playing Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 just doesn’t do it for me any more. It’s a game that allows players to try and survive the zombie apocalypse as they see fit; making it a great sandbox that allows for multiple play styles.

Oh and it’s a game that has a dynamic world that continuously develops in real-time, dynamically generating content based on your actions, the choices you make, the people that you interact with, and resources that you use.

Check out our full preview of State of Decay after the break.

Like I mentioned earlier, State of Decay allows players to try and survive the zombie apocalypse however they see fit. Those who love full-on zombie genocide can do so with reckless abandon, using the different weapons and vehicles scavenged in the open world; though this comes at a huge risk of attracting an even bigger horde after them. They can also be a leader and silent collector; one that saves other survivors, and goes on supply raids to gather resources and create supply chains. However, the more survivors there are, the faster resources deplete and the more relationships the player has to manage.

This really comes into effect once players have started building their own settlements. A stronghold if you will that can hold a certain number of survivors that act as a home base and a place last stand if needed. Of course, running a livable, relatively safe settlement requires a steady supply of food, weapons, and resources that players will have to get either by themselves or by sending out their fellow survivors for supply patrols. The game simulates the worries that survivors feel during a catastrophic event such as how they’re going to eat for the next month, let alone the next week. As well, people within the settlements have their own unique needs that require special attention; for example, what if one of the survivors has asthma and needs their medicine? It then acts as a mini side-mission that the player must embark upon to save the survivor’s life and gain his/her trust.

See choice is a big deal in State of Decay, the dynamic world generates situations, zombie hordes, and even relationships with other survivors based on the players’ choices throughout the game; every action has an equal reaction. Remember those supply raids I mentioned? Players can send other survivors to certain locations like abandoned grocery stores, gun shops around the game world to gather resources, however they best make sure that the location is clear of zombies or else they run the risk of getting their fellow survivor killed, hurt, or even accidentally bring the zombie horde with him/her to the camp as he tries to escape. This unpredictability creates unparalleled tension, drama, and volatile relationships only seen in zombie films before (with only the Walking Dead game rivaling it’s scope).

Continuing on choice, players can even take up the offensive by assaulting hordes before they reach the survivor’s settlement, or focus on improving your defenses against the massed zombie attacks. However, defending the settlement takes up valuable resources and food, and even affects the settlers’ morale. Can they and the player hold on long enough for the next supply run? Every one of the player’s choices matter not only for his or her survival, but the survival of everyone around them.

From my recent hands-on, I found that there was so much to do and see in the vast open-world of State of Decay. The world had that “Slice of Americana” that made it unique and brought a certain feeling of nostalgia from movies George A. Romero movies of old like Night of the Living Dead. Players will find old-looking towns, roadside diners, churches, mom and pop supermarkets that can be entered and scavenged for supplies. Players will find small, pockets of houses that look like they were once part of that American dream, destroyed by an unfathomable viral outbreak.

Combat is a mix of melee and firearms. Players can choose from a large assortment of everyday items like crowbars, 4×4’s, baseball bats, golf clubs and such as well as a variety of firearms ranging from pistols, to shotguns, to assault rifles. Then there’s zombie genocide with vehicles, ramming the undead with the trucks, regular and sports cars, vans, and even the occasional farm vehicle. Third person shooting has similar controls to that of most modern open-world games with the Left Trigger held for aiming and the Right Trigger used for shooting.

One other interesting tidbit about the game is that the game world continues even after the player turns of his Xbox 360. This again adds to that unpredictable nature of the core game mechanics. See a lot of things can happen while they’re gone; and that opens up a lot of gameplay and story possibilities for each playthrough. If players set up their settlement well and provide the survivors with lots of food, weapons, and ammunition. They should be able to survive if the player takes some time away from the game. Check out Undead Lab’s Q&A for more information. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt about settlement survival during player hiatus:

“The core point is that whenever you are away for a while, the state of the world will evolve based on how you left things. If things are basically in good shape, you will come back to find your survivors rested and some resources stockpiled (garden advanced, etc.). Invariably, the threat will ramp up a little too, with things like increased zombie activity in areas where survivors have been active, and maybe some new challenge like a disease outbreak, but these are meant to set the stage for how you play, not substitute for you having played.

And just to be clear: your home will NEVER be destroyed while you are not playing. No matter what shape you leave it in. What kind of game designer would have a moment like that happen when you can’t be traumatized by it in person? (Well, hopefully one who had some slick storytelling in mind. For this kind of game though, we want you to see and experience the trauma firsthand whenever possible.)”

One final mechanic that’s unique to State of Decay is that it employs what’s called “persistent player deaths” meaning that if the character that the players starts out with dies, that character is now dead for the rest of the playthrough and players will be respawned as one of the other survivors in the settlement. So if players get attached to their character, they’ll do everything they need to in order to survive.

So how will you survive the Zombie Apocalypse? Find out when State of Decay releases early 2013 on Xbox Live Arcade.

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on September 25, 2012, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. screenamesuckchris

    I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it was stated that survivors will not die when you are not playing (xbox turned off).

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