Deja Vu Z: The War Z Has Zombies, Permadeath

By Nathan Grayson on July 20th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Another thing Day Z doesn't have: vaguely ironic placement of Stop signs.

The universe is weird sometimes. See, The War Z is not – nor, based on development time, could it be – entirely a Day Z clone. Yes, it’s an MMO with (optional) permadeath set in a  ”post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world where other players can prove to be a greater threat than the undead hordes that populate the land,” but it began development last year and is set to launch this fall. So while I imagine there’s some inspiration, it seems to have overlapped with one of those strange situations where a bunch of people in different parts of the world had many of the same ideas at once. And, encouragingly, The War Z looks to set itself apart with a very strong Fallout-ish RPG streak as well.

While there’s certainly a sandbox element to The War Z, it sounds like a lot more of, well, a game than Day Z’s current mutation. Yes, all the zombie apocalypse staples – gathering food and supplies, setting traps, mistrusting other people – are definitely in place, but there’s a far more concrete framework holding the whole thing in place. For example, it’ll “allow players to earn experience points and then spend those points to learn new skills that will aid in their survival.” Also, there’ll be a tangible in-game currency and designated “safe settlements” that basically function as social hubs.

An interview with IGN, meanwhile, gives a clearer idea of The War Z’s structure, which sounds like an MMO (think: quests) that’s been bitten by a more-radioactive-than-usual copy of Fallout 3. Here’s the most promising bit:

“While exploring the world, scavenging for supplies, weapons, ammo and gear, players will be able to find notes and diaries – text pieces left by other players or NPCs. For example, you can find a diary that tells the story of a family escaping their home and running from zombies – and dying one by one. If you read carefully you can find clues that will point you to a place where you can find better equipment. Another scenario would be finding a note from another real player – this note could either help you or lure you into a trap – you never know what other players intentions are.”

As for permadeath, it’s certainly a big part of The War Z, but it’s far from the only way to play. A less punishing “normal” mode, Hammerpoint explained, will merely incapacitate a character who’s bitten the big one or been bitten by a big one for a fairly lengthy (by MMO standards) period of  ”between 24 to 48 hours.” Meanwhile, the option to play on different sorts of servers – public or private – should keep that from causing a massive balance issue.

So, while I have my doubts about how some of the more traditional MMO elements will mix with Day-Z-style survivalism rivalism, The War Z sounds like it could make for an accessible, potentially more robust alternative. If you feel so inclined, you can sign up for the beta – which will kick off in “the near future” – right now.

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73 Comments »

  1. Aven says:

    Sounds interesting. While I doubt it’ll top the feeling you get while playing DayZ, I’m optimistic. The notes sound like a very fun idea. Hopefully player corpses last a long time, leaving death notes would be rather hilarious.

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      Cinek says:

      If it’ll have quite good envoirment with well made player to player interaction – it’ll top Day Z quite easily.
      For starters it got one huge advantage: it’s authors don’t call every fail an “experiment”. lol

      • Mad Hamish says:

        >For starters it got one huge advantage: it’s authors don’t call every fail an “experiment”. lol

        interfering with your little game is it?

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          Cinek says:

          Not any more – I stopped playing it after 3rd wave of bugs in my career there.
          Hardly can recall any other game that got community enjoying and supporting buggy, untested releases – it was one of the reasons that threw me off it. If it’d be Paradox game, or heck, even random other mod that’s actually developped by community, not mother game developer – it’d be bashed for every issue. Here peope pop with idiotic excuses every time someone complains on obvious dumb bugs/issues introduced with “patches”.
          Waste of time. I’ll surely enjoy something more productive and ambitious beyond farming cash from people under pretending to be a “community mod”, as soon DayZ will begin.

          • Barnaby says:

            Any validity to your remarks is washed out by the fact that you sound like a bitter asshat. Not like the dev shit on you irl or something…

            I kind of wished this new game forced permadeath as I really think that adds to things. I realize it’s an option, but it is probably THE thing that makes DayZ awesome.

      • Spakkenkhrist says:

        I don’t play it and even I know the whole thing is an experiment, “lol” as you put it.

    • woodsey says:

      “Safe zones” immediately sounds like what’d become of DayZ if a publisher did get their mittens on it. By the description, DayZ will remain more interesting because there’s very little that’s artificial – safe zones being a big one that Rocket’s refused to implement.

      • Arglebargle says:

        But creating a safe zone, preferably built by players, is exactly what some people would do in the situation. DayZ doesn’t allow some of the things that would create cooperation in gameplay. Thus, rampant CoDwalloping.

        DayZ’s a very interesting exercise, but it artificially freezes the situation at the beginning/chaos stage of a zombie infestation. My preference would be to allow players to build vehicles to get them off the starter island to other islands where you could have somewhat different situations.

        There is a line to be walked, and I hope these new guys do a good job of it.

        • Reverant says:

          EXACTLY. I think a lot of people are stuck on the mindset that somehow the DayZ experience is accurate and organic. It’s a blast to play, but it’s anything but an emulation of a free form society. Settlements wouldn’t be artificial- it’s be damned logical. People congregate for safety. That’s not artificial. What IS artificial is a system that rewards random murder as DayZ does.

          I am absolutely puzzled by many gamers’ insistence that a few dozen loners and a couple groups of three or four people shooting each other on sight is an authentic representation of how society would function post-cataclysm world.

          Perhaps I should be less puzzled and more terrified for our future.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            The trouble with that whole shooting randomly stuff is that even on “hardcore”, death isn’t really death.

            If not just your character died, but your complete “life” = access on the server gone, you might rethink that.
            Then again that’s all pretty hard to do via technology, but my point is that in real life? You only have ONE life.
            Not “one life” and then just start completely new right away. One.

            You would behave so fucking differently if it really were realistic.

            All this interesting social experiment stuff is BS for this very reason: mortality is not real enough to create real enough behavior in the first place. Human beings are mortality.

  2. Gesadt says:

    how about the size of servers and the world? i have to say, i too, am worried that it might turn out to be basically just another standard mmo in disguise

    • Knightley4 says:

      Standard mmo with permadeath and primary needs?

      • Mad Hamish says:

        With a normal version though. This has RPG style progression with skills. People already freak out and act like utter children when they lose their gear in DayZ. If you give people the option do you think they’re going to take it when they have much more to lose?

        MMO people get really attached to their little numbers, graphics and meta game bollocks The non perma death mode of this game will be the popular one. You pretty much have to force gamers to accept risk these days like in DayZ.

    • Creaturemagic says:

      Servers hold 250 people and the world seems pretty big. Also, I doubt its a standard MMO in disguise. While TOR is, at its core, a WoW reskin, not everything is. I mean Planetside 2 is as no MMOish as it gets, yet it still is labelled MMO. I know this has quests, but I don’t think it will be your typical MMO.

    • Gesadt says:

      by standard mmo i mean: leveling, grinding for xp, instancing, pve centric, no permadeth or rather no risk to dieing.
      and most importantly enforcing certain mechanics (safetowns), rather than giving players the tools to create their own (emergent gameplay)

  3. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Is there a game like this that’s single player? I would like that game as I am socially avoidant.

    • Gesadt says:

      stalker (maybe with some survival oriented mods), unless it has to specifically be zombies for you.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        I love STALKER :) Played all three many times (with and without COMPLETE mods), am now waiting for the Lost Alpha mod to come out. I will have to go looking for some good mods in the meantime. Know of any that add missions / story etc but dont change core gameplay? Cheers for the advice, appreciated :D

        • YeOldeSnake says:

          Project Zomboid, quite easily one of the best zombie survival games ever.

        • PodX140 says:

          I played all three as well, but for the first time I finally ran the complete mod on any of them (pripyat). Well… Lets just say I have 300 steam screenshots of the sky. I was so fixated on getting those amazing electrical storms captured that I failed to notice the ominous sounds of a blood sucker and subsequently screamed as I was hit. Better/worse? I got that exact moment screen capped.

          Honestly, it’s absolutely incredible.

    • werix says:

      Depending on what you mean by “like this” I would Nth the stalker series, Zomboid, Fallout 3 & New Vegas, Metro 2033, all deal with post-apoc survival situations, some in different ways, some with a greater or lesser emphasis on zombies. Hell, I’d throw Red Faction: Armageddon in there at the most distant even.

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      nasKo says:

      I can recommend Project.Zomboid. It’s early alpha or pre-alpha or whatever but easily (going to be) the best sandbox zombie survival rpg.

  4. lordcooper says:

    Finally, a game with zombies in it!

    • LionsPhil says:

      I was waiting for someone to make one of those!

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      Phinor says:

      I was trying to make a funny reference to Call of Duty multiplayer indicating how the players are zombies but then I realized Treyarch games have zombie mode already so I decided against it. Then I decided to write this whole ten second story explaining what I was going through.

    • KeyboardGato says:

      i know! right? like… we got enough survival games with Resident evil and dead rising and call of duty modes… those are really immersive!

      • lordcooper says:

        Because it’s completely impossible to make a survival game without falling back on the overused and cliché zombie trope, right?

        • Zelius says:

          I’m still waiting for someone to make one of these, but with dinosaurs. Call it “Day J”, or whatever.

          • Saiko Kila says:

            Speaking of survival game with dinosaurs – is there any remake of Robinson’s Requiem on radar?

        • Arglebargle says:

          In most modern music they just reuse the same 12 notes. Unimaginative bozos!

  5. Creaturemagic says:

    I definitely recommend reading the whole IGN article, while IGN isn’t a great site, the article explains a lot. I, for one, would like to pre-order!

  6. Uthred says:

    Surely the name would imply this owes more to World War Z than Day Z? Its not as if Day Z itself is particularly original (thought its well implemented)

    • Tei says:

      DayZ may be well implemented, but then the engine seems forced to donthings is not designed for at all,’with craptastic results. Zombies can still see trough solids and walk trough doors in a way only quantum phydics can explain.

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    golem09 says:

    I think some of the crucial infos about this are missing:

    250 player server
    200-400km² map
    This makes for a COMPLETELY different encounter rate with humans.
    Also there are some nice gameplay elementes like

    bounties
    help requests

    That’s a whole differnt dynamic. From the three big Zombie games, Day Z, War Z and Dead Linger, this one looks most promising to me for now.

  8. Mbaya says:

    I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this, I’ve yet to delve into DayZ (despite loving what I’ve heard) and this certainly seems more game like than experiment. I love the sound of leaving notes to help/hinder other players, that was a brilliant addition in Demons Souls and something I wish more games would embrace.

    Nice of you to point out it might not be a clone of DayZ, although I’m sure the release (and success) of DayZ has probably instigated many changes within The War Z, it seems the developers deserve a bit more credit than “They’re stealing Rockets idea’s!!!” that has been present on some sites.

    My only nitpick…MMO. No, not in that way! But claiming you’re an MMO and then seemingly being based on instanced 250 player servers just rubs me the wrong way, as it did back with Guild Wars. Maybe I’m just stuck in the past and should open my mind to an MMO not being one massive world…just the term seems losely used now (MMO = loads of players, MMO = persistant universe, MMO = one shared world, MMO = tab based cyclical combat etc).

    I must say though, I’m really liking the look of it – it seems rather colourful while still retaining a gritty tone to it.

    • jkz says:

      Single shard MMO’s are actually pretty rare, most are instanced.

  9. torchedEARTH says:

    The near future is never right now.

  10. Skyhigh says:

    Sounds kinda interesting.
    What engine does it use? Unigine?

  11. Jimmy Z says:

    If they truly are only a couple of months away from release, they should have something a lot more tangible to show than a few very pre-rendered “screenshots”. Note, that this is not fanboyism, just stating the obvious about game development. I mean think about, some studio no one has never heard of makes huge open world persistent MMOFPS from scratch in little over a year and a half. Does that sound credible to you?

    So, until I see some gameplay footage, I’m calling this nothing more than a feature list and a bunch of fake screenshots.

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Doesn’t seem like the same game at all really, it seems to me that DayZ eventually wants to be minecraft in a competent engine without the mining, this sounds like it wants to be a fallout 3 mmo.

    • phelix says:

      Speaking of Minecraft, there’s also a jump-on-the-bandwagon mod for Minecraft that implements basic survival features, and it’s called, oh-so original, MineZ . Don’t call me a spambot, I hate Minecraft.

  13. Lemming says:

    Considering everything in the last 5 years has been “Zombies lol” it’s not that surprising or bizarre there was this overlap. I have oodles of respect for Day Z and what it’s trying to do, but I’m so fucking sick of the zombie fad.

  14. Turin Turambar says:

    “but it began development last year and is set to launch this fall.”

    So… they have made a MMO with a world of hundreds km2, with all the infrastructure that a hundreds-player servers need, in one year?

    Really?

    • Creaturemagic says:

      The Engine could have been programmed before that, same with network infrastructure. But I get where you are coming from.

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      Cinek says:

      Proper team, decent engine… Nothing odd in here. Actually: they propably made most it in half a year spending rest of the time on other aspects. ;)
      You don’t think that every single rock in every game is carefully, manually placed into the position, do you????

      • Turin Turambar says:

        Do they have a proper team? That’s another thing I was pointing out, I never heard the name of the developer company.

        Even several hundred studios from Ubisoft or Activision with an already made engine need usually two years to make a game.

        • CrookedLittleVein says:

          No, you’re right, they’re lying and this is all a huge conspiracy.

          I mean, what are the chances two sets of people would come up with veeeery similar ideas based upon pre-existing ideas/settings/general gloop that happen to be pretty popular in the pop cultural Zeitgeist. I mean, it’s not like the idea of a perma-death zombie MMO has ever been widely discussed by gamers across the web, right?

          I WANT TO BELIEVE

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          Cinek says:

          Well, noone heard about authors of games such as Witcher or Dead Island either. And yet noone assumed they didn’t existed and the game is just vaporware aimed to soak cash from preorders and then disappear….

  15. Ovno says:

    Sounds good, I’ll definitely be giving it play :)

  16. Fullforce says:

    Is it a coincidence that the name sounds suspiciously like World War Z, the excellent zombie book and film due out this/next year?

  17. Hoaxfish says:

    1. Play as a survivor
    2. get infected
    3. play as an infected survivor for the next day
    4… do you then die, or can you continue to play as your zombie form? (with all the limitations of being a zombie, like no proper talking and no tool/gun usage)

    It’d seem like missing a trick to have a permadeath system that didn’t take into account the undead nature of the enemy.

    • CrookedLittleVein says:

      YES!

      I completely agree with you and I myself am at an absolute loss as to why this hasn’t been implemented at all. The only downside I can think of is that you have vast hordes of roaming undead trolls, though surely that’d only be fun when you’ve got a secure nest and a good rifle?

    • Knightley4 says:

      From what i read in interview zombie here are slow walkers. It would be really annoying to play that type of zombie)

      • Saiko Kila says:

        You should be able to perform suicide then, as a zombie.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      Limit the number of survivors to 4 and the idea will sell itself.

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      Cinek says:

      Sounds like a great idea! I’d love trying to make suprise attacks in tight rooms and kill players despite of huge advantage (both in speed and lack of ranged weapons). It’d possibly be a very hardcore version of the game, but IMHO: extremly fun.

  18. Shooop says:

    I’m curious.

    This of course has incensed fans in some places and they’re calling it a rip-off.

    But let’s look at the important facts: It has some of the ideas that made Day Z so refreshing in its early days. Most importantly, the “You create your own world” theme. Let’s keep an eye on it while the details appear.

    • Unaco says:

      “Of course this has incensed all the die hard “Day Z is the best thing to happen to computers since the mouse” fanboys and that alone makes me smirk.”

      Not in this thread, it hasn’t. So far. Would probably be best to keep it that way, so why bring this sort of backhanded attack into it?

      Sigh…

      • Shooop says:

        Now that you mention that, I’m beginning to think it wasn’t such a good idea to say that.

        Note to self, the PCG comment section is almost as shitty as /v/. And RPS is not PCG.

  19. SexualHarassmentPanda says:

    There are going to be pay to win items, and permadeath and other survival features were only tacked on after DayZ’s success. This game is looking to be tame and uninteresting.

  20. Unaco says:

    Not mentioned in here, and I’ve only skimmed the IGN interview… but it seems to be a PC exclusive, currently. Also, coming from the same people (Arktos) responsible for War Inc., the F2P third/first person multiplayer manshoot game, with quite large levels. That could be the engine that they’d be using here. Can’t remember the name of it though…

  21. syndicatedragon says:

    So, is this always PvP or will there be PvE-only servers?

  22. sirdavies says:

    If they don’t want to be considered a Day Z clone, why would they choose such a similar name? They could have used a different one so the comparison wasn’t so obvious.

    • Torgen says:

      Because they’re trying to skirt as close as legally possible to the bestselling novel “World War Z”, which touched off this latest zombie craze (which had “died down,” so to speak, after L4D2.)

  23. CarrotyMrTaters says:

    A quote from the developers of this game right after they saw Day Z: “Fffffffff…”

  24. PopeJamal says:

    “Another scenario would be finding a note from another real player – this note could either help you or lure you into a trap – you never know what other players intentions are.”

    I can see it now:

    “OMG LOL I leeft yoo sum gunz in teh cupboard. Open it LOL!!!!11111″

  25. Melf_Himself says:

    I don’t know why this isn’t being criticised more for cashing in on the Day Z hype. Even the name is suspiciously similar.

  26. JoeH04 says:

    Guys, you can ask the developers your questions here!!

    http://www.thewarzgame.com/forums/showthread.php?12-Ask-Developers

    They have made a thread for all the fans to ask them questions and they will answer!

  27. JoeH04 says:

    Can’t wait for this game xD