Open-Ended Zombies: State Of Decay – Breakdown

By Adam Smith on November 19th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

I’d been looking forward to State of Decay for a long time when it finally arrived on PC but after shuffling around on my hard drive for a while, it fell as flat as a zombie on an icerink. Hordes of people were quick to tell me that the game had more charms hidden beneath its fetid flesh than I had been willing to acknowledge but I haven’t returned since the disappointment of those opening hours. At the end of this month, I will revisit, although I’ll be abandoning the confusing confines of the story to try the Breakdown expansion, which is released on November 29th. It’s “an endless campaign with twists and turns based entirely on [player] choices”, which sounds ideal. Difficulty increases over time and as in Project Zomboid, the only certainty is death. Sounds like a treat!

Undead Labs’ news reports suggest they’ve been keeping on top of bug reports but I haven’t seen the results of that for myself. Fully remappable keyboard controls arrive in Update 4 at the same time as the expansion, as does a new loot system. It’s good to see support continuing – after the grand success on XBLA, the PC release could have been perfunctory but that doesn’t seem to be the case, with the expansion arriving simultaneously on both platforms and updates targeted specifically at the PC version.

Freedom from story missions might allow me to get to grips with the base inventory and survivor systems, which I found vague and irritatingly affixed to the confused passage of time, which drips and cascades between play sessions. Here are some more details on the other additions:

Build up your score in the face of an ever-escalating zombie threat, and compete with survivors around the world. Complete challenges to unlock new heroes with unique weapons and skills.

I don’t mind unlocks and scoring. As much as survival for its own sake seems appealing, I’d be likely to get to the third day and, in a fit of cabin fever, drive across the entire map looking for an enormous crowd of zombies to lead around the suburbs, Yakkety Sax style. I need incentives to keep myself nourished and rested, and I’m more likely to persevere if the reward is something more than a new hat.

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25 Comments »

  1. Maxheadroom says:

    I too was really looking forward to this but your Opening Hours piece really put me off it. Hoping your next look at it will change my mind again

    I’m such a sheep

  2. WinTurkey says:

    Been meaning to give this a shot, might even have an excuse to pick it up for Christmas now.

  3. Myrdinn says:

    I wish developers of sandbox zombie-survivor games would just team up, pool resources and make the definitive Z game. State of Decay looks okayish I guess, but after DayZ doesn’t quite scratch that itch. Multiplayer Z games have so much potential in terms of psychological tension and it’s effects on (groups of) players. Using zombies simply as cannon fodder and turning the experience into a slugfest is probably the worst possible thing one can do.

    • Mabswer says:

      so more pvp and Kos.. just what we need ///sarcasm

      No!

    • Oozo says:

      “Using zombies simply as cannon fodder and turning the experience into a slugfest is probably the worst possible thing one can do.”

      That is, unless you put on a tutu and live out that slugfest in style. Good times were had with “Dead Rising 2″, is what I’m trying to say.

    • noodlecake says:

      I prefer this to DayZ by a long shot. I found DayZ way too tense and basically anybody who is into FPS games will destroy you. I didn’t manage to kill one bandit in my 15-20 hours of DayZ and it mostly just made me feel tense and unhappy. I only played it because my friend didn’t have anyone to play it with. State of Decay didn’t make me feel tense and unhappy by any means so I had a much more pleasant experience with that.

  4. Kefren says:

    Is this a free expansion (upgrade) or a paid-for separate expansion? If the latter I might delay purchasing this game until a final version comes out with everything built in.

  5. Mabswer says:

    LoL, So far that game has been sort of a let down, first 2 hours where kinda ok, but after that the mission gets repeative and later on just stops coming alltogether :/ in the end there just wasn’t anything to do.

    -so Endles wave mode, might.. and i stress ´might´ be what it’s been missing. Trully, give it a decent Multiplayer structure and survival/defend and it would be sure bet.
    ASLONG as player Vs player is not part of it.

  6. Ansob says:

    I’m really not a fan of “difficulty increases over time forever,” especially in zombie games. It should be “difficulty increases over time, peaks for a bit, then eventually drops sharply and you win.”

  7. Mungrul says:

    I really enjoyed the base game. I bought it and Project Zomboid at the same time, and this gripped me FAR more than Zomboid (although I can definitely see Zomboid’s potential, don’t get me wrong).

    State of Decay is as close to my ultimate zombie apocalypse game as I’ve come.

    Sure, the lack of quest diversity gets annoying when playing long sessions.
    The map’s a bit too small and beyond buildings, there’s not that much interesting to find.
    There’s a heavy over-reliance on using vehicles to get from point to point.
    Once set up, your base rarely feels under threat.
    Some dumbass survivors have to be rescued FAR too often.
    Zombie hordes could do with being significantly bigger.
    Black Fever could do with being more infectious. I was disappointed with a game yet again when a zombie bite didn’t result in immediate transmission.

    But still, there’s a lot of goodness here.
    The base building and maintenance add a degree of urgency to proceedings.
    Each and every survivor has unique characteristics; personalities bounce off of each other creating undesirable tensions.
    Ammo is scarce and noise attracts zombies, meaning you have to rely on melee. Hell, the sound propagation model is one of the best things I’ve seen added to zombie games, and should have always been there. Being noisy in general WILL attract hordes of zombies.

    And the voice acting is of a very high calibre, and more importantly, consists of a cast of unfamiliar actors, so you’re not continuously ripped out of the game because you’ve just recognised Steve Blum / Nolan North.

  8. noodlecake says:

    I loved State of Decay. It was a very unique experience, despite feeling a little easy. I would like a bigger budget version of this to come out with more to do and more in depth gameplay mechanics. I am looking forward to the expansion.

  9. tigershuffle says:

    played the demo of State of Decay on my sons 360 and enjoyed it for the short time you get to play.

    Still seemed to ‘arcadey’ for my tastes……but im a gnarly PC centric 40sumfink
    I blame Dayz and watching The Walking Dead for my ‘high’ standards
    oh and not been able to use the bloody controllers very well.

    If this lives up to its promises i might give it another whirl

  10. Monkeh says:

    I only bought the game knowing they were going to add this, so yeah, can’t wait ’till it gets released!

  11. ZzzZombi says:

    I don’t know why but I get terrible performance with this game. It could be that it was a console game first, therefore it may not be optimized for variety of hardware setups. I have a dualcore processor and a 560ti but it seems I need more power or the game needs more optimization. Anyone have an opinion?

  12. GunnerMcCaffrey says:

    Nothing evokes the grim task of rebuilding a fallen civilization quite like score attack mode and global leaderboards.

  13. Flippyot says:

    This game aims to be a more serious Dead Rising, but it irked me in the end.
    During the Beta it was a pain with the controls, but once you learned them it was fun to play:
    - Driving a car backwards into a horde of zombies never got old, especially when you opened you car door to get a ‘strike’.
    - Rushing to save a comrade returning with much needed supplies greatly added tension and urgency.
    - Counseling people while they hold a zombie and you bash its head about was comical and touching.
    - The world continuing on after you had exited the game has its pros and cons, but it’s a nice idea.

    Just a really fun game… until release. For some reason Release brought out the real monsters:
    - Graphics bogging down (I play PS2 maxed out with 60fps).
    - Graphics resetting on every launch.
    - ‘Enless’ spawning zombies (before they would trickle out as long as you didn’t use a bang-bang, and they used to spawn in houses. Now they spawn where the camera isn’t looking).

    I have hopes for the game to progress into a better state, but I have since deleted it off my hard drive and will probably check back into it next September when I get the urge to smash zombies again, but I would wait for this one to drop into the Bargain Bucket.

  14. SillyWizard says:

    I dunno, this game just looks ugly to me.

  15. Mud says:

    Bought State of decay yesterday, have 1 hour in and thats 45 mins to figure out to get rid of those fecking bloom effects.
    Can’t say anything about the game (yet) but graphics wise it’s poor piss …. forgive my bluntness.

  16. DestroyYourEgo says:

    Oh snap! Judge Lawton is gonna be a playable character? Looks like I’ll be going back to Trumbull Valley!

  17. lordfrikk says:

    State of Decay is a very good game but at the time I played it the PC version wasn’t flawless (technically-wise). If you like zombie games and hate unfinished games (content-wise) then this is the one to get.

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