Zombie survival adventure State of Decay 2 lurches on to PC next Tuesday - though it’s out today for those who ordered the Ultimate edition - and Brendan kindly put aside his endless shopping trips to help me test co-op mode. Opt for a multiplayer session and you appear as visiting survivors in the host’s game, in this case, Brendan’s. You can help said host progress their story and bring home whatever loot you find, but it’s also fine if you just want to go for a jolly in the countryside and deck deadheads in tandem.
As Brendan points out in his early impressions, single-player is a relentless onslaught of requests, timers and survival meters. It’s all ticking away in multiplayer, too, but the presence of another daft human distracts from the toil. As you bomb about farms in a sports car it feels closer to an open world Dead Rising, which is something actual Dead Rising struggled to deliver back in 2016. Admittedly, most games seem sillier with a chum honking into your headset, but it breathes much needed life into Undead Labs’ po-faced podunk towns.
If anything, it’s when you settle down to focus on the campaign that its limitations arise. The visiting survivor can’t activate quests or further those in motion. They can only loot certain objects and can’t chat to people they meet. There’s also the issue of fatigue - as the visitor you can’t switch to play as the host’s survivors, but your own character gets worn down and becomes more inefficient as the session goes on. Unless I’m missing an option buried deep in a menu, won’t every game end with a team of wheezing, ineffectual allies?
But why not watch our co-op session for yourself? There’s a fair bit of awkward jankiness in there, yes, but there is also a bit (you can skip to it here) where we managed to lure zombies to kill traders who had mugged us off. In brief moments like this, State of Decay 2 is a huge amount of fun. Well, it is for the two malicious sods laughing from the safety of their trendy Brogan Rapscallion.
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