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An Apocalyptic Experience: State of Decay 2

The official launch day of State of Decay 2 has descended upon us with mixed emotions across the board. Either alone or together, the player is tasked with ensuring the survival of their community, where character deaths are permanent and the night is unforgiving. The following review will dissect the mechanics, progression, and multiplayer of the game, highlighting both the good and bad executions thereof.

The Mechanics

 State of Decay 2 does an excellent job at the teachings of its in-game mechanics, presenting prompts to the player when a certain action is available. Eventually halting the tutorial prompts after the action has been completed multiple times by the player (so as to avoid teaching you how to hurdle barriers more than a hundred times). An example of such prompt is visible in the image above. However, the in-base mechanics, referring to the navigating and understanding of in-base facilities like the Infirmary or Kitchen, come without these helpful hints, requiring the player to take some time navigating through each station’s control panel to understand what exactly they do and how to complete various tasks or use various things within them. One of the first examples of this comes about when the player is tasked with building an infirmary (for a reason that will not be spoiled) and is left with a simple “check [name of character] into the infirmary.” A task forcing the player to figure out where/how to build the infirmary, and how to navigate through its menu to check the troubled party member into the infirmary.

In regards to graphics, State of Decay 2 does a pretty good job with smooth executions thereof. Obviously, the game runs much smoother on higher powered PCs and the Xbox One X, but the quality is not, per say, detracting. One of the most notable aspects of State of Decay 2’s graphics stems from its unforgiving night cycle. The photo above aids in the depiction of just how punishing night time is on the player. State of Decay 2 features a night cycle that makes it nearly impossible for the player to navigate the wilderness. This specially proves punishing in dark buildings where the player may run right into a Zed (Zed being what zombies are referred to as in the game) leading to a dangerous encounter. In a game where every health point and healthy body counts, it serves the player better to hunker down in the night and focus on improvements to the home base. The day time cycle is rather pleasant, with a little less excitement than the night cycle. The day cycle is the best time for a player to scavenge nearby towns in search of materials and supplies; the fundamental motivator in State of Decay 2.  The picture to the right, or at the top; depicting the main menu, goes to show just how smooth the graphics appear on the Xbox One X.

The Multiplayer

State of Decay 2 brings with it the experience of multiplayer, an aspect of gameplay that fans of the first game, State of Decay, were dying to receive. Players of up to four can work together to scour the lands in search of precious materials and supplies in aims of surviving yet another day. It sounds like it’s the perfect addition to the State of Decay series, but unfortunately it is not the smoothest experience possible. Tag-along players (those that join the host’s world) are limited in their abilities, being unable to scavenge boxes or crates, and are leashed to the Host. While the aspect of the leash makes sense, as it forces the players to work together and not stray away from each other, the lack of a tag-along’s ability to loot makes the process of looting a building take longer than it could, as it leaves the Host with the responsibility of looting and dropping items for teammates to hold. If players can look past these drawbacks however, the idea of struggling to survive with your best buddies (or even randoms, as State of Decay 2 does support random matchmaking) is rather appealing.

The Progression

State of Decay 2 is no easy game to master, as every action has its consequence on the group’s survival. The main idea is to successfully survive long enough to reach maximum valor in a character, which then can be used in the start of another world until the player has eventually created the perfect society. One aspect of State of Decay 2 that adds to its severity of death is a character’s permadeath. Once you lose a character, there is no bringing that character back. New characters can be randomly generated, though their skills will, of course, be back to a basic level. For those that love the constant search and grind game styles, State of Decay 2 is the perfect vessel. The player’s main objective is to scavenge, where random events, such as the meeting of other NPC’s, harder zombies, or infestations (more on those in a second) add a variety to each experience. While the encountering of other NPC’s and harder zombies is rather self explanatory, it is the infestation that prove to be a character’s worst nightmare. These infestations, pictured above, can be found within towns and will produce zombies that have the blood plague, a disease that can be easily transferred to a character, requiring them to seek medical attention before imminent death. The more infestations a character destroys, the harder they get, creating a snowball effect of difficulty that correlates with the player’s skill (supposing that the more time the player spends in the game, the more experienced they will be in zombie encounters).

The Takeaway

State of Decay 2 brings everything that player loved about State of Decay one, sprinkles in some functional multiplayer, and adds a spice of variation to create a new zombie experience. It remains to be seen whether the cut and dry act of continual scavenging will eventually lose its golden touch or if the variation of events and progression that the game presents will be enough to keep this game alive. State of Decay 2 is worth a shot, and is downloadable to players with the Xbox One Games Pass at no charge, and is a “play anywhere title,” allowing gamers to purchase it once and have the availability to run it on either PC or Xbox. At a low price of $29.99 for the standard edition, State of Decay 2 is not a title that will break the bank, but its true worth will be determined from the player’s experience and love for the scavenging grind.