State of Decay 2 Review
Microsoft’s focus in 2018 so far has been multiplayer experiences; this began with Sea of Thieves which launched just a few months ago in March, which has been followed up by the highly anticipated open world zombie game, State of Decay 2. While spending time with friends in this expansive world is lots of fun, technical hiccups and lack of variety hold this title back from being one of the brightest on the Xbox One.
In State of Decay 2, you will be tasked with forming a community within the zombie apocalypse. How you choose to do this is almost always up to you – outside of the early ‘tutorials’ but some methods will always be better than others. The game gives you plenty of options for how you want your community to look, so depending on what you want to focus on will depend on how you play the game. The early hours of State of Decay 2 are fantastic, as you escape plunder and escape a military camp, while making a handful of friends. After selecting which map you want to play in – there are three to choose from, all of which are the size of the original State of Decay – you and your 3 other companions will begin building you first community.
Getting off the ground was great. Scavenging nearby buildings for supplies, finding gas for cars, and taking down hordes of zombies and Blood Hearts was great fun. As you roam the open world, you will collect medicine, spare parts (used for buildings stations in your community), ammunition, food and more. You will also come across other humans within the world, and how you deal with those humans could have major consequences in the future, which is one of the better mechanics within the game.
Refuse to allow humans to join your community and potentially face their wrath later in the game. Invite them to join, and you instantly make your community more difficult to manage. Not only will food and medicine quickly dwindle – food at 1 unit per day, per person – but personal conflicts are also more likely as you put more and more people into a confined space. This could leave you dealing with inter-community conflicts, rather than working towards destroying the zombie plague.
Doing everything for the first time – and even a few subsequent times after that – is pretty fun. There is a sense of urgency constantly beating you down as you continue to get notifications from your community that a specific resources is running low. As resources diminish, death is imminent and morale will suffer, causing you further problems. Since you always have the threat of starvation upon you, each day can be tense: while you might play the sneaky, slow thoughtful game to avoid zombies, the time you waste doing that could spell disaster for yoru community. Which approach do you take?
However, as I slowly progressed through the ‘campaign’ – destroying more and more Blood Hearts – dealing with the mundane tasks of scavenging food and finding medicine became less of a intense game play mechanic, and more of an annoying stressful one. Just when I was ready to embark on a long trek to take down another Blood Heart – which would have required a car – I get a notification that food within my community was low. So off I went to scavenge. After returning with the food, and re-preparing to head out again, my medical supplies ran low.
It’s a constant battle between campaign progression and community building, which some people really enjoy! However, I was more focused on killing zombies – the combat is more often than not, incredibly satisfying with some great animations – than building a community, and since I was always forced to deal with the latter, it definitely tainted my opinion of the game.
That being said, my personal preference aside, State of Decay 2 – in terms of game play, mechanics, and story – was bound to receive a fairly high score…until the bugs began popping up. From characters that disappear, to zombies spawning in mid air, to shocking graphical issues, the experience of playing through State of Decay 2 is definitely tarnished. Minus the issues, State of Decay is easily an 8+, but the issues hold me back time-in-time again. For a game that has been in development for a long time, I expected better, and although I’m sure patches will come along to fix the issues, I’ll likely have moved on from this experience by then.
The one thing that really differentiates State of Decay from State of Decay 2 is the inclusion of 4 player multiplayer. While this is definitely the best way to play – and certain things will carry over when you enter a friends game – the multiplayer mode does suffer with frame rate issues and how closely tethered vising players are tied to the main host. With more freedom and a better frame rate, the multiplayer mode in State of Decay 2 would have gone a long way in helping players forget the host of issues plaguing the single player experience.
State of Decay 2 is still a fantastic title, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that this doesn’t carry the ultra premium price of other AAA titles on the Xbox One. For those with Xbox Game Pass, playing State of Decay 2 is a no-brainer, as it is available now via the service.
There is a lot to like in this game, and patches are likely to come. If you enjoy a slow, methodical zombie experience where you have multiple goals to achieve all at the same time, you will have a blast with the game, regardless of the technical issues. With more polish, however, it could have been fantastic right out of the gate.