Monday, March 25, 2013

PAX East 2013: State of Decay

What will you do when the zombie apocalypse hits? Fight to survive? Curl up into a ball and wait for the end? Or decide to scavenge, scrounge and work with others to survive it all? Decisions have to be made. Coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade is State of Decay, which helps you answer those questions and show what sort of mettle you are made of. This game is one that combines many different elements of the gaming world with RPG, sandbox and action-adventure, all rolled into one that will let you see if you have what it takes in this ever changing game environment.

State of Decay is brought to you by the folks from Undead Labs based in Seattle, who focus on bringing the big world MMO style of game to console players for a rich, vast and fun experience. The studio was at PAX East this past weekend and I had a chance to check out their vision for what the zombie outbreak would look like; in short, it looks awesome. With tons of different weapons to use, items to find and choices to make that affect gameplay, fans of all different types of games will find something in State of Decay that will pull them in and keep them playing.

The gameplay was where it’s at, with the amount of different types of playing you can do. Honestly, if you can imagine it you can more than likely do it. From jumping behind the wheel of a car and mowing zombies down, to barricading yourself in a building to keep zombies out to building up your home base; there was just so much to do in this game. My hands on experience was limited to ten minutes and I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of State of Decay, but the moments I did get I loved every minute of it. It was so satisfying driving a big SUV and mowing through a horde of zombies or watching one hanging onto the side of the car and getting knocked off when you swipe alongside a pole.

With all the gameplay possibilities in this game, the story and RPG aspects of it shine most. The game starts you off getting back from a fishing trip with a buddy and right off the bat you have zombies coming at you, with your only weapon being a tree branch. They really throw you to the wolves to get your heart pumping and get you into what is essentially a zombie apocalypse right away, but catches you up to what is needed to survive before turning you loose to play the way you see fit. The RPG function of the game is really cool as you decide what sort of community you want to build up that will help you survive; whether you want a few others to help you or you try and save everyone, each decision you make affects the game.

On top of scavenging for supplies, weapons and building materials, there are the story missions to do that will take you about ten to fifteen hours. Don’t worry though as that isn’t where the game ends. You can keep the sandbox style going for a hell of a lot longer to see how long you can survive fighting masses of zombies, helping other survivors and a whole lot more. There are infestation spots to clear out, vantage points you can use to get a lay of the land and hidden places to check out; just a variety of things that will keep you in the game and playing.

Speaking of survivors, they can be a mixed bag of helping you or hurting you depending on a few factors. You might find/rescue survivors who can bring certain skills to the table (i.e. building skills, marksmanship, karate master, team leader, team player); skills like that can make the dynamic work to your benefit to help you get more stuff done to survive. On the flipside you could find survivors who bring morale down with bad attitudes, troublemakers for your group or those who have useless skills like sexting, loving to read books and others. They can take up skills slots that you wish were available for more useful individuals for the current zombie apocalypse you find yourself in. The way these skills are done for survivors you find is all random so no way to influence the kind of character you find or you could might not even bother to save them if you have a good core group and don’t want to risk it.

Those are the decisions you have to make on how you want to play the game and hope your decisions pan out for the good. When you begin to get multiple survivors in your group and once you gain a level of trust with them you will then be able to switch between characters and control them to complete missions and search for supplies. For the survivors you aren’t playing they will take some matters into their own hands if supplies are low at your home base; they will go looking or try to repair things, but when they do go out solo they can get into trouble and might need your help to escape. With your home base you have a dedicated radio operator that lets you know what’s going on and if others are in trouble. She is one character you cannot play, but manages a lot for you at the homefront. You can do upgrades to it that helps make survival a little more doable. From building a garden, guard house, work bench and infirmary, these things will allow you to help your survivors out immensely.

Because this is a zombie apocalypse there are no more supplies or things being made any more in the world. When ammo runs out or food is gone there is no more and if you don’t have a garden to grow more you are heading for a world of hurt with lack of food to keep your survivors going. All the decisions you make will have real impacts on your game so you have to play smart and plan ahead at times. Me? I'm a huge zombie fan and with all the zombie survival games that will be out on PC; I feel State of Decay is one hell of a great game for the console folks to play and enjoy that zombie survival style game. With no release date at the moment it is possible for it to be in the next few months. State of Decay will pull you in and keep you going with Xbox Live Arcade games pushing what can be done more and more. This game will definitely blow you away. Check out some screenshots and videos below.



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