Five years after the first State of Decay in 2013, Undead Labs now released the second installment of the franchise State of Decay 2. Microsoft Studios published the game and it’s built in the Unreal engine and because of the cooperation with Microsoft, this game is only available for Windows 10 and Xbox One.
In order to help you understand my angle here, I just want to let you know that I played State of Decay for many hours back in the day and enjoyed it a lot at that time, including the extensions that were subsequently released. I tested State of Decay 2 today, on the release day, for about 5 hours on the Xbox One.
Even before the release, the newly published title received critical feedback and it wasn’t always praised by other reviewers. One of the points in many articles was that the game had no real story to it. Another popular subject was the repetition of the game’s activities. While this is not entirely wrong, it’s not entirely true either. Let me try to explain you some of my personal thoughts on this.
What is State of Decay 2 about?
State of Decay 2 is a zombie survival game but it stands out a little bit. It’s somewhat open-world but not really. Though the area you can freely-roam is big enough not to be bored. There’s a lot to explore but resources are limited and if you die, you’re done.
You start the game in a tutorial scenario of your choice. Afterwards, the characters are randomly generated along with their name, appearance, clothes, equipment, skills, and traits. You quickly find a place for your first home-base and then start to fortify it and add things like a sick ward, beds, a garden and perhaps other things.
As you help your local community to fight zombies and support your neighbors survive, you increase your reputation and improve your skills. At some point, other survivors might ask to join your crew and that’s also important for you to keep ahead of the zombies. Because if your character dies, it’s a perma-death experience. You can then continue your game by playing another survivor of your enclave.
You can also switch to other characters of your crew without dying. Much more than that, it’s a necessity. Your characters need to eat, rest and get healed if they are seriously injured on their journey. That also helps in case you need a certain skill being maxed out for a particular mission. If you expect some shooting done, even though it doesn’t happen too much in zombie games, it’s good to go out with a soldier-type. If you need zombie head smashing, you bring some brute with his sledgehammer. Or you skill your favorite character in all skills and hope they don’t die.
How is State of Decay 2 different from the first game?
I don’t want to offend anyone but I have to say that this second installment is not a huge milestone. But what I want to put the emphasis on, this time around they took all the amazing things that made State of Decay fun and improved that. They improved the graphics, the usability, the controls and the overall flow of the game. They also added multiplayer functions, that many players yearned for, and just like with Sea of Thieves, a few weeks back, Microsoft Studios pushed this title on the Game Pass and let’s people from different platforms play together.
State of Decay 2 has a bit of narrative. You could call it a story but it’s still a sandbox game. It is what you make out of it. Saying that the game has no story isn’t true but it’s certainly not a strong point of the game – but it never tried to be. Same goes for the repetition of activities. Yes, gathering resources is somewhat repetitive but it’s still plausible. Your enclave uses up resources such as food, ammo, and medicine every day. You better make sure they always have enough of all these things or moral will go down, or people will leave you, or perhaps they all die on the next zombie attack.
State of Decay 2 is all that you loved about State of Decay with improved game mechanics, graphics, and newly introduced multiplayer and cooperative gameplay features. That’s the frame to argue, judge and discuss. It’s not an AAA release and it’s not sold at a price tag of $70. The standard version is sold for $29.99 and it’s included in the Game Pass already. Knowing the first game is key to rating the second game installment in my opinion.
I think State of Decay was one of the best and most entertaining singleplayer zombie survival open-world sandbox games before. And I think that State of Decay 2 has the potential to be even better and include a whole new gamer segment by introducing multiplayer functions. If you enjoyed the first game, you’ll also have a good time with State of Decay 2. If you’re not sure if you want to purchase the game, have a look at the Game Pass, which is a subscription for playing games.
The game has only been released and if I come across anything new that might change my point of view or could be interesting to share, I will add my remarks to this article. Did you already have a go at State of Decay 2 or saw some of the streams? What are your thoughts? I’m feeling positive about it but I’d love to hear what you think. Drop your thoughts below in the comments. Thanks!
YouTube: PAX-East 2018 Gameplay Video
Photo credit: All images owned by Undead Labs and Microsoft Studios