A Dead State
“What if the zombie apocalypse started right now?” That’s how my group of friends and I usually start our conversations at the dinner table or just wasting time in our dorm rooms. And who hasn’t thought of that? Humanity has been fascinated for centuries with figuring out how the world is going to end. The current popular trend is the zombie apocalypse. Ask anyone on the street, if they’re smart they’ll tell you that they have a “zombie plan.” Personally, I have six.
But there’s no way of really testing out these zombie plans. We can argue with our friends over who’s smarter and compare notes all we want, but there has not been a simulation that fully captures the zombie apocalypse experience and allows us to act out what we’d do if the undead walked the earth. The closest we’ve ever come has been the famous Arma II PC mod known as DayZ. It does a good job of giving players an environment where they have to remain fed and hydrated; find shelter, ammo, supplies, and weapons; avoid or fight different types of zombies; try to fix broken bones and deal with blood loss; and handle the distrust growing among the other human players in the server. But it’s still not perfect, there’s just so much a mod can do. And although the creators of the DayZ mod have promised their players that a full retail version of DayZ is coming, there is no sign or word of its release.
While we wait, gamers might like to check out Undead Labs upcoming game State of Decay. The game will be released on both Xbox Live Arcade and Microsoft Windows running on the CryEngine 3 (recently used for EA’s Crysis 3). It promises everything players found in the DayZ mod and much more. First off, there’s a story, so players will have the choice of completing the game’s plot or exploring the massive open world. Players will take control of a man named Marcus, a charismatic and naturally born leader. He wanders down a mountain one day after a hike to find the world has become overrun by the living undead. He can recruit people in the world to join his group, scavenge the world for supplies, and use abandoned buildings to set up and upgrade bases.
This whole idea of bases is what has me excited. You could walk inside some of the houses, lighthouses, barns, and towers in DayZ but you couldn’t do anything about defending these places and making a base of operations. In State of Decay, the player will be able to add tents, create gardens, add radio towers, board up windows and doors, and set up outposts in the world as safe havens from the zombies. From these bases and outposts you can go scavenging or raiding but the player’s actions will affect the game. Lots of noise and construction will attract zombies and they can destroy your base. Treating members of your group like trash might propel them to not trust you, preventing you from asking them to help you defend your home. You have to be careful.
The number of guns in State of Decay won’t compare to Borderlands, but players will have access to finding 99 different guns and over 30 different melee weapons. Guns will be able to be customized with parts like silencers and players will have to care for their guns and fix their weapons to prevent them from breaking if they want to survive.
There’s not that much information about the actual story of the game but we do know that the player will encounter people in the game that they can recruit to join their group, even set up multiple houses and make a town (Wanna be The Governor from “The Walking Dead?”). If you develop a close enough relationship with someone in your group, the player will be given the option of playing as that person. Does each person in the game have they’re own story? Does each person have a different set of skills that allow you to tackle the story in a different way? Hopefully we’ll find out some more information surrounding the story and get some more examples of gameplay at PAX Prime or E3.
Undead Labs is using State of Decay as a set-up for their console release Class4, a full zombie MMO for the Xbox 360 and PC.
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Undead Labs
Platform(s): XBox 360/XBox Live Arcade, PC
Release Date: TBD
Genre: Open World, Survival Horror
ESRB: Rating Pending