Welcome to “Babysitting, the game”
I never did play the first State of Decay game, so going into the second one I didn’t have a clue of what to expect. So imagine my reaction when I figured out that the game was a glorified settlement builder straight from Fallout 4.
I was all set to not have any fun at all, but after playing the game for a number of hours something amazing happened.
I began to enjoy myself.
So State of Decay plops you into your choice of one of three maps, the plateau, the foothills, or the valley. After the annoying tutorial, you get to control a few survivors as you set up camp in an abandoned house, after that the map is your oyster. Meaning, you go out into the open world and gather as many resources as you can without getting mauled by zombies or contracting the blood plague, both of which are about the most annoying things that happen in this game. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s talk about the most important thing in an open world game that you can talk about.
The maps themselves are nothing that special. They look okay, the graphics are appealing enough, the terrain is cool, but they’re really nothing that you’d want to go out and explore. Luckily, the fact that resources are scattered everywhere throughout make it so you have to go outside of your base, though most houses and buildings you go into look all the same.
Once you go on top of a billboard or tower to scout out the surrounding area, you see that there are actually a good amount of buildings that you can explore. However, the scavenging is limited to containers that have a shine on them, and whenever you go into a building the top right corner of the screen tells you outright how many containers there are to search. It takes away from the ambiguity that I like in these kind of games, and is only one part of many aspects of the game that make it feel really stiff, including the arcade-y way you drive cars around and the one-button combat situations.
Something that really bugs me about this game is the separation of resources and items. You can find medical supplies and ammo and all that, but it doesn’t carry over to the resources that you have inside of your base that constantly bring down morale because you don’t have enough of them. For that, you have to find rucksacks to bring back to your base of which you can only carry one at a time. So you either bring a car with you so you can stash them all in the trunk, or you’re stuck going back and forth a lot which leaves you more chances to bite the dust. And speaking of biting the dust…
The combat in this game is kind of sub-par, but only at first. For the first couple hours, you’re bound to mashing X and watching your stamina meter until you have to run away and recharge. It’s enough when you’re going mano a mano with a deado, It’s a huge problem if you want to ever fight more than one zombie because once you run out of stamina it’s all you can do to let the zombies overwhelm you and you spend the next few minutes mashing A to break out of zombie holds until your health gradually goes down to nothing. However, there are slight upgrades you can get that give you more abilities and button combinations that overall kind of make you feel like a fighting master, and even maybe feel like you’re having fun fighting zombies. In fact, it’s the skill system in this game that really triggers the part of my brain that loves RPGs and it makes me want to play the game to level all my survivors to god status. It harkens back to the days of Oblivion where jumping everywhere would level you up.
Unfortunately, it’s still quite easy to get overwhelmed by zombies, and if you do happen to get away, chances are it’s because you were fighting blood plague zombies and you now are sick with the blood plague. And not to mention, if you die in the game you die for real…in the game. There’s no bringing back survivors that fall victim to zombies or your own idiocy. It’s why I abandoned my first settlement and decided to start over.
The Blood Plague
The blood plague is the most annoying part of this entire game. And I get why it exists, it’s for more continuity, more tension, and to add a point to the fact that you have to destroy all the blood plague zombies and plague hearts in order to ‘win’ the game. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s annoying as fuck to clear. You contract the plague, you get a timer till your death, you switch characters, and then you go out and try to kill more blood plague zombies so you can get samples to make a cure, all in hope that this character won’t contract the plague too. It’s a cycle that happens every time you try to take down a plague heart, and it’s the hardest part of the game which is something that also bugs me.
Why does it bug me? Because it’s not nearly hard enough. Like I said, it’s really annoying to get enough samples to cure the plague, but if you’ve already been out gathering resources chances are you’ve gathered some samples already. It’s only really really annoying when you’ve just started out and you’ve contracted the plague for the first time and you don’t have any samples and haven’t bothered to build an infirmary yet. Killing the plague hearts amount to shooting the heart, shooting the zombies, running out of bullets, punching the heart, punching the zombies, getting the plague, almost dying, it almost amounts to Destiny levels of boss health that goes up since each heart you kill makes the next one harder.
The blood plague is pretty much the pinnacle of difficulty in this game, which kind of makes it more bland as all you do is go out and gather resources and tend to the occasional question mark on your map where there are other survivors in need. However, the game does have a fix to this, which brings me to my next point.
Babysitting: The Game
In State of Decay 2, you’re always going to be doing something. The game actually surprised me because, like in Conan Exiles, you always are living in danger. Whether there are low supplies at your base, an impending zombie attack on your base, people unhappy at the base, or other survivors in need, the only time you have left between all of that is spent gathering resources, time which is often interrupted by the problems I’ve listed above. However, unlike in Conan Exiles, all of these tasks are far less tedious and provide you with much more reward for your work, as well as many chances to level up your stats and specialize your characters.
Essentially, the game forces you to play it, otherwise, you die. There is little to no time to fuck around doing anything, because you always have to be doing something. It’s that aspect that makes me call this game both annoying and genius at the same time, since if you did have a break in the action you’d be bored as fuck in this bland map full of bland things to search through. Of course, you could just ignore everything outside of your base, but if you did the people you ignore would turn hostile and the people at your base would constantly be complaining that they want to see more survivors at the base.
All in all, this game is a solid 6.0. It’s pretty solid, it knows what it wants to be, it can be fun, but there’s just so much more that could have been done with it. However, you could negate everything I said by pointing out that this game only costs thirty dollars, which at that price point I guess I could recommend the game.