Review: State of Decay 2

From a technical standpoint, the game is a bit clunky, there is minimal targetting in combat.  Your survivor just seems to autotarget what they deem to be the closest zombie with melee attacks, meaning you frequently hit a different zombie instead of finishing a downed one.  In multiplayer, there can be issues as you may need your partner to carry things.  Often when dropping something for another player to pick up it can often be difficult for them to target the item.  Players that join your game are unable to switch survivors when the one they’re controlling becomes injured or fatigued, having to instead return to their world, swap survivors.  After which they need to be reinvited or rejoin the game.  It makes the multiplayer feel disjointed like it was an afterthought instead of allowing players to build an online community together.

Dayton (State of Decay 2) Screenshot 2018.06.08 - 02.41.44.83
The shadow of the tree can be seen in the gap between the road and ground layer.

Visually speaking the game is ok, not terrible, but not exactly the 4K killer app for Xbox or Windows 10.  There were some places with blurry or muddy textures and at times pop in at weird places.  Which is more troubling as the PC used to test the game exceeded the recommended specs listed on the store page.  With the recommended specs being an AMD 8350 or Intel equivalent, 16 GB of memory and a GTX 960 or equivalent.  Given that the recommended specs are fairly old based on what is currently available for modern hardware the state of the game from a performance standpoint is troubling.  Even on max settings, the visuals left an underwhelming impression compared to other games that released this year from smaller teams that probably had much tighter budgets.

Luckily the audio picks up some of the slack for the at times subpar visuals.  The voice acting is somewhere between above average and great in most parts.  Admittedly though, there are times where the voice work feels a bit forced.  Some delivery is almost deadpan, not sure if that was meant to convey the sense that this survivor has given up and is just going through the motions or if this was a case where a bad take was used. The sound effects here are excellent, with the visceral sounds of a zombie’s head exploding as you land a headshot or impale it with a crowbar.  The screamer’s screech is also a definite high point of the sound design, each time was one was encountered the goal was take it out quickly before it could alert more zombies.

Dayton (State of Decay 2) Screenshot 2018.06.08 - 03.09.04.89
Base management screen, here you can see your outposts, threat level and track your morale.

 

PROS

  • Unique survivors that make the world feel a bit more real
  • Good sound design
  • Base building mechanics that open up once you move out of the starting home base.

CONS

  • Visuals are bit bland
  • Weapons are far too fragile
  • Multiplayer is a bit of a hassle

Final Thoughts

Starting out players will probably always have a similar experience, you need an infirmary to progress in the story.  You need a workshop because weapons are going to break fairly often.  The final slot in your base is also probably going to be a farm because food is vital to survival.  The game really doesn’t open up until you expand to larger bases, from there you get to pick and choose what you think is best for the other open slots.  I also found in my run that expanding too quickly left me unprepared for what the game would throw at me.  My first run-in with a juggernaut left me starting over as it had killed 4 of my 6 survivors including some that had heavy time investments and crucial skills.

Honestly, with the way the systems worked, I found multiplayer to be more busy work than actual fun.  With me having to drop items because my co-op partner couldn’t search the same containers that I could search.  Overall the game is a mixed bag, and honestly, unless you’re a fan of the first one, a fan of zombie games in general or want to create your own Walking Dead fanfic then this game is probably going to be a pass for you.  State of Decay 2 is currently $29.99 or your regional equivalent on the Windows 10/Xbox store and gets a final verdict of wait for a sale.  There are some good ideas here, just it feels bogged down by some mechanical choices.

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