State of Decay 2 is, at its core, a complex apocalypse-survivor version of the Left 4 Dead series. The end of the world is upon you and now you must hunt for supplies and assist stranded strangers with various missions, all in order to survive in the unforgiving world that Undead Labs has created.
As you start the game, you’re greeted with a pretty standard tutorial. Upon completion you’re presented with a choice on where you shall start your new “life” in the world. After that choice, you’re given another, if you want to play Privately, With friends, or Offline. Whatever your choice is, the game does a great job of challenging the player with some of the most grueling experiences you’ve encountered in awhile. Your first mission has you set up base and shows you that you must explore the world to keep it afloat. Build much needed stations within your community’s confines, manage resources, kill a lot of zombies, and enjoy the RPG mechanics of leveling your survivors. As you progress through the game – and its convoluted main story mission and sadly unoptimized bugginess at times – you will discover complexities and simplicity about the world.
The simple pieces of the game are the zombies that are littered throughout the map. They come in 3 variants: basic mobs, specialized, and blood plague. Basic mobs are your fodder, simple to kill, but in large groups, called “hordes,” can prove to be very difficult to handle and a lot more aggressive. Next, you have specialized zombies: the Screamer, Feral, Bloater, and Juggernaut. The screamer can signal a horde via an ear piercing scream to attract swaths of zombies. Kill them first, ALL THE TIME! Ferals are fast and ruthlessly aggressive zombies that will hunt you down with unrelenting ferocity. Bloaters, upon death, exude toxic gases from their bellies, never run them over, And then there are the Juggernauts, hulking zombies that can easily kill an ill prepared team and does damage to vehicles as well.
Speaking of vehicles, these are your best friends. First, they are good against all the zombies EXCEPT Bloaters and Juggernauts. Second, they are a good way to get about the map faster and more efficiently. They’re also great for storing various supplies. So keep an eye out for larger vehicles, though they may be slower, they last longer and have more space to store things.
Aside from killing zombies and hunting for supplies to keep your base afloat, you’ll be on the hunt for Plague Hearts – the source of creating the Blood Plague and as such, the Plague zombies. You’re tasked to eliminate them and restore some sort of basic symbalance to the world. All of this being said, these “things” seem to be sentient. As you eliminate the Plague Hearts, the zombies become more densely populated. You encounter more special zombies and a lot more plague zombies, in the area as you get to the next plague hearts. This challenge leads to players needing to find ways to quickly and efficiently destroying them before they’re wiped out or their survivor(s) get infected.
Now let’s talk about the survivors. Each survivor is unique in their own way, mostly because they are randomly generated. They each have their own special quirks about them, each of which can affect how they respond to the world, as well as their fellow survivors, either positively or negatively. With a RPG base, each character comes with basic skills: Fighting, Wits, Cardio, and Shooting. Each of these can be leveled up and specialized in, characters sometimes come with a fifth skill that you can be upgraded and has a fair share of interesting perks, that I’ll let you find about when you play.
As you commit acts of bravery you will earn “Standing,” State of Decay 2′s experience system within the community. As this standing increases the survivor levels up and becomes a more important and prominent member, eventually unlocking Hero status. Once this is unlocked you gain a special skill and the ability to make them the leader of your community and unlock “Legacy” missions. Legacy missions are special missions that have to be carried out in order for you to unlock their legacy card for usage in future games. Each Legacy does something unique which benefits the community. So make sure to complete each type of Hero’s Legacy to give yourself better chances of better perks in the later games. Also completing Legacy missions allows you to bring that Hero into later games as a stronger character.
Now that I’ve explained all that I know about the game, let’s talk about how I feel about the game. I personally have to say, I’m addicted to this game, especially playing it with friends. Playing solo gives you that constant on edge feeling, but when you’re playing with friends it can lessen that – unless your friends are just as on edge as you are. The game has been crafted amazingly but there are still issues it, such as: major stuttering, lag, character model collision issues, and sync issues, just to name a few I’ve encountered. Despite this, the issues haven’t been game breaking and the game is still fun to play even if the problems are annoying. Exploring the large open world, lack of loading screens, never knowing what’s hiding in the shadows at night, trying to keep from making too much noise while searching, are all pieces of the great experiences that can be had in this game.
At the time of this writing, there is an issue that prevents friends who join you to play in your session from getting their rewards. This system is a great addition to the game because it rewards others to play long sessions with friends, because as you gain Prestige, your online rewards bar fills up and multiplies the amount of gifts you are given. The gifts are random all the time and can range from ammo and medical supplies to weaponry. So not getting these items when you finished running a 3+ hour journey with friends can be a bit disheartening.
Despite that possible major issue, I would still recommend this game. It’s cross-platform, so you can play it on either PC or Xbox – it’s a play-anywhere game. Also if you’re on the fence about the game you can simply check it out via Xbox’s Game Pass which comes with a free 14-day trial (if you haven’t used it already) and check it out for free! This way you can decide if you want to buy the game or not, but I will tell you, you will not be disappointed.