Review: State of Decay 2 – A state of farming and zombie fun

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State of Decay 2 is the sequel to the 2013 Xbox and PC exclusive by State of Decay by Undead Labs, which saw a re-release in 2015 as “State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition”. With the sequel now out and our foray into the zombie-filled apocalypse having hit its climax, it’s time to talk about the game with our review for State of Decay 2.


Pros:
+Great cooperative play with up to three other friends
+Extremely smooth framerates on both Xbox One X and Windows 10
+Amazingly well-done sound effects and voice acting
+Item and resource management is not near as tedious as it is in the predecessor title

Cons:
-Framerates do tend to seem inconsistent on classic Xbox One and Xbox One S models
-Resources found do not benefit your own camp when playing in another players lobby


I’ve dropped my pal Andrew off from our busy day of rummaging through various broken down buildings, zombie-filled streets, and our latest supplies we’d managed to gather. As we’re driving, I can’t help but take a peek at my map as he begins to drive us down this broken road. Truth is, we barely escaped with our lives intact, and our ammunition had begun to run extremely low. Now, we’ve managed to stir up another massive horde due to the dull roar of our vehicles motor.

I can already hear it over my headset, “we’re out of gas,” Andrew reminds me of what seemed like despair in his voice. He’s right, we almost are, and our car is just on the verge of exploding. We’d already run this thing into the ground, making it one of the few modes of transportation we have while a few miles away from the base and we know we couldn’t lose it now.

In a way, we weren’t ready for this, we hadn’t properly prepared even with our food in our bags, medical supplies in our kits, and enough ammunition to take out a relatively small horde of zeds. But this is the reality of it. You’re, in ways, an errand boy, one that goes out for supplies, managers your team, and quietly begins to move on when needed be. This includes recruiting survivors, giving supplies to those that need them, and ensuring that your base is up to security standards by having everyone properly geared and all your stations up to par.

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But our woes didn’t seem over. The moment we got back to base, it seemed that something bad could happen, but then things got worse. We’d been raided, our fuel supplies are gone, and our medical isn’t much better. Someone had managed to go after all our stuff and did so pretty damned well. Now, our task is even harder. Our two adventurers are exhausted, they need sleep, which means their stamina is only a quarter of what it should be.

Now our problems to the follow up to the 2013 title have become real. We’re once more in control of a group of survivors, all nestled into a single compound, each needing specific resources, such as fuel, food, ammo, or even water. If there’s a workstation, you can upgrade your needed items, even craft them if need be, this is the best part of it all, there is a reward system for all your hard work once it finally begins to pay off. But that’s where farming becomes a task of its own.

Some of your days out and about in the zombie-filled world are carrying out tasks for local survivors, others are you completing missions for a specific survivor, completing their story as things get underway. In this Windows 10 and Xbox One exclusive sequel to its predecessor, things will seem alarmingly similar for those having played its sister title, but one major upgrade has happened. Cooperative play. You can roam around the entire zombie-filled wasteland in cooperative play with up to three other players.

However, there are some minor, but extraordinarily resounding differences from its predecessor. But that’s not the only new feature in the game. Now you have new and more infectious undead foes known as Plague Zombies who can infect your survivors with the blood plague virus which will turn your survivors into the undead themselves. The only way this can be stopped? By destroying their source known as “plague hearts”. These ugly, throbbing, red blobs of bones and flesh are hidden deep within houses, hopes, and diners that have been taken over by this newly found form of infection that roar out for back-up once they are damaged.

plague-hearts

Luckily for you, if you managed to tear apart all of the infected in the surrounding area, they won’t be of concern, but you need to take them out, and you need to ensure that you were able to destroy them all. Toss in doing these at night when it’s almost pitch-black outside, and things get a bit more dangerous. It’s almost impossible to see, and even with your torch, the light is barely enough to see the undead lurking about. But the overall approach to this series hasn’t changed all that much. You’ll still go out, bash a few skulls in, rummage about for loot, and trade with a faction known as “The Covenant” while managing your own small group of survivors.

While many websites of commented n this games “janky” controls, I’ve noticed very little of this and even less of it when discussing the game with those who have played it as well. While the controls as far as melee combat does need some work (very little at that), our overall experience wasn’t bad, nor was it unresponsive, but this could be due to the latest updates the game has received as of the time of writing. Vehicles themselves, however, have been heavily improved upon. Long gone are the days of rubber-banding lag on both PC and console versions as the engine tries to render everything in real time.

If you move your thumbstick a bit too hard, your car goes with it, if you slam on the breaks, they respond just as you would imagine. Your car jerks forth as it comes to a screeching halt in the middle of the road. If you drive on dirt or grass, it feels just as if you were driving on dirt or grass. This type of control scheme works quite well, allowing for an experience that comes off as natural and quite enjoyable.

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However, there is something off about this game. Compared to the PC version of the game, the game struggles on both Xbox One S and Xbox One, but this isn’t the case with PC and Xbox One X (the obvious reason is more power behind the console). More-often than not, it’s only when textures begin to pop in and out as you move through the map(s) or when large hordes of zombies are lurking about. But it doesn’t just stop there. If you’re playing on PC, none of this happens, it runs as smooth as the day is long and does so rather well.

Jumping to the console version, I almost instantly took note of several facts. One, the game runs well on an Xbox One X. Thanks to one of my pals, I was able to sit down for a bit with his console when he brought it over this past weekend and give it a spin. Luckily, it seemed the problems I had with my own Xbox One were something of the past thanks to the increased capabilities of the Xbox One X and Microsoft’s hard work on making a successor to the earlier versions of their hardware.

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But there are a few things new that didn’t see the light of day in the previous entrance, rather, they didn’t seem as prevalent as they are now. Noise should be a concern in any location where your community is based. Work tables such as medical, the workshop, and even gardens can make a lot of noise. Due to this, the safety of your people should be considered and this newly added dynamic means things can get a lot riskier for anyone involved, yourself included.

The more zombies that are being drawn to your base also means the bigger the need for weaponry, guard towers, and a better overall approach to keeping zombie numbers down to a minimum in the surrounding area. Early on, the need for these bigger concerns isn’t nearly as dire as you won’t have the resources or necessary townsfolk to make this problem a threatening reality to all involved.

While managing resources on your own can be a hassle, this is where cooperative play comes in handy. It’s no longer a single-person expedition hunting down valuable resources such as food, ammo, supplies, and various other necessities that your group of survivors may very well need. Now, it’s become easier, your friends can donate their discoveries to your supply boxes, allowing you to better tend to your group as needed.

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The only downside here, their searches do not benefit them all that much. They do not see what resources they gather assisting their town in any way, nor do they see any results outside of helping grow their survivors on an “as needed” basis. They will still have to overcome their own unique struggles as they help you.

Any weapons, ammunition, or resources they use up, that’s on them, which is unfortunate seeing as to the fact the game has had a lot of room to grow, and seemingly still does post-release. Luckily for them, however, they can still improve upon what their survivors stats, abilities, and what their combat capabilities. The only improvements left to make for co-op play? Allow players to donate their findings to their own group of survivors, allow them to upgrade what they need, and even use the stations at their friends’ camps while they’re there.

State of Decay 2 –  Windows 10 and Xbox One
Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: $29.99/$49.99

With all this said and done, State of Decay 2 has some room to grow where cooperative play and the performance is concerned on older versions of the Xbox One. However, if this doesn’t deter you from playing the game, then State of Decay 2 is a solid game, one offering hundreds of hours worth content to be explored for fans that decide to hang around.


Our review is based on a retail version that was provided to us by the game’s publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.


Final Score: 8 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

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