Review: State of Decay 2: Daybreak Pack – An exciting and new take on survival

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State of Decay 2’s Daybreak Pack adds in a rather exciting adventure that up to four people to team up and to take on unimaginable odds as players fight off against seemingly endless waves of zombies. Find out what we thought in our review.


Pros:
+Chaotically fun horde-survival is an absolute blast
+Unlockables that affect both State of Decay 2: Daybreak and State of Decay
+Item management adds a new approach to item distribution

Cons:
-Host disconnections can be problematic due to lost Prestige.
-Connectivity issues remain even after the latest update to the game


Since its release, I’ve managed to sink a decent amount of time into State of Decay 2 on both PC and Xbox One. Since its review, however, I’ve not sunk near as much time as I’d hoped to have done, but luckily, I’ve been given a reason to jump back into the game with the newly released Daybreak DLC that dropped in the past couple of weeks.

While I’d loved a story-based expansion, Undead Labs gives us their very own take on what “horde survival” is. Unlike the base campaign, State of Decay 2: Daybreak is a much different beast in its very own right. Which is exactly why this DLC somehow manages to works out rather well.

But be warned, this DLC plays slightly different than the core campaign where you will find other survivors, recruit them and attempt to make some form of society last. That’s where the DLC is different. In State of Decay 2: Daybreak you’ll be taking on the role of a Red Talon operative. The story behind the Daybreak DLC is rather simple: Secure a CLEO Relay and defend the technician setting it up.

Unlike the campaign, you will take on the role of a randomly assigned soldier, male or female based on your preference, and then deployed to the mission ahead. Dying has also changed and in State of Decay 2: Daybreak, get ready to die. A lot. It’s going to be a common theme as you slowly level up your operative in order to unlock new items to use while in the mode.

Just make sure the technician doesn’t die. They aren’t as incredibly important to the mission and will cause the mission to fail if they are killed. If they take damage, you can heal them up with a bandage, allowing them to be returned to a fully functional status. As you progress, keeping the technician alive does get tougher. You’ll find that while more zombies do appear with each wave, so do special zombies and those that have been buffed through the blood plague will as well.

The only thing between them and the technician is a set of barricades with a specified amount of health. Due to limited resources being available, you’ll find yourself in a deadly game of cat and mouse with resource management being placed at its core. The only thing separating you from winning or losing is, well, your ability to manage your resources, utilizing your melee and using team communication.

But you may not want to just take on every single zombie on with a bat, a sword or even a golf club. Who said a golf club was even a good idea for hitting a zombie with? They just don’t make them the way they used to. Damn graphite shafts.  You’ll take on special variants such as the Juggernaut, the Bloater, and the newly released Blood Plague Juggernaut. Due to how the infection mechanic works, the last guy will be a big “must be the first to die” if your team has ever played the game.

While Daybreak did release just under a month ago, I felt it was important to take some time here with this new piece of the game. First, there are a few things you need to know, which may deter some of you from playing this mode. So let’s talk about that.

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Communication is key to your success

Regardless of the platform you play on, be it PC or Xbox One, communication is absolutely vital to your success. I’ve learned this the hard way by attempting to push through several missions without communication. Sadly, we didn’t last long and keeping the technician was easier said than it was done. Ideally, you want to be able to help coordinate where you want the zombies at so you can create a chokepoint that’ll benefit your squad.

The only downside to this approach, again, is communication as you will need someone who’s willing to run around and repairing the barricades as they take damage. The other thing that helps is coordinating when and where to attack if the zombies stay rather spread out, which they will do from time to time. It also helps to know who needs to reload, when they need to reload and if you need someone down in melee range to keep the undead distracted.

Limited supplies just add to the chaos

Just like the campaign, resources are rather scarce and will leave your team starving for bandages and ammunition along with the various supplies you can use. You still have to worry about the constrained number of slots you have as well as you can only carry what your backpack has available.

To help mitigate some of this stress, you and your squad are provided chests to place your items in. A well-coordinated team will know who does what, who carries what, and will help ensure that everyone stays in tip-top shape as far as their supplies are concerned. Supplies can be replenished after every wave as CLEO does manage to airdrop a few packages in after every wave, giving the squad a chance to refresh their ammunition, bandages, weapons and barrier repair kits and the likes.

As part of a solid overall design, Undead Labs breaks up the monotony of standing behind the barricade with said airdrops, which will appear in the park before you, forcing you and your squad to venture outside to obtain what you need. During this time, you’ll need to ensure all supplies are gathered, dropped off and organized so that your team can quickly grab what they need in order to continue on with their rather good fight.

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There is a decent amount of lag that sneaks up on the console version

Due to Microsoft’s awesome and unique approach to PC and Xbox One ownership with digital games, I did decide to try out the game on both platforms of my choice. After all, I love this ability and deciding to see just how well it works brought me down to finish out my time with the review on Xbox One.

Unlike the PC version, there are few kinks in the chain that do remain. One, lag is still an issue, but it’s nowhere near as bad as I imagined that it would be. Unlike the core games release, lag is almost completely gone, but unfortunately, there are those where it pokes its ugly head from underneath the soil in an undead fashion. Even on a 200mbps up and 20mbps down, I still noticed moments where the game was acting as if the connection wasn’t strong enough and zombies would start standing in place while players ran into various walls in the room.

While this was rather uncommon, it still reared its ugly head out once in a while, making the PC version a little more preferred. Along with the lag comes a few other issues with the Xbox One version of the game, you can’t pick or choose which region you are in, what lobby you want to connect to or if the match is already in progress, allowing you to fill in one of those empty slots.

One particular problem that plagues this DLC is the fact that it doesn’t seem like there are just a whole lot of random players out there, making it near impossible to fill a lobby. I found my queues taking between three to five minutes on average to complete, sometimes more, if I’m lucky. While I’m sure it has picked up the pace by the time of writing, I still was struggling to find lobbies even almost a month after its release, which left me working with the bots more often than not.

Then came the “Lost Connection to Host” messages that frequented my screen if a host decided to leave because they were downed. Because of this error, I lost out on more than ten sessions worth the Prestige points, which are used to level up your operator. While the glitches are an issue, I have no doubt that Undead Labs is already working on a patch, working and kinking out some of the bugs.

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But not all is bad with State of Decay 2: Daybreak Pack

Along with the release of State of Decay 2: Daybreak comes the release of a new Blood Plagued Juggernaut. Along with him comes with the ability to unlock the CLEO equipment for the base campaign. While the DLC doesn’t feature brand new content, it does come with some enjoyable features and the ability to work with those around you.

The mode itself is actually a welcomed challenge compared to the base campaign. Death is an overall part of the mode, allowing you to learn from your mistake, pick up where you were and carry on. This means weapons and items are even more valuable than ever before. You’ll want to keep track of where you and your teammates die.

The welcomed change is also the fact that everything, literally, everything is a challenge. Whether it’s the limited healing items for the team, the technician and yourself, or the fact that you can’t depend on barricades being up the entire time; Daybreak is a chaotically fun experience and is a welcome change among the games we’d all experienced before.

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The apocalypse is getting even bigger – The Conclusion

While there are several issues that plague the overall experience of State of Decay 2: Daybreak Pack, it doesn’t go without saying that it’s a rather enjoyable experience for those looking to change things up in the horde-survival genre. While there is a desire to see new maps, new enemies and plenty more to defend, State of Decay 2 is definitely getting some solid and enjoyable content for fans to experience.

State of Decay 2: Daybreak Pack
Platforms: 
Windows 10 and Xbox One
Version Reviewed:
PC and Xbox One
Developer: 
Undead Labs
Publisher: 
Microsoft Studios
Release Date: 
Available Now
Cost:
$9.99

If you don’t mind using a headset to chat, communicating with your friends and working together to maintain your resources for survival, then this latest DLC drop is right up your alley.


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


 Final Score: 8 out of 10


About the Writer(s):

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, 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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