After a long wait State of Decay finally has co-op multiplayer, many of us have been waiting what feels like a lifetime since the release of the original State of Decay back in 2013. Equipped with 3 new maps, 50 different vehicles and the all new blood plague State of Decay 2 is something to be excited about, however, it’s not without its flaws..
Starting out, you play a 10-15 minute tutorial before heading off to one of the 3 maps and setting up your first base. The tutorial shows you the basics of combat and scavenging mechanics, which is enough to get you by to begin with. Some of the more in-depth gameplay such as managing resources and building on slots are somewhat left to the player to get to grips with, with some on screen prompts to point you in the right direction. There is a “how to play” section in the menu that gives a little more detail, but still can leave players confused as to what to do, especially newcomers to SoD2.
You’ll be itching to get out there pretty much soon after setting up your base, now as fun as it is smashing in zombie heads, you’ll also need to be on the lookout for containers/boxes etc. that contain the all important resources and weapons you’ll need to extend the life of your survivors. This aspect of the game I found very addictive, and would very often get side tracked into scavenging whilst on my way to a mission. You do have to be careful though, depositing more resources at your base than it can store will result in them being spoiled, usually noted by a fellow survivor over the radio muttering “you’re not going to like this, I’ve accidentally kicked over a can of fuel left laying around” and so on.
This brings in the base management, there’s loads to do here, and you’ll need to plan carefully around your groups needs and size, while also factoring in the amount of noise made, a new feature in SoD2. Noise is created by everything from building new facilities, adding generators and the overall size of your community. It keeps you on your toes and you’ll soon find it’s time to move on and go find a new place to settle. You’ll find a meter for this in the command center, from here you can also manage your base’s slots. These will vary depending on which location you choose to settle with some being much larger, and better situated compared to others.
Upgrading your base costs Influence, which is gained from killing zombies to completing missions and everything in between, it is also used as a form of currency that you’ll be able to spend with other A.I. communities and wandering traders. Who will both sell and purchase various items, finding luxury items whilst out scavenging are also worth keeping hold of, as these items whilst useless to the player, are highly sought after by traders and will fetch a decent amount of influence. All of your survivors are able to build basic facilities at the base, however upgrades will need to be performed by survivors with special skills, so finding new survivors that fit with what you’re amaing to build is also a must. there’s also books that can be found and read by any, adding the basics of a specialised skill to a survivor without that skill, or advancing a survivors knowledge if they have the basic specialised skill.
Moving on to the main aim of the game, obviously you have to survive, but there are parameters in which you can finish the game. This requires getting one of your survivors leveled up enough to obtain leader status. This then opens up their legacy missions, which also tie in with taking out plague hearts. You have to destroy all plague hearts to initiate the leader’s final legacy goal and complete the game, though once this is done the remaining survivors can be taken into a new game after. There’s different legacies to leave, and they all depend on the character you choose to elevate to that status and their ideals. This does open up some replay value as essentially in a new game you’ll be given a head start with survivors that have leveled up with better attributes.
I’ve already mentioned survivors having specialised skills, they all also have stamina, scavenging, melee and shooting skills, these can also be specialised once they’ve been levelled up enough, giving you two options to choose from to specialise in. Each Survivor also has traits, these are particularly important to take note of when adding new survivors to your community as conflicting traits can result in these survivors not getting along and causing morale issues amongst your community, something else you must consider when building facilities and adding the right mods to boost morale.
Missions appear in a few forms, and you are usually informed about these over the radio, some will be survivor specific and you’ll have to switch to them in order to start, with the others typically being helping other survivors in various ways, handing over sacks of resources to them or helping the odd sutvivor return to their base after being pinned in as examples. Helping out the A.I. Communities isn’t a must, but more of a choice, helping them will make them friendly and open up trading possibilities as mentioned earlier, but at the risk of losing precious resources, which also have a finite number, and should the need arrise, there’s also an option to move to a new map, and claim a new base there, though your current base’s command center will need to leveled up to two first. I felt that missions we’re neither here nor there, with regards to their importance, and being notified of new ones can be missed if you get a call over the radio while you’re in the midst of dealing with an infestation or plague heart. I often had to check the map screen where available missions are logged to see what was available.
Multiplayer is arguably the most wanted feature after the original game’s singleplayer affair, while SoD2 does deliver, it is not all plain sailing. While smashing zombie brains in with friends is always fun, SoD2 suffer from some performance and other issues while playing online, most notably when travelling in vehicles the game suffers from lag for a few seconds now and then, sometimes resulting in some frustrating collisions with scenery, and from my experience resulting in the vehicle getting destroyed. Other issues include visiting players not being able to access their locker to store their items resulting in them having to leave and rejoin the game. Thus taking away from the overall experience. Something that Undead Labs should have got right from the get go, but hopefully address going forward.
Visually, the game is very familiar to the original, with some more refined detail. Though there’s issues here too, again while travelling in vehicles there’s a flickering white line that appears two thirds of the way up the screen, that is more noticeable during night time, this has been confirmed as being present on Xbox One and Xbox One X. The audio is ok, with limited dialogue, familiar zombie moans and groans, and the occasional bit of tense music when things ‘kick off’.