May 22nd saw State of Decay 2 released on the Xbox One and Windows 10 — available on the Xbox Game Pass for free, or the low, low price of just £24.99. At FinalBoss we were eager to give this one a go, so the team at FinalBoss.io jumped on for a launch day live stream.
If you can watch it all right here:
So what did we think? Is State of Decay 2 worth buying?
State of Decay 2: What Is It?
A sort of sequel to the successful State of Decay, the newest title is set in a zombie-stricken, post-apocalyptic wasteland, where you are tasked with surviving out in the wild world that is infected America.
A 3rd person, free-roam experience, State of Decay 2 doesn’t follow on from the first game in terms of narrative, although it does maintain the cruel world and vaguely Walking Dead themes of scavenging and slow-paced survival, with the occasional splash of PG-Horror.
For those unfamiliar with the first title, State of Decay 2 is essentially a resource gathering game. You must build bases, find and craft weapons and traverse a zombie-filled world. It follows a story-arch, so you’re always on the move and expanding your abilities and relationships, creating larger groups and rebuilding your own piece of civilization.
Final Boss: Our Impressions
We spent a good few hours on launch day exploring the world and getting to know the mechanics of the game. It wasn’t exactly a smooth start, but we think we’ve got enough insight between us to let you know if State of Decay 2 is worth buying.
So, let’s break down what we learned. Both James and Ryan put this article together, with Ryan clocking in a bit more time than James. Ryan also played through the first State of Decay, whereas James only had a brief encounter with the game. Each adds their own thoughts:
James’ Impression: Third-person shooting, janky combat, backpacks, health bars and energy caps. You’ve seen it all before folks. Concerning gameplay, State of Decay 2 does absolutely nothing different, innovative or interesting. It’s a standard picking up a box and look inside, give the enemies a whack or blow them away, sort of deal. There is the addition of a system in co-op where only certain people can open certain boxes. I found this damn annoying, truth be told. It has to be noted that this isn’t a game that revolves around mechanics, so I guess I can’t knock it too much. But there really is nothing special here. Standard, is how I would describe it.
Ryan’s Impression: Having played, beaten and loved the first State of Decay, I was expecting great things from it’s highly anticipated sequel 5-years later. Bright eyed and innocent, remembering some of the game mechanics from the first game I quickly started to play around with the various options available to me. I quickly realised that almost nothing had changed, in terms of what your character is capable of, e.g. kill, kill, loot, drive, empty loot, rinse and repeat. I was disappointed, to say the least.
Your character has a little more capability in terms of interactions with other characters, I mean hey you have a dialogue selection box of 2-4 options now – whoopie! I also quickly found this sense of boredom, the first State of Decay had this sense of urgency – that you could be swarmed any minute and it would be game over. This entire sense of dread is now lacklustre, I would put money on the world being emptier of zombies and certainly of new things to do. To note as well the base building mechanic that was pretty good in the old game is back now, however now appears more irrelevant than ever before. Most bases slots are all but full, leaving your building options to a limited affair, you guys remember the giant trucking warehouse base from the first game that had almost nothing in it and let you build a pretty unique base?
Or how about the base in the abandoned county fairground? Where is the creativity and freedom in this game? It appears sadly it is gone. When your base is attacked this time around, you can chill inside or ignore it all together, your community of survivors seem better prepared to defend again threats than a group of mercenaries. Again I miss the sense of knowing that if I didn’t stick around to help defend my base, that there’d be a good chance everyone in my community would be killed.
James’ Impression: From the dribs and drabs you get early in the game, there is little to suggest how this one will turn out. The characters you play as seem interesting enough though, the voice acting is solid and they’ve introduced an smart dynamic by allowing you to select a duo to play as — each with a unique relationship. State of Decay was all about the story, so I expect that those who have time to invest in a title like this will find themselves getting absorbed in the characters and development of the narrative. Early signs point to a good story for people fond of a zombie tale, but you’ll really have to dig to find it.
Ryan’s Impression: I almost have no comment for this, story? What story? In State of Decay 2 the only goal is to build a community, cleanse the map of the blood plague and move to a new map and repeat the same process. Between the overall goals of kill, move, loot and kill again there is an abundance of optional side quest, that this time do happily offer more meat than that of the first game. The tradeoff appears to be better side quests, with no real story, even the first SoD had a little narrative throughout, that got the player moving across the map from place to place.
James’ Impression: As a large sprawling world, you would expect the graphics to suffer a bit. And they do. The engine is working hard to render the entire landscape, and as a result, State of Decay 2 looks dated already. But, kind of like gameplay, this is forgivable — to a point. You aren’t here for a super-slick, graphical masterpiece. This isn’t Gran Turismo. It does slightly take away from the immersive-nature of fighting the undead, considering the fact they don’t look all that real. But again, forgivable when you look at the wider scope of the game.
Ryan’s Impression: 5 years in development would leave many to believe that the game would look significantly different to the first, but instead the guys at Undead Labs spent all that time rebuilding the game in unreal engine 4. The game itself suffers because of this, it looks dated and I mean dated, almost the same level of graphical fidelity that the first game showcased 5 years before it. I understand this is not a triple A title, but.. in this current gen of hardware, unlike James, I find this unforgivable.
James’ Impression: Okay, so this is what it’s all about. Surviving a zombie apocalypse. Getting out and scavenging while dodging hordes of flesh-eaters and fighting them head-on. Who cares if the gameplay is par-for-the-course and the graphics are old hat when you can live The Walking Dead, right? Well, get ready to live The Walking Dead alright. Season 2. State of Decay 2 is a slow-burner. A real slow-burner. The zombies aren’t threatening and the world is generic as anything. You constantly have to wait for something to happen, or gather some more meaningless supplies to do something else that seems entirely meaningless. I found myself getting seriously bored with this game, and that’s in the early days. State of Decay 2 is a pretty bland affair overall. At least, what I experienced was.
Ryan’s Impression: State of Decay 2 was always going to be inherently buggy game given what we received from the first instalment. Moving to a new engine hasn’t helped this games open world nature, not in this buggy and glitchy state, I mean there’s even a “stuck” option for when – not IF your character gets trapped in this buggy world.
Given the broken world and the hit and miss nature of the mechanics throughout, Co-Op was the most requested feature for the next State of Decay instalment and although Undead Labs has delivered, at what cost is this to us the players? 5 years in development for a new game engine and Co-Op? Sounds like a hard sell to me, but then again this title is priced at a fair £25, although I’m not sure I would personally pay that in its current state.
Final Boss’ Final Verdict: Is State of Decay 2 Worth Buying?
In its current state no. State of Decay 2 brings little new content and is pretty much just a standard survival slog.
3-6 months down the line after a lot of post-launch patches and content DLC additions – this may be a great game to pick up. But for us here at Final Boss, let’s just say we are all glad that State of Decay 2 was available with our Xbox Play Pass. If you want to give it a try, we strongly suggest you either wait or use the 14-day free trial if you haven’t already.