State of Decay 2 – A Decaying Franchise

Fun Factor
Reader Rating3 Votes
Keeps my Fighting Spirit
Mowing down zombies with vehicles
Some moments of chaos that makes the game exciting
Reasons for self-annihilation
Didn't seem like it had a story
Mundane characters and backstories
The environment is more of a risk than the game's actual risks, due to bugs
Having ONLY an autosave function

The sequel to the cult hit zombie simulator developed by Undead Labs, State of Decay 2, shows you the hard and mundane life of a community of scavenging survivors, following their journey in search of means to survive while battling the undead.

State of Decay 2 is filled with a lot of what-ifs, but it’s definitely one of the more realistic simulators I’ve played. If you really like the Walking Dead, then this would be the game for you. Imagine getting to play Rick and leading your community to some happier days. Sounds fun… right?

Unfortunately, I can’t say I felt that way for long. I came to realise that all hope of this game bringing me joy was gaffe… Post-apocalyptic life is such a depressing experience, surrounded by remnants of all that used to be.

Additionally, State of Decay 2‘s insipid tasks made me tired, and almost sad. At this point, I was questioning Rick and co’s sanity, because with SoD2‘s dispiriting life so thoroughly simulated and without a story to follow, I sometimes felt the best conclusion was self-annihilation. The bleak mundanity of the atmosphere partnered with unhappiness from camp made it hard to continue figuratively living.

The game follows its predecessor while significantly expanding on its open world. It is set in a zombie dominated American landscape, with the freedom to choose missions, respond to calls or really just scavenge for things amongst the abandoned houses, stores and garages.

Like most open-world games, the map discovery function is very standardised. You climb something high to discover more locations. The more you climb, the more sites you discover. A useful procedure for map subjugation, though nothing out of the ordinary.

Unlike most games, your health and stamina does take a hit and would need some time to recover, so switching between characters is a must. Playing said also improves each of the character’s generic skills like fighting and cardio through repeated activity, and some come with specialised skills to help improve your living compound. However, their dialogue is so generalised it fails to capture the essence of humanity, sounding no better than the groans of the zombies.

If it’s not the zombies giving you a hard time, it’ll be the community. You’re tasked with keeping an eye on their morale, health, and safety making newbies like myself feel pressured and exhausted. If not managed well, everything starts spiralling out of control within the community and tasks will pile up. I’ve deleted and built up my community so many times because I messed up so bad.

Survival is the primary objective of this game, so the core activities of exploration, scavenge and conquest is essential but will get repetitive. Scouring endless amounts of houses, garages and stores to find rucksacks full of necessities for the base, killing zombies along the way. Then, you hand yourself over to another character to do the same again.

You can answer radio calls to help other survivors, which might be a change of pace, though they mostly ask you to do the same things you were initially doing. The upside to completing “the mission” is the rewards and relationships created with these survivors.

The radio tasks do eventually lose their charm, and killing zombies offer so much compensation. Zombies only pose as a threat when one is foolish enough to attack while they’re congregating in large numbers, or attacking a plague heart without tools or preparation. The “zeds” in the game usually take minimal effort to kill which makes calling it combat mostly mendacious, they’re just tiring obstacles most of the time. It’s not all bad though, especially when mowing them down with a vehicle. Like most zombie games, there will be specials equipped with their own attacks and are a little harder to kill, but figuring out their strengths and weaknesses doesn’t take long.

The game does have its moments that relights the fire in my soul for survival. For example, running out of gas in a field right next to a hoard and a plague heart can change the fate of your survivors. Or going being unlucky and catching the eye of a screamer, who’ll trigger the zombies and plague zombies fumbling around the area. During those situations, the stress will build up, mainly because when the survivor or comrade dies, they die forever. My reactions, however, are not for the death of my companion, but more towards the loss of their skills with their demise.

Bugs are a big problem in SoD2. Imagine trying to clear an infestation, but not being able to hit any zombies while being stuck between a wall, or having your follower disappear in the game to do their own thing mid-mission. I’ve also been sent plummeting off a ladder many times due to these bugs. It felt like the game was against me progressing instead of my poor decisions and bad luck. It also didn’t help that these bugs could be fixed with forced reload—always a risk in a game that only features autosave, very infuriating when you’re mid-mission.

Despite all the problems and hardships I’ve faced in the game, I found myself unable to stop. Maybe I’m trying to prove to myself that I will not end up being some sacrifice so my friends can escape…

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