State of Decay 2 is one of Microsoft's major exclusives releasing for the Xbox One and Windows PC next year. The zombie survival title looks similar to the original at first glance, but Undead Labs showed significant updates at E3 to provide an evolution to the gameplay formula.
It's important to point out State of Decay 2 is an evolution of the first game, and Undead Labs isn't seeking to completely overhaul any of the mechanics. Instead, the developers are building new mechanics to the existing foundation while polishing up that foundation as well.
For those unfamiliar, State of Decay is a zombie apocalypse survival game that is noticeably different than all the rest. Players can switch between members of a community trying to survive the zombie horde instead of filling the shoes of a single hero. Permanent death for these characters also looms over the head of the player.
Building and sustaining a community of survivors is at the crux of the game, as players must deal with building defenses, supplying medicine and food, stock up on ammo, and attempt to keep everyone happy. It can be a juggling of priorities, like going out on a supply run, or to deal with an outbreak of zombies that could mean missing out on making a new friend or saving an existing one.
While the original State of Decay was a breakout hit for the original Xbox 360, fans quickly generated a long wish list of requested features. Undead Labs has not hit all of them yet, but here is what is confirmed for the sequel when it releases in early 2018. It will be interesting to see what else is revealed over the coming months.
Drop-in/Drop-out Co-OpPlayers will be able to bring friends into their own little zombie apocalypse. This was easily the most requested feature of fans and Undead Labs is providing a somewhat unique take.
Friends can be invited into the game world to help or a player can fire a flare gun into the air to summon a random player to help. The invited player can bring a character in from their own game who will be just as much at risk of permanent death as everyone else. Fortunately, the invited player can take back any loot obtained in the world along with some extra rewards that Undead Labs hasn't revealed yet.
Even the fighting system appears to be polished and improved to allow co-op players to grapple and push zombies for others to finish off.
More DangersNoise played a major role in attracting zombies in the first State of Decay and appears to have been amped up for the sequel. For example, construction at the base can generate enough noise to draw in hordes of zombies, resulting in a siege with the boss-type like Juggernaut that the community has to defend against.
Greater RPG ElementsCharacters in the original had their own personalities and traits, but were also largely static through the course of the game. Undead Labs is adding RPG elements and stronger traits to individual characters that will make them more valuable and more important to keep alive for a community.
One example used in gameplay demo pieces from VentureBeat and Xbox Achievements is of a survivor named Tiffany. She is a groundskeeper whose knowledge of growing crops for food is invaluable. Another example provided by Windows Central is of an action movie choreographer who has excellent melee combat skills, but has a snoring trait that negatively effects other survivors in the community.
Players will be able to develop the character traits and skills through an RPG-like system. This will allow further specialization for these characters and the chance to turn them into community leaders.
Bigger Game WorldAnother significant piece to State of Decay 2 is a larger game world. There will be three maps in total for players to survive through, each at least as big as the original.
[Featured Image by Undead Labs]