By Robert Yocum
State of Decay 2: A Week in Review
The first State of Decay came out of nowhere. It was an Xbox Live Arcade game that I really wish I could remember how I heard of it. I just remember several other video game podcasters I listen to endlessly talking about it. I picked it up and it has been a Top 5 game for a non-AAA game for me ever since. I have been playing State of Decay 2 now for about a week now. While I haven’t been able to play every day, I have gotten enough time into the game to give my thoughts on the game.
The easiest way to describe the game is “More”. Every aspect of the game is done better and in more detail than the original. That’s is not all that surprising since being an Xbox Live Arcade game, the original was limited to an initial file size of 2GB. While more carries from just being a full release game with no size limit, it’s all the internal mechanics that make describing the game as “more”. For starters, morale was always important as a metric in the first game, but you never really did anything with it. It was there and there were easy ways to increase it, but it didn’t really have any effect on the game itself. Now morale is something you have to really have to micromanage. In my current playthrough, I have one character that apparently has bad fashion sense and it’s giving me a negative moral effect. Also, one of my characters is obsessed with food and really wants a garden, and since I can’t move to another base yet that’s giving me another hit on my communities moral.
Vehicles are also an important part of both versions of the game. In the original, they were used to zip around the map and since they had magical infinite gasoline tanks, it took the threat of zombie hordes and any random Juggernaut out of most of the game. You could just run them over and go about your day. Now the gas tanks have to be managed, as well as the fact that the vehicles damage much more easily. On the upside, you can up-armour the vehicles with various modding kids, which does make sense now. If I were in a zombie outbreak I would want to roll around in a car that could take all kinds of hits. Weapons are also improved in the game. The number and types of weapons are about the same, but now you can modify them in more than the single way you could in the first game. Now you can add mods to increase the damage to a weapon as well as trying to make them quieter.
Probably the biggest change in the game is how you spend resources. Influence is still as important in the 2nd game as it is in the first game. Before, in the first game, it was very easy to get influence. All you had to loot anything and run over hordes of zombies and you could get a lot of influence. Now you mostly have to do large tasks and keep the influence boost from your radio going. Also, another big change is that it no longer costs influence to take items out of storage. The downside is that it’s much more expensive to claim outposts. Before you just needed to have an empty spot for an available outpost and the timer to claim was on a cool down. Now it costs your influence to claim them and depending on the importance of the site, it could cost you up to 2000 influence to claim a site.
The base management also has a major change in terms of functionality. Now you can add modifications to each room, which can change the functionality of the room itself. Some ammo needs a specific modification to craft, and you can increase other functions of each specific room with mods specific to that type. Another change is that some craftable items require either water or power or both. Now you can build a solar panel to generate power, and you can have one of your open base spots to collect water, but that takes up spots. The other option is to have outposts that generate water and power but those tend to be the most expensive ones to claim. Another aspect is that some craftable items and some base upgrades require specific skills from your community members. If you are lacking either the skill or specific miscellaneous items that you can loot, then you cannot do any upgrades.
Finally the last big change is to the characters themselves. You are limited to 5 skills. The first 3 are Fixed, meaning all characters get them. Shooting, Fighting and Sprinting. The other 2 are either random or you get 1 random skill and one blank skill. Having a blank skill is handy because there are skill books you can either find or purchase in the world that will let you pick up a skill you need for crafting or upgrading. The skill books can also level up passive skills that you can’t level up through action and allow you to gain access to more options in crafting and upgrading your base.
As a final thought, while I was hoping that some of the State of Decay one graphical “jank” would have been cleared up and I have had a couple of game crashes, all in all, I am really enjoying my time in the game. The characters are fun and unique, it never gets old when you need to go looking for supplies, and the zombies are much more intense and serious of a threat than in the first game. To be clear, I don’t consider this a zombie game like Left for Dead iterations or other “run and gun shooting zombie” games. This is more a resource management base building character management game that happens to have zombies in them. A very fun game and I can’t wait for more of it with future DLC.
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