STATE OF DECAY 2
Survive, thrive and drive in a ruined world
Lots of games ask players to make choices. Will you choose a mage or barbarian? Will you be good or evil? Will you invert the Y-axis like a chump, or learn to twiddle those thumbsticks properly for once in your damn life? But few developers challenge their players to make truly tricky decisions, and that’s where Undead Labs comes in. The indie studio is once again looking to perch its players on the horns of the most devious dilemmas it can devise, crafting a world in which progress alltoo-often comes at a punishing cost.
In a behind closed-doors meeting at this year’s E3 conference, Undead Labs co-founder Jeff Strain shows us how some of these difficult decisions might play out, in a demo that kicks off in the peaceful confines of a hilltop refuge. We’re a few hours into the game, and our community is home to numerous survivors, each with their own mannerisms and physical attributes. Take Matt, for instance. On the plus side, he’s a melee expert who’s developed his bladed weapon proficiency over the course of dozens of encounters with the undead hordes. On the downside: Well, Matt’s a terrible snorer, and his nocturnal snorting is such a nuisance that this hardworking hunk imposes a -3 penalty to your community’s morale.
Plants vs zombies
Morale may be crucial when you’re living in a world as unapologetically bleak as this, but the game’s slickly redesigned interface shows that our biggest problem right now is hunger. Supplies are perilously low, and our ragtag band of survivors is getting antsy. If we could just add a farm to our tumbledown base, we’d be that much closer to sweet self-sufficiency, and as luck would have it, we already have all the materials we need to commence construction. All, that is, except for seeds.
Thanks to the introduction of online multiplayer, though, we won’t have to suffer a trip to the garden center alone. Matt piles into the beaten-up muscle car parked alongside the base, and a networked survivor joins him in the passenger seat. Together, they accelerate downhill into the zombie-infested neighborhood that’s sprawled below, the engine roaring as they wind their way to the city center. All that vrrrm has riled up the horde, but that’s no matter—our online bestie serves as wheelman, distracting the undead with boisterous revs and rad doughnuts while Matt runs inside to retrieve those precious plant pips.
Seed-packet in hand, we open the menu, and send word to begin construction back at our community— there’s not a moment to waste, after all. But once we arrive back at base, we realize our error. The noise has attracted the horde, and we’re faced with a fight that we can’t simply drive away from. Matt carves up hordes of undead with his machete, and drops many more with his sidearm, but still takes a beating. Several other survivors are badly hurt in the fracas, too.
It’s hard not to look around and see failure—after all, the survivors we’d set out to protect are all nursing broken ribs and black eyes thanks to our efforts. But Jeff Strain smiles and explains that, on balance, this all went reasonably well. Our farm is up and running, and—hey!—at least no one died. Broken bones and multiple lacerations may sound like a rough trade for a sachet of seeds, but these are the decisions you’ll be faced with in StateOfDecay2. Good luck.
“Supplies are perilously low, and our ragtag band of survivors is getting antsy”