Giv­ing TWD fans the FPS of their dreams… or night­mares

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Vikki Blake Pub­lisheR Star­breeze / 505 Games De­vel­oper Overkill Soft­ware For­mat Xbox One ETA Au­tumn 2018

It took just two min­utes and 29 sec­onds of a cine­matic trailer for us to fall for Overkill’s The Walk­ing Dead.

We knew the game was com­ing, of course; it was ini­tially an­nounced back in 2014, com­plete with con­fir­ma­tion that The Walk­ing Dead cre­ator Robert Kirk­man was in­volved, promis­ing a “com­pletely new” co-op ex­pe­ri­ence for fans al­ready fa­mil­iar with the smash­hit TV show and grue­some graphic novel se­ries.

Thing is, we’ve been burnt by TV tie-in games be­fore (look­ing at you, Fam­ily Guy: Back To The Mul­ti­verse). Be­yond Tell­tale’s breath­tak­ingly bru­tal episodic games, the fran­chise has oth­er­wise churned out some pretty mediocre ti­tles, even though ev­ery­thing about TWD, from the weaponry and en­vi­ron­ments to the sto­ries them­selves, seem so achingly well suited to an FPS.

En­ter Overkill Soft­ware. Promis­ing a four-player, co-op­er­a­tive first-per­son shooter set within The Walk­ing Dead uni­verse (and if that sounds fa­mil­iar, it’s be­cause this is the same stu­dio be­hind Pay­day 2, an­other four-per­son, co-op shooter), Overkill wants to bring us that ul­ti­mate TWD FPS.

The stu­dio prom­ises that each of the four playable char­ac­ters will boast their own spe­cial abil­i­ties, skill trees, playstyles and sto­ries, too, but the key to their sur­vival will be part­ner­ing up and work­ing to­gether (some­thing Rick Grimes and co would no doubt con­cur with). How you play, how­ever – slow and stealthy, or all guns blazin’ – is up to you.

It’s a no-brainer

Who’d be con­tent in an apoc­a­lypse? Well, OTWD’s Ai­den, ap­par­ently, the first playable char­ac­ter un­veiled by Overkill. Even as he steps through the de­bris of a dec­i­mated Ge­orge­town, Wash­ing­ton DC, it seems he’s so con­fi­dent in his abil­i­ties, he’s happy to de­lib­er­ately draw out ma­lin­ger­ing Walk­ers and in­tro­duce them to his nail-stud­ded base­ball bat.

We don’t quite know what to make of him just yet. It’s true that our brief glimpse into his pre-apoc­a­lypse life hints at a joy­less one, de­pict­ing a guy frus­trated by both his work and his fa­mil­ial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties… but we can’t help but won­der just how bad it must’ve been for him to be chirpier now. You know, in an apoc­a­lypse. By com­par­i­son, sec­ond char­ac­ter Maya seems a lot more frus­trated by her new cir­cum­stances. She doesn’t want to do what she has to to sur­vive.

But it’s not the char­ac­ters that in­trigues us most, It’s the world

around them. The back­drops and set­pieces stuffed with de­tail, all brought to life by thou­sands of tiny world­build­ing props; dis­carded suit­cases, cracked glasses, the rot­ting re­mains of those still belted up in the cars they’d hoped would take them some­place safe. The TWD uni­verse has al­ways ex­celled in en­vi­ron­men­tal sto­ry­telling, and it seems that Overkill wants to carry on that le­gacy.

“One of the most im­por­tant parts of [this job] is al­ways to ask the ques­tion, ‘Why?’”, ex­plains en­vi­ron­ment artist Ja­cob Claussen in a re­cent be­hind-the-scenes de­vel­oper diary. “Why did the pool of blood hap­pen there, or why did some­one bar­ri­cade their win­dows? Be­cause then you can give ev­ery­thing a mean­ing. And if you can give ev­ery­thing a mean­ing, you can get a sense of a lived-in world.”

No, we’re not sure why it’s taken this long to put The Walk­ing Dead’s uni­verse into a first-per­son shooter, ei­ther, but we’re so glad the wait is nearly over.

“How you play – slow and stealthy, or all guns blazin’ – is up to you”

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