Saber Interactive’s World War Z just might be the next best licensed video game. We went hands-on with World War Z and it surpassed all expectations.
I’ll be honest, when I first saw the trailer for World War Z during the 2017 Game Awards I wasn’t very impressed with what they initially showed off of the third-person shooter. In a world where zombie games are hitting the market every couple months (or so it seems), it’s a tough feat to stand out of the pack. After playing the game for about 30 minutes during E3 2018, I’m happy to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong about World War Z.
So. Many. Zombies.
Immediately when jumping into the game, I was impressed by the high-quality renders and animations of the characters in the menu screen. Luckily, me being impressed didn’t end there. The game’s world is beautifully realized. I was only able to play in a decayed New York City but the amount of attention to detail made it obvious to me that the studio is passionate about this project. When walking through New York you witness some stellar environmental storytelling and it was awesome seeing crowds of zombies in the distance. The developer confirmed there are various different types of locations so I can’t wait to see what other environments I’ll be able to blast through hoards of zombies in.
Another awesome aspect of each mission is the big set-piece moments. In the mission I played, my crew and I had to prepare for a huge hoard of zombies. Similar to the Gears of War-style hoard mode, you get the opportunity to set up explosive traps and barbwire fences before they start racing toward you. After we were prepared for the hoard, all hell broke loose. The most enemies I’ve ever seen on screen started charging at us. Between zombies climbing walls, jumping off buildings, and breaking down obstacles, it was truly a cinematic moment that I still can’t stop thinking about a week after playing it. It was during this segment that I realized World War Z is definitely going to surprise a lot of people when it hits the market. The team members I spoke with at E3 told me that there are big set-piece moments like the one I played in every mission. I’m not sure if they’ll all go quite as big but I’m eager to find out.
It’s Zombie Slayin’ Time
At the beginning of our mission, we had the option to sneak and take out the zombies with silenced pistols. I would have liked to see how this type of strategy played out but I believe one of the AI-controlled teammates fired a machine gun and that quickly ruined our stealth approach (but maybe not?). If so, I’m hoping they fix the AI when it comes to being stealthy. However, if you’re playing with three other friends, you don’t have to worry about that. Four-player co-op is most likely the best way to play World War Z, and it’s very reminiscent of Left 4 Dead. Speaking of Left 4 Dead, World War Z seriously scratches that itch for a fast-paced, co-op, zombie-slaying shooter. Though, World War Z seems to be bringing more to the table overall. From the huge number of enemies on screen (up to 500), building defenses from scavenged resources, and fantastic weapon variety, there’s enough nuance here to make it feel like a fresh experience.
In terms of gunplay, things feel solid. Nothing stood out to me that was irregular or odd. These are in fact veteran developers who have worked on some of the biggest shooters out there (Halo and Quake). My only gripe in terms of gameplay is that I felt very limited in terms of movement. There is a roll mechanic but it’s isn’t very useful — at least, not during my time with the game. One thing I noticed was how each gun had a distinct feel to it, and I loved that aspect. Blasting zombies away in a multitude of ways never lost its fun factor throughout the demo I played. If things continue to stay fresh throughout each mission, World War Z will surely be something special.
World War Z features mini-stories that take place within the film’s universe. When I asked the team what drove them to want to make a World War Z game they simply told me it’s because they loved the film and book. Using a popular intellectual property will surely get more eyes on the game so it makes sense to go this route. In the game’s initial reveal trailer, you can see the walls of climbing zombies iconic from the 2013 film. Unfortunately, the game’s stories are told mainly through text before missions and there aren’t any cinematic cutscenes. So it seems World War Z is definitely more gameplay focused, rather than narrative driven, which may or may not be a big deal to you. I would normally be more upset but it looks like a lot of the story will be told through the in-game environments. At least, I hope so.
Will World War Z Surprise?
I’m excited to get my hands on the final build of World War Z. The game was easily the biggest surprise for me during E3 2018. I went from being somewhat interested to now being extremely eager to play more. As a (mostly) single player guy, I’m hoping World War Z appeases to my style of gamer.
World War Z is being developed for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. There’s currently no release date for the third-person shooter title. If I had to guess I would estimate a release window of early next year or possibly springtime. Are you interested in World War Z? Were you a fan of Left 4 Dead? If so, this just might quench your thirst for a similar experience. Leave all your thoughts in the comments section below!
World War Z features:
- Four-player co-op
- Three episodes with three chapters in each one
- Four unique characters
- Twenty-five weapons
- Different classes with skill-trees
- Up to 500 enemies on screen at once
- PVP mode involving zombies is TBA
World War Z E3 gameplay footage (video by IGN)
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