In one of my first reviews for the page, I talked about probably one of the most engaging and funniest zombies game that I’ve played in a long time; Undead Labs hit State of Decay. A game that took the gaming community by storm by fans, such as myself, who couldn’t get enough of the sandbox playground of flesh eaters. So when I heard that there was not just a new DLC coming out, but two, I was thrilled and curious to see what Undead Labs had cooked up next.
Let’s start with Breakdown.
Much like the original, the game starts you off right in the middle of nowhere and at the beginning stages of the zombie apocalypse. You begin in some random location after losing your base to the undead and your first goal is to find a new home and a new group that will welcome you. Not a hard task actually. The real work comes in just as in the previous game; building your defenses, going on supply runs and finding survivors to help build your community.
Right off the bat I should mention that there is one huge difference this time around as compared to the original: there is no actual story. Now that may sound like a bad thing and it may be a instant turn-off to some. However, that is not say that this DLC is less interesting. You start off as some random character at the start but as you play and complete various challenges, you’ll be able to unlock more characters equipped with different skills and weapons.
The first half of the game in mainly based in preparing you (as well as your growing community of zombie hunters) for your eventually departure to greener fields. You’ll spend your time gearing yourself up with the basic needs of survival, retro-fitting an RV you find abandon as your get-away car whenever the moment comes that you can no longer stay in one place. Once the time comes that you’ve picked the surrounding area clean of recourses, then it may be time to move on. Here’s when you must make the difficult decision of who can go and who must stay. Your RV can only hold so many people as well as supplies and so you have to make the decision of who in your group is valuable and who is expendable.
This is one of things that I felt was lacking in the original game, which is sort of surprising that it comes now with a DLC that has no story and little to no interaction between characters. Depending on how long you spent in one place, you will ultimately become close with those within your community. The time you spent making your home as safe as possible, the number of times that you went on a run to get supplies in making sure that everyone had everything you need, or the teammates you request to go on missions begins to add up and having to make the choose of you can take with you proves to be a difficult one. This is especially true further down the line. Choosing your best team is essential for the survival as the game will up the difficulty once you set out on your RV.
Your RV will break down in another location of the map and, just as before, your goal is restart building your base all over again. Only now, the zombie threat has been increased. The undead become more deadly, more acute to your presence in addition to more attacks on your home. Time is very short, as are resources. Expect to find less materials in the homes you search and even less working vehicles. Even the vehicles you do find aren’t as sturdy or well-running and may break down easily as before. Even more nerve racking, the presences of special infected like the Juggernaut become more frequent. You’ll run into them aplenty while you’re out, and even in teams, a simple salvage run across the street could mean the end.
When I first started playing this, I had my doubts that this would be as entertaining as the original since you’re basically doing the same thing as before with even less story. I wondered how long it was going to keep my attention, especially after making that first departure from home base. My first thinking was that I was better off just staying where I was. Especially since the map does not change in any way and I was able to return to my home and re-establish myself. So really, unless you’re a masochist and want to put all your zombie survival skills to the test (which apparently fans of the series are since an increase in difficulty is something they all clamored ), you may find something extremely enjoyable about this DLC. I found this new addition to be fun and fulfilling and very challenging. There were some very tense moments where I didn’t know whether or not I was going to make it out alive, which is what you want to expect from a game such as this. Breakdown I feel caters to all fans of the series; those who want to keeps things simple and to those who want to have a greater challenge. This may not have an encaging story as the last, but the fun is still here.
State of Decay: Lifeline DLC is the second chapter of the SOD story, with a brand new location, new story, and new set of characters and, of course, harder difficult that will get anybody interested in playing again.
You start off in a team of three stranded marines of the unit known as Black Friday who are sent to investigate and retrieve valued personal that may have answers as to how the zombie outbreak began. Thrown into the heart of hostile territory of a now zombie ruled city, your team sets up camp and hunkers down for the long run as the search is on for missing scientists, marines and any survivors who are still alive in the city who are calling for help via a radio show (can anybody here The Warriors reference here)
Since you’re playing are trained members of the military, you may be surprised to see that you start off pretty much armed to the teeth with weapons and ammo and everything you may need for an extended stay. Being stationed within an abandoned city, there are plenty of places that you can raid and scavenge for supplies. You’ll find lots that will help you stay alive, and for what is probably the best if not simplest feature newly added in this DLC is the ability to FINALLY use your vehicle to as storage. In the original State of Decay, the inability to use the trunk of your care as storage proved to be something of an Achilles’ heal in the game, which required you to make multiple and dangerous trips back and forth from your base. Now, should you come across a major haul while scavenging, you can simply go the truck of your vehicle and place it in side and stock up again. Trucks can usually store up to six spaces while normal cars can hold up to five. As I said, it’s a simple feature but it makes a hell of a difference when trying to survive.
And I do mean that. Unlike Breakdown, you do not have the luxury of simply building a base and hoping for the best. Far, far from it. One of the newest features is your new threat monitor. The threat monitor measures how long you have in between missions before the zombies coming flooding out the city and onto your doorstep. When the threat level reaches 3, you best hope that your defenses are up and ready to go because the shit is about the hit the fan.
This moment is known simply as the Siege, and when it begins, shit can go south very, very quickly. These moments tend to happen when you’ve completed certain story missions or have rescued a number of important people that the military will fly in a helicopter for a retrieval. Of course all that noise will attract some unwanted attention. Sieges will have all manner of undead to crawl out of the woodwork and will reek havoc on your base if you’re not prepared for it. The Siege will get increasingly difficult and more deadly as the game processes, and each siege will train your resources and finding more to restock gets even harder.
If I may take this time to say this one thing: these Sieges will destroy you if you’re not ready for them. I chose a time to be experiment and to see how hard a Siege can be when not prepared for it. WRONG THING TO DO! Ultimately, I lost three team mates, including the assists I was sent to retrieve as well as most of my ammunition.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this DLC is that it’s designed for failure, but in a good way. With six possible endings, you’re not expected to make it out alive with the same number of people you started out with. The game doesn’t not expect you to succeed in all your goals but it doesn’t punish you for failing either. In fact, it adapts and changes course so that the story can continue.
I found myself playing Lifeline more than Breakdown just for the Sieges alone. I found them challenging despite of how unforgiving they could be at times. The new story and map were very enjoyable in terms of exploration and even having the number of zombies increased to what felt like a million proved to be exciting. For anyone who enjoyed the original State of Decay will certainly find these two DLCs to be something worth checking out.