Review: World War Z
The Left 4 Dead franchise has left us with wanting more and more out of the genre, but never really has a new IP made us feel true nostalgia aftr the second game came out, and I think what made it so loved by gamers is cause of just how fun, tense, as well as focused on massive hordes of zombies that it was. Some games have tried to give us that same feeling throughout the years following the absensce of the beloved Valve series, but have we ever gotten that same zombie experience again? Not really. That is until now, however. World War Z, a new third-person zombie survival shooter set in the same universe as the movie with the same name, recently released for Xbox One, and while it doesn't fill the void completely, it's for sure the one that does it the most, currently. I've played through it and I have some really cool stuff to talk about.
Platform: Xbox One S. Introduction There's not really any introduction to the game, I was in the game right of the bat, pretty much. It does feature a pretty cool menu, though, and isn't cluttered up at all. Upon entering the game,
I was greeted by one of the many survivors I would be playing as throughout its course, and I instantly loved how realistic the characters as well as their models looked like. The left side is made up of four options; Co-op campaign (self-explainatory), Multiplayer (also self-explainatory), Collection (characters, weapons & equipment, and world), and settings (there's a decent amount of options in there, too).
Up top on the right, there's a party section where every member of my party will show up, which is also where in-game credits show up. For some reason it reminds alot of the menu and UI that Ubisoft's Rainbow Six: Siege uses, but that's not a bad thing. Visuals/performance Ever since I for the first time saw footage of the game, I knew that it would look pretty good visually, and now that I've played the game myself for quite a bit, I can easily confirm that it does look really good.
There's no shortage of positive things to say about the visuals, too, as everything is literally visually pleasing to the eyes. Textures are of high resolution, character models are super detailed, level design is varied and well made, weapons are visually accurate & very detailed, shadows look good but not perfect, and the lightning looks gorgeous at all time.
The levels are huge, and while they're kind of linear, some areas are more open than others, so it's not all linear all the time. Even the zombies I faced were pretty detailed, even though there's so many of them on-screen at once, which baffled me constantly throughout the game. The game isn't for everyone, but you can't deny the fact that it's a technical masterpiece, with a game engine that does some amazing stuff with its hordes. The game's graphics are in general really good looking.
Performance is actually not different either, it's extremely stable, even with the incredibly high amount of zombies on-screen at times. I don't think I ever noticed any frame drop, and while that's partly due to the dynamic resolution scaler that the game uses, the difference between the lowest and the highest resolution, isn't big. The resolution is around 1000p, I think, and stays that way most of the time. The audio design is top notch, and sounds very believable, as well as realistic.
Every weapon pretty much has its own distinct sound, so there doesn't seem to be much of the same, either. The characters I played as did talk at times (NPC characters talk, too), with the voices fitting their characters, as well as their personalities coming across easily, and the voice actors sounded like they were of high quality acting, which is sort of surprising. I can't say that I expected anything less than a high budget game, but this? Wow! Load times are super quick, as well! Gameplay The biggest (and sort of the only difference, when I think about it) difference between World War Z and Left 4 Dead 1/2 is that they're played in two different perspectives; World War Z is in third-person, and Left 4 Dead is in first-person, but they're actually not very different at all, minus the perspective. They both have gigantic hordes of the undead (World War Z wins this one, though), they feature special zombies (and surprise: they're practically the same in both games), the general gameplay is exactly the same, and the last part of every act ends with a huge epic last stand.
There's one other difference that does make the other stand out, though, and that is the multiplayer portion of World War Z (more of that later, however). There's three episodes, they're all played in different parts of the world (New York, Jerusalem, Moscow, and Tokyo), and that obviously results in very different enviroments. For example, the Moscow episode saw me surviving the apocalypse during the winter, and in the New York episode, I had to run through the dead and quiet streets of the Big Apple.
The game has so much variety, which is something I really love in a game. Now, for the general gameplay part, it plays like a third-person version of Left 4 Dead. You play in a group of four people, all trying to survive the harsh apocalypse, with the option of either playing solo or online co-op (sadly, there's no split-screen). First of all, I picked the episode and part of that episode I wanted to play, I later got to choose what character I wanted to play as (there's a ton of them, but each episode has its own specific characters tied to it).
It's a simple type of gameplay, similar to to Left 4 Dead: the mission starts, you progress further into it and is beginning to find better weapons, zombies is a threat pretty much all the time, you patch each other up, from time to time a special zombie pops up trying to take one of your squad members out, you enter different areas, you complete small objectives (some require you to stand your ground, like in the end of each mission) that open up paths that takes you closer and closer to what can be seen as the finale of the mission, also known as the epic final stand. It's a gameplay concept that I'm very familiar with, and it's one that I love very much.
There's a huge emphasis on acting like a successor to Left 4 Dead, and I truly do welcome that, since Valve themselves can't seem to count to three. Progression is also something that you'll be reminded of a lot while playing, mostly in the form of leveling up, but also in the form of weapon upgrades that are unlocked by purchasing them after gaining enough XP. Speaking of weapons, there's a lot and all kinds of them (shotguns, SMG's, assault rifles, melee weapons, and more), there's also a lot of upgrades, which is nice because it gives the game so much more replay value. Classes are a thing, with their own skill trees, and each one features a multiple skills.
You unlock skills by purchasing them with credits, and to be able to unlock one in the first place, you'll have to level up. Once again, there's so much replay value. You gain XP after every mission that is completed, where every rank increase means getting credits. I can't help but to really fall in love with World War Z and its stubborness to give us that old-school zombie game, and it definitely does deliver on that. The awesome part is that they make their own unique game despite the obvious similarities between it and Left 4 Dead.
It has the exact same gameplay concept, sure, but they innovate and expand the concept by implenting progression, more weapons, bigger maps, weapon upgrades, a LOT more characters, gigantic hordes of zombies, PVP miltiplayer mixed with PVE, and more. There's not much of a story, but it's set in the World War Z universe, same as the movie, though with there being no mentions or signs of Brad Pitt's character (which is understandable), so while there's not much of a story, the outbreak and world do have backgrounds. I was also able to read about every character's background. To be honest, I don't think a game like this needs a deep story to be entertaining.
The real MVP of the game, however, is no other than that mindblowing game engine that they use, capable of having what looks like hundreds or even thousands Zekes (which is the in-game word for zombies) (I'm not sure) on-screen at once! The thing is, I knew that there would be a lot of zombies, but to this extent? That is just insane, the first time I saw it happen in-game really blew my mind. It's certainly groundbreaking technology, and I can't wait to see them evolve the engine into an even more advanced one for future games.
Now, the problem with games that use gameplay like this is that the AI you play with can get a bit useless; they don't help that much in combat, they stand in the way of your line of fire, they don't patch you up quick enough or even at all, and they can't defend themselves good enough. It's actually pretty common in games, but it's non-existant in World War Z. I was surprised to see that the AI act like fellow real people, and that's not always a good thing but in this case, it is. They're very smart, they can defend themselves in a logical manner, they stand at good positions when in "stand your ground" situations, they don't irritate me by standing in the way, and more!
It's probably one of the best AI I've seen in a zombie game, and it's clear that they've been programmed well. The controls are very good and act like in any other third-person shooter game; shoot with RT, aim around with LT, reload with X, throw grenades with RB, walk forward and around with LS, and such like. It's a normal as well as easy-to-get-used-to control setup, and in a game like this, the controls do not have be too complex. Multiplayer Something that I wasn't expecting to be in the game is PVP (mixed with PVE, sort of) multiplayer. With a mode like this in the game, you'd think it wouldn't be that expansive, but it really is, it features a lot of different modes. In short, it's totally awesome and so much fun. The long version? Allow me to explain in detail. There's 5 different modes, and they are: Swarm Domination, King of the Hill, Swarm Deathmatch, Scavenge Raid, and Vaccine Hunt.
It's player versus player, with zombies occasionally popping in from time to time, bringing some PVE action into the mix to change it all up a bit, and to stand out as its own thing. There's 8 players involved, 4 in each team, and it plays like in any other multiplayer PVP game. For example, King of the Hill places the players in a match of staying in the "hill" (which changes after a while) as long as possible to rack up points for the team, with zombies heatings things up, and Vaccine Hunt sees every player in a deadly match of hunting for a vaccine, where picking it up increases the team's score. In every mode, a huge horde of Zekes will enter the map after some time, forcing any exposed player to find a suitable place to wait it out.
I think each mode offers its own fun, and it all works very well. I haven't experienced much lag, any frame drop, and the change of enemy is a welcomed one. There's a diverse mode line-up, and I'm genuinely impressed by how well it works, but also by how much fun it offers. I'm constantly having flashbacks of playing old-school games like Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, Halo 3, Crysis, and obviously Left 4 Dead, while playing World War Z, and not many games these days give me that same feeling. The multiplayer is pretty fast paced, like it should be, too.
Similar to how singeplayer/co-op works, multiplayer uses classes as well, though while not sharing the same progression except for the player level. The PVP portion isn't easy for beginners, but it doesn't take long to get used to it. I was so glad to see that it had a PVP mode, especially since it, in case the game needed it any more, adds even more replay value. I can see myself playing multiplayer as much as I play Call of Duty. All in all I can mention so many reasons to why I love World War Z, but I have to say that the biggest reason to it is due to the simple fact that it resembles the Left 4 Dead games in almost every possible way, while still standing on its own unique ground. It's the ultimate zombie survival shooter title, with a vast amount of replay value, and content, especially for the price! In many ways, it gives me a refreshed look on the current state of zombie games, and not only does it perform really well, it also looks astonishing at all times. Only two zombie games have given me the same feeling lately that I've gotten while playing Left 4 Dead, and that's World War Z & State of Decay 2. Progression plays a big role in the game, with the huge amount of characters adding a lot of variety, as well. Never have I ever seen hordes as gigantic as in this game, either, seeing one run towards you can make for very frightening scenery, also serving as proof that the engine used is a technological masterpiece. With there being PVP, too, there's never any boring moment, and I can see myself playing this awesome zombie title for a very long time. It's just so much fun! I can't recommend it enough.
World War Z is available both digitally and physically, with a price tag of just $40. Are you interested in buying it? That can be done here: World War Z - Microsoft Store. A review code was provided by Focus Home Interactive and Saber Interactive for review purposes. This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson, and is based on his honest opinion about the game.