Earlier today, Microsoft announced that zombie survival game State of Decay will be coming to Xbox One in 2015 as State of Decay: Year One Survivor Edition. Based on the quality of the original Xbox 360 version, that game should be the ultimate survival fantasy game when it arrives on Microsoft's latest console. Or so I'd have thought…
As it turns out, 505 Games (publishers of Sniper Elite III) have also just announced an Xbox One zombie game called How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition. With a mix of survival elements, humor, and co-op gameplay, How to Survive should be able to carve its own niche when it arrives this fall. Meanwhile, Polish developer Techland and Warner Bros. are preparing a first-person open-world zombie game called Dying Light for both Xbox One and 360 to be released in early 2015. Read on for impressions and trailers!
How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition
Like State of Decay, How to Survive originated as an XBLA game. This one launched in October of last year, right around the time that everyone was gearing up for the new console launches. As such, it flew under a lot of gamers' radars, including mine. And that's a shame, because it actually looks really cool.
You play as one of three survivors who has become stranded on a zombie-infested island. Like the average person, they have little idea of how to handle the situation on their own. Luckily, an eccentric survival nut has created a "How to Survive" guide for just such an emergency. You'll hunt down the pages of the guide, which contains useful (and funny) words to live by.
How to Survive takes place from an overhead view and controls like a twin-stick shooter. But it's still a survival game like State of Decay. Your character has three basic needs: food, water, and sleep that must be met in order to stay alive and kicking. You'll have to hunt animals for food, gather water from wells, and find safe places to rest as you navigate the island's perils.
Besides exploring, foraging, and zombie killing, you'll also have to complete RPG-style quests for fellow survivors. Completing these quests, as well as fighting enemies and crafting unique objects, gains EXP for your character. Use it to purchase upgrades for a skill tree, personalizing your character while gaining useful benefits like a reduced need for sleep.
Best of all, How to Survive has that one major element that State of Decay (as far as we know) lacks: cooperative multiplayer! Two players can team up on one system or online in order to face the zombie island together. Since each character has his or her own strengths and abilities, you'll be able to complement your partner and hopefully keep each other safe.
The Xbox One version of How to Survive naturally includes a few improvements over last year's release. No word on graphical enhancements (though a 1080p resolution is likely), but the developers promise new maps, characters, modes, weapons and survival tips. And the Storm Warning Edition will include an arsenal of content that was previously sold as DLC:
- Heat Wave DLC to equip the 3 original playable characters with fireproof suits and teach them the ability to craft incendiary ammo.
- Kovac's way DLC, which introduces an additional difficulty level to the game with new and demanding gameplay conditions.
- Hello, My name is Nina DLC. Presenting an additional character with the ability to craft flamethrowers and advanced chainsaws.
- "El Diablo" Islands DLC where players will discover new islands, meet new characters and face unpredictable threats.
- One Shot Escape DLC. Allowing players to roam the islands on a highly randomized scenario trying to find and repair an escape vehicle.
- Barricade! DLC. Introduces a new game mode where players will try to protect survivors as long as they can, setting traps and barricades.
It sounds like How to Survive will be less serious and more fast-paced than State of Decay. In any case, it will help keep us all busy as we wait for State of Decay (and Dying Light) to come along in 2015. How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition comes to Xbox One and Playstation 4 this fall.
Dying Light – February 2015
Whereas State of Decay has a third-person behind-the-back view and How to Survive uses an overhead view, Dying Light mixes things up by taking place in first-person. No surprise since developer Techland also made the Dead Island series. But Dying Light focuses much more on speed and mobility, to the point that it almost looks like a zombie-themed take on Mirror's Edge.
Players will have to navigate in a zombie-infested city. The zombies are suitably slow, but they become much more dangerous in numbers. Avoiding them seems to be surprisingly natural and intuitive thanks to your character's parkour-like skills. You can run, jump, and climb things with ease, using the rooftops to get around safely while armies of the undead congregate below. It looks great in motion.
Still, sometimes fighting will be the only way to survive. Dying Light favors melee combat over ranged combat, allowing players to wield over 100 different weapons against the zombies. Those zombies come apart and splatter in a truly visceral and thrilling way when struck with wrenches and other objects. Players will also be able to pull off a number of melee moves, such as jumping over one zombie and kicking another as you land, grappling and throwing an enemy out of a window, or snapping an unsuspecting zombie's neck.
Dying Light is an open-world game, so players have plenty of freedom to explore. It also incorporates a day-and-night cycle. During the daytime, you can focus on completing quests and finding useful crafting materials. But at night, zombies actually transform, becoming faster and gaining the ability to jump and climb to chase hapless humans. You'll have to play more stealthily and use an infrared-like feature called "Night Sense" during the night cycle if you want to see the sunrise.
Being a much larger and more graphically intensive game than How to Survive, Dying Light won't offer local multiplayer. But it does promise 4-player online co-op, which should be even more exciting. Dead Island worked really well in co-op, and I'm sure Dying Light will as well. You'll want somebody watching your back when the sun starts to go down!
Dying Light is due out on Xbox One and 360, Playstation consoles, and PC in February 2015.
Zombies games on the rise
Let's count: How to Survive and Telltale's The Walking Dead are on their way to Xbox One this year, with Dying Light, State of Decay, and Dead Island 2 coming next year.
Still, I wouldn't say that we're going to be overrun with zombie games on Xbox One just yet. The zombie apocalypse is just an enduring setting that allows for a variety of different interpretations. All of the games I just mentioned (plus Dead Rising 3) differ in significant ways, with widely varying game mechanics, survival elements, multiplayer features, and tones.
What do you guys think of How to Survive and Dying Light? Will you get one or both of these games, or hold out for State of Decay?