Ahead of State of Decay 3, Undead Labs continues to expand

State Of Decay
State Of Decay (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

State of Decay 2 continues to receive love and support from Undead Labs, many years after its initial launch. Just yesterday, Undead Labs revealed that it's working on updating Infestations and other features to make the sandbox a more rewarding experience, in what is another long line of improvements and updates to the game.

Despite the additions State of Decay 2 has enjoyed since its launch, the Xbox exclusive has some underlying issues that hold the game back. The notorious player-hosted co-op has an irritating tether mechanic that prevents players from exploring the game's large maps more freely. State of Decay was always a community-first game, designed with fans in the Undead Labs forum right from the company's founding, by World of Warcraft veteran Jeff Strain. Indeed, State of Decay was intended to be an MMO eventually, with seamless dedicated servers for a more realistic co-op experience, with intersecting data-driven endemic zombie systems for the ultimate zombie apocalypse sim.

A couple of years ago, Microsoft and Undead Labs announced State of Decay 3, with an impressive CGI trailer that appeared to hint at zombified animals. Indeed, State of Decay 2 also has a bit of a limited selection of enemies to face off against, with many of the zombie archetypes returning from State of Decay 1. With the CGI trailer hinting at an expanded scope and a bump in quality, you might wonder how Undead Labs, as small of a studio it is comparatively, will be able to pull it all off. Thankfully, it seems that the studio is expanding quite rapidly.

State Of Decay 2

Source: Xbox Game StudiosIn State of Decay, you take command of a small but growing community of zombie apocalypse survivors, tasked to manage supplies, fight off zombie threats, and deal with local human factions. (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

In a series of relatively high-profile hires, Undead Labs has picked up various AAA vets from across the industry. Johnathan Wolverton was spotted making his way over from EA Orlando as design director, alongside fellow EA alumna Summan Mirza. Other hires include Simon Sherr, who worked on the mind-blowing Unreal Engine 5 Matrix demo, and Volition veteran Adam Pletcher, among many others. Sherr's LinkedIn profile refers specifically to Undead Labs building up a new team in Orlando itself, separate from the main team based in Seattle near Microsoft HQ.

While there's little information about what State of Decay 3 looks like right now, I have heard from my own sourcing that the team is placing a bigger emphasis on making its playable characters feel more "human," with more investment in dialogue, background writing, and dynamic story events.

There's no telling when we could see State of Decay 3 get a full reveal, and it might still be a bit early, but the hiring spree Microsoft is funding for the studio bodes well for the game. Hopefully, we'll see the step up in overall quality the franchise deserves, alongside dedicated servers for a more dynamic co-op experience. State of Decay remains one of Microsoft's most unique franchises with a truly passionate and dedicated fanbase, and I for one cannot wait to see it fully realized.

State of Decay 2 is available on Xbox Game Pass for console, PC, and cloud.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!