Hands on with State of Decay for Xbox One at PAX South

The Penny Arcade Expo, also known as PAX, is a videogame and board game-themed fan convention that takes place in a variety of regions across the US and even Australia. The first ever PAX South is currently taking place throughout the weekend in San Antonio, TX at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. Your man in Texas, Paul Acevedo is right there hunting for choice gaming scoops and interviews.

Microsoft itself has a relatively low key presence at PAX South, but they have teamed up with Undead Labs to offer an early taste of State of Decay: Year One Survivor Edition to the masses. Newly upgraded for Xbox One, State of Decay looks and plays better than ever. Read on for my full impressions and video interview with Jeff Strain of Undead Labs!

State of Decay

State of Decay was originally released as an XBLA game in June 2013, where it went on to become one of the best-selling XBLA games of all time. If you haven't played the game, prepare for a fairly realistic depiction of human life after a zombie apocalypse. We're talking about a third-person action game with RPG and strategy elements, a combination which makes for a deep and challenging experience.

Step outside into State of Decay's world and you'll find that hordes of zombies roam the streets. You'll have to evade and/or kill them as you work to gather supplies and rescue fellow survivors. These survivors will join your crew and either help you going out scavenging or stay at home and defend your base.

State of Decay Xbox One

As the player, you'll have to carefully choose how much time you spend outside of the base and how much time you spend at home, fortifying against the countless zombies plaguing the area. Spend too much time away and your base not be strong enough to keep its inhabitants safe. But if you don't go out and look for supplies, you'll run short of food, medicine, ammo, and other materials necessary for survival.

Meanwhile, the team you take out scavenging can fall prey to zombies all too easily. You might enter a house looking for food and find that one of your partners has gotten overwhelmed. You'll want to help them develop their skills as fighters, but don't get too attached. Once the zombies kill a member of your team, that person is gone forever. Luckily you can switch to another survivor when your previous one dies or simply needs to rest, continuing to fortify your base and battle against the undead.

PAX South State of Decay booth

Hands on at PAX South

My first Xbox One play session with State of Decay took place within 'Breakdown' one of the two extra modes that were originally released as paid DLC on Xbox 360.

'Breakdown' is the game's sandbox mode. Rather than playing through a story, players simply choose from a vast assortment of characters and then try to survive the zombie apocalypse for as long as they can. Initially you're all on your own, so the first thing you'll want to do is discover a survivor camp and ask to join it. From there, your focus will shift to fortifying the base and hunting for supplies.

Eventually you'll need to repair an RV and escape with five fellow survivors… But the next town you settle in will have even more zombies to deal with. The struggle for survival will grow greater and greater each time you're forced to relocate.

From what I've seen, State of Decay has received a fair visual upgrade for Xbox One. The game now runs at 1080p resolution at a fixed 30 fps frame rate. The Xbox 360 version couldn't maintain 30 fps, so this version is certainly a lot smoother. I wouldn't mind seeing a game with this level of graphical detail run at 60 fps, but it's perfectly playable as-is.

State of Decay Xbox One

Besides a more fluid frame rate, the key upgrade this new version brings is a much improved draw distance. I climbed a tower in order to survey the city and I could see much farther than before. This helps a lot with identifying new buildings to forage from or packs of zombies to avoid. State of Decay has a lot of driving too, which is only improved from being able to see farther down the road.

State of Decay: Year One Survivor Edition arrives on Xbox One on April 28. Undead Labs is hard at work refining the new version and squashing any (zombie) bugs that pop up between now and then. The Xbox One version will cost $29.99, but owners of the Xbox 360 version can snag it for $19.99. Previous owners also get a bonus character, an Indian-American named Gurabani.

Are you guys looking forward to the fight to survive the zombie hordes when State of Decay comes to Xbox One?

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!