One of the most intense and satisfying games we got to demo at Focus Home Interactive’s What’s Next event was World War Z, a third-person shooter based on the movie license. Luckily, it will be out next week on April 16th, so we won’t have to wait long to play.
During the demo, there were two modes available that each group got to try: cooperative PvE and PvPvE. Each had an interesting dynamic that I can see being a lot of fun depending on what you’re looking for.
Upon arrival, one of the developers immediately made the comparison of a third-person version of Left 4 Dead and since we haven’t seen a new entry in that series in a decade, my ears perked up. Only, unlike Valve’s popular co-op zombie series, World War Z has a slew of different classes to choose from, each with various weapons that incentivize you to experiment.
First up was the PvE mode, in which a group of four works their way through a series of levels, each with procedural enemies and item placement.
Now, it’s important to note that the structure of the levels themselves aren’t procedurally generated, so you’ll be able to learn your way around the maps. Much like Left 4 Dead, there are multiple campaigns or stages, each with smaller sections or levels that require you to complete various tasks.
During the PvE demo, the team was playing on a snowy map, with an end goal of fending off a horde of zombies at the helicopter extraction point. It’s something we’ve seen before, but it’s implemented in such a way that feels good to play. The controls are intuitive, movement feels fluid, and the animations of attacking an enemy are satisfying and realistic.
One main focus of developer, Saber Interactive is to get the player to explore. A developer told me that they reward players who are thorough with exploring the maps, giving them different weapons or items that will help out tremendously during battle. I asked if it was possible for a player to just run through the entire level without stopping to pick anything up and he assured me that was possible, but would require major skill and is not recommended.
Next, we played the PvPvE mode, a take on King of the Hill, in which we captured points and subsequently triggered a huge horde of zombies. It’s an interesting spin on things and gives you another thing to be aware of. Simply being good at taking out other players won’t be enough in this mode, since you also have to worry about defending the capture point from zombies, too.
This build did not give players the ability to switch classes once the game began, so it was interesting to be sort of stuck with a weapon for the duration of the match. However, a developer advised that this option would be available during the game’s final release.
It is worth noting that the demo did have some technical issues, specifically in terms of kicking players out of the game once it began. It was simple enough to rejoin in progress, but multiple players got kicked more than once. It could have been an internet issue, or something far more complex on the back end. Since the game is less than a week out, it was a tad alarming to see this happening, so hopefully it gets addressed soon.
Another odd thing involved the game’s matchmaking system. From what I understand, it can be somewhat tricky to get into a specific match with other people. The game will sometimes make a new lobby instead of having you join an already existing match. The developer had to use a “trick” to get players to all get into the same match. Again, I’m not sure how substantial this issue is, as it might just be something to do with the game in a demo environment. You will likely be able to join a friend’s game even if it’s in session, but we weren’t able to do that while we were demoing the game.
Despite these technical problems, World War Z seems like a game that has the potential to scratch that co-op zombie itch that many of us have. Typically, licensed software is hit or miss, but this one seems promising and we look forward to it on April 16th.
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