Like many fans, I fell in love with the original State of Decay when it was released back in 2013. It was an amazing game that managed to do what so many bigger titles before it had repeatedly tried and failed to accomplish: to emulate an addicting zombie apocalypse survival scenario.
But I was also very disappointed that this game did not receive the widespread attention and recognition that it rightfully deserved. Although it sold fairly well, the game was still relatively unknown, and I personally made it my mission to spread it’s name as far and wide as I could possibly manage.
So when it was announced at E3 2016 that developer Undead Labs was working on a sequel, I was ecstatic, and State of Decay 2 immediately shot straight to the top of my list.
But here’s the thing, State of Decay 2 is a bad sequel. It’s not a bad game on it’s own, not at all. In fact I would go as far as to say that if you could look past the numerous bugs, frame-rate dips and crashes that were present at launch, it could even be considered a good game. But as a sequel to one of the best indie titles that came out during the last generation, it’s downright terrible.
Because while the game does improve on a few of the things that held it’s prequel back from true greatness, at its core, it’s still the very same game. The same bland missions, the same boring characters and the same repetitive grinding, all of which were completely understandable in a small game like the original, but are just inexcusable in a sequel that was supposed to be a AAA title.
I appreciated the revamped combat system and the three different maps you could play in, but a sequel’s job should be more than just to improve upon previously introduced ideas, it should strive to introduce new compelling ones. State of Decay 2 has some new features it introduces such as Plague Hearts and Leader Types, but they all fall flat. There is nothing you can point to in the game and say, “Yes, this is different. This is unique.”
The entire thing is just one repetitive cycle of accomplishing objectives and looting resources, gaining tiny amounts of Influence, realizing that you need a lot more of it to actually use it for anything and then grinding away until you have enough to establish that base you had your eye on, at which point you start to get frustrated with the game and just turn it off.
Or you could just sideline the whole base management aspect of the game altogether by going after the Plague Hearts scattered around the maps, which are supposed to be the main objectives this time around. But even that just comes down to chucking explosives at them until they’re destroyed.
As much as I hate to say it, State of Decay 2 is boring and uninspired. I wanted to like it, I really did, but the developers didn’t do this game justice. There are so many ideas that the developers could have worked with, but instead they chose to play it safe and go with what they knew worked for them, and the game is much worse for it. I actually don’t think fans were expecting anything over-the-top from it either, just that it would be a more captivating experience than it ended up being.
The game is still a very good entry point into the series for any new players though, but for returning ones like myself, it’s an absolute disappointment.
You can read our review of the game here.