World War Z is a furious paced, third person cooperative shooter that floods the screen with literally hundreds of very quick undead. If you have seen the 2013 film of the same name or even 28 Days later, you will understand the speed that these zombies move at. There are no slow, shuffling zombies in this title and that is thanks to developers Saber Interactive’s advanced Swarm engine.
World War Z is a pleasant surprise that will scratch the 10-year itch that Valve’s Left 4 Dead series has left. Coming from left field, World War Z provides the same white-knuckled, heart racing and frantic gameplay. The fight for survival is real and if you wish to outlive the hordes on the higher difficulties, strategy and teamwork is key. However the best thing that World War Z brings to the table is the sheer enjoyment it provides by doing the simple things right.
The similarities with the mentioned Left 4 Dead are plenty. The player chooses from one of sixteen characters but only four are available per episode. Players play in a team of four with up to three cooperative players or bots, through four episodes, each with three chapters. Each chapter will require the team to get from point A to B while searching out switches, planting C4, escorting A.I. or bunking down and preparing too take on incoming hordes. Apart from the generic fast zombie, there are four various zombie types, the Lurker, Screamer, Bull and Gasbag.
The Screamer, which stands back, away from gunfire screaming to attract the horde. The players will have to search them out to slow down the horde. The Bull is an armoured infected SWAT officer, who charges into and pounds players. The Lurker, which hides away from the horde, creeping around and will pounce, picking off players, especially if they leave their team-mates. Finally, the Gasbag, which is an undead in a hazmat suit that explodes into a deadly green gas. They are not the most original zombie types but they work well. Trust me when two, three or four enter the map at once with the impressive horde, the adrenaline is pumping.
The first major difference from the mentioned Left 4 Dead and other similar titles, is the third person camera, which opens up the players’ field of view and will feel natural to veterans of The Division, Gears of War and similar games. Next, is the verticality of the levels and how the hordes have to get to the players. The level structure of many of the set pieces have the players either above, below or in-between tall objects. This level structure and Saber’s Swarm Engine make for some epic set pieces. Literally hundreds of undead traverse as one and build up via scrambling on top and over each other to make a zombie-climbing pyramid. This was made famous from the World War Z film. The first few times you see this, it can make you feel overwhelmed and if they break the line, good luck and start swinging the machete. One of my favourite scenes is in the New York campaign where the hordes are throwing themselves down into the train station while you and your team has to prepare turrets, C4, electric barriers and heavy weapons. It’s a sight to behold.
The assortment of weapons in World War Z leave the other similar titles left for dead. They all feel superb and more importantly, each have their own benefits and weakness. With nearly all default and secondary weapons being upgradeable five times, it gives more variety to the player. The final upgrade from most weapons being a silencer, which is extremely valuable on the higher difficulties as you make your way between set pieces, since gunfire makes noise and noise draws the horde. Apart from main and secondary weapons, the players can also carry a heavy weapon such as a grenade launcher or large chainsaw and different types of grenades or explosives depending on your class. The heavy weapons only last for the amount of ammunition in the chamber, so use wisely. Finally, there are three tiers of main and secondary weapons. You start each mission with tier one weapons and find higher weapon tiers as you go. The AI director will randomise these weapons and zombie hordes per play through of any chapter; so leveling up more than your first couple of preferred weapons is beneficial.
There are six distinctive classes that all have their own extensive progressions perks, similar to leveling up the weapons. These classes also have numerous advantages, including the traditional classes, like the Medic with improved healing and stim packs and the default Gunslinger, which has buffs with certain weaponry and is granted bonuses with headshots. To the non-traditional classes like the Slasher, which is for the more melee focused player and has a number of buffs granted while chopping down the horde. Choosing any of the classes will not matter on the easy and normal difficulties. Although once you hit the higher and more frantic levels, having a diverse team such as a Gunslinger,
Medic, Hellraiser (explosive specialist) and Fixer who carries extra explosive ammo and can breach hidden doors to locate stronger weapons, is advised.
The negatives in this game come somewhat in the form of the positives, due to the amount of similarities with other titles. The enemy types are the same no matter what continent you play on. The four varieties of zombie type, all have different behaviours compared to the rest of the horde but I kept having a laugh when I saw the Screamer, who is always a construction worker with a megaphone left turned on. Similar with the Bull, who is always an oversized SWAT officer, be it in Jerusalem or Tokyo. Those are picky negatives, though I see this World War Z world as something that can be built on and with todays technology, having little things like skins changes can draw the player in further.
A story is basically non-existent. There are small cut-scenes at the beginning and ending of chapters but the main information of what has happened comes from the interaction between the characters while traversing the world. As I previously stated, there are 16 characters to choose from, however each episode is locked to four. I do like that each character has their own personality, blurb on their selection screen and once you have completed a chapter with each character, you unlock a short flashback video, providing more information on those characters. It’s nothing too in-depth but a nice touch. Each one is similar to a short ending players receive after completing an old school fighting game.
Along with the campaign missions are five multiplayer modes. These modes cover your staples, such as Deathmatch and King of the Hill but all with a twist. While trying to hold your checkpoint and or get kills, the horde of undead are released, who will attack any participant making it more difficult during certain segments. The other three versus modes are Scavenger Raid, where the teams must collect resources from around the map or enemies. Vaccine Hunt, pick up and hold an neutral object to gain points and Swarm Domination, which is very similar to King of the Hill mode with three capture points. All match types were four on four and on maps not too large to accommodate the player numbers. At the time of launch and the week following, I had no issues finding matches or any crashes. This mode also allows the player to select classes with different weaponry and level up those classes. It is not as in-depth as the campaign but it’s a neat little feature to add diversity.
The big thing about World War Z is its replayability and will it keep players coming back for more? Sadly, this is a question that can only be answered with time. With 12 chapters that take approximately half an hour each, it’s not a very long start to finish. Except this title is more about replaying these chapters, leveling up your classes and weapons to take on the harder to impossible difficulties. And on top of that, you have a somewhat shallow but entertaining multiplayer selection that is more fun than some recent AAA titles. For $54.95, you are already getting 6 or so hours on your first ‘easy’ play through and the game only ramps up from there. Saber has also announced that more content like maps, weapons and zombie types will be coming.
As a MA15+ title, this game is not for children. The violence is over the top and curse words are used. The game can be pause with single player private matches but when online, there is no pause option. So play when the children are out or in bed.
Pottsy for One More Game
8 – Great – this is a standout game where some minor changes would make it amazing. You could easily justify your purchase of this game.
Please click the link here for a full rundown of our rating scale.
This game was reviewed on an Xbox One X and is also available on PC and PlayStation 4.
Review code was provided for the purpose of this review. All thoughts on this title is that of the reviewer and the OMG team.