A new breed of game

a Survival Horror MMO that immerses players in a zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic world in which a viral outbreak has decimated the human population leaving in its wake, a nightmare of epic proportion.

Essentially this is the promise that has been made to gamers across the world that have all be yearning for a different type of game, A new type of game, A game without a story, A game where the only objective is to survive…

WarZ

It is a game that puts you into the shoes of one of the last remaining survivors amidst a zombie apocalypse. Free to make your own choices within a massive open world environment that is infested with flesh-eating zombies. The catch – you are not the only survivor. Moreover, you are not the only survivor with a weapon of sorts. Not so simple when in order to survive, you need weapons, ammo and food – all of which are about as scarce as a blade of grass in the desert not to mention as difficult to retrieve. This all culminates in a bloodthirsty battle between the forces of good and zombie.

The competitive trio

If this sounds like the type of game you might be interested in, you need to know that there are 3 key game titles you will eventually have the choice between.

  DayZ

DayZ

The acclaimed first of the MMO Zombie Survival genre, It was initially released as a mod for Arma 2, but there is a standalone version of the game that is currently in development.

What sets it apart

DayZ is unique not only because it takes a more military stance towards the genre, but instead of encouraging players to go out and explore in order to acquire loot, players are encouraged to set up and dig in across specific locations of their choosing and then defend at those locations against waves of zombies and –if you decide- wondering explorers. The game includes vehicles by which users can use to quickly traverse the countryside and for quickly mowing down a horde of zombies.

WarZ

WarZ

The WarZ is a very controversial title and albeit very similar to DayZ the two are not to be confused, nor are related in anyway. The WarZ has come under massive fire for copying what the developers for DayZ have done, but I am not going to go into that here – I don’t want to bring up the Quake, Heritic and Doom argument of who copied who, from the 20th Century –

WarZ in its purest form is a survival game. Players are randomly thrown into the middle of a huge map with virtually nothing and are required to loot items in the form of food, equipment and guns in order to survive.

What sets it apart

Firstly it is a lot grittier than DayZ and takes a more real world “The Walking Dead” stance towards the Genre, so naturally, it is the most realistic in my opinion. It demands that players go out and explore the countryside in order to build up their supplies and arsenal, rather than to fortify and defend a specific location. In doing so, it is a lot more rewarding. Unfortunately there are no vehicles, so traversing the map takes some time, so does building up a decent inventory. What WarZ does well is encourage team play quite a bit, as this makes taking area’s with a more zombies, as well as bandits a lot easier.

State of Decay

State of Decay

The lesser known of the three right now, but by far the most commercial. This game is currently in development by a company called Undead Labs, and will eventually be published by Microsoft on both the PC and Xbox platforms. About the only thing we don’t know about this game is the release date.

What sets it apart  

Both the WarZ and DayZ have relatively slow gameplay, State of Decay by contrast has a much faster more “fun” and active gameplay. I have heard some describe it as “Grand Theft Auto with Zombies”. The Map is substantially smaller, so traveling from one side to the next is a lot quicker than WarZ or DayZ, especially if you are in a vehicle. What the developers have done really well, amongst other things is include grenades and what they are calling ‘fire bombs’ to the gameplay, allowing users to take out masses of Zombies at once. The difference in SOD is zombies respawn a lot faster than in DayZ and WarZ, adding to the pace of the gameplay. SOD is also said to include a single player mode (phase 3), which will be geared towards saving survivors in order to expand your group, and therefore increase your chances of survival.

Don’t expect perfection

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What you need to understand and get to grips with before tackling any of these titles is not to expect them to be flawless games or comparable to the likes of a Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption. They have all been created and developed by small indie game companies – At least this is true for WarZ and DayZ – Not sure yet if the same is true for SOD because they are under the watchful eye of Microsoft.

WarZ and DayZ still have a long way to go in terms of development, that said, they have huge support from fans (which could be why Microsoft decided to jump onto the band wagon) as such updates are continuously made to the games, the likes of balancing issues, hit-tracking, animation and anti-hacking are all big concerns and big bug bears at this point that need to be addressed and will be in time.

It is great to log on and see what changes have been made to the game. It is almost like playing a whole new game all over again, much like going from playing Crysis 2 to playing Crysis 3.

Cash is king

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To this exact point, one can understand why these indie companies launched these games the way and when they did, unlike big development houses, they simply cannot survive without a consistent revenue stream – and believe me, there is cash to be made. WarZ alone has over 600,000 subscribers, of which 120,000 log on daily – that was as of February 2013. So one can only imagine how much revenue they pull in on a monthly basis, not just from game sales but from in game purchases as well.

So expect this trend to be pulled through in both DayZ as well as SOD. The unique twist about the in-game purchases in these types of games is that when you die, you lose all of your stuff. Meaning, if you purchased anything you just lost, it is gone forever. Undead Labs have recently come out to say that players must not get attached to their characters, but rather get used to replacing them frequently due to immanent and inevitable death. We know this to be true in both WarZ and DayZ already.

Enjoy it for what it is

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This all said, none of these games are AAA titles, so don’t expect flawless graphics, original mechanics or next generation gameplay. Rather, expect a new type of challenge, one that involves some strategy, some stealth, some shooting, some team play, a lot of walking, a lot of blood, a lot of dying, a lot of backstabbing and of course zombies.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, then these are definitely titles that I would suggest you check out. When you do though, don’t play the game for 15 minutes or until your first death and then uninstall it. Give it a solid hour of your time, take a minute to adjust to the slower, vastly different gameplay and if you are not completely hooked within an hour of solid gameplay, then it is probably not for you.