Available on Xbox One and Windows PC
"I'm storing it!"
That's what I ended up screaming on the TV screen in less than an hour State of Decay 2 the long-awaited follow-up of Undead Labs to his post-apocalyptic zombie 2013 survive-a-thon. My outburst was due to the frustratingly confusing directions offered in the early stages, as it guides players to deposit a backpack in the storage area of their nascent community of survivors.
The problem is that you have a storage locker where you place your health items, ammunition, invented materials, etc., and a separate area to download the resources of the community you are looking to explore. The maddening cherry pie of frustration is that, although the game tells you to keep the backpack, it is the locker that stands out most clearly on the screen. It turns out that the storage area is just a large random space in another part of the room.
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It's not a great start to my time in the zombie-infested remains of society, and much to my disgust, that terrible and contradictory publication sign is a hallmark of all the game. Other highlights include a strangely persistent message to investigate various features of your safe house, usually when you're using them, and map bookmarks that do not exactly match the place you should go.
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However, if it persists through State of Decay 2 visual shonky signage, the game demonstrates a solid improvement in your ancestor, despite offering essentially more of the same. As in the first game, the emphasis here is on building a strong enclave of survivors, with the challenge of security and resource management more than the living dead themselves. However, the world is bigger and, thanks to a change to Unreal Engine 4, it looks better than ever. There are also more things to do, from building larger camps and developing communications among your citizens, to establishing relationships with other enclaves of survivors.
Survivors are really the heart of the game and perhaps the biggest improvement of the first game. Although each character is generated randomly, the data set of the game is based on creating them to create them, which leads to a much more diverse and interesting cast. Each human being possesses certain traits that determine personality, behavior and their benefit to their nascent community if they are recruited, with around 1200 traits that can be combined. Some will offer clear improvements: doctors or counselors help maintain health and morale, gardeners can maintain food growth, mechanics keep technology running, while others may have negative attributes that weaken them individually or put pressure on them. your camp
As you change control between each of your survivors, either to use their specialized skills or simply to allow one of the ones you have been playing to have a chance to rest, you can develop certain statistics. This is mainly an automatic process: sprints improve resistance, which increases stealth deaths, melee combat increases fights, intense aiming improves shots, and so on, and reaching certain levels allows you to choose specializations in that category . This further increases the individuality of each human in his charge, making him worry more about his safety.
All this makes the perma-death system of State of Decay 2 even more shocking. When a character dies, you will feel the loss personally. If a particularly crucial survivor is lost, it can disrupt the entire ecosystem and lead to the collapse of their entire community. Still, the lessons learned for when you restart, and with three huge areas to establish a store, you can try different strategies to try to maximize the chances of survival.
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Another big change from the first State of Decay is the introduction of the & # 39 "blood plague", an infection caused by a new type of zombie. Easily marked by their red and oozing corpulence, these undead can transmit a condition that slowly worsens with a scratch. To cure it, you will have to look for plague samples, to create medicines in your base camp. Such fighters offer some of the few real terror elements of the game, drawing you into buildings of deep infection where "throbbing hearts of plague" must be sent. Being trapped in claustrophobic, dimly lit buildings where sacs of body terror infection attract the hungriest zombies of the game offers genuine emotions, away from the constant balance of resource management elsewhere.
The blood plague exists in addition to the recurring infestations, where nearby buildings could randomly see a group of zombies begin to prowl. However, combat is a mix, even with a multitude of walkers to take on, and unfortunately it does not get much better as you progress through the game.
The more I played, the more stealth I made was effectively the only way to go. Stealthily approaching the undead and attacking them is the easiest and safest way, and you can choose even reasonably sized meetings by doing so. The problem is that it starts to get a little boring after a while, and when the time constraints that will be needed to complete the more survival-oriented goals are factorized, it starts to get frustrated. That said, it's quite satisfying to rush a lone zombie and take off the head if your currently controlled survivor has enough cardio and fight statistics, but it's not really a viable long-term strategy, especially when the weapons start to break.  Certain types of zombies require different tactics, which adds at least a flash of variety. The Screamers absolutely demand stealthy takedowns, so they do not see you and summon more zombies, while the Blockers, who emit a persistent toxic cloud when they die, are dispatched better with remote weaponry. The catch there is that unless you have a silenced weapon or similar, the noise will attract even more zombies.
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Noise in general is the biggest enemy in State of Decay 2 in fact, whether its irruption open a locked door, botch a hasty search for a storage unit or a cacophonous combat. Anything that is above a virtual whisper attracts the undead, which reinforces the need to play stealthily. Sadly, even if you attract a horde of zombies, fighting them is still not terribly exciting.
The exception to the combat problems are actually other humans, especially rival enclaves that you could get off on a bad foot with. This is partly due to the strength of the character system and the unpredictability of the personalities generated, but in any case, getting into a ruck with an unpleasant group of those still living results in faster and more satisfactory, although often heartbreaking and tragically meaningless, altercations.
What ultimately irritated me the most about State of Decay 2 was the feeling of Sisyphus being trapped in a constant uphill battle. There are so many disparate systems and events that you have to watch out for, so many needy survivors who complain about dwindling resources, that it's almost depressing to play. And yes, that's very likely, aside from the stupidly stupid Dead Rising the zombie apocalypse is not meant to be fun, and by creating a sense of growing desperation and nihilistic panic, this is an absolute success. Anyone who wants to feel that they are really moving forward to avoid the extinction of humanity may want to look elsewhere.
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An improvement on the original, and with much more variety on offer, but State of Decay 2 ] suffers from repetitive combat and poor player communication. Survival sims fans will appreciate more attention to detail and greater demands when it comes to maintaining their communities, but for more casual players the constant need to find dozens of items or resources just to keep everything running will simply annoy, the longer you continue.
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If you can reach that sweet spot where you are actively managing the demands of an enclave, this becomes much more pleasant without losing the tension that everything could collapse, but that's a big "yes".