I was pretty excited to hear about a sequel to my favourite game of 2014 – State of Decay. I was so dedicated to saving my local town, that I accidentally played for 10 hours straight. By all accounts, I was pretty happy. State of Decay 2 is currently available on Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service, and with a 14-day free trial, I thought “What do I have to lose?”
Currently, State of Decay 2 (SoD2) is only available through the Microsoft Store (although rumours of a Steam release for later this year are rife). I struggled a bit to find the correct area to download SoD2 without it trying to charge me for it.. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to find the correct link to download State of Decay 2 using my Game Pass since I couldn’t do it through the Microsoft Store app on my PC for some reason. Once I figured it out, it was a fairly smooth operation – minus the snail pace of my internet connection.
This is where I started to encounter issues. It took 4 attempts for SoD2 to make it past the main menu / splash screen where I would push a key to start, and it would crash to desktop. And this wasn’t an isolated incident – it happened repeatedly. After lamenting this on Facebook, it highlighted a larger issue with people trying to play the game with little to no luck.
Once I was able to finally get into the gameplay, it was a new, but familiar scene. You select which character pair you’d like to play with and you’re thrown into the post-apocalyptic world. State of Decay 2 attempts to flesh out the opening characters with some story, but I was more interested in their base stats which are vital to their survival. You pick up characters pretty quickly into the game and start establishing your home base. It’s similar gameplay from the previous games, in the way scavenging works, but the UI has been updated. It’s more user-friendly, and yet not. I think I’ve played so much of the original SoD that I have muscle memory for the previous controls, but certain elements just don’t make sense. Things like silent takedowns, and final kills were executed by press ‘Z’ in the previous game, but now it’s a combination of left CTRL + a button or mouse click which is distracting and means I got chomped on more than once.
There’s a new type of zombie to deal with, and a new style of infestation to go along with our undead friends, and all the other zombies have had a facelift – along with the rest of the game. Everything definitely looks more modern, but is still suffering from a mildly outdated look. It isn’t distracting, and doesn’t take away from the game at all, but if you’re a hardcore graphics fiend, you might complain.
Unfortunately, this is as far as I got to play. There was a large (20GB!) patch to fix the launch bugs which meant that I had to wait another day to play (Thanks NBN!) When I started up the game, I was faced with a working splash screen, but the following image.
A friend of mine had a similar issue. A part of the patch had failed to download correctly. But since this isn’t as easy as steam verifying files and downloading the necessary bits it needs, it meant the whole 20GB patch needed to be downloaded. Again. I’ve spent more time downloading State of Decay 2 than actually playing it – and I’m so disappointed.
Because I’m on ADSL (thanks again, NBN!), I have a small monthly allowance to use between two heavy users (netflix, downloading, etc) which means that downloading 40GB of data has chewed through just under a quarter of my allowance for the month. This might sound like a rare issue for some gamers, but since the state of Australian internet means that there is a huge portion of people in the same boat as myself.
Two days and a huge chunk of data later, and I’m reconsidering my decision to buy it later this month.
I can’t comment on the storyline, the development of character relationships, the gameplay, or anything else vital to games review because I haven’t been able to play it. The rare times I got it to work, it was great – but not enough to make a definite comment. It looks like something I’d love to spend time investing in, but I’m spending more time trying to make it work and I just can’t be bothered.
I wanted to like this game. I wanted to love it. I wanted something that would continue the same style of game I loved in the first State of Decay, but make it feel like a more desperate attempt for survival and I got a game that barely works. I can only hope it’s an issue with the PC distribution platform and not the Xbox One download because the series is a great spin on zombie survival horror, but I think I’ll just wait until State of Decay 2 drops on Steam, or run it through my Xbox One because it’s not a happy experience on the Microsoft Store.