State of Decay 2 is a general expansion upon the original game that aims to provide more content and keep things fresh. It moves away from any sort of narrative structure and instead presents dynamic missions. The idea of this is neat, it could provide some great longevity yet I felt it was empty in providing something compelling. The first game had somewhat of a story to push you along in your survival and this one doesn't give any drive. It's just a stack of random survivor encounters in what's one strangely crowded apocalyptic environment.
There are some special moments where you do personal missions for survivors, yet it still doesn't provide what I was hoping in terms of a story. There are a few large play areas in this game and each attempt could possibly take place in a different location. The tutorial offers a choice where skipping it will just throw you into an area. Once there you start a home base, build some structures by collecting supplies and then expand your scavenging area. The main goal is to keep your population going and then clear out a number of dangerous Plague Hearts across the world.
Once you've taken out enough of them you can move on with a small group to another area. That's really all there is to it; you can find a lot of complexity in the management systems, but they don't really take the formula too far forward. This entire experience can be enjoyed with up to four players whether that's on Xbox One or Windows 10 PC with cross-play options. It's great to see that and it works well being a seamless process, you either volunteer to join or click the I need help to prompt your character to shoot a flare. You can have private matches of course, but it tends to be more fun with others. I do however wish you could matchmake right from the main menu, you have to load into your world to search. I'll also mention that it's best to switch characters as they can get tired and each provides a fresh perspective.
The State of Decay 2 Xbox One X enhancement has benefits, but problems as well. The HDR support is great, everything is well lit and looks good in that department. Visually the world looks great and the textures are excellent. There's a good draw distance and you don't see load in. I did notice some performance issues, especially in cooperative play. These weren't the worst, but if you're in a tense situation with a stack of zombies it could mean death. I felt the zombie population was generally sparse, it can get better during Infestations, Plague Hearts or Horde moments yet it's quiet mostly. I rarely felt any terror.
It can get even more quiet during online play as sometimes areas felt barren. Things generally handle well, weapons feel weighted and there's a lot to collect. Vehicles are rare so it's best to take care of them. I did notice during driving that a weird white line would appear, especially during night that was like a screen tear. There were also many moments where zombies would load in and drop from the air as you drove. Other than that I did notice some smaller bugs such as the UI vanishing after a character death and invisible doors. The UI is great, it feels slick using your inventory and scavenging is handled well.
It was great to finally be able to experience this with a friend, it was a huge desire for when I played the first game. When it comes to building management those systems have been greatly expanded upon. There's more to build, higher tiers of structures to reach and base mods to improve aspects further. It felt somewhat restricted still and I wish more could be built within areas or that I could expand them. Outposts return with the potential for resources, I had places granting medicine and food constantly which was great.
State of Decay 2 is a good improvement over the original, yet the removal of narrative elements for dynamic missions felt like a step back. I can see there's a focus on providing content afterwards so we'll have to see what else they do with it. I understand there's a lesser price point for this release and that makes this have great value. Still, there are some problems with the game though I wouldn't consider any to truly wreck the experience you have in any mode of the game being rare occurrences.
It's great that this is a Xbox Play Anywhere title and the four player cross-platform cooperative play is great. The title looks good on Xbox One X, the HDR support is appreciated. State of Decay 2 is the ultimate zombie simulation presenting large varied areas and countless hours of potential exploration. It's certainly a lot of fun to play, but I can feel it being slightly repetitive once you get into some of the higher hour counts. Still, I think this is a good package that provides a solid amount of depth to it presenting the zombie apocalypse properly.
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State of Decay 2 Review on Xbox One X & Windows 10
Review Code Provided by Microsoft