World War Z Impressions

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I had pulled the trigger on World War Z, after having read elsewhere that it was likened to Left 4 Dead. I was a bit skeptical at first mainly because video games based on movies are rarely a good thing, let alone video games based on movies based on books. However, this doesn’t really correlate with the movie or the book, save for the setting of the real world being overrun by “zeke.” Yes, they went ahead and used a different word for zombie, yet again.

Similarities between World War Z and Left 4 Dead can surely be seen, as it is a game that is level based, and you’ll see various “special” zombies that do things differently than your standard zeke. The co-op campaign pits you and three other players against the zombie hordes, though there are objectives to complete along a fairly linear path. At certain points you’ll encounter huge waves of enemies, and these aren’t the slow plodding zombies of some games, no these guys are fast and pissed off. Specials like the “Bull” or “Stinkbag” can really put a hurting on you, with one charging in to pick you up and slam you on the ground until one of your partners guns him down, while the other releases some toxic gas when it dies, blinding you temporarily. Really, the way the zombies move and the way they climb on each other like ants to scale walls are the only similarities one can make between this game and its movie counterpart.

The game plays like a third person shooter, but does not have cover mechanics. You can attempt to use stealth by crouch-walking and using silenced weapons, but I found that it was just as effective to wade into groups and slash away with my knife. You’ll take more damage that way, but you also save ammo. Each episode is broken down into sections, so you’ll be at that particular location for a few chapters before moving onto a new part of the world. So far I’ve cleared all but the final level which is Tokyo. New York, Jerusalem and Moscow were all increasingly difficult, but we managed to clear them nonetheless. I convinced my best friend to get a copy of the game, as it was reasonably priced at $40, and co-opping our way through it has been entertaining. You would think that only four episodes isn’t really worth that price point, but we have only cleared the “starter” difficulty level (one skull) and there are a total of five difficulties. Much like Killing Floor 2 that we played quite a bit a couple of years ago, there is a progression system that allows you to eventually clear those higher difficulties.

There are two ways to progress in World War Z. Firstly, there are a number of classes that you can choose to play as, and each of them earns XP individually. This means not only is there the option to play these levels again on a higher difficulty, but also to level up additional classes. I really didn’t know what to expect from the game so I didn’t know which class would work best for my personal playstyle, but I ended up playing the “Fixer,” which is basically a support class. It starts with a scout rifle, silenced pistol, and a supply bag that you can drop for your allies so they can refill their explosive ammo. I figured playing something more supportive would mean my teams would be better balanced, and since I’m only playing with one person I know, you can’t rely on randoms to try and make a balanced team. In most of my games most players were using the Gunslinger or other more offensive classes, while my friend was playing a tanky role so we did end up fairly balanced anyway due to our efforts. As you earn experience you’ll unlock perks that can change the way your character plays. For instance, I started off with the supply bag, but eventually got access to “masking grenades” and then later put a point into a perk that makes the masking gas lethal to zombies. This allows me to contribute more to the horde fights, while most players were ignoring my supply drops. The perk tree is pretty long, so I imagine things will change up again before long.

When it comes to weapons, you will earn experience for them by killing with them. As a weapon levels up, you’ll be presented with upgrade options and can take your pick as to how you want to customize your gun. I leveled up an Assault Rifle first, and put a scope on it which gave more power and accuracy. On the Bullpup I went for an extended mag modification. Use a weapon more often and you’ll level it up faster, but having extra goodies on multiple guns is good because you don’t know what you’ll end up with. Apparently on the higher difficulties there are more zeke, they have more health and there are less supplies spread out along the map, so you’ll want to have more than one modified weapon.

Outside of the co-op campaign, there is also a multiplayer side containing several extra game modes. Things like capture the flag, king of the hill and deathmatch are present, but instead of bigger games with only players, these game modes pit small teams against each other, but throw zombies into the mix. For instance, I played a round of deathmatch and the two teams ran into each other quickly and started fighting. The goal of this mode is to get to 50 kills before the other team, but there is also a time limit — if that runs out the team with the highest score wins. After fighting for a while, a notification pops up that states “critical noise level reached,” and at this point a horde will swarm your position. You’ll have to fight off zombies and other players at the same time, but can also try and stay out of sight and let the zombies do some of the work for you. I believe if you die to a zombie the other team gets a point, but I’m not certain. That would make sense.

Looking forward, the dev team has already outlined their roadmap for the summer. All of the above updates are supposed to be free, and so far there are no microtransactions present, but I can imagine the “new weapon variants, new character skins and new character accessories” to be something they might monetize since everyone else is doing it. The new Tokyo mission is something that should have probably released with the game, as each other episode has 3 missions each and Tokyo only has 2 at present. A new special zombie is a nice add, and an extra difficulty level is probably going to be needed sooner than later. Rotating game modes are also a good idea, and I’ve heard they are also working on a wave-based survival mode as well.

Overall I’d say that World War Z is a game that feels like Left 4 Dead and Killing Floor had a baby. It mixes elements of many successful games that I’ve had a blast playing. I see this being in the regular rotation for the foreseeable future. If you’re on console, I’d recommend grabbing this immediately. If you’re on PC, you’ll have to get it via the Epic Games Store… so if you don’t have an issue with that, have at it. A worthwhile purchase for $40.

State of the Game: Recent Free Things

I’ve been a Playstation Plus subscriber for a few years now, but outside of a few key titles, there is little that I get overly excited to receive for free. For a time, I used to write about my experiences with these free games each and every month, but to be honest, there are months when I don’t have time to play them all or I have no interest in any of the titles. There has also been a recent change to the service, in that the Playstation 3 and PSVita systems are no longer supported, so we only get a couple of games per month, where there used to be times when we’d get cross-play PS3/Vita games and sometimes they were decent. Nonetheless, I took some time over the past week to check out some of the recent things we’ve seen through the service and thought I’d share some short thoughts on each. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Conan Exiles:

One of the offerings from this month, Conan Exiles is a title that I didn’t give a second thought to. The Survival Sandbox genre saw its height a few years ago, and I honestly never really got into any of the games despite picking up a few. As such, this wasn’t a game I was ever going to buy, but I tend to try out the free stuff given to us each month anyway. The first thing I noticed when firing up the game was that it doesn’t look very pretty. The character creation has some pretty ugly models, apparently there’s some nudity options which seem irrelevant, and the overall look of the game was muddy and overall unattractive. The introduction didn’t do anything for me. I honestly only ran around for ten minutes before uninstalling. It appears that it’s the same old shtick, but I assume there are things that set this particular survival game apart from the others, I just couldn’t be bothered to find out what those things were. I didn’t even take screenshots to share because it was that bad. I’d skip this one.

The Surge:

I was a bit more interested in The Surge on the other hand. It looked like a pretty decent Souls-Like but after learning that it was created by the same developers as Lords of the Fallen I wasn’t as enthused. I tried the latter at some point (wasn’t it free via Plus as well?) and felt that it was lacking compared to the Souls games, and didn’t play too much of it. This is still a case of a company copying a successful formula, but whereas with Lords it felt like a cheap, poorly made rip-off, in the case of The Surge the game feels like its own beast. I think the Sci-Fi setting is perhaps the reason for it not feeling like a cheap copy, but whatever the case is I actually enjoy this game.

You start off on a train to some sort of research facility, and it turns out your character is in a wheelchair. You venture further into the facility, where you get to choose your class, but it’s not so much a class as a couple of different job titles. I’m not sure what the differences are, but I went with the Lynx, which was tagged as being speedy and whatnot. I assume with the heavier class you might have different stats or abilities, but for now let’s move on — that’s what I did. You get a surgery which attaches this exoskeleton to you (though it looked quite painful since there was no sedation and quite a bit of nuts and bolts entering flesh) but the robots mistakenly say there is an issue with you and throw you in the trash pile. From there, it’s time to figure out what the hell is going on, as you are thrust into a scrapyard fighting sentient robots and talking to very few humans. The combat is action oriented and uses targeting and a variety of button presses to do things. You’ll get gear and implants that give you various abilities. It feels like its own thing, and it’s quite fun. I’d recommend checking this one out!

Path of Exile PS4:

Path of Exile obviously isn’t a new title, but it was just recently ported to the Playstation 4. Being a free-to-play title, this is available for anyone to download right now. I decided to download it just to see how an action RPG like this might perform on a console. My only other ARPG experience on a console was Diablo 3 on PS3, and I absolutely hated it. Action RPGs have been around for a very long time, and typically they are played on PCs with mouses, with click-to-move and click-to-attack mechanics that tend to not lend themselves well to play with a controller. I also have a long history with this title in particular, but only based on years, not time played. I helped to back it when it was in development, throwing some cash at Grinding Gear Games in order to play it early. I liked what I saw, but at some point I got on the Diablo 3 train and didn’t really play any other ARPGs for a long time. I’ve gone back and checked on PoE a few times since then, but haven’t ever done too much. So anyway, I downloaded and played for a bit the other day, and I have to say that this actually feels like a damn fine port!

Graphically the game looks great and it runs really smooth. I’ve seen games like this with a lot of action going on, on-screen at one time, bog down on consoles just because the processing power isn’t the same as PCs that released at the time of the console’s released. So this long later, you can imagine that the PS4 is a toaster compared to even my few year old gaming PC. Whatever the case, things look and play well. The controls are pretty intuitive, and it wasn’t too bad moving with a joystick as opposed to clicking a mouse. Instead, now you’ll be spamming that basic attack button but it feels pretty much the same. The menus are probably the only frustrating part, mainly because this game uses them quite often. You’ll want to manage your inventory, you’ll want to slot abilities into your weapons, to apply different effects, crafting, and navigating that huge skill tree. It feels like the game you already know, but stays fresh if you aren’t a grizzled veteran. I’d check it out if you’d rather play with friends on your console.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition:

This one came out a few months back but I hadn’t gotten around to trying it. A typical First Person Shooter, Bulletstorm came out several years ago. I remember when it originally released it wasn’t met with the best reviews, and playing it for a bit now, I understand why. Graphically, it looks alright, and feels like its running on the Borderlands engine. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but it has graphical similarities. It’s a sci-fi shooter, with some hoorah bro nonsensical story line. It’s forgettable to say the least, and not intriguing enough to even pay attention to. This was a game that I went into feeling like I wouldn’t really care, and that turned out to be the case. The gunplay is fine. There are some cool parts where things slow down and you do some action movie stunts but overall it’s a pretty “meh” experience. I’d pass. I’ve uninstalled it.

Call of Duty 4 Remastered:

This was one of the freebies for Plus last month, and was honestly one of my favorite Call of Duty games of all time. I haven’t played much but I did check out both the campaign and the multiplayer. Unlike newer Call of Duty games, this one’s multiplayer didn’t have all of the skins and extra bullshit that has been shoehorned into the series over the years. Killstreaks were simple. The maps are still pretty memorable. I remember playing this on my PC for hours on private servers with differing rulesets, and though you can’t exactly do that now,  you can experience one of the better games in the series and that’s a plus to me. Playing through part of the campaign brought back a lot of memories as did murdering other players in multiplayer. I don’t think I would have ever paid for this, because it is pretty much just a visual update to a game that was already played years ago, but for free, it was a nice diversion.

That’s it for this round up. Happy Gaming everyone!

The Forest Leaves Early Access

The last time I wrote about The Forest was two years ago. I’ve owned the game since it first showed up in Early Access on Steam, just about four years ago. I haven’t touched it in so long because I typically don’t get too involved with Early Access titles until they’ve finished. In the case of this game, I believe it was one of the first Early Access titles I ever purchased, so I did play it quite a bit in the beginning. I would check in periodically and usually wrote about the patch notes and would highlight new features. I grew tired of this after a while and let the game rest until the day came that it was finished — and that day has arrived. Endnight Games has finally pulled the trigger calling the game done, so I knew I had to see what had changed since the last time I played it. Immediately noticeable is the change to the game’s main title screen, with a creepy looking cave and hanging body done up in the game’s engine. Other details were readily apparent as well.

The opening cutscene has evolved drastically since the first time I played The Forest. Initially it was a pretty dull looking plane and your boy was very minimalistic, little details like the TV screens and the trays with doodles and food were added later. Your little boy’s animations have improved as well, and the sounds and animation of the crash look far better. The cutscene is still the same, though instead of just watching a cannibal walk off with little Timmy you actually crawl in that direction before passing out again. Otherwise things are mostly how I remember, graphically the game looks the same since they made the switch to Unity 5, the sounds and animations look familiar still. One big change is the survival guide, which is vastly improved:

Not only has it been streamlined, but there is also a to-do list that encompasses actual goals in the game, something that wasn’t present in my time playing before. It’s said that there is a story that you can see through to its end now, and that makes me want to do a proper run through the game, so I decided to get started last night.

Outside of some general tweaks things look the same. You still get an axe early on and you still cut down trees, gather sticks and rocks and have to build shelter to be able to save your game.

I played through the first day  and had a pretty decent camp set up, with a little shelter, some storage for my building materials, a fire and torches to light up my perimeter, and a rabbit trap for daily meals. One of the tasks in my journal is to find the missing passengers from the plane. It’s something I didn’t really think about before, but outside of a stewardess you don’t see any bodies in or around the plane when you wake up after the crash. You find a passenger manifest and can set about finding them when you like. I chose to focus on my camp first, as I know that once you start running into the cannibals they start to pop up more frequently. I remember finding various little camps around the map in my prior play time, so I assume clues will lead you in the direction of the passengers, and your son. I’ve honestly never made it more than a week alive in the game and none of the story was added the last time I played so this should be a mostly new experience.

I’ll get back to you all once I’ve made some progress.

Killing Floor 2: Nearly a Year Later

So the other day I randomly noticed that Killing Floor 2 got a new update. It’s actually had several updates, but I hadn’t played the game since last summer so I hadn’t paid much attention. I mentioned this to my old roommate and we both decided to download the update and get our Zed killing on!

Things have changed. Bits and pieces of the UI have been improved. I feel that there are noticeable differences here, and though it’s subtle it’s a nice touch. Besides some visual upgrades, the newer build has included a number of updates to the game, most recently is “Endless Mode,” where you guessed it, you’ll fight endless waves of Zeds until your party dies. This is more reminiscent of Call of Duty’s Zombies mode, which I have had a lot of fun with over the years so I was game. When we played this mode we decided to use our level 25 perks, and I selected hard difficulty which I thought would be easy. It was not. We managed to make it to wave 13:

Still, wave 13 is three waves beyond what a normal match contains so that’s pretty good for a first run. We also has a couple of low level classes playing with us (this does seem like an optimal way to level up other perks) so that may have affected our efficiency. Also my friend is dead weight, sitting at the bottom of the leaderboard (LOL!). Featured in the above screenshots is one of the new maps that was added between now and the last time we played. It was called DieZone, and was narrated by the Patriarch himself. There’s some good comedic relief in there, and the music is still metal as fuck and awesome. There were three other maps also added to the game in that time, we haven’t yet played any of those but they look great.

Another new feature added to the game is this “Dosh Vault” which actually rewards you for accumulating Dosh (the in game currency). This is presumably for people who already have max level characters or perhaps those like me who still have a few to level, but still having another progress bar to watch is a nice bonus. The RMT stuff in this game is pretty awful, so getting some more boons periodically is nice. It’s always cosmetic stuff you’re unlocking anyway, so not really necessary.

I’m not sure why I got it, but there was a new character available when I booted up, along with some new skins for him. Like the other characters, it really just amounts to a skin for when you are playing and other people get more of the benefit of it than you do — but it was free so why not be a robot for a while?

That seems to be all that has been added but it’s instant value for the game. Having something else to do and keeping things fresh is the only way games like this survive, and I’m glad this developer is committed to adding new content (and mostly for free no less). I know with the original title they were adding stuff in for a long time, so I hope they keep this pace going!

Killing Floor 2 — A Righteous Gorefest

I was actually gifted a copy of Killing Floor 2 last year. I had played the original during one of those free weekends on Steam — as a matter of fact I believe it was during one of those gaming events the blogging community used to take part in. I was looking forward to the sequel because I enjoyed the format of the game. Regular readers will know that I enjoy games that are first person shooters, lobby-based, co-op, and have to do with Zombies. Though Zeds have become a bit of a tired addition to gaming for a while, I still enjoy the Zombie survival game modes that have been around for a decade or more. Most famous are games like Call of Duty that had its separate Zombies game mode, or other titles like Sniper Elite that had spin-offs such as Zombie Army Trilogy. The co-op, wave based survival mechanic is not entirely over done just yet, and not having other game modes tacked on keeps things focused.

Generally speaking, you’ll start off by picking a class which are actually referred to as Perks in this particular title. Each perk or class has a particular starting loadout of gear, along with specific weapons they can buy between rounds that are designed for them. Classes will earn more experience by staying within their weapon group, but everyone has the option of using any gear they see fit. As the perks level up, additional bonuses unlock for that perk, allowing for some nice passive effects. For instance, the class I am currently enjoying most — the Swat perk — unlocks a passive at level 5 that gives him 50% armor for free at the start of the game and that can mean more money in your pockets for that round 2 upgrade.

Game play is standard fare, though I would like to say that the game is beautiful (gory too!) and runs smoothly even on the PS4, and the gun play is top notch. Zed AI is fairly straightforward with each enemy type falling into predictable patters, though the boss creatures are particularly painful. I should note that despite having played this on PC for a bit, it seemed that the player base was rather light so I didn’t get to give it a proper go. It ended up being one of the free games for PS4 this month via Playstation Plus however, so I got on my friend to download it and we have been playing it for the past few nights. We’ve been having a blast, and despite not being all that great at shooters, he has been holding his own. It helps that you have a team of 6, and as long as everyone is paying attention you can all help each other out. Typically no one dies until the boss fight, even on the longer round matches. I assume you wouldn’t want to move onto the harder difficulties without leveling your perks up a bit first though.

I’ve earned a few of the trophies thus far, and most of my screenshots will reflect that, though it’s pretty cool how some of them turned out, because the PS4 automatically saves a picture when a trophy is earned. There are quite a few cool action shots as a result:

I also happened to remember to save a video clip after finally getting a boss kill, and thought I’d share that with you all as well. It’s the entire boss battle, so it’s a few minutes, but it was pretty intense and I ended up being the last man standing (though my best friend was the last to fall before I got the killing blow). We did later fight that boss and take him out before he managed to run away to heal (as he did in the video) which nets a gold trophy. At this point I just have to find all of the collectibles on most maps (have the trophy for one) and play many more matches to have won 25, along with leveling a Perk fairly high. Anyway, here’s the video:

If you have a Playstation 4 the game is free right now, so go check it out. If you are a PC only type of person, I can still recommend the game, but you might want to convince some friends to buy in as well, as it seems the PC crowd is fairly small.