This review of World War Z was conducted using a copy of the game given to us by the game’s publisher. This does not affect our judgement of the game in any way, and is explained for the purposes of transparency.
World War Z is one of the latest games in the zombie survival genre, developed by Saber Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive. It is loosely based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks, and the 2013 movie. It takes the player to the zombie ridden cities of New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo, pitting the players against swarms of the undead in a bid for survival. The game features two game modes; Campaign, which can be played solo or co-op, and Multiplayer.
The campaign features 4 chapters, most containing 3 missions, with one chapter having 2 missions. Each chapter features 4 characters, each with their own backstories, with deeper backstories being unlocked for each character upon completion of a mission. For the completionists out there, it can be a pain to get all of them due to missions requiring replays with new characters to unlock their backstories. Each mission also contains a piece of lore, although these were already unlocked before I played any missions. I don’t know if this was intentional or a mistake.
Throughout the campaign, as you play, you will level up your weapons and classes. Most weapons branch off into two paths. One seemingly revolving around stealth orientated gameplay and the other focusing on firepower, with increased damage and magazine sizes. Classes have a wide array of perks and improvements, and the player is able to pick one from each column. Perks can include passive perks; such as increased health and resistance to pinning by hordes, improved throwable weapons, different starting weapons and equipment. Perks and weapon attachments can be obtained (once unlocked) with in-game currency. This is earned through completing missions, with higher difficulty missions rewarding you more currency.
Moving on to gameplay, World War Z is a third-person shooter which tasks the players with progressing through levels while completing objectives such as retrieving supply crates, escorting NPC’s or defending positions from hordes. Players can find weapons and various equipment around the map, including defences like automated turrets, stationary turrets (which must me manned by a player), barbed wire, mortars and voltage grids. Voltage grids are handy as they electrify fences to prevent the zombies from gaining access. Players cannot change their throwable weapons, only refill them.
The game itself runs very well, with very little lag or framerate drops, despite the hordes on screen at once. I did encounter the occasional surfing zombie, moving without any animation for it, though these were few and far between. The biggest problem, which admittedly frustrated me to no end, was the online connectivity. Playing it online at launch was problematic, with multiple disconnects mid-game, giving no reward. I did have 3 friends that I intended to play through the campaign with. One of them was consistently disconnected from the game, causing him to quit the game entirely. Honestly, if I were not writing a review, I would have quit the co-op campaign entirely. But alas, I soldiered on. Playing with random players fairs no better. On top of being disconnected regularly, other players can be very irritating, even neglecting to revive you when down. Lack of communication seems to break the game down, so I would recommend playing with friends, or at least people you can use voice communications with. In game communications do exist, but they are restricted to very basic pings.
Feel free to skip the multiplayer, it is really not worth playing in my opinion. It contains numerous different classes, with different kits depending on style of play. Each has different perks, throwables and weapons. Players can fight each other with occasional swarms showing up, which while on paper sounds quite fun, can be quite disappointing.
There seems to be some hope in this post-apocalyptic world though, with Saber announcing they plan to support the game with new episodes, characters and multiplayer modes. I just pray to God they aren’t paid DLC. If they aren’t, the game has a chance. Paid DLC may prove the end of this game.