The War Z First Look
Alec Levine / Oct 17th, 2012 5 Comments
Spring 2012. A virus was moving through gamers, spreading like wildfire. It spread to popular YouTubers and streamers, only accelerating its control. This virus was a mod called DayZ for ARMA 2.
Prior to this outbreak, both ARMA 2 and DayZ were relatively unknown but ARMA’s unique mechanics coupled with the excellent feeling of a post-zombie outbreak made DayZ a new cult classic. Ultimately though, DayZ is just a mod. However, it managed to pave a path for the zombie genre. First up to bat is The War Z, which is being developed by Hammerpoint Interactive.
Zombie movies and games are a dime a dozen these days. Almost every company has tried shoveling some sort of zombie cash-in, and only a few good ones seem to shine through. However, The War Z is unique as it combines aspects of some of the most popular zombie games. Games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Island accentuate the aspect of teamwork and the mad dash for safety. Conversely, Dead Rising has players immersed in a feeling of isolation in a battle against hordes of zombies. What those games have in common is that zombies are merely mindless and will charge right into your weapon.
This is what separates zombies from The War Z from the zombies gamers have come to expect. The zombies in The War Z are no joke. They will swarm humans rather than simply charging straight at them. This will often leave players surrounded and constantly struggling to escape.
Each player must assume the role of a scavenger, not some demigod. Ammunition and supplies are scarce and must be scrounged for. This will make the game incredibly fun and challenging. It will also distinguish it in the sea of uninspired zombie games.
Another key aspect of The War Z is the health system. Most games either have a health bar or regenerative health. The War Z has a standard health gauge but players also must stay fed and hydrated. This will force players to move from their fortified forest positions into the dangers of town just to get a bite to eat or drink of water. If this is not complicated enough, it can give players incentive to back-stab each other. The game plays on the more human aspects of staying alive. With a precious resource that must be consumed to stay alive, life in the wasteland will be very difficult.
The defining aspect of The War Z is that it is an MMO. Characters are persistent and the world keeps moving even while players are offline. Furthermore, PvP is allowed and encouraged. With PvP and persistent characters and worlds, The War Z will have a perfect sense of both isolation and fear. Hearing footsteps on a floor below will have gamers on the edge of their seats as they panic to find a good location to get the drop on any unwelcome guests. The extra sense of survival will cause some players to travel in packs or clans. This poses a real threat for the lone wolf as they can wander directly into a group’s territory, finding themselves wishing they were just being chased by a pack of zombies.
Stealth will play a huge role in the MMO. Players will not only need to conserve their ammo, but they also can ill afford to risk alerting the entire area to their existence. The sound of one misfired shot or growl of a zombie can put more A.I. zombies or additional players on alert. Players must exercise extreme caution and finesse when moving through towns and scavenging for loot. The victor in an engagement is not always the one with the better equipment, but the one who remains unseen. With proper planning and tactics, it is entirely possible for a small trained squad to infiltrate a larger group’s stronghold and take control of all of the precious loot inside.
Survival games are fun. MMOs are fun. Zombie games are fun. Combine elements of all to get a unique gaming experience. Trying to sustain body needs, avoiding hordes of zombies and picking the right players to trust will lead to a different experience each playthrough of The War Z.
It seems as though Hammerpoint is taking the foundation built by games such as DayZ and bringing it to a whole new level of zombie gaming. With huge worlds, tons of players and that constant feeling of being watched, The War Z will have players in a completely new state of mind.
The War Z is just released an alpha build with beta set for Oct. 31. A full release is expected before the end of the year.
tags: mmo , pc , preview , the war z , zombies