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State of Decay 2 Interview: 'The Ultimate Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Survival Game'

We got a chance to go hands-on with the upcoming zombiepocalypse survival title and chat with the game's design director about all the new features.

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Surviving the zombie apocalypse can be rough for anyone, especially by yourself. But, having friends you can rely on can make it a little easier. It would seem that the more the merrier survivor sentiment wasn’t wasted on Undead Labs when they started working on State of Decay 2. Their upcoming sequel seems to have a heavy emphasis on multiplayer co-op gameplay this time around.

Much of the original State of Decay’s concepts look to be very much intact in 2. Players will still traverse the wasteland foraging for supplies and weapons while meeting up with NPC characters that may or may not wish to squad up. As NPCs join up, they become playable characters that in some instances have missions of their own to carry out.

Along with a player’s own faction, other groups of survivors will be met along the way as well, some will be friendly and maybe want to do trading or have some missions to carry out in order to build ties. Other groups may take a more Negan approach and try to strongarm players for their supplies.

While potential human threats loom, there is, of course, the ever-present zombie hordes that can be shot, burned, hacked through, or, in many instances, stealthily avoided. In some instances players will face off against special zombies such as large, rampaging, bloated zombies that can take a ton of damage before going down.

In order to ensure that their communities flourish, players will have to collect resources found throughout the world, and bring them back to their home base in order to keep the various residents healthy and as relatively happy as one could be in a world filled with undead monsters.

I got a chance to sit down with State of Decay 2’s design director Richard Foge for an in-depth look at the new features and get the bigger picture on how multiplayer will change up gameplay dynamics in the upcoming sequel.

Shacknews: Could you give me an overview of State of Decay 2?

Richard: It's a very large game. It's the ultimate post-apocalyptic zombie survival game. You are going to be controlling the destiny of a community of survivors, driving, shooting, fighting zombies, managing your community, and building up your base in order to do your best to survive.

S: What are some of the new features or improvements from the State of Decay?

R: Our biggest new feature is co-op multiplayer. That's the one folks have been asking us for basically since the day the original game came out. Certainly, one of the biggest features and most difficult features to add to a game is multiplayer. We also have three brand new maps that are all about the size of the map that was used in the original game. The changes that we've made to the way your community story progresses and the dynamic narrative also represents pretty significant new functionality that was added to the game.

S: So there's more depth to the story this time?

R: The key to it is that it's your story. We are not telling you a particular story. You are the one making decisions for your community, and the consequences of the choices you make shape the dynamic narrative that you're gonna be experiencing with your communities.

S: Let's talk about developing your communities a little bit. It seems to be really open ended as to where you can get your allies from. I ran into a point where I thought I was going to be able to walk away peacefully and then I had guns pulled on me.

R: Other humans in the context of a zombie apocalypse are one of the big unknown factors that you're going to run into. And in State of Decay 2, we certainly wanted that to be the case as well. In the first game, other humans would threaten you but they would never fight you. But in this one, obviously like what you encountered, they can become hostile, and they will attack you and it will become a very dangerous situation for everybody.

In terms of managing your community and who's going to join your community, sometimes you'll meet people that are looking for help. They'll approach you and say, "Hey look, I don't know what to do. I've been on my own for so long. I'm looking for a community to join. Can I jump in with you?" And it's up to you whether or not you're going to let these folks into your community. Other times you'll meet people, develop a relationship with them, and eventually it turns out that they're open to the idea of joining your community. And in some cases, you'll meet people where they might represent "Hey, we're cool, and everything's fine," Oh, by the way, we want your stuff, and we're pulling guns on you. So, you never know what you're going to get.

S: Let's talk a little bit about the home base. What new features have been added to the home base. I noticed there were mods now?

R: In addition to extensive work that was done to increase the number of facilities and the kind interactions that you could have in those facilities, in terms of crafting consumables, adding buffs to your community for a while, the branching upgrades in some of the facilities. You also have access to large slots, which is something we talked about in the first game but never got around to doing. Now we have certain facilities that only go into large slots. Large slot facilities tend to be slightly bigger projects that will have better ongoing benefits for your community. But you're limited; any base has maybe one or two, tops.

The mods are a new system as well. Certain facilities can have mods slotted in them that adds additional functionality or changes functionality that they might have. For example, in a workshop, you might be able to get a generator that provides power to that workshop, and then you're able to use certain functionality that you wouldn't have had access to otherwise. Or, a bullet press that would let you make certain types of ammunition, and things like that.

S: Let's get back to the multiplayer. How does it work? Is it drop in, drop out? How does it affect your game when you come back from somebody else's game?

R: There are a lot of different ways that you can get into multiplayer. The easiest one is that if you have a friend online, you invite them to your game, and they'll come in. We also have a matchmaking system that uses flares to get in to. You can volunteer to help out in somebody else's game, or you can shoot a flare up in the air asking volunteers to come out and help out in your game. It briefly makes your game public, pulls some folks in, and then you're running around together on an adventure.

In terms of how does that affect your community? You're going to be bringing one of your survivors into this community – somebody else's base, somebody else's world – and they're at risk. Anything that happens to that survivor is permanent and real. The stuff that you find, that you're able to bring back to your community and put in your supply locker, you get to keep that stuff. In addition to that, when you get back to your base you'll find a bunch of rewards related to how you did helping out in multiplayer.

S: Is it going to be two players? Four players?

R: Up to four players co-op. So, whatever works for you up to four players.

S: So I know that Battle Royale has been a big thing. Is that something you've considered?

R: Not really. We're really focused on the concept of cooperative multiplayer in the context of State of Decay 2. In order to make battle royal work you need tons and tons of players, too, so we're really focusing on four player co-op multiplayer.

S: What are some of the key things players are going to have to do to survive and prosper in State of Decay 2?

R: One of the keys is to constantly be aware of the needs of your community. We've added a lot of new information screens in your base management screen that you can go to and discover what's going on. Why is the morale in my base really low? Select that Morale widget in your base screen and we will do this total breakdown of why your morale is being affected in negative ways, what's affecting it in positive ways, and how to increase it.

Similarly, we have this breakdown of what's going on with your resources. If your community is upset because you're low on food, you can discover why, what your outputs are for that system. Then you can make plans for how you're going to fix that problem. The core of the game is really about identifying problems you want to solve, coming up with a plan for how to solve it, trying to execute that plan, and then dealing with the consequences when that plan doesn't necessarily go according to plan.

State of Decay 2 launches on Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox Family of devices May 22 for the Standard Edition, and May 18 for the Ultimate Edition.

Reviews Editor

From The Chatty

    • reply
      April 30, 2018 3:40 PM

      I'm probably going to sin and pre-order this one. Probably been a decade since I last did that for a game. I just binged on the YOSE, along with breakdown, and this is looking like more of the same which is a good thing.

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        April 30, 2018 6:43 PM

        Yeah The game is looking really good. Much more fast-paced than I expected too. Which worked in its favor for me personally.

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        May 1, 2018 7:03 AM

        only disappointing thing i've read is that only the host progresses in multiplayer. would have been cool to build a shared base with friends

    • reply
      May 1, 2018 4:17 AM

      Can't wait for this game. First one was great.

    • reply
      May 1, 2018 7:48 AM

      This will be my game pass game