Overkill’s The Walking Dead Preview
At E3 2018, I had the grisly privilege of stabbing zombies in the face with a spear in Overkill’s The Walking Dead. While the gameplay doesn’t entirely reflect the magnificence of the trailers, I had a fair amount of fun cooperatively facing hoards of undead.
From Overkill Software, a Starbreeze studio with Skybound Entertainment, 505 Games, and in collaboration with Robert Kirkman comes Overkill’s The Walking Dead, a cooperative first-person shooter set in Washington D.C. Up to four players face waves of zombies in a series of missions to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and strengthen their base camp.
Sound familiar? I’d imagine so. In layman’s terms, I describe this Walking Dead title as a cross between Left for Dead and State of Decay. It’s not necessarily my cup of carnage, but there’s undoubtedly an audience who considers the blood-curdling screams music to their ears. Before I delve into the brutality of my hands-on experience, I need to share my genuine interest in the game’s narrative.
Fans of the original graphic novels can rejoice in the fact that Robert Kirkman has played a distinct role in the development of the game’s characters, setting, and plot. Players can choose one of four characters equipped with individual abilities, skill trees, and backstories as they set forth into hell incarnate. The trailers alone have me eager to learn more about the protagonists, and the developers state that their stories and motives unfold over the course of the story through gameplay and cutscenes.
Missions range from standard objectives such as clearing designated areas and acquiring specific items to full-blown raids. Gear scavenged, and civilians rescued along the way are invested in character, weapon, and base camp upgrades. The stronger your camp, the more likely you are to survive attacks from the living and the dead alike. Meanwhile, enhancing your character’s skills and improving your weapons inherently affects your efficiency in the field. Speaking with executive producer Saul Gascon, I learned that 45 weapons with over 200 mods will be included at launch. That’s a whole lot of firepower, and I experienced some of it firsthand during the demo.
I played as Aidan; a character handy with melee weapons. I easily could’ve selected a machete, baseball bat, or hatchet, but I chose a traditionally barbaric spear. Along with my neanderthal death stick, I wielded a suppressed pump-action shotgun and handgun. Joined by three fellow journalists, I embarked into the streets of D.C. in search of a water purifier. Remaining stealthy is in the best interest of your squad. Unfortunately, we learned that the hard way as our silent approach swiftly transitioned into a chaotic shootout. Thankfully, we managed to gather some much-needed crafting materials and rescued some civilians why we were at it. A seemingly endless wave of walkers converged on us as we searched frantically for parts to a generator that would unlock a gate. We wound up a feast for the zombies, but the intensity of fending off loads of them while attempting to complete an objective was exhilarating.
As exciting as the mission was, it wasn’t the smoothest gameplay experience. Frames intermittently dropped, and the visuals aren’t particularly impressive. However, I don’t hold that against the game. I played an unfinished build after all, and Overkill has ample time to polish the game to a greater point of stability prior to launch day. Furthermore, gunplay felt great on both keyboard and mouse and a controller. The cooperative aspect made the mission all the more interesting, especially when we combined our special abilities to overcome various obstacles.
Mr. Gascon also confirmed that while players are leveling up a specific character, they can swap to another at any time, and although characters are deadly with certain weapons, players can also customize their loadouts as they see fit. The game will launch with an unspecified number of missions and raids including ‘end game’ content, and the team intends to build upon and improve the base game over time through fan feedback. For fans of Left for Dead, State of Decay, and The Walking Dead in general, I’m confident the game has much to offer. Overkill’s The Walking Dead launches on November 6 in the Americas and globally on November 8 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.