OVERKILL’s The Walking Dead Beta Impressions
When you think of The Walking Dead, many words may come to mind. Harrowing, horrifying, and intense are some. Phrases like “wonderful story,” “dark and depressing world,” and “deep characters,” are others. From what I’ve played, Overkill’s The Walking Dead adaptation encompasses harrowing, horrifying, and intense well enough. Sadly, from the group of phrases, it only manages to get that “dark and depressing world” aspect correct. Although the design is pretty good, the game suffers, at least in the beta, from random player teammates that can make the game a hell of a lot harder than it needs to be.
Let’s discuss graphics and sound quality first: as far as I’ve seen, they’re good. By no means are they award winning, but the time put into the textures and models is clear. The animations are wonderful and gritty, enticing and gruesome. Though the screen effects for blood could be better, some of the other effects are well done. The H.U.D is generally non-intrusive as well, which is a nice plus (though I did have a bug on my very first mission that removed it in its entirety). Sound design is great, the walkers sound disgusting (as they should). While the music isn’t stellar, it serves the game fine.
But now I’d like to get into what I’d really like to talk about…the gameplay. For better or for worse, this is the highlight of the game. It gives a proper first-person perspective to the world of The Walking Dead. Its gunplay and melee combat are good, while stiff, which may or may not fit the genre. Killing walkers in large groups can be hard, but you’d expect that. I played the tactician for most of my time, putting time behind the scope of a sniper rifle, but hardly got to use it right. I find the fact that equipment can deteriorate a little frustrating, even more so when I can’t go through a silent mission without breaking my own silencer a quarter way through. Frustrations with durability aside, weapon rarity is a feature that concerns me. For what? For the state of the game going forward. Will we have paid-for loot boxes? Only time will tell.
Mission design in the game is good and serviceable. I won’t get into the hub or camp management portions. They feel unpolished and unnecessary before the full game comes out. I would love to play this game single-player, but it forces you to take on random teammates. This will make your life harder. Teammates forego their mission duties to do anything else much of the time. I had a particular game where my crew would not stop firing their unsilenced weapons. This drew tons of Walkers to spawn later on that swamped and completely destroyed us. You must play this with friends, it’s going to be the only way to enjoy it in its fullest.
A few final mentions: for me the walker spawning is ridiculous in some spaces. There are moments where walkers will spawn in doorways that you cannot barricade. They will then pour out of them, over and over. It becomes tedious when ammo and health are so sparse. Ammo capacity for your weapons and your inventory is low and tough to manage when it throws so many enemies at you. Collectibles are nice and loot is fun, but some of it instanced in a strange way and creates items you can see but can’t pick up. Inventory and mod management is a nightmare with how slow it is and how random drops are. Without a great overhaul to the management system it’ll feel tacked on.
I did enjoy the beta, though. I like that it’s hard, it’s like the world of The Walking Dead: the zombies aren’t the problem, people are, in game or otherwise. You’ll find it more fun to play with trusted pals than with randoms, and that’s true of most games. Rarely is it required, but here it is. I’m excited to see what this game has in store one it gets a full release.