State of Decay 3 was announced as a featured Xbox exclusive title from developer Undead Labs. As one of the only zombie community survival sims on the market, State of Decay has delivered two really great games that looks to increase their popularity even more with this sequel. With that said, what could a next gen State of Decay play like?
While there is already a pretty active and impressive fan wishlist already a part of Undead Lab’s cookbook, it should be noted that many of those ideas are incorporated in State of Decay 2. Hopefully this means that the devs have a few tricks up their sleeve that will surprise and titillate their fans. In the meantime, let’s dream of some features or ideas that would truly evolve the State of Decay series.
State of Decay as a series has always had a disappointing limitation to its co-op. Basically, the other players were restricted to a certain radius around the host player’s position. This would prevent the other players from being able to go on their own salvage runs or quests for the community. This should definitely be something Undead Lab’s list of features for State of Decay 3.
Expanding the co-op in this way will require a way for the game to quickly increase the amount of zombies, quests, or just plain difficulty (much in the same way that the Borderlands franchise does).
Loot System for Weapons
In both of the State of Decay games, when you find one M17 pistol, you’ve seen them all. Games that have a prolonged lifespan nowadays utilize some kind of loot based system that makes exploration more desirable. State of Decay could really use a system like this. Introducing it could also make the durability of items a lot more important as well. Nothing like having a killer melee weapon that you love breaking at the wrong time. That would then force you to either find or build another.
Much like moments seen in Days Gone when traveling between missions, there should be ways for human enemies (as well as your own survivors) to set traps. This could greatly affect the morale of your survivors as some of them might agree with that action and some might not. Also, the tension of being surprised when coming back from a supply run could add some much needed tension and difficulty to the game as well.
Active Survivor Communities
While this feature is certainly on the State of Decay wishlist, it is a feature that could constantly and completely change things. Oftentimes in movies, stories, and games that feature zombies, the story regularly shows you that humans are much more villainous than a zombie could ever be. Having human communities actively searching for resources, battling hordes, and trying to steal yours will certainly extend the lifespan, the difficulty, and the appeal of State of Decay’s formula.
As it stands, survivor communities in State of Decay 2 act more like temporary farms for new survivors or occasional foes to take on during missions. In a way, there is more of an opportunity for these communities to act more like roguelike elements that could further the story (if there was a really good one), or provide additional features.
On the storyline side of things, these communities could act a bit like the recruitable orcs in Middle Earth: Shadow of War. While there is a patent on the whole Nemesis System, I think that finding a way for these communities and specific survivors to become clever rivals as well as valuable allies. By this I mean that the interaction could be a bit more fluid so that it isn’t just relegated to them asking you for help or you going to them like a storefront to trade with or take survivors from. There could be backstories between survivors in your group and theirs that must be resolved in some way. Maybe an ally has a member that keeps stealing or trying to steal from another ally’s camp… or even your own. I’m certain there are many ways to further flesh out how these communities can further the storyline as well as the endgame content.
So, while it is nice to have completely randomized survivors with a great mix of personalities, one thing that made the DLC for the first State of Decay special was the Breakdown DLC. This allowed for you to play to complete challenges and unlock survivors that came with unique gear and skills. That should return in a more grandiose format.
Survivors of all types in the game could be graded by rarity. The rarity would determine how many skills they can learn. The higher rarities could allow for them to learn skills that only that survivor can have (AKA not randomized). Unlocking these skills would require you to complete specific challenges WHILE USING THAT SURVIVOR. This would certainly up the difficulty as well as extend the replayability. That way as updates or DLC come along, more survivors could be added as more content and features are added to the game.
The State of Decay community has asked for this feature repeatedly. Quarantine zones would provide a high risk, high reward area of the map (or maps) that if farmed would provide some great gear. Maybe the gear found could be OP with low durability. Maybe it could be a zone where you could do rescue missions from time to time with the possibility of pulling out a ‘high rarity survivor’. Maybe there is a recently downed military squad that has great weapons or a military vehicle. Whatever the reward is, the difficulty must be one where it is not for the feint of heart or skill.
Ideas proposed in the community wish list were areas like graveyards, a hospital, a subway, an airport, or maybe a mall.
Caravan or Camp-less Travel
When the previous State of Decay allowed you to move to another map, the transition was always a simple ‘load up the next map’ and start from a temporary base camp. What if that travel was like a separate mode where you had to defend the caravan until you got to a new camp? This mode could be used to heighten the tension where you could lose some of the resources that you have or even wreck the vehicle (s) you are using to transport the camp. This stage could be played out in a horde mode style or even a somewhat linear horde mode where you had to reach a certain point of a smaller map by using sneak tactics and abandoning your car for fear of attracting a horde that you can’t drive through.
While it is a functioning mechanic to have specific camps that can be occupied, players are wishing more and more that there was more of a way to customize them. There are small and large plots that allow you to build whatever you want in them, but the clamour for ‘more’ always grows. What if there is a way to make the existing camp bigger by adding more plots? What if there was a way to expand the camps to have underground bunkers? What if the barriers had health and could be destroyed as well as upgraded?
Applying a health bar to the barrier could also be a huge gameplay element to apply to ally and enemy camps as well. The status of the barrier could greatly affect the camp morale and spawn a host of side missions to repair or damage your own barrier or that of your ally or enemy’s.
The current structure of State of Decay is to build up what you have until you have a large enough group to move into the best/largest camp on the map. While that is fun, it kind of makes the lifespan of each map a bit too finite. With the onset of next gen, there is an opportunity to make State of Decay more of a roguelike.
For example, the storyline of The Walking Dead typically progresses between the group having internal foes and then external foes. At times, there are multiple external foes and internal foes. What if the game had a number of template ‘main story’ goals to work thru that not only randomized but also got harder over time?
– A military vaccine (enough for one survivor) could be found
– Internal fight for leadership (regardless of morale)
– Become part of another camp
– Militant rival faction demands supplies or they attack your camp (that refuses to be an ally)
– Multiple rival factions (maybe one started by survivor that is exiled) (that refuse to be an ally)
– Deal with various wandering groups that have no camp
The brilliant minds at Undead Labs most assuredly have something fabulous in store for us fans. Both games have managed to up the stakes without losing the identity that made the first game great. It will be interesting to see what they come up with given the power of the next gen consoles.
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