State Of Decay (Xbox 360, PC): What We Know So Far *UPDATE*

State of Decay appears to be a wildly ambitious zombie survival simulation. Here's what we know so far...

The first thing you need to know about State of Decay is that there are, indeed, fatboy zombies thrown into the mix. Now that that is out of the way, we can all relax and talk about the game.

State of Decay is a wildly ambitious, upcoming zombie survival game for the Xbox 360 and PC that appears to be what The War Z should’ve been; a tactical, open, sandbox world that develops in real time where your actions actually affect the gameplay. Most importantly, IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT COMBAT; it’s about doing what’s necessary to stay alive. Because, as Undead Labs says, “When someone is dead, that’s it. Once dead, they won’t come back.” From this, we can conclude that this is an even more hardcore zombie simulation (new genre?) than The War Z, which already made users wait an hour before they could reuse their character.

There are many elements in State of Decay that aren’t in The War Z, and they’re all essential elements of the zombie survival horror genre and that is what is going to make State of Decay stand out.  

For one, you can form raiding parties to gather materials necessary to create supply chains and build a community with. As a community member or leader, if you create a following (yes, there will be a literal Den of Geek community in game, so stay tuned for that when we can make it happen) you can choose to go on the offensive against hordes of zombies before they reach your settlement or focus on improving and strengthening your walls. This idea is very similar to The Walking Dead’s Woodbury settlement.

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Undead Labs claims that more important than grabbing survival materials (guns, ammo, food, etc), is finding people to join your group to help you survive. As stated above, when you die, that’s it. So, find people to help you survive.

Secondly, all survivors share five basic skills; Cardio, Wits, Leadership, Fighting and Shooting. The only one that warrants any explanation is Wits, which is your ability to think fast. Each of these skills has a rating from 1 to 7 stars (1 being weak and 7 being exceptional) for each character you encounter/choose to play. Additionally, players can earn stars by using that skill in their every day zombie surviving.

After the five basic skills, each survivor has a unique combination of Traits. Traits include personality, personal skills, weapon specialization, etc, which influence the number of stars they have, as well as how they can best play the game. For example, having the “Bum Knee” trait means stamina drain. However, we can assume that there is also a benefit to having the skill. Other traits create a personal skill, such as Bruiser, Construction, Leadership, Sexting (yes you read that correctly) and Sports Trivia. Some of these might seem useless, but I imagine that each one would have their own advantages/disadvantages in gameplay. The game apparently contains some RPG elements, such as “leveling” your skills. For example, getting four stars in the Shooting skill earns the player the right to choose a weapon specialization.

Here are some examples of in game characters to help better explain:

Thomas RitterTraits:

  • Father Figure — Protects others against Fear. Objects to Selfish actions by the community.
  • Carpenter — Provides the Construction skill
  • Travel — Wits +1
  • Camping — Wits +2, Cardio +1
  • Organizer — Provides the Leadership skill

Starting Gun: Revolver: M1917 — 45 caliber — Aging classic from the last days of WWI, a collector favorite.Starting Weapon: Crowbar — No zombie apocalypse is complete without one.

Thanks to his Construction skill, Thomas provides additional options at the Workshop (if you have one). His mood also improves whenever you upgrade or build a Workshop. He has no special advantages in combat, but he could still choose any Weapon Specialization if he raised his Fighting and/or Shooting skill first.

Thanks to the Leadership skill, the Cheer and Taunt emotes have additional effects for Thomas. Anyone can use the Cheer emote to try to gain Trust with allies and performing the Taunt emote makes enough noise to alert nearby zombies, but when Thomas cheers allies, their combat effectiveness increases for a short while, and when he taunts zombies he can actually draw them away from attacking allies. He’s also better at earning Trust in general and is more effective at resolving problems with community members who have fallen into a bad attitude.

Sam Hoffman

  • Iconoclast — Resistant to Fear. Becomes Insensitive when she’s feeling good about herself.
  • Service Job — Wits +1
  • Eagle-Eyed — Faster Shooting skill improvement
  • Great Reflexes — Provides the Acrobatics skill.

Starting Gun: Shotgun: Warden — Shotgun Shells — Low profile, slim but brutal. Affectionately named “Fiona.”Starting Weapon: Lead Pipe — A simple bludgeoning weapon.

Sam’s personality is a blessing and a curse. When her attitude shifts to Insensitive, there is a danger of her worsening the attitudes of community members who already feel bad. (This can be counteracted by having community members with the Counseling skill.) Physically, though, she’s gifted. She improves the Shooting skill faster than normal, making her a great choice for a gun-related Weapon Specialization. On the other hand, the Acrobatics skill, much like Bruiser, is an uncommon skill that provides a whole slew of unique combat abilities. This may mean you want to focus on melee combat with her.

Alan Gunderson

  • Autocrat — Resistant to Fear. Prone to Anger. Becomes Overbearing when he’s feeling good about himself.
  • Law Enforcement — Shooting +2
  • Loved Range Shooting — Shooting +1
  • Eagle-Eyed — Faster Shooting skill improvement

Starting Gun: Rifle: 700 Huntsman  – 7.62 MM —  A classic scoped hunting rifle, versions of which are used by the military.Starting Weapon: Machete — Good for chopping brush… or necks.

Alan’s personality is almost pure downside. He becomes angry easily and, even when he is feeling good, his Overbearing attitude can piss off other community members. Again, the key to balancing this out is other personalities that counteract this effect or to kick him out of your community. In terms of combat, he has a clear inclination: he’s good at shooting stuff. You won’t find many better than him and that may be reason enough to keep him around.

Thirdly, there are apparently driveable vehicles in the game, as shown by the trucks and cars in the screenshots. Undead Labs even alludes to the possibility of there being fast sports cars. There are also walkie-talkies or radios for communications, although we don’t know how the technology is going to work in the game (headsets? live, localized voice chat?). We can’t confirm this quite yet, but there appears to be some sort of questing system in place, similar to that of Dead Islandif we were to infer from one of the screenshots.

There are also rumors of commerce playing a role, although I doubt it will be in the same auction house format as our belove World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2. More than likely, there will be in game trading to trade your ammo for building materials or fuel. 

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***Update 4-12-13*** Undead Labs has announced that the release date for State of Decay will be sometime in June for the Xbox 360 version.  We don’t have any word on the PC version.  So, it is more like an xbox release month for now.  But, still, at least we have a window now for XBLA!!  You can check out more about State of Decay and Undead Labs Here

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