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World War Z


Story & Narrative

There are four campaigns to choose from each set in a different city. Each campaign is divided into multiple maps where you control one of four survivors. Jump into a game and you’re automatically matched with three other players and given the option to choose a survivor. You start with a few basic weapons and upgrade your arsenal as you discover new items and weapon throughout the campaign.

World War Z’s cast is large and surprisingly interesting thanks to the game’s story videos, one for each survivor. Players can also choose to play as one of six different classes each with their own skill trees that emphasize a specific aspect of zombie destruction. The Slasher, for instance, is a melee-focused class that gives you a taser for zapping zeds and perks that increase melee-based damage. The Slasher players completely differently from the Hellraiser who a crowd control expert with perks that improve the effectiveness of his explosives.

Graphics & Performance

In World War Z it feels like everything is bigger. Levels are expansive and versatile, taking you from urban setting of modern Tokyo to the loneliness of an empty winter Moscow. Zombie hordes are truly massive, with hundreds of the undead filling your screen. The weapons and traps and the different classes and their various upgrades allow for creative ways to take out swathes of zeds in a single swoop.

Where the Left 4 Dead experience puts its groups of survivors in tight, claustrophobic alleyways and apartment rooms, necessitating point-blank confrontations and brute-force hacking and slashing through its waves of undead, World War Z’s levels gives the player opportunities to explore beautiful, open areas that encourage more contemplative, planned methods for zombie destruction. Levels are simple: get from here to there. The game adds some variety with occasional breaks in the journey for completing secondary objectives and the set pieces and finales are as manic and heart-pounding as any in Left 4 Dead. Maps are large and designed to maximize the effect of seeing thousands of zeds howling through the streets, showcasing the primary gimmick of the game: its enormous zombie army

For all that it gets right with regards to its basic gameplay, level design, and world-building the overall experience is marred by tiny, frustrating issues. Server problems are still too common, random disconnects and communication dropping in and out. Editing your class skillset is a chore that involves leaving your current game and clicking through several menus.

Gameplay & Mechanics

The zeds move in groups of dozens with hundreds gunning for you at once. They act with an almost insect-like deliberateness and unity and their physics-based movements allow for some novel mechanics, such as the ability to form pyramids of bodies to reach high spots. It’s always a wonder to watch a legion of zeds fall over the lip of a bridge or building, cascading down like water to the concrete below, forming a pile of bodies before picking themselves up to continue the hunt. As with all physics-based systems in modern games, it’s hilarious when it doesn’t work, like when zed gets its feet stuck in a wall and is slapped across the face by hundreds of its brothers as they rush past.

World War Z also has balancing issues. Hundreds of zeds pouring forth from all directions is a fun challenge to work through. Individual zeds, however, may as well be ants. They’re easy to stomp out and pose little threat which can be boring when you find yourself in the tighter and tinier areas of the campaigns. The game becomes tiresome when you aren’t under threat of being run down by thousands of zombies. Weapons are powerful and satisfying to both use and see in action; watching dozens of zeds go flying with the toss of a grenade is endlessly enjoyable, and melee weapons can decapitate zombies and remove entire limbs which is always fun. The trouble is weapons are often too powerful. The class system allows for players to focus on different ways of playing, and in theory different combinations of classes should open up the possibility of different strategies for approaching a situation. Once you’ve upgraded your perks to a decent level, however, team composition doesn’t affect strategy at all. Use your primary weapon to wipe out entire groups of zeds with ease – hundreds of zombies can’t even touch you.

Another issue that plagues World War Z is its notable lack of interesting special zombies. Left 4 Dead played with the flow and tempo of its campaigns by introducing special zombies that were tougher undead with unique skills. The special infected in World War Z are tame in comparison, with ineffective abilities. Functionally, they’re just more resilient variations of the standard zed, which is a disappointment. In Left 4 Dead, the Smoker could kidnap individual players, forcing the survivors to separate and think on their feet. When someone triggered a Witch, the danger was potentially campaign-ending, with the ensuing panic and frantic running and gunning inevitably concluding with a lot of finger-pointing between players. In contrast, the Bulls in World War Z are a dime a dozen and easily dispatched of. When this special infected zed spawns throughout a session, they don’t significantly change how you play or how you approach a given situation. In the end, grinding through repeated playthroughs becomes bland without properly designed special infected to force variety. In the end, this feels like a wasted opportunity to inject some variety into the base game and affects World War Z’s overall replayability.


All in All, It’s a shame that with all the potential World War Z has thanks to its amazing level design and surprisingly deep class system the game still feels underwhelming. When the game puts you in the center of a massive urban complex surrounded by thousands of the undead, the sheer scale of it all can be awe-inducing. And when all hell breaks loose, with you and your scrappy team clawing for survival against the advancing hordes it’s an undeniably amazing experience. It’s unfortunate then that the success of its class system ultimately depends on players grinding through dozens of hours of the game. Its lack of interesting zombie types means very little variety in repeated playthroughs and its cumbersome interface makes upgrading your class a tiresome chore.

About the Author

Ramesh Radhakrishnan is the content lead for OffGamers. An avid gamer, Ramesh is keen on exploring digital worlds and the world behind the scenes.

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