Generation Zero Review

Richard Walker

Welcome to one of the most boring apocalypses we've ever encountered. Normally, the end of the world is fire and fury; nuclear bombs dropping like Fallout, or ragtag survivalist factions murdering one another like Mad Max, RAGE or Borderlands, but in Generation Zero, almost everyone is dead or missing. Consequently, that leaves you – and maybe three fellow co-op survivors – and a far-too-vast open world to explore, featuring vast expanses with absolutely nothing to do.

The concept for Just Cause dev Avalanche Studios' latest sounds great on paper. Set in the late 80s, robots have risen up and taken over, leaving mankind on the back foot and struggling to survive. In reality, however, Generation Zero is dull as dishwater. Quite how Avalanche has managed to squander the concept of a robot uprising in 1980s Sweden is beyond us, but squander it the studio has, with an empty, anodyne map, a virtually non-existent story, and hours of leaden walking and grindy scavenging.

What few encounters you'll have with Generation Zero's hostile robots quickly become repetitive affairs, the game's gunplay not particularly exciting. Each machine has its own weak points you can exploit, which is about as far as the tactical side of the game goes, and whether you're playing alone or in multiplayer with co-op buddies, every single facet of Generation Zero feels so incredibly pointless that you'll eventually want to says 'screw it' to the robot rebellion and throw yourself into the nearest lake.

The core conceit of shooting malevolent machines and exploring the same houses and bunkers over and over again is stretched so paper-thin that it grows wearisome within the first couple of hours. Once the penny drops that this is neither Left 4 Dead or DayZ with robots, but rather a very slow and uneventful schlep across miles and miles of admittedly quite picturesque Swedish countryside, boredom will inevitably creep in, and you'll only want to continue the journey if you really hate yourself.

Generation Zero provides no vehicles to cover long distances when it really really should, even when there are abandoned cars strewn across the landscape, leaving you to traverse the game's colossal map entirely on-foot. And Generation Zero's map is far too large. Hopefully, you'd expect a huge open world like this to be populated with landmarks, points of interest, and numerous quests to delve into, but in this, there's nothing. The same assets also crop up again and again ad nauseam, so once you've seen one house, you've pretty much seen them all.

Unsurprisingly, this only serves to increase the level of abject tedium you'll experience playing Gen Zero, and the occasional skirmishes with marauding machines does very little to alleviate it. Even if you're desperate for some sort of 4-player co-op game to play with friends, I couldn't recommend Generation Zero. There's nothing here to engender a sense of teamwork or make use of co-op tactics, and playing solo is profoundly dreary, so why would you bother?

Avalanche has attempted to make things vaguely interesting with some RPG elements, so you'll gain XP and level up, acquiring a skill point to spend on movement speed, weapon proficiency, stamina, health, and tech. You can also mod your weapons with various attachments, including bits found on vanquished machines and there are varying rarities of loot to find. Ultimately, it doesn't really amount to much, though. Generation Zero is still unrelentingly, almost hypnotically boring.

If you're eyeing up Generation Zero thinking that a game set in the 80s featuring killer robots from the makers of Just Cause sounds like a winner, then think again. It's a vapid, repetitious co-op shooter with very few reasons to explore or get lost in its sprawling, empty sandbox. The story – such as it is – is poorly delivered, the shooter mechanics are serviceable at best, and progress is tortuously slow. And I'm really struggling to think of any positives.

Whether you're fighting smaller dog-like robots, larger bipedal ones or the hulking machines fitted with rocket launchers, Generation Zero is seldom enjoyable. In fact, it's consistently a grind; a succession of notes, tape cassettes, and files to collect, leading you on a wild goose chase from one military bunker to another as you attempt to locate the last remnants of humankind. Frankly, I stopped giving a toss about what happened to the missing folks of the fictional Swedish towns and villages. I wouldn't mind if the robots took over.

That a studio famed for the anarchic action of Just Cause and Mad Max has managed to conjure something as unremarkable as Generation Zero boggles the mind. Let's just look ahead to RAGE 2 and pretend this never happened, eh?

Generation Zero

While the apocalypse is traditionally painted in varying shades of drab brown and grey, here it's brought to life in lovely bucolic greens and yellows. This pastoral loveliness doesn't disguise the fact that Generation Zero is unremittingly, cripplingly dull, providing protracted periods of walking vast distances with all-too short bouts of gunplay. How the developer behind Just Cause managed to create this vacuous, pointless game is beyond me.

Form widget

Nice synth music in places, an occasional voiced tape recording, robot noises and gun sounds are about the sum total of Gen Zero's soundtrack. It's all solid enough.


The 1989 Swedish countryside is quite lovely, but it's also a bit bland. The houses you'll pick clean for resources are also very samey, and overall there's little visual variety. The robots look sorta cool, I guess.


While there's nothing fundamentally wrong with how Gen Zero plays, it's extremely one-note. Yes, machines have weak points to lend a little strategy to how you approach each encounter, but it amounts to nought when you're doing the same thing over and over and over again.


A huge, sprawling open world sandbox with not much to do in it. Areas of interest are spread much too far apart, leaving you with long, boring stretches of traipsing across fields and hills. Did we mention that the game is a dull, thankless slog?


A perfectly fine list that places an emphasis on exploring and completing certain mission milestones, as well as taking down a certain number of machines with pistols, shotguns, SMGs, assault rifles, and such.

Game navigation