State of Decay 2 Review

Dan Webb

Admittedly, I was rather late to the party with the original State of Decay. I would have been the guy walking in at the end of the night with a six-pack of beers just as the hosts were sweeping the floors and cleaning up the vomit from one of the plant pots by the front door. I mention this because the original is very fresh in my mind. It was one of those games that broke me out of a bit of a funk – you know, that period in your gaming life where you wander aimlessly from game to game looking for that next hit to suck you in and get its teeth into you. The sequel, however, well let’s just say that it's a disappointment from beginning to end.

That’s not to say that State of Decay 2 does anything to change the formula from the original: it most certainly doesn’t. Its problem is that it doesn’t really advance the franchise in any meaningful way whatsoever. In fact, it seems like a step backwards for the series, which pains me to say as a fan of the original.

"Let's go down to the pub until this all blows over."

While State of Decay gave you a purpose to survive in its fairly flimsy, but necessary story, the reason for surviving in the sequel is… well, there isn’t one. State of Decay 2 is essentially a zombie survival game, with very little holding it together and even becoming a bit of a grind-fest at times.

For most of my time in State of Decay 2 I found myself just looting and scavenging to survive, with no real driving purpose there to actually make you want to survive. It’s a weird conundrum, but without that sense of achievement or direction, the game suffers as a result.It comes down to you, the player, to weave your own narratives, which can still be a joy, but it doesn’t have the same effect as an overarching narrative. For instance, I’ll never forget the moment I lost the leader of my community, killed by a bunch of savage looters, and then avenged her death by exacting revenge upon them as her brother, after spending an entire in-game day arming myself to the teeth to put them out of their misery and make the world a safer place. Sure, it was ultra-cool, but those moments are few and far between.

At its core, this is very much a State of Decay game, so as someone who thoroughly enjoyed the original, I did find myself truly enjoying the sequel. The mechanics are nigh on identical, the core of the game that made the original so enjoyable is all present and correct in the sequel. The permadeath mechanics are still there – although it’s really hard to get one of your community killed this time, it seems (unless you decide to go out without a car at night) – as is the looting, the base building and my favourite; smashing zombies with a car door. The base building is a lot more in-depth this time too, with more options and the ability to add mods to various different facilities, and the ability to relocate to really cool bases is welcomed too. But again, it needs a purpose other than just surviving. Mechanically, State of Decay 2 is a sound game, and with the addition of 4-player co-op, you can now enjoy said game with buddies.

This house doesn't look at all ominous.

The game is technically a bit of a mess too, unfortunately. To say it’s buggy is an understatement. I’ve had to restart the game on many occasions because of mission bugs, whether the mission markers just disappeared, characters on a mission with me vanished or even something simple as a once-climbable-ladder is no longer climbable meaning I can’t check the last location, where clearly my quest objective was stashed. It’s an exercise in frustration.

On top of that there’s the unpredictable and wholly unnatural physics engine, there’s the weird – and immersion-busting – fact that when new zombies spawn, they literally drop out the sky. In front of you. On top of you. They’re all signs of a game that’s almost been rushed out to the masses. A true shame.

In all, State of Decay 2 is an exercise in frustration. At its core, it’s very much a State of Decay game, but one that seems to have taken a step backwards for the franchise. With very little to do other than just survive, Undead Labs has taken a really interesting single-player experience with a neat story and a purpose, and turned it into just another survival game. One, that admittedly is much cooler with co-op, but still, even when you play with friends the game’s big problem is still as obvious: what’s the point? That sums up State of Decay 2 perfectly, what’s the point? You may as well just play the original if you haven’t already.

State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2 is a perfectly fine game. Nothing more, nothing less. Sure, it may be buggy and it might be a step back from the original, but it is nevertheless still a fun game, albeit one that doesn’t really motivate you to keep playing. To keep grinding. I imagine it’s what a real zombie apocalypse would be like, we just wanted more from a game about it.

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The soundtrack is pretty damn good, while the voice acting is a little underwhelming. There are large periods of silence though. Deafening silence.


The game looks decent on the Xbox One X and a little under par on the S and the vanilla Xbox, but it’s still miles behind a lot of other recently released games. Those bugs too!


It plays exactly like the original did. Exactly.


It’s an open-world sandbox zombie survival game with no real purpose to survive. It’s definitely a step back for the franchise, although co-op is kind of cool.


The achievements are pretty decent. They encourage you to sample all the different aspects of the game, from different leaders to different maps, but you could argue they're too easy. Like, super easy. Little to no effort will be required, although it isn’t a quick 1,000G.

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