I’ll admit that I wrote off World War Z when it was first announced. It closely resembled Left 4 Dead but without the personality that made that series special. While the number of zombies on screen looked impressive in previews, it felt like there was no chance the framerate would be able to sustain when things got hectic.
Whatever reservations I had were quickly washed away once my first major encounter with the horde was complete. Yes, this is still a mindless co-op horde shooter, but it has surprising depth, and is a lot of fun to pick up and play. While selecting a character is purely cosmetic, they differ from level to level, there are eight classes to select from each with their own skills and starting weapons.
Like Left 4 Dead, you start out with two weapons, a primary and a secondary, but as progress you’ll find higher tiers and even special weapons that will greatly help in decimating the zombie hordes. These are scattered throughout the levels in special crates and hidden areas and are well worth finding. Using these weapons will grant you experience and once they level up, you can unlock stronger versions which can greatly help you on higher difficulties.
Certain sections during the game will require you to fend off the horde for a certain period of time and this is where World War Z shines. It turns into a tower defense mode of sorts that requires you to place countermeasures before you’re ultimately surrounded. The defenses can be found in locked rooms or crates and while there are set areas in which you can place traps or turrets, there is just enough wiggle room for strategy. Just know that you may not have enough defenses to cover an entire section, which will force your team to focus fire while your defenses do the rest.
Once the battle begins, the horde will appear in spectacular fashion, hundreds of zombies will fill the screen with little to no framerate drops, and they will work to swarm your team. Success will require teamwork as the sheer number will overwhelm you. Throw in some special zombies that are literally ripped off from Left 4 Dead, and if you aren’t paying attention, you might find yourself downed and looking for help. These sections are fantastic and do an excellent job of making things claustrophobic as zombies pour in from everywhere.
Besides the campaign, there are competitive multiplayer modes that can be found in almost every shooter. The twist is that the zombie horde will occasionally make an appearance to add a bit of chaos to the proceedings. While the multiplayer is pretty standard, using the horde as a distraction against other players can be really fun. It’s worth a look and doesn’t take away from the campaign.
Currently, there are four missions in the campaign, while there are multiple sections and varying difficulty levels, it is still pretty light on content. With that being said, World War Z is actually a live service title and new content will be added throughout the year. So if you want more zombie mayhem, this is a title that will continue to grow as the year goes on and that’s a net positive even in it’s present form.
Next to Days Gone, this might be my sleeper hit of the year. It will remind you of Left 4 Dead for all the right reasons and has just enough originality to separate itself from its competitors. This is a title that you can pick-up and play at your leisure, it’s great for blowing off steam and is overall a really enjoyable experience. I was pleasantly surprised with how this turned out as most adaptations tend to be dead on arrival. World War Z is a solid outing all around.