As a big fan of zombies and zombie culture, I was really excited to get a one-day pass for the alpha version of The War Z – an upcoming 3rd person, zombie survival MMO from Hammerpoint Interactive. Because it is still in Alpha, I wasn’t expecting a lot, just to sort of get a feel for the game and see how it stacked up against an already over-saturated niche.
The first thing I noticed was its striking similarity to the ARMA 2 zombie mod, DayZ – it’s clearly heavily influenced by the DayZ’s design and appearance. The War Z however, is a stand-alone experience, and one that I found interesting and irritating at the same time.
It starts you off by allowing you to create a character, and then let him loose on the world – or more accurately Colorado. You’re given minimal supplies – a granola bar, bandages, a flashlight, etc. – and basically left to survive in a world occupied by zombies. You would think that this would be scary, right? Wrong. While zombies in the movies are usually terrifying creatures that chase you and make life miserable, these zombies only attack in line of sight, and are extremely easy to kill. They attack in one animated motion, over and over, until you kill them. You aren’t given any weapons to start with, so you’ll find yourself beating them down with your trusty flashlight until you can scavenge a ball bat or hammer from somewhere. The combat engine feels extremely tacked-on, and very clunky. The animations are clumsy, and you’ll feel like you’re playing an early 2000’s FPS while the same attack animation repeats itself until your enemy is dead.
What you really need to worry about are the other people playing with you. Since this is an MMO, there are a lot of other players running around killing zombies as well. While the general concept is to work together to capture towns and supplies, the fact that this is an Alpha version with no real rules to follow regarding PvP turns it into an every man for themselves kind of experience. The zombies aren’t that bad, so often you’ll find players just hiding around the corner waiting to club you over the head and steal your things.
This is especially aggravating when you’re first starting out, and don’t really know what’s going on. You have your flashlight and nothing else, so as you’re looking for supplies, you will most likely get into a battle with another new player – the zones are similar for starting players – who doesn’t know what they’re doing. It ends in one of you dying and shouting at the screen as to why that player killed you instead of working with you.
All in all it was a less than appealing game, but also one that I only had limited time to experience. It will be interesting to hop into the beta when it arrives and see if has fleshed out any more. Until then though, I don’t think I’ll be playing any more The War Z.
This was only the Alpha version, so it may change completely in the near future! If you have a different view, let us know!