It’s been over a decade since the book, six years since the movie, and only about a year since this game was announced, but the result was worth the wait. World War Z is the multiplayer zombie survival experience that you need right now. Saber Interactive has delivered an intense and dynamic third person shooter experience that can’t really be found anywhere else on current gen platforms. Everyone’s been calling this the closest thing to Left 4 Dead 3 we’re going to get, but I disagree entirely. World War Z is an experience that’s unique to itself and only adds more notoriety to the source material in a very big way. Let’s dive in.
WWZ takes place in the same universe as the book, following four different groups of protagonists across four different chapters. Each chapter takes place in real life locations, taken directly from the source material. All of the characters have different backgrounds, but nothing that’ll grip you much or make you care about them. The goal of the game isn’t necessarily to deliver riveting storytelling.
You and three other players dive into Jerusalem, Tokyo, New York, or Moscow, taking on a variety of objectives in order to survive the zombie hoards that plague the area. Escorting doctors to safehouses, searching for blast charges to open doors, even delivering car parts for a quick escape. All of these things basically act as obstacles in between killing zombies. They don’t take away too much focus, but they allow for something to do to keep you engaged.
The campaign is only about five hours long, but it feels justified given the limited amount of things your character can do. If you prefer playing solo, you have the option of playing offline with A.I companions. However, they are significantly less helpful than playing with real players. This especially becomes evident when the special infected show up, sometimes leaving them entirely up to you. The special infected work similarly to the ones in Left 4 Dead, bringing a little variety to the zombie slaying. Despite this, they feel almost like an afterthought, acting like more of a nuisance than a challenge.
The game’s big selling point is the monstrous amounts of zombies that can be on screen at any given time. This is due to Saber Interactive’s development of their own engine. The Swarm Engine was designed specifically with the task of bringing a large number of on-screen adversaries. They quickly come in waves of hundreds, most of the time with almost no warning. It’s never felt so gratifying to mow down such a large number of zombies. This game really captures the feel of an outbreak influenced zombie apocalypse. The way the zombies run, the noises they make, the way they react to damage, it’s unnerving and frankly amazing. They also come in from all around you, the scripting is adaptive to how well you’re doing and will generate more zombies based on your play style.
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by all the enemies rushing at you at once. This makes being in communication with your squad almost vital in order to succeed through the more dangerous parts of a chapter. There are six classes in the game that you can choose based on your preferred play style. There’s Gunslinger, Medic, Exterminator, Slasher, Fixer, and Hellraiser. The skill tree for each class is far more immense than what I would’ve expected from a game like this. This class system adds some replay value, especially considering that new episodes are said to be coming soon.
Where World War Z falls a little short is in it’s PVP experience. The first few days on the server, I couldn’t enter a game due to server issues. When I finally found my way into a PVP match, it just felt really stiff and unpolished. The character controls work well enough generally but you’re only allowed to vault over very specific scripted objects in the game world. This makes running from any enemy fire rather difficult. Zombies are still included in PVP action at more or less the same volume which makes things more dangerous and a little more fun, but interacting with enemy players is really the bane of this game, at least until the inevitable patch.
Although it has a shoddy A.I system, a rather short campaign, and a PVP experience that needs some work, at a price point of only $39.99, World War Z packs the action, urgency, and fan service that’s bound to bring you back. With more content coming soon, it’s best to hop on the wagon while it’s still moving. Find some friends and take down the infected in this gem of a co-op shooter.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
A review code was provided to GotGame by Saber Interactive for review purposes. If you like our reviews, check us out on OpenCritic!