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State of Decay Hands-On Preview

by on 03/24/2013

State of Decay, probably one of the best games you haven’t heard of yet. The best part though – it’s getting closer and closer to release. Undead Labs brought State of Decay their XBLA/PC game that has you taking on long term survival in a zombie-infested world to the gamer-infested world of PAX East.

After playing it for only thirty minutes the depth of this game surpassed anything that I have played in the arcade.

You control a colony of survivors that you must get through the zombie apocalypse. There is no main character, but instead you control all characters that are part of your colony, they all have their skill sets and relationships you need to maintain, plus you can find new members for your colony (or deny them membership). These people will be a value to you, but as we learned the more people you have also means more responsibility and more maintenance.

Death is permanent as well though, so exhausting members or giving them a task they are not equipped for might cause their demise and hurt morale.

You can bark orders at the people in the colony having them build watchtowers, gardens, work benches, et cetera. Minus a few required facilities for your colony, you are able to customize your layout and what that base will have. All of these will offer perks and increase your chances of survival whether it be safety or food supply.


We only got a taste of what you could do with your colony, when I say it was in-depth what I am trying to say is this could be a strategy gamers wet dream maintaining morale, basic needs, and your base defenses. I barely scratched the surface and probably failed to mention things like supply cabinets and stuff to store goods.

The other aspect I experienced in my playthrough was the zombie killing. I started off with a rifle that had realistic range i.e. I couldn’t shoot someone from 300 yards away with the old rifle I was trying to hit them with. Because I still felt the need to try though, I was greeted with a horde of zombies at the back gate five minutes later as I long forgot that I rang the dinner bell for them.

After I got that out of my system I took another member of my colony to help go on a supply run. We jumped in a pick-up truck and started driving. You are in a large open world that is pretty rural, you will come across small towns and populated areas, but you will also find stretches of road and forest. It is a nice change from the typical open-world heavily populated, cityscapes, that most sandbox games offer, almost like Red Dead Redemption in the zombie apocalypse.

As I am driving through zombies and utilizing a move that allowed me to swing my car door open and smash zombies with as I drove by, I stopped at a gas station. I went inside and I was able to scavenge supplies, you hit Y to “search” and can even hold down LB to speed up the process at the cost of making more noise. After you search you get a pop-up that shows all that the area had, I only found food supplies when I played. When I did that though I had the choice to salvage the food I found to turn it into snacks to heal myself, carry it at the cost of slowing you down, or call for members of your colony to come pick up your find.

I decided to break it into snacks and keep looking, as I kept searching I came across a make-shift silencer to put on the pistol I had and was able to equip it immediately. There are 99 guns in the game and you can tell a lot of effort went into realism and uniqueness of each.

As I walked out of the gas station I started brawling with zombies. I would sneak up on them – yes stealth is a viable option and wise because it is stupid to try and fight every zombie, I could have probably went on five supply runs without killing a single zombie.

X did your basic melee, A did a more powerful melee which I used when I would sneak up on enemies, and you could also trigger LB+Y when they were on the ground our on their knees to finish them off with some unique/gorey animations.

I stumbled upon one of their special zombie types which was an obese mess that looked similar to the Juggernaut in the Wolverine Origins movie. Needless to say I demanded his death, I kept dodging with B to avoid getting killed as I tried shooting him with my pistol. He was not really phased and when I tried to melee he was pretty good about picking me up by the waist and trying to chomp on my neck.

…I ran for it, took a shitty little red car, and started ramming him. I hit him a good three or four times and thought that was the end of him…I was wrong. I jumped out of the car and thought I could finish him off with an axe attack, he picked me up by the waist and as I thought he was going to try and bite my neck, he grabs me with both hands and rips me in half.  An audible “Ooohhh!” was had and my playthrough was over.

They had to scrap multiplayer initially but it is not ruled out to be added later. They said they would love to let players play together especially with their main goal being making an MMO for consoles in the end, but they couldn’t do it right now. The best part was they didn’t just say A friend they said two or three friends. It is disappointing but understandable, I have a lot of faith in their being DLC at some point to offer this, and I think once people play it, this will be one of the biggest things requested in feedback.

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