Title: World War Z
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Zombie, Third-Person Shooter
Official Site: https://wwzgame.com/en/
Release Date: April 16th, 2019
Where to Buy: PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, Epic Games Store, Retail
From what I’ve seen, World War Z was poorly marketed. Not many people know about it and that’s a shame because World War Z is one of the more entertaining zombie genre titles to release in quite some time.
Is World War Z a Left 4 Dead Clone?
I’ve seen a ton of gamers and critics compare World War Z to Valve’s acclaimed Left 4 Dead series. I hate to just tell you all the same thing but they are 100% correct. The atmosphere, the enemies, and even of the game’s core mechanics closely resemble Left 4 Dead. Here are just a few of those comparisons I found during my playthrough.
- 4 player co-op where teamwork is needed to survive
- Each mission has you go from safe area to safe area with certain objectives to complete in-between.
- Specialty zombies like the Lurker, Gasbag, and Bull are very similar to L4D’s own unique enemies
- A big finale at the end of each chapter with a massive horde to fight
- Weapons and med-kits can be found throughout the map
We’ll get into where World War Z differs from Valve’s zombie franchise here in a second but these similarities have to be addressed. I love Left 4 Dead. It’s one of my favorite gaming franchises of all-time and holds some of my favorite gaming memories. The L4D franchise was made to be this simple experience where you and your friends could just chill out for an hour or so and mow down the undead. It was also geared towards a more casual audience. You didn’t have to know easter eggs or certain codes to get through sections of a mission. I’m not knocking games like CoD: Zombies for this, as I’m a huge fan of that series as well. It’s just a different type of zombie game.
No game has been able to replicate Left 4 Dead’s success from that pure entertainment stand-point. Many have tried. Many have crashed and burned. Although World War Z has its problems, it is the closest we’ve gotten to a Left 4 Dead 3. And this isn’t a complaint. Actually, it’s the exact opposite. I applaud Saber Interactive for taking what Turtle Rock Studios/Valve created and building on it in a few impressive ways.
This Swarm Engine is just outstanding. Even if you absolutely hated everything else about World War Z, this engine is worth praising. Watching hundreds of hundreds of zombies flood your screen overwhelms you each and every time you play. I mean, look at this:
That’s insane and you see this in almost every one of the game’s 11 chapters.
While Annoying at Times, the Gameplay is Fun and Addicting
What makes or breaks games like World War Z is the gameplay. How is the shooting? Is it too tedious? How annoying are the characters? All of that kind of stuff.
Let’s cover the shooting and gameplay all in one fell swoop. World War Z’s gunplay is fun and fairly smooth. The third-person view almost gives the shooting a vibe more along the lines of Tom Clancy’s The Division (which strangely works). You can crouch and be more silent in some areas so you don’t alert the large hordes of the undead. Or, you can just go in and blast your way through the level. It’s completely up to you.
My only complaint here is that your character moves so sluggishly. And I don’t necessarily mean that you move slow. I guess what I’m saying is that your movement is seriously limited. You can’t jump. You can’t dodge. Because of that limited movement, sometimes you are just a sitting duck for these specialty zombies. The mission design, while a little repetitive at times, is great. To be fair, it’s hard not be repetitive with a game like World War Z but with these excellently crafted missions, you barely notice it. You slowly build up to these epic final battles against the horde, preparing your final defenses and painstakingly watching as the floodgates are opened up.
Whether you are on the toughest difficulty or on easy, teamwork is key. As one person trekking off alone, you probably won’t make it too long. A lurker or a bull will quickly stomp out any hopes of this. There’s not much of a compelling story for World War Z. However, I didn’t need one. I was satisfied with the 4 narratives in the game. These aren’t in-depth stories that I’ll remember for years but they’re not so convoluted that they overstay their welcome either. My favorite was probably the Tokyo episode, where you play as 1 of 4 survivors trying to make their way off of the island and rescuing anyone they can along the way. Unfortunately, this was the shortest episode with only 2 chapters instead of the usual 3.
I’ll say one final thing about the gameplay. When you are overwhelmed by a horde with a few specialty zombies thrown in, you actually feel overwhelmed. In most zombie games, you have the confidence that you’ll be able to get through this huge wave of enemies and complete the level. That’s not the case with World War Z. At times, I didn’t have that confidence and it made World War Z a lot more unpredictable.
Customization Adds to the Replayability of World War Z
Customization is another thing Saber adds to the L4D formula. First off, we have these unique classes. Gunslinger, Hellraiser, Medic, Fixer, Slasher, and Exterminator. Each class is outfitted with its own upgradable skills and equipment, giving you an actual reason to continue playing long after you beat the game (the fun gameplay helps with this too).
We also have customizable weapons, where you can upgrade your guns as you level them up in missions. Just like the classes, this gives you something to strive towards. I do wish World War Z had more customization in this department though. Maybe with some cool weapon skins or even the ability to change the outfits for each of the 16 characters. This is something that could always be added in though.
PvP Needs Some Work
Along with the 4 episodes, World War Z also has PvP multiplayer featuring some of your standard modes and zombies. Mostly, the multiplayer is a dud because it’s where all of the gameplay’s faults are highlighted. Like I said before, you have limited movement. This is forgivable in the PvE but this really becomes frustrating when you’re trying to push to objective C in a short amount of time only to be easily killed because another player simply saw you first. You can’t jump or maneuver to avoid incoming gunfire. The maps are lackluster. Time to kill is way too long. And those classes that you loved so much in the PvE portion also feel watered down as well. Overall, the PvP multiplayer felt tacked on and I would have much rather seen the time and effort put into more of the incredible PvE mode.
Verdict: World War Z takes what made Left 4 Dead so beloved and builds off it in their own way. Although the gameplay is fantastic, the customization gives you another reason to replay these 4 episodes over and over again. I applaud Saber Interactive for this exceptional Swarm Engine as it most certainly gave the gameplay a huge boost. This is the first game since the original Left 4 Dead to capture that “pure entertainment” feeling. Turn your brain off, chill out, kill some zombies with your friends, rinse and repeat. It certainly has a few problems that can’t be ignored but, at its $40 price point, World War Z is definitely worth considering.
- Captures that L4D atmosphere
- The gameplay is fun and addicting
- Excellent mission designs
- Swarm Engine
- Customization adds to the game's replayability
- $40 price is perfect for a game like this
- PvP felt tacked on
- Customization could always be improved
- Character movement is a bit limited