State of Decay 2: Zombies, permadeath, and resource management

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The game starts out with a pair of survivors of which there are four pairs to choose from. Once selected you’ll enter a zombie-infested compound that serves as a basic combat tutorial. Afterward, you’ll be prompted to choose a location for your first base, all of which have advantages and disadvantages though none of these are outright stated but can be implied from the names.

  • Foothills: Containing the most protected base, this map is said to be best for beginners. The base has high walls zombies can’t climb over, and locations are spread out, allowing players to sneak up on zombies. However, due to the distance needed to travel from outpost to outpost, getting a car early is critical.
  • Plateau: The largest and most difficult map of the game. Walls of your base can be scaled by zombies and due to buildings often being close together, zombie attacks can quickly become overwhelming.
  • Valley: Combining the best and worst of the other two maps, the Valley has ample resources but also ample zombies, especially special types. The base is apparently fairly easy to defend, but it’s not ideal, so switching to a new location should be a priority.

After your map is selected, you’ll set up your base, build an infirmary, cure characters of the blood plague and really begin play. The game does a good job of teaching you how to play with on-screen hints and notifications. However, the learning curve is still a little steep. Additions to your base don’t have good descriptions of what they actually do. There are also several items you’ll find where their use is uncertain. Resource management early in the game is frustrating, as your survivors will moan about not having anything and as soon as you gather one, they’re asking for another. Backpacks are also abysmally small and it reminds me of the storage management issues of No Man’s Sky.

Bringing another survivor and a car along can help with storage issues, but also comes with the risk of losing more should you run into trouble. When your character dies, they’re gone forever and with no manual save points, you can’t cheat and get them back either. If losing a playable character wasn’t bad enough, if you die then your base’s morale also suffers as everyone mourns the loss.