The Walking Dead, alongside the likes of Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, is one of TV’s hottest shows in recent memory. Naturally, when it comes to anything popular, there’s usually adaptations of some form popping up left, right and center. For The Walking Dead, this first started with Activision’s (damn you) spin-off game, Survival Instinct, a game I wish that I could scrub from memory. Telltale had some much better luck with their fantastic episodic game format, and now, OVERKILL plans to get in on the popular zombie action too.
News of OVERKILL’s The Walking Dead first broke a number of years back, however set-back after set-back followed on until things went much quieter on its development front. This year, however, we’ve seen much more of the game and learned much more about, as well as learning of its release date. The game is set to arrive in the US on November 6th, before hitting the rest of the world shortly after, on November 8th. Though, when it comes to such a much loved and respected property, OVERKILL needs to ensure that they get things right.
I’ll admit, when I first learned that OVERKILL were handling a four player co-op take on The Walking Dead, I died a little inside. More so following their attitude toward the console versions of PayDay 2: Crimewave Edition. May that haunt you forever, OVERKILL, may that haunt you forever. It’s not that OVERKILL is a bad developer, on the contrary I quite enjoy the games that they craft, but their post-launch support and content plans have never been too great on console, or recently at least. Hopefully that’s set to change now that they’ve had their lashings.
After all, they’re going to be walking on egg shells following release of their latest offering, going from their recent history, that is, but enough of that for now. Let’s talk more specifically about what OVERKILL’s The Walking Dead needs to get right. Beginning this year, OVERKILL has unleashed a bevvy of intel regarding the upcoming shooter. We’ve seen four new trailers for each of the game’s playable characters; Heather, Maya, Aiden and Grant. Each of these characters brings their own unique and diverse skill-sets to the fields of play.
There’s also somewhat of a backstory for each character. Grant, the oldest group member, appears to be on the lookout for his lost granddaughter. Whether she’s dead or alive remains to be seen. Little is known about Heather’s backstory, but she’s certainly capable of holding her own, going so far as to overpower three human threats in total. Maya, again, little is known of her but her trailer suggests she’s the medic of the group. Finally that leaves us with Aiden, the all-round baseball bat wielding muscle of the group, or so to speak.
Sadly, OVERKILL has already pointed out that we’re not going to be bumping into any of the characters from the TV Shows; The Walking Dead nor Fear The Walking Dead. Though, this may well be a blessing in disguise. Though, it’s worth pointing out that the OVERKILL team has stated that they’re open to adding things in the game if feedback and demand is strong enough, so let’s not rule anything out beforehand. In regards to post-launch support and DLC on the whole, I hope we see a better model than what we’re used to from OVERKILL.
OVERKILL would do well, in my opinion, to slowly feed more into the backstories of these four distinct characters over time. Much like what we see from the TV Shows, I personally like the idea of going through the game with these characters, learning of their foundations and backstories, and then getting more from them as time moves on and new threats appear. That, rather than a static story that ends once the credits roll and the end-game content has dried up. Whatever the case, there’s no denying the heaps of potential here.
The game is of course set in the same universe as the comics, despite not sharing the same setting. Player’s will take to this four-player co-op multiplayer FPS within the confines of Washington, D.C. There’s going to be heaps of missions and raids to tackle, as well as saving stranded survivors and undertaking supply runs in an attempt to improve base camp. There’s some interesting gameplay mechanics thrown into the mix too, which, if anything, will make for some very tense and atmospheric encounters throughout the entirety of play.
This includes the game’s stealth elements, being that melee and silenced weapons will be the most sensible choice to adopt when taking on the living or the dead. Make too much noise, and you may find yourself attracting unwanted attention. That being said, silenced weaponry can break at any time, leaving players in some pretty sticky situations if they’ve not planned ahead. It’s hardly an original function and it’s something we’ve seen in a shed load of other games over the years, but it should work well enough here to hold its own.
During exploration, missions and raiding, players will have the ability to explore a host of buildings and structures. Here’s where you’ll be searching through cupboards, closets and anything else that is up for grabs, as you go about your routine. Outside of this there’s not a great deal of intel that we can withdraw from, which we assume will change as the months pass by and draw us closer to launch. Though, it goes without saying that there’s a lot of demand for specific elements to be included either when the game lands, or soon after.
If you ask me, despite OVERKILL stating that players will “own the zombie apocalypse” rather than survive in it, I would love to see some strong focus on survival horror traits. Taking from the source material, which does well to relay that very concept, it would be a shame to see this completely kicked to the side. It would also be nice to see some end-game mission variation, something akin to The Division’s Incursions or maybe even a fully-fledged raid or two. The game’s certainly an experience that could easily accommodate for that.
It’d also be great to see large, overwhelming portions of enemies on-screen at any given time. It’s a wildly different series, but Dead Rising 3 and Dead Rising 4 did a sound job at putting you in the middle of a shit-storm. I certainly don’t mind “owning the zombie apocalypse” but I want to feel as though I’ve earned it, rather than walking around like a Chuck Norris-esque bad-ass. That, and I truly wish to see remnants of the world as it once was. Notes, diaries and other tidbits to relay that sense of global-wide loss and despair.
The bottom line in all of this is that OVERKILL’s The Walking Dead looks to be shaping up nicely. There’s a solid foundation, some decent gameplay mechanics and a story arch for each of the characters within. However, I would hope that there’s a good balance to the gameplay, as well, of course, the stories of each individual. That’s not to mention the progression system, which for a game like this, needs to be pitch-perfect and make sense. I have every hope that OVERKILL will return to form with this game, if it’s executed well.
We need to feel as though it’s important, yet equally as daunting to step into the scary universe in search of fabled loot and supplies. We need to see content that doesn’t feel repetitive, which may be tough given that we’re only fighting humans and zombies. We need to hopefully see some harsher mission variations, such as the aforementioned Incursions-like format, and we need to be able to kit our chosen characters out using a wide range of different gear and weaponry. Though, I’m but one voice in a very large following.
Early impressions seems to point towards a very difficult game that takes some adapting to. Even when you’re being quiet, you’re still going to attract the attention of the dead and the living. Word on the street suggests that neither of these enemies will give you an easy ride and that teamwork and skill will be one of the only roads to success. That’s one thing that I’m really looking forward to seeing in action. Many games share the same element, but from what I’ve heard, teamwork is absolutely essential in this game, not just tacked on.
These are simply the things that I enjoy in the games that I play. This will indeed vary from player to player. Many will agree with me and many will disagree with me. I just hope that at the very least, there’s a meaning for every action that we take on, with heaps of risk vs reward. What would you like to see from the game when it lands? Do you have any specific requirements that you would love to see realized? Have you been impressed with what’s been on show so far? Sound off in the comments below to get in on the discussion.