What’s that? OVERKILL, the people behind PAYDAY and PAYDAY 2, are doing a zombie game? Considering the fact that PAYDAY 1 is kinda like Left 4 Dead but with zombies that shoot back at you, the thought of an OVERKILL zombie game actually sounded incredibly awesome. Sure, I don’t play much PAYDAY but it’s zombies? How could they go wrong?
Well, there’s lots of ways they could go wrong.
Aabicus very kindly gave me access to the beta, and we played a little together, trying both missions and wandering around the camp area, where there were some things we might be able to buy in the future. We didn’t manage to successfully complete the missions, but honestly, after our first few attempts, we kinda got bored.
OVERKILL’s The Walking Dead, which I’m now shortening to OTWD because that’s a longass name, is in beta. Right now you can visit a base camp in Georgia and play two missions – a defend the base mission and a mission in which you steal back your camp’s water purifier, which employs more Left 4 Dead-like gameplay, wandering through a map laid out in front of you. There are also plenty of zombi- I mean walkers and enemies wandering around. We have a choice of four characters, a Scout, melee-based Tank, a Technicial and a Medic. They seem to get their own melee each, as well as proficiency in different weapons. The starting weapons are a revolver and pistol as secondaries, and a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle and a crossbow.
None of those weapons are particularly useful.
I’m going to be blunt here, because OTWD annoyed me at how long it took to kill just one walker. Blows to the head didn’t kill them particularly quickly and body shots were literally pointless. Ammo is pretty scarce, especially if you’re using the Crossbow, which starts with 5 ammo in reserve. Anything that isn’t silent instantly attracts more walkers. But you also attack slowly and guns take a while to reload as well. You’re incredibly weak and walkers are very tanky. There’s also a lot of them. At least you can kinda juke them and often you can just run straight past them, but I noticed we just attracted more walkers the more we just juked them, because they can see players quite clearly. We needed to get into a defensive position and slowly batter the walkers down, one or two at a time.
The walkers would be okay on their own. Unfortunately there are NPC humans. With better guns than you. That don’t care that their guns are loud and instantly attract more walkers. The humans do die in one shot to the head, but unless you’re using the crossbow and sneak up on them, they’ll have fired shots and lured a bunch of walkers, and everything wants to specifically kill you.
This all leads to a weird gameplay scenario where I can’t tell what we’re supposed to take fast or slow. There’s no infinite sprint, meaning you can’t run forever, and you certainly can’t just run and gun because there’s not enough ammo to do so. Sneaking only kinda works, but walkers tend to attract more and more even if you do sneak perfectly.
Playing OTWD is a game of patience and caution. You really have to take things slowly. Except when you’re being screamed at to close gates that are pretty much instantly broken down by walkers. The way those walkers break in during the Defend the Camp mission makes me wander how they even managed to settle long enough to start growing things. What annoyed me in this very basic mission though was that none of the activation prompts seemed to work. Or they only worked when they wanted to. We ended up failing because I simply couldn’t get the prompts to pop up so I could lock the gates. I had planks, I had all the right stuff, but I couldn’t do anything to actually close the gates, even after clearing all the walkers.
Actually, this gives me an opening to talk about the game’s general interface.
It makes no sense. You start off on a map with missions available as nodes. The camp site and the two mission nodes. But while at the camp site, you can go back to the map by walking out of the gates. Which is weird. This actually happens kinda without warning, when I first did it, I assumed the counter would put me in a mission or a new area or something. Took forever to load as well.
Actually the loading times in general were pretty mediocre.
The rest of the UI is various shades of grey and red. Some of it doesn’t seem to do anything because it’s a beta. It’s not obvious where you can accept missions. Everything’s kinda small and grainy or huge, with nothing in between. Since everything is grey and red, you can’t always tell what actually IS clickable. Oh and the cut scenes, which are all pretty long, are unskippable.
The worst thing of all though? The in-game cursor. It’s useless! It’s a ring, so you have no idea where you’re actually pointing! I found myself relying on vague changing colours to make sure I was clicking the right thing because the in-game cursor is huge and inaccurate!
My verdict? Leave it for now. OTWD needs a LOT of work before it could be considered a worthy purchase. I know what we played was a beta, but it really makes me worried for the future. Maybe the game will blossom, but there are changes that have to be made before that can happen.