‘ZombiU’ Is Waypoint 101’s Next Game


#1

Battling zombies is a familiar premise, which makes games that do something original all the more interesting. Once upon a time, ZombiU was a Wii U launch title. The Wii U fizzling out, however, meant most missed a game that made zombies scary by ensuring every choice—firing a bullet, swinging a bat, looking at your inventory—had consequence. When you die, you respawn, but as a new character. Your equipment is gone, attached to the body that’s now turned a shambling corpse. Do you press on, or risk tracking down and killing your old self? Choices.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/3k54xv/zombiu-is-waypoint-101s-next-game

#2

As is mentioned in the article, it’s free for Xbox Gold members right now:


#3

Also, it was free on PS+ a while back, so many people might have it and have forgotten that they have it.


#4

Awesome. I’ve really been wanting to try and play this game (did some multiplayer when launched on the Wii U but that’s it). Will do it on Steam though.


#5

Oof, forgot this was gonna be a thing. Anyone know how long it’ll take to reach that part of the game? I’d like to fit it in soon if I can, but I’ve already more or less planned out what I’m playing in the near future.

And maybe hypocritically… I’m a little disappointed to see that it’ll only cover half of the game. If it’s going to only be one episode, which makes sense for getting them out more regularly, I’d rather it be about the entire game? It’ll be kinda unsatisfying to hear discussion of the first half if something worth talking about happens in the back half when I finish it on my own time.


#6

It took me about 4-ish hours to reach that point, and honestly once you get there you’ve gotten a pretty good jist about what the game is all about. I don’t think they’ll be missing much from not covering beyond the Tower of London as the story is not the draw and you’ll have been exposed to most, if not all, of the gameplay systems.


#7

Zombi is a fantasic game, even removed from the WiiU. Really excited to hear everyone’s thoughts on it.


#8

Downloaded it last night, looking forward to giving it a shot after hearing Rob’s thoughts a few weeks back and also looking forward to finally taking part in a Waypoint 101 :raised_hands:t4:


#9

PC version is also available for five bucks on Voidu at the moment. Requires U-Play, though.


#10

I’ve had the Wii U version sitting around in shrinkwrap for ages after picking it up on sale, so this seems as good an excuse as any to give it a try.


#11

Hey folks! We can start using this thread to start chatting about the game too, and I’ll be pulling questions and comments from here for when we record.


#12

Sounds good! I’ll start.

Was it just me or was the implementation of permadeath a little toothless? It’s a pretty neat little bit of window dressing to have the Prepper find a new minion to do his bidding whenever the previous one died, but there’s not much else to it in my opinion. Usually my death was on the way to a plot critical point, and so it wasn’t exactly going out of my way to find my old corpse, whack it a few times with my trusty cricket bat, and I’m made whole again. Add to that the fact that zombies don’t seem to respawn very often and the presence of shortcuts, it feels a bit unnecessary for the most part.

The only time it became a factor for me was in the arena where I died a few times and lost all my gear. But in that case it didn’t really feel fair as the game subverts its “death-respawn-corpse run” loop with no explanation or safety net for the player.

It felt like the designers wanted to introduce an element of soulslike games in this design but tuned it to be either inconsequential for the most part, or completely unfair in a certain sequence. I can’t say I’m a fan of the implementation.


#13

I’m going to play more but I’m a few hours in and this game feels like Mostly Bullshit.

Enjoyable bullshit. Kindof a “loving bad games” sort of bullshit that I’m on, as someone who specifically enjoyed malaria and gun-jamming in Farcry 2 I feel like this kind of jank calls to me, but nonetheless, it remains so distinctly Janky as all hell.

It’s obviously trying to have this really mechanics-focused philosophy for gameplay with the mechanical representation of tools and equipment and looting and the way the Prepper is largely showing you around for places where you’re supposed to find tools. I’m not sure if it’s heavily implied or outright stated that I’m supposed to return to these places, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much point in leading me to the location of the supermarket if I’m supposed to end up dropping a couple of planks and flares I was carrying to have surplus energy drinks on the way out that I then had to use to heal from the dangerous zombies that nearly killed me. (Thankfully I still had a flare handy.)

The reality seems to be that this game wants me to move through corridors, even if those corridors are in what’s supposed to feel like a more open building. I’ll admit, secret passages and the like do make these places feel more open. That doesn’t quite do enough to distract me from how rubble and the equivalent of missing door handles prevent access to what feels like natural routes for exploration.

I wish healing wasn’t such a strictly limited resource and I wish I had more close brushes with death. The statement, “I wish I could find more healing” might initially communicate that I’m running out, but I’m not. I have a huge pile of actual goddamn medkits both in my inventory and in my stash at home. My issue is that these feel like a strictly limited resource in the world. I don’t want to believe that if I use this healing then there’ll be exactly that much less health available to me in the game period. Maybe that’s a conjuring of my imagination, but the small-healing items that zombies drop doesn’t seem like it’d suffice in a situation where healing is actually something that’s going to save you from impending doom.

My issue is that it seems like to balance for that, the game contains very few moments where you’re seriously at threat. Only a couple of times have I ran away to put space between myself and some zombies. Most of the time it seems perfectly reasonable to stand and fight, managing use of the cricket bat’s alternative swing and push functions, or whipping out a handgun if endless swinging is becoming a drag.

It’s a hell of a thing to walk into a room that your scanner tells you has loot only for a screech to come from behind your ear as something swings at you, but it’s so ultimately inconsequential when the game has to manage how hard it hurts you with how accessible rewards are. It feels like DOOM, where in most stages there’s a surplus of ammo and healing (even if it’s not ammo for the specific gun you like) and occasionally you’re right on the brink, down on health and ammo, and have to take exceptional care in how you play to reach a point where resources are bountiful again. (ie. Switching from a handgun to a cricket bat until the loot piles back up again.)

This game seems like it has it’s intentions split between wanting to be a survivalist sandbox zombie survival game (closer to DayZ or STALKER games where you’re taking care of your equipment for when you need it) versus wanting to be linear story with setpiece encounters against enemies that you have to improvise to overcome like The Last Of Us.

In short, Waypoint, why would I plant a landmine if I have to come back through this corridor? Why would i board this door if I’m going to have to go back through it?

It’s not like the zombies are going anywhere.


#14

So I did the thing where I wrote a whole essay about the game club game again. Here’s a link to it on my Medium site.

Zombi Forgets that People are Usually Good Actually

The essay is about the dissonance found between plot and play in Zombi. Its story and setting is typical of routine doomsday prepper fantasies but its mechanical design makes the play experience more about collaborative resilience. I also kind of get into whether there’s a thematical difference between normal and survival modes.


#15

Noticed this game is €5 on EU PSN right now so was going to play along for the 101. Is the PS4 version decent or should I stick with PC?


#16

Zombi is a Wii U launch game that looks like an uprezzed Wii game, so I don’t think even a high-end PC is going to make it look great. The PS4 version runs fine, and that’s where I played through it (or at least until I got stuck at the endgame).


#17

I played a little of this last night and something about the controls feels off in a way I am powerless to accurately describe. Floaty is not quite accurate, but it’s close: there’s no real feedback to your actions apart from an occasional desultory kick of the controller rumble (which is so slight that I noticed the sound of the rumble motor kicking on more than the rumble itself).

Anyway, I got through the first couple intro missions and called it good - I just cannot muster the necessary fucks to give about a zombie apocalypse setting, for one, and for two the plot (i.e. this particular zombie apocolypse) didn’t really do it for me either. If I wanted a guy nattering at me over the radio about his doomed group of (supposed) do-gooders, I’d fucking play Bioshock. I was not particularly interested in looking over the environments, which are generic tunnels and narrow alleyways, and the whole death system is interesting in theory but honestly just made me vaguely anxious in the way that Dark Souls and its ilk does, except in Dark Souls there’s an interesting world to explore and controls that don’t feel bad.

Anyway, I might have just not been in the right frame of mind to play a zombie-survival game, although if I was I have better options (I see you Dying Light and I am filled with Regret because I still don’t have any intention of finishing you), so I might try to take another run at it and see if I feel any different, but my impression after the first 40 minutes is pretty unkind. Maybe there are some mechanics I’ve yet to discover that make it better, but I dunno. I’m very interested to see how the Waypoint crew sees things.

The moral of the story is that I should just play through Sunset Overdrive again because that did the whole post-zombie-apocalypse thing and made it arcadey and fun and colorful (even if the humor is super hit or miss). Or I should just go back to one of the Souls games.


#18

I played a few hours of it while streaming on PC yesterday and i think that’s the way to go about it with this game, for me at least.
The setting and boring art direction wouldn’t have kept me playing alone but while streaming i tend to slow down a lot and wade through even the worst parts of a game.
Now, I’ve not finished the game so these are mostly stray thoughts for now.

1. It would have been really cool if each new character had some small bonus depending on their profession in life. +1 to weapon skills for a police officer. Better healing items when used by a former nurse. Bonus armour if your builder still has their hard hat and steel toe caps.

It would have given more personality to each character and, given that the apocalypse has only just happened (or at least happened very quickly, with palace guards still in their uniform and house parties being ravaged without anyone realizing the world was ending) it would make sense for professional skills and equipment to carry over into this scenario.

2. The world seemed to very aware of John Dee’s wacko prophecy from the 1600s years before the plague hit. There are letters to the Queen from 2004 discussing it earnestly but essentially dismissing it.
The entire UK press was talking about this years ahead of time but the people that actually believed it were dismissed as crazies and the threat wasn’t ever actually considered?
And the Prepper and the ravens are painted at conspiracy nutjobs. In the same breath, the Prepper talks about the Queen being a lizard person AND John Dee’s prophecy. Except the prophecy was right, so they’re not just talking nonsense?
It’s presented alongside the ridiculous but the truth of it is staring/biting you in the face so it’s tough to ever get a read on the Prepper or the Ravens.
(although im very willing to step away from this one since im only a few hours into the game. they could tie it all up nicely.)

3. The previously mentioned boring art direction is somewhat saved by the fact that I grew up and live in London so the small details and flourishes are just charming enough to keep me in there. The London Underground sections are really faithful outside of the occasional nonsensical architecture. The standing info boards and wall mounted help points are a delight to see in game and the supermarket posters i mentioned in the “Little Things in Games” thread were a really nice detail.

4. The game has a lot of tutorialisation/communication issues that I want to believe are caused by moving the UI from two screens to just one. Early in the game, I thought i had soft-locked myself because the game was asking me to “scan the area” without any indication of how to do this. No prompts, no dialog, no UI pop-up despite every other action in the game having an associated key pop-up. When i did eventually figure it out, it involved my characters “info pad” thing, the game’s analog for the WiiU gamepad. I can only imagine that at this point in the game, the WiiU pad would have been flashing and beeping and telling me exactly how to scan the area, but that was never ported over appropriately.

On top of this, I’ve often found myself confused about what my actual directives are. A character would say i need to scan a zombie, but what i actually need to do is pick up some different piece of equipment from a drawer in the lab and THEN scan the zombie with the scanner I’ve always had. I could always do the action i was being asked to, i just didnt do minor, prior step that wasnt communicated outside of a single line of dialog. Only after that did my scan actually advance my progression

5. holy crap there is an awful layer of grime on top of this game that makes it pretty unpleasant to play?? its like the world worst film grain filter. i can deal with a gross, dirty environment but this feels like im wearing scuba goggles that i cant wipe clean.

i dont hate this game, but lord is it rough around the edges.


#19

I’ve put a couple hours into this game. Just made it to Buckingham Palace. Things were going smoothly up until the approach to the palace where I got two people killed. The instant death on a grab can be brutal. Luckily, zombies don’t seem to respawn, so getting back to that point and taking out your previous survivor hasn’t been too hard. I’m playing it on the WiiU and the second screen makes inventory management pretty fun, though I wish a had a couple more quick slots.

This game is extremely dark. I have the gamma set up much higher than the recommended and the flashlight is still barely effective. I like it when darkness is actually meaningful in games, but this is too much. It makes navigating the world frustrating and eye straining.

So far this game has some cool ideas, but isn’t very compelling.


#20

Man, that Tower of London bit was home to one of my favorite, most soul-crushing video game moments ever. I had a perfect run going. Still on my original character. (I’d played a bit on WiiU, this was my first time through on PS4.) Plenty of level-ups, plenty of good weapons, ammo, health items. I was going through the Tower, just about to reach the helicopter, and I got lazy. I opened a door without preparing.

I was swarmed. I fought them off as long as I could, but I didn’t make it. It was super exhilarating and kick-the-dog* frustrating.

I haven’t played the game since. I kind of feel like I’m not going to get any more out of it than that experience right there, even if I did end up beating it. My gal tried. She gave it a hell of a shot, and she failed. But that was it. That was the run.

So, if I had to submit a question to the WayPointer Sisters, it would be along those lines. Have you ever had a game, where you reached a point that wasn’t the game’s ending, but it was your ending, goddammit. I don’t mean in the “well, I feel like I’ve played enough to get this game” sense, but in the “this is how my game ends” sense.

'* - I would never actually kick my dogs. Or anyone else’s dogs. Or just any dogs, really.