[Opinion] Are You Ready For War Z?
With the zombie apocalypse seemingly enjoying a golden age of prosperity amongst gamers and mini-series fanatics alike, a new zombie survival MMO by Hammerpoint Interactive and Arktos Entertainment Group is currently under development – The War Z.
You wake up alone. Pitted against a world of undead scavengers and desperate survivors. Basic necessities such as food and water become a priority. You navigate towards the first signs of civilization. Or what’s left of it anyway. Perhaps you will find the resources needed. Perhaps a weapon or some medical supplies. All you know for certain is that night is approaching and time is of the essence. You see movement in the distance. One of the, countless, roaming corpses? Or survivors like you? But the real question is, “which is worse”?
This is the world of The War Z. Resources are slim and survival is not guaranteed.
In an interview by IGN, published on the 19th, senior members of the respective companies divulged information on their new upcoming zombie murder extravaganza which, to date, promises to be the first, real, stand alone zombie MMO to hit the PC gaming market (and as reports stand, ONLY the PC gaming market. Sorry consoles. No cupcake for you).
According to Eric Nordin, the Hammerpoint Interactive senior game designer who took part in the interview, the War Z universe is set five years into the aftermath of the undead outbreak, leaving cities and infrastructure dilapidated and the majority of the planets’ populous dead or on a brain binge.
What to Expect
The War Z, by all appearances, is attempting to recreate the emotional disparity and feeling of vulnerability that would be expected in a real-life zombie apocalypse scenario. Your objective is to survive. No more. No less.
Players can expect to see a cross-hybrid of an intense first (or third person) zombie survival shooter coupled with various RPG elements. These include but are not limited to skill trees and in-game currency, to be spent at one of the various “safe settlements” which dot the games’ map. The ill-gotten love child of Left 4 Dead and WoW if you will.
Along with the gathering of essential supplies, such as the aforementioned food and water, issues such as social mistrust also come into play when confronted by fellow players. This is because the game promises a strong PvP element and, while you can be sure of stumbling upon a friendly player from time to time, there is the ever present risk of real players wanting to gun you down in the forest and make off with all your instant spaghetti.
And death in The War Z is not recommended.
Two modes of play are intended to be implemented, namely “Normal” and “Hardcore” mode. Little has been revealed as to the perks and disadvantages of each as of yet but two things are clear: there will be separate leader boards, and death on Hardcore mode results in permadeath and permadeath is bad. Real bad. Normal players will only receive a lengthy cool down period upon death in which their character becomes inaccessible for an undisclosed period of time. Neither result is desirable to say the least but does effectively serve as to make death as costly as possible and, therefore, add extra pressure on the players’ will to survive.
One feature, which promises to set The War Z apart from other zombie survival titles, is the threat of player contamination with the zombie virus. While most other games in the genre have promoted a supposed “immunity” to the zombie disease on the part of the player, The War Z makes contamination a very real possibility and vaccination doesn’t come cheap.
Social interactions too seem to be a core focus in the game’s make-up. The standard chat function is included along with the ability to leave notes and messages scattered both throughout the game world and within the confines of safe settlements. These messages can be used to either assist or bait fellow players, effectively luring them into traps where rivals attempt to loot victims’ of prized possessions while cleaning the mud off of their genitals with a thorough tea-bagging session.
Clans can also be formed and, with that, so too can alliances and rivalries.
The maps also sound quite impressive and have been reported to boast an up-to 250 player limit. As of late only one map is intended to be released with new maps available for download as time progresses. These maps are intended to be based on real-world locations such as New York, Paris and so on, all in an attempt to ensure the acceptance of a world where all zombies are treated as equals and not judged on the basis of ethnicity.
Day Z Much?
The real question however, is whether or not The War Z is merely a capitalisation on the immense success of the zombie survival MMO Day Z, a mod for the military simulator, Arma 2. In case you are wondering what Day Z entails, you can simply read up for I have just described it. Near EXACTLY. An online zombie survival game in which the ultimate objective is survival which comprises of scavenging food, water, medicine, weapons and ammunition whilst fending off the undead horde and aggressive players alike.
Even the game titles are too painstakingly similar to leave a good taste in anyone’s mouth.
So is it a clone?
Well that depends entirely on you. According to the interview posted on IGN.com, Sergey Titov, the executive producer of Arktos Entertainment Group, stated that The War Z had been in production the year before the Day Z alpha mod was released this April and, while it is no secret that The War Z has been shaped by both the praise and criticisms of Day Z, there are many reasons to discourage its condemnation.
If anything, The War Z is a refined version of a concept that is Day Z. Seeing as Day Z is a mod, still in its’ alpha stage of development, for a game built to accommodate fans of realistic modern shooters rather than the dynamic world of a post-apocalyptic zombie holocaust, it does not entirely cater for its fan base in a way that The War Z can. The addition of a functioning social element, the exchange of goods and currency, the ability to level up, are all (arguably) important to the games platform and are all missing from the Arma 2 mod.
Perhaps The War Z is as much a Day Z clone as Call of Duty is a Battlefield clone. Perhaps I will be shot for saying that.
Currently internal alpha tests are being conducted and a closed beta is expected to emerge later in the year to be played by selected players who have pre-ordered the game. The official release is currently unknown but The War Z has been announced to only require a once-off payment with no subsequent subscription fees.
Let the slaughter commence.