World War Z Xbox One X Review

World War Z is all about mindless carnage as you plow through another wave of zombies.

By Grayshadow, Posted 16 Apr 2019

Without a doubt, it's hard to play World War Z without comparing it to Valve's Left 4 Dead series. Many of the similarities are here but Saber Interactive decided to take to those concepts and fleshed them out. Adding a leveling system and a larger variety of competitive options. It's a cooperative shooter with lots of things to kill and while that may sound mediocre it's done so well here. World War Z is all about mindless carnage as you plow through another wave of zombies.

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World War Z's main campaigns consist of 4 stories, each set in a different location during the initial outbreak. Players will take control of 1 of 4 characters in New York, Tokyo, Jerusalem, and Moscow. Each of the campaigns is separate from one another, with none of the characters within each campaign interacting with one another.

Much of the narrative is bare bones. The survivors are either trying to escape or survive the oncoming hordes of zombies. The backstories for each of the characters are just as simple. With short animated cutscenes provided after completed at least mission with that character. It's hard not to find a favorite, with each character having distinct looks and personalities. I especially loved Bunko from the New York campaign and Kimiko from the Tokyo narrative.

This is a cooperative survival title, with up to 4 players able to play through each campaign. The characters are merely cosmetic and players can choose whatever class they wish. Players can choose from 6 classes that include Gunslinger, Medic, Hellraiser, Fixer, Slasher, and Exterminator. Every class has its own progression tree and tiers for each skill set. Weapons also have distinct leveling trees. But you must earn points by completing missions to earn points that can be spent on these skills. This can be vexing as it levels gates skills unless you earned enough points to purchase the upgrades.

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The campaigns are diverse with a lot of Zekes (Zombies) to kill. Hordes of cannon fodder Zekes will come charging towards the player, mixed together with special infected. There are 4 types of special infected include the Lurker which ambushes players from cover, a heavily armored and powerful infected called the Bull that charges players and continuously slams them until killed.  Screamers will continually lure infected to your location until killed and finally, we have the Gasbags that sprew toxic gas until killed with a headshot. These special infected do add variety since they can punish teams that don't work together. The special infected are smart and will often single out players who like going in alone more than once. During one of my playthroughs, the special infected often targeted a specific player because he kept leaving us behind. It did seem strange that the infected are not distinct in each location, with all the infected sharing the same physical features. This is a small issue but seeing the same Bull in New York and Moscow did seem strange.

The regular infected are no joke either. During multiple times in the campaign, you'll encounter Swarms, a mass horde of infected that charge without any desire for personal safety. If not killed they can easily overwhelm and killed an entire team in a few seconds. The game does include multiple difficulty options but the game's AI director will alter the challenge based on the team's performance. If you're doing well, fewer items will be provided and if you're struggling you may find fewer Zekes on your path. This doesn't mean your current actions don't have consequences, the game is built around the commotions you make. Create more sound using unsilenced weapons will alert lots of Zekes to your location.

The campaigns themselves, while offering new locations, usually involve lots of busy work. Kill the Swarm, defend the location, or protect a target. The developers did attempt to resolve this by mixing up the location of items, objectives, and obstacles each time you play but you're doing the same tasks most of the time. More often you'll be placed in a specific location, asked to put up defenses, and kill the oncoming Swarm.

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Each of the campaigns takes around 1 hour to complete but are intended to be played multiple times for experience. If killed, you start from the beginning of the episode which is a specific section within the campaign. Death a severe punishment and if killed you lose your progress and all experience earned. But make sure you play with friends as the friendly AI is barely functional. The ally AI will shoot with insane accuracy but expect no more from them. They'll often remain inactive as special infected kills you, are unable to use stationary weapons such as turrets, and will always get in the way of your shots. Playing online isn't as easy, with the netcode for WWZ inconsistent but Saber Interactive have been made aware of the issues and are working on resolving it. We also experienced several bugs, 1 which prevented us from continuing forward and forced us to restart the entire episode.

The controls, animation, and sound design of World War Z are impressive. The controls are tight and responsive, with a sense of feedback when you swing your melee weapon or shoot. The sound design and animations are particularly amazing, with hundreds of Zekes filling the screen without slowdown and the game moving at a solid framerate. The musical score does get you involved with the action and taking a second to listen around will save your life as the special infected use specific sounds that give their location away. You do get the occasional disappearing zombie or body floating in mid-air but these are expected when you see hundreds of these creatures running towards you. The character's personalities may be bland but their models are intricately designed, with smooth movement especially when killing Zekes. Little touches such as an indicator to showcase your ammo count and speed of reloading are a great help. 

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If you want to try out the competitive field, Saber Interactive has included 5 modes in World War Z. This option is separate from the campaign and has its own leveling and class system. You have your traditional CTF, Team Deathmatch, and Domination. They're serviceable and add in the calamity of dealing with the infected along with human players. Oddly, no special infected are in the competitive mode and player locations are always highlighted on the map unless a Swarm is coming. Those hoping for a human vs. infected mode will be disappointed but that would a great addition for a future update.

We did find that the competitive options tend to be lopsided. During our 10 matches, we were often teamed up and put against players of varying skill levels. This would result in steep one-sided matches and without a penalty for leaving matches players will just drop instead of enduring the onslaught.

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World War Z is a fun zombie shooter that anyone can pick and play. It doesn't have an intricate story or deep characters but that's the point. It's about shooting zombies with your friends as hordes of the creatures try to best you. Even after 7 hours of playing, we're still heading into the campaigns for another round. The competitive options is a nice distraction but could use some distinct modes. World War Z takes existing concepts used in other zombie cooperative shooters and builds on them for a solid adventure with friends.

Review Copy Provided by Saber Interactive

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

World War Z

83/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Focus Home Interactive
Developer(s): Saber Interactive
Genres: Third-person Shooter
Themes: Zombie
Release Date: 2019-04-16

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