Yes. Zombies… Again

State of Decay 2

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

State of Decay 2

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Having played the original, the first thing that came to mind was how alike the two games are. It has the same controls, the same gameplay mechanics, the same… everything. 

If you’re new to the series, State of Decay is a survival game set in a post- apocalyptic Earth, focused not on just your character but a community of NPCs. You’ll build bases and facilities for your survivors, while making runs out into the world to gather essential supplies. 

Base building is relatively unchanged from the original. Yet again, only certain locations can be used for your base. Depending on how big it is, you might need a certain number of survivors and reputation points (RP). While a bigger base is of course better, it also attracts a larger zombie menace. 

There are a handful of new facilities in State of Decay 2, mainly tied to Hero traits. For example, Trader unlocks the trading post for a set amount of RP each day. You can upgrade these facilities to make them more efficient. There are also mod slots now, enhancing your buildings in different ways. 

Upgrading to higher tiers requires survivors with specialized skills, which does logically fit the game’s theme. However, I played most of my first campaign without an automobile repair shop, simply because no survivor I encountered was a mechanic who wanted to join me. You can offset this by finding skill books for your survivors, but again, I never found a book I needed at the time I wanted them. It’s all so random. 

You’ll initially start the campaign with three survivors (four if you play the tutorial), but that number can climb if you persuade other NPCs to join you. Each survivor has their own set of stats and specializations that increase through gameplay. You’ll want to keep an all-rounded group to cover every contingency, though that’s easier said than done. 

While the urge to gather survivors like Pokémon will be strong, letting too many in can be detrimental if your base isn’t able to support them—experimenting is part of the charm. 

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Also, State of Decay 2 can now have survivors infected with the Blood Plague. It’s a slow, real-time countdown before the poor survivor turns into a zombie. You can cure this, but it takes five Plague Samples which are a rare drop from the Plague Zombies. You’ll also need an infirmary. It’s all a bit troublesome but it does add a welcome new element in the war against the undead. It could even make for harrowing situations if an important survivor gets infected. 

On top of facilities and your home base, are outposts, serving as staging points for your excursions into the world. You can only have limited number of outposts so establishing them at key locations and in specific buildings — different buildings have different passive perks — is key. 

Outposts serve as places where you can restock, stash loot, or change your active character. There’s nothing new to outposts in State of Decay 2, however, and I do wish they were more fleshed out. For instance, you can’t deposit resources, so you’ll still have to trek back to home base for that. 

In fact, the only new major gameplay features in State of Decay 2 are Plague Hearts and multiplayer support. The Hearts spawn in random locations on the map and are the cause of the Blood Plague, so it’s obvious you’ll need to destroy them. It sounds simple in theory, but they’re pretty resistant to guns and will summon tons of Plague Zombies at certain damage thresholds. The remaining Plague Hearts get stronger after each elimination too, increasing their durability and the amount of summoned Plague Zombies. 

As for the multiplayer, it’s a bit hit-or-miss depending on your crew. You can have up to four players but communication and cooperation is key for an enjoyable session. 

One of the biggest problem is that State of Decay 2 looks like a last-gen title. It’s bland with drab textures all round, and wildly fluctuating framerates too. Playing on a regular Xbox One, the framerate usually tanks when driving around. In fact, driving also triggers an obvious bug where zombies randomly spawn in mid-air before raining down when you approach. It’s pretty funny but a bug nonetheless. 

State of Decay 2 is a decent open-ended game to pass the time, but still quite unpolished and rough for today’s standards. 

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If you don’t want to play multiplayer co-op, you can set your game ‘offline’ and only use NPC survivors. Just make sure you don’t get too attached them. 

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Knights Family Drive-in is one of the many locations in State of Decay 2 that you can take over and build a base in. 

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Recommended for new players only, and those who can’t get enough for zombies obviously. 



Undead Labs 


Microsoft Studios 


Survival, Action, Strategy 


Windows, Xbox One 


Single, Multi