In order to properly understand The War Z, it is important to look at its context. Not only does it more than just slightly resemble the wildly popular ArmA II mod DayZ in concept, but it’s managed to drum up its own additional controversy leading up to and following its release. My personal favourite incident was when the game’s executive producer, Sergey Titov, called the game’s spawn campers “faggots” on the game’s official forums. He since apologized and insists that he has nothing against homosexuals, claiming it was simply a poor choice of words. But beyond the hullabaloo and accusations that have surrounded the game since its announcement last year is a far more disappointing truth: The War Z in its current state is a poorly designed game with terrible production values.
First off, the core ideas that strive to make the game unique have been lifted directly from the far superior DayZ. It strives to be a stealth-orientated survival horror, but it fails at almost every turn. For the uninitiated, the game is an online survival horror game set against the backdrop of Colorado’s outdoors, which is inhabited by zombies and other players. Up to 100 players can occupy a server at any given time. Scattered across the map are forests, rivers, and various settlements. The idea is to explore and survive. Along the way you will collect items and level up your character. Core to the game’s design philosophy is the idea that when you die, you lose everything. So in concept, it sounds like DayZ. In execution, however, it is horribly inferior.
Firstly, the game looks like something that would have looked average had it been released on the PlayStation 2 nine years ago. Blocky buildings, shoddy textures, and laughable character animations are the order of the day. The audio is also woefully inept, although in fairness, you are bound to be amused by some of the sound affects which are among the worst I have ever heard.
But the game’s biggest downfall is its poor design. You are thrust into the world without a clue of what to do. This is annoying, but in DayZ it is forgivable. One of The War Z’s biggest problems is the unashamed spawn camping. In The War Z, your average life expectancy is not very long, but even a novice player like myself has enjoyed a few games where I managed to achieve some momentum and do some decent exploring. Most of my sessions ended with me being gunned down in the first ten minutes from an unseen player. In fact, the zombies are really a peripheral concern in The War Z.
One of my biggest issues with The War Z is the game’s currency system. The game has a cover fee, as well as micro-transactions, but here’s the kicker: certain basic functionality has to be purchased using currency that you cannot earn by playing. For example, if you want to be able to invite players to join your clan, you will have to purchase in-game currency. This currency can also be used to purchase items, but you lose these when you die, and you die often, so it’s a broken system.
We felt like it wasn’t really fair to publish a full review of The War Z in its current state. Various systems are horribly broken, and the game is riddled with bugs, so we’re hoping Hammerpoint can transform it into something more playable over the next few months. Until then, we recommend avoiding this one at all costs.