World War Z Review

Posted by: Sam Tree | 29 April 2019

Focus Home Interactive

Saber Interactive

Release Date:
April 16th 2019

4 player co-op

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Reviewed On:
PlayStation 4

World War Z is a third-person co-op shooter that pulls heavily from the Left 4 Dead series; a fact it doesn’t try to hide. Four survivors, swarms of zombies and special infected. What more could you need?

I should probably start by letting you know that I’m a huge Left 4 Dead fan. I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve sunk into that franchise, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for a third instalment in the series. Unfortunately, Valve is incapable of counting to three and Turtle Rock is working on their own zombie title so more adventures with Zoe, Lewis, Francis, and co are quite unlikely. Enter World War Z.

It’s clear from the get-go that World War Z borrows heavily from the L4D playbook and is unashamed in doing so. It’s a formula that works well and despite the obvious switch from first-person to third-person, there isn’t too much difference.

By this point, if you don’t know how to play a zombie shooter you’ve failed at being a gamer. Sorry, but it’s true. And Saber Interactive seem to agree with that sentiment. Over the course of the game’s eleven or so missions, players are given little to no heads up of how to play the game. From the get-go you’ll need to adapt to the various situations that are thrown at you, making for a tense experience at times.

World War Z has been marketed as a four-player, story-driven co-op experience and from my time with the game, it really holds its own when played with friends. Other than the towering zombie pyramids, WWZ does little in the way of breaking new ground in the genre but playing with a group of mates really brings out the best of it. Sure, playing with random gamers from around the world works but often I found many of them lacked the clear direction or comradery needed for the genre. I lost count of the number of times I was pinned by a special infected and my so-called teammates abandon me to die alone.

Playing with people you know felt more rewarding. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and would actively work to cover one another. I’m fairly confident that should the dead arise we’d be well prepared.

Much like Left 4 Dead, World War Z also features a number of special infected in addition to the masses of standard undead. These creatures have been designed to disrupt any well-made plans and will often target a lone survivor. They’re also near identical to Turtle Rock’s creations as well; though not as memorable or clearly defined.

The Bull is a heavily armoured zombie in riot gear and charges at players; grabbing one along the way and slams them to the floor, the Gasbag is identified by his bright yellow HAZMAT suit: killing him will release a cloud of poisonous gas, while the Creeper hides out of sight waiting to pounce. Sound familiar? Even the Screamer is based on a special infected that didn’t make the cut into the final L4D series – though in this case the zombie has been infused with a megaphone, which it uses to alert swarms. But despite their similarities, they don’t seem all that difficult to take out.

The same can be said for the generic infected. One to two zombies are easily handled. Go silent and you can sneak past a lot of the stragglers; but at certain points in every mission, you’ll need to make stand against the waves of infected. And I mean that in the literal sense. Swarms of infected cascade around corners, over terrain and anything else in its way. Thousands of zombies flow like water with a single mindset: kill the survivors. To this end, they’ll run through fire, gunfire and they’ll even hurl themselves from buildings to reach you. Most impressive are the Zombie Pyramids. Countless infected use one another as stepping stones to climb verticle surfaces. Taking out the lower zombies will hinder their progress- and at the risk of sounding like a psychopath – there is an odd satisfaction in opening fire on so many undead.

With all of the similarities, however, Saber Interactive has added some additions to the game to make it its own in the form of a character class and upgrade system. By choosing one of the six character classes players are given the opportunity to act as support or offence. From the medic class designed to keep your fellow survivors alive, to the Hellraiser; armed with C4 explosives to see you through. This is perhaps one of the main difference between WWZ and Valve’s Left 4 Dead – the character progression.

As you progress through each mission the character class you’re playing as gains EXP. After every level up you’re awarded a number of in-game credits which can be used to unlock class abilities or weapon upgrades. And while this is a great idea and rewards players for supporting their team; the execution of it feels tedious due to the copious amount of grinding required to get anywhere. If you want to master an entire class it will take some devotion.

While World War Z shipped with four main campaigns – which break down into eleven missions in total – the story sections can be completed within five to six hours and don’t offer a lot of replay value if you’re playing by yourself. Granted, each scenario feels different – Moscow requires you to locate and escort another team of survivors through the city, while New York sees you clearing the path for a subway train – but overall, once you’ve played through each contain a couple of times there is little reason to keep going back; other than grinding to level up your class and weapons to advance through the higher difficulty settings.

All in all, World War Z is an unashamed imitation of the Left 4 Dead series; but don’t take that as a slight; after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Saber Interactive has tried to add more to the genre with the addition of character classes and weapon upgrades but the constant grind to get anywhere is a little off-putting. If you have a group of like-minded friends to take on the swarms of undead then WWZ is a great way to kill a few hours; if you’re relying on random matchmaking it can be a bit hit and miss.

The Good
  • The zombie swarms and zombie pyramids are impressive
  • Option to specialise in a character class
The Bad
  • The special infected don't stand out against the average zombies
  • Upgrading can be a grind
Similarities to the Left 4 Dead series aside, World War Z is a solid entry into the Zombie Shooter genre
This review is based on playing the PlayStation 4 version of World War Z that was kindly provided for review purposes by Focus Home Interactive.

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