With the Aftermath growth, World War Z is a a lot totally different recreation than when it debuted in 2019, and overwhelmingly for the higher. With extra episodes to rampage via, a higher number of playable courses, and dozens of main quality-of-life enhancements (like zombies not having the ability to pull you off ledges and devour you in probably the most unfair method conceivable, for instance), there’s so much to like about it as of late. Aftermath is the following main step for this sleeper hit and one which principally succeeds at shifting the zombie-filled shooter in the correct course. That mentioned, with ongoing online points, forgettable tales, and a few gameplay rising pains, it nonetheless has loads of room to develop.
One of the extra noteworthy issues Aftermath provides is 2 wonderful new campaigns that take you to reclaim Vatican City in Rome and to the totally dismal wastes of Kamchatka, Russia. As with earlier episodes, these episodes are difficult, heart-pounding nightmare eventualities that pit you and as much as three co-op buddies towards actually hundreds of zombies whereas setting traps, managing sources like med kits and grenades, and attempting desperately to not blow your self up by firing a rocket launcher at point-blank vary.
Rome is the extra by-the-numbers of the 2: it takes a widely known vacation spot, provides it regardless of the reverse of a facelift is, then allows you to and your mates blast your method via it for amusing. Aside from the brand new sights, sounds, and large flaming pits stuffed with zombies, there isn’t a lot to tell apart Italy from different locations. It’s nonetheless good ol’ normal face-smashing enjoyable with a number of highlights, like when you must information and refuel a van via the streets of Rome whereas below fixed undead assault. Nothing actually caught with me very lengthy after I beat it, although, besides possibly these flaming pits stuffed with useless zombies; these would possibly give me nightmares.
The frozen tundra of Kamchatka, on the other hand, has some really memorable moments, like one area where a blizzard causes you to take damage just for being outside for short periods so you’ve gotta race between heaters while fighting off waves of brain-eaters. There’s also some great puzzle sections that require teamwork, like one where your crew has to use a flamethrower to melt doors that’ve been frozen shut while the others provide cover fire, or another where you have to fix an electrical grid by finding and pulling levers in the right order. Fairly straightforward tasks quickly become formidable undertakings with the constant threat of zombie hordes, and the best-laid plans can become a comedy of errors in no time at all. Compared to the fairly straightforward design of Rome, it was really nice seeing the developers have some over-the-top fun with Russia.
Even when the new episodes are at their best, though, Aftermath still fails to improve in the way of storytelling, which is still as disappointing as it’s ever been. Precisely zero characters are fleshed out or interesting in any way, and their dialogue is campy and mostly serves as background noise while you run around shooting things. In fact, I feel like 90% of the time I heard a character speak, they were politely reminding me not to accidentally shoot them in the head. Cause, y’know, friendly fire is a pretty common mishap when you’re fighting thousands of zombies in claustrophobic areas and the characters will never not comment on it. I’m all for some mindless fun and World War Z has that in spades, but telling actual stories in the style of Left 4 Dead would make the world feel more worth saving.
My personal favorite addition in Aftermath, though, is the addition of an optional first-person mode, which breathes new life into every aspect of World War Z. Getting up close and personal with the flesh parades you square off against adds a whole new level of panic from behind the eyes of your character. As an FPS fan, I felt right at home taking on the horrors of the apocalypse this way, and it gave me another reason to go back and replay World War Z’s older episodes.
World War Z: Aftermath Review Screenshots
The caveat here is that, for whatever reason, aiming down the sights of your weapons has been curiously left out of first-person mode. Lots of guns have scopes, but instead of looking down them, you look down the side of the weapon, which feels very odd, clunky, and downright unsatisfying. It’s especially weird since ADS already existed in World War Z on some weapons, like the sniper rifle, so it’s not like looking down scopes just isn’t something you ever did in third-person. For all the added immersion the first-person perspective gave me, I was pulled right out of it again when I found myself looking past my scope during combat. I seriously cannot overstate how weird that felt, no matter how long I played; I probably muttered something like “So we’re just not gonna use that scope, huh?” a dozen or so occasions per play session.
Aftermath additionally provides some welcome modifications to the sandbox within the type of an eighth character class referred to as the Vanguard and a few new melee weapon choices, each of which succeed at evolving the close-ranged fight. As the title implies, the Vanguard is all about getting up within the enemies’ faces and comes outfitted with an electrical defend that you should use to cost via dozens of zombies or block pathways by turning your self right into a human barricade. It takes a little bit of ability to get the cling of, as I discovered from my many ill-advised dives into piles of zombies, however mastering it’s lots of enjoyable and will be invaluable in holding your group alive. Whereas different character courses shortly develop into Zeke lunch at shut vary, the Vanguard is rather more viable, even when the excessive threat/excessive reward concerned won’t be for everybody.
The new melee options, though, are just a good time all around. Now featuring dual-wielded weapons like the sickles and heavy weapons like the sledgehammer, the melee system has been completely revamped with a perk system that helps you flesh out your playstyle. Using the sickles for example, allows you to attack faster and less lethally than other melee weapons, but has a perk that heals your character when you get killing sprees; the fire axe, meanwhile, is slower and more lethal and carries a perk that makes you more effective when fighting Zekes that are on fire. The improved melee system adds some much-needed variety to gameplay and also slightly improves the viability of close-range combat in general, which previously was only used by those with a nagging death wish. That said, you still won’t be able to tackle the undead masses with melee alone unless you’ve really optimized your Vanguard class around it, but it does help to get you out of the occasional bit of unplanned face-to-face time with a zombie or two, which is a godsend.
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While most of Aftermath’s contributions to World War Z are welcome, one particularly simply left me scratching my head: rats. That’s proper: large, black rats with tails and the whole lot. Y’know, these creepy issues from A Plague Tale: Innocence and likewise my house in school. I actually don’t know why the builders thought these had been vital so as to add, however now roaming packs of ravenous rats will generally spawn in a stage and simply begin consuming your face proper off. Since they’re a horde of tiny enemies that may’t simply be killed with bullets, the one actual protection towards them are explosives or flamethrowers, which aren’t all the time available. Sometimes a wonderfully good run of a stage will unexpectedly be interrupted by a swarm of rats that begin consuming your teammate, which wastes your precious therapeutic kits and ammo, or – much more embarrassingly – straight-up killing your complete group. To be truthful, the randomness of the rat swarms will be fairly entertaining and are undoubtedly not with out their novelty, however truthfully, I’d quite in the event that they weren’t there in any respect.
Far extra disappointing than a herd of furry rodents although, is that the online expertise in World War Z continues to be extraordinarily rocky in Aftermath. I used to be fortunate to have a bunch of buddies to play with most occasions, and though loading into ranges and holding a secure connection will be tough now and again, it’s nonetheless a principally serviceable expertise while you carry your individual group. But if you happen to’re hoping to matchmake with others, issues go from workable to painfully damaged. You ought to count on extraordinarily lengthy wait occasions to get matched up with others or generally simply ready within the foyer infinitely. Your finest wager is to only start a public recreation and await others to affix partway via – a way that isn’t solely not as enjoyable as doing the entire stage with a full group, but in addition isn’t a assure and also you would possibly find yourself going via your entire factor with AI-controlled bots that may’t struggle their method out of a moist paper bag. The various to this painful online expertise is to play fully solo with AI to depart nothing as much as likelihood, however that is an equally dangerous time, so that you’re left to decide on between the lesser of two evils. So carry your individual buddies, or be ready for a headache.