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State Of Decay: Breakdown Gives You As Much Time As You Want To Dig Your Own Grave [REVIEW]

By Scott Craft on November 30, 2013 10:01 PM EST 0

Get our thoughts on State of Decay: Breakdown, the highly-anticipated first expansion for State of Decay, and find out whether or not we recommend spending your cash on the first official State of Decay DLC from Undead Labs.
Get our thoughts on State of Decay: Breakdown, the highly-anticipated first expansion for State of Decay, and find out whether or not we recommend spending your cash on the first official State of Decay DLC from Undead Labs.

Just weeks after making its official PC debut, State of Decay has already become the recipient of its first official add-on, following the Friday debut of Undead Labs' highly-anticipated State of Decay: Breakdown expansion on both Steam and Xbox Live.

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Like many, I've been anxiously awaiting the State of Decay: Breakdown release date, preparing myself for the hours I was certain I'd lose to a State of Decay experience that shed the base game's less-enjoyable narrative moments. Fortunately, that's exactly what Undead Labs delivered with State of Decay: Breakdown, though anyone hoping to see the team drastically grow/expand upon the mechanics introduced in the base game might walk away from State of Decay: Breakdown a bit disappointed.

Unfortunately, State of Decay: Breakdown wasn't quite what I expected it to be; though it was still a welcome opportunity to return to what I still whole-heartedly believe is one of the best zombie-survival games in the history of the medium. I'm not sure how much time I'll spend battling the undead now that my State of Decay: Breakdown review is complete, but can absolutely see how the first State of Decay add-on could become quite popular.

Full Disclosure: The copy of State of Decay: Breakdown used for this review was provided free-of-charge by Undead Labs and Microsoft Studios.

Just in case you've somehow come this far, without playing either the Xbox 360 or Steam versions of the game, here's a bit of basic information about State of Decay. The debut project from Undead Labs sees players rounding up, feeding and protecting a group of survivors who all get stranded in a small Indiana town just a few weeks after a zombie outbreak has taken place in North America. Rather than assuming the role of any one protagonist, State of Decay forces you to cycle between survivors, and each member of your camp will have different stats and perks that make them more/less suitable for specific tasks. You'll gather supplies, clear out nearby zombie infestations, and generally do your best to keep your camp running while the group tries to figure out what comes next.

To say the game did gangbusters at the cash register would be an understatement. To date, Undead Labs has sold more than a million copies of State of Decay, easily making it one of the most popular video games to be largely ignored by the gaming press at large. Now, Undead Labs is hoping to meet the demands of tens of thousands of fans, all of whom have been clamoring for a means to test the limits of their survivability in State of Decay's post-zompocalyptic game world.

In State of Decay: Breakdown, Undead Labs has tossed most of the narrative trappings of the base game's campaign, giving State of Decay players a chance to one-up each other in a new Sandbox mode that tests your ability to survive in the face of increasingly uneven odds. Players will be assigned a character at random, with unlockable hero characters potentially available on subsequent attempts, and you'll spend the rest of the time trying to rebuild RVs and survive. Doesn't sound too difficult so far, does it?

This is what you'll see the first time you start a new game in State of Decay: Breakdown
This is what you'll see the first time you start a new game in State of Decay: Breakdown

At first, it isn't. After creating a new game in State of Decay: Breakdown, players will find themselves in a situation not entirely dissimilar from the beginning of the State of Decay campaign. There aren't any story missions, of course, but you'll begin without anything marked on your map and relatively little in the way of supplies. Once you've tracked down a group of survivors, you'll be able to start making improvements to your home site -- including some new options not seen in the State of Decay campaign -- and slowly begin to restore the RV that players use to move their group of survivors from one town to the next.

Things won't get tough until you begin traveling, and begin to find ever-increasing numbers of fast and special zombies waiting for you to arrive at each new destination. Worse, the availability of vehicles and supplies will continue to become scarcer, forcing players to conserve supplies whenever possible. Both fast and slow zombies also continue to get stronger as you travel from town to town; eventually becoming so difficult that alerting a nearby zombie horde is tantamount to a death sentence.

Fortunately, Undead Labs included more than two dozen new hero characters in State of Decay: Breakdown to help even some of the late-game odds. State of Decay: Breakdown's roster of hero characters also come with their own unique weapons, the vast majority of which are far better than any of the blunt or edge weapons available to average survivors.

State of Decay: Breakdown
State of Decay: Breakdown

The hero characters won't be the only survivors getting new weapons in State of Decay: Breakdown though. I don't have any exact numbers, but I've already spotted quite a few instruments of zombie-disposal that I'm pretty sure weren't in State of Decay, and continue to stumble across additional weapons as I spend more time with State of Decay: Breakdown. Undead Labs' retooled loot system is also included in the State of Decay expansion, and its presence will be quite evident to those who've already notched double or triple-digit play times.

The resources needed to keep your camp from crumbling can be found in locations that make sense now, and feature more descriptive tool-tips to help give Breakdown players a better idea of what it is they are committing to carrying back to their primary supply drop. Construction supplies seem to be a bit more scarce in State of Decay: Breakdown as well, but are still available in the quantities necessary to make a few modifications to your home site and get your next RV back in working order. It's the sort of thing that won't even be noticed by new players, because it makes sense from the minute they begin playing, but anyone who's been playing State of Decay for a few weeks/months will pick up on the changes right away.

Unfortunately, combat in State of Decay is far too frustrating for the game's first expansion to receive any additional attention from me, and I suspect I won't be the only player who feels this way. The idea of playing an increasingly more-difficult version of State of Decay still sounds incredibly appealing on paper, but it doesn't take more than few minutes of battling only moderately -improved zombies for the game's seeming inability to handle on-the-fly melee targeting to rear its ugly head. It's far from unplayable, but I find it frustrating in a way that just isn't enjoyable.

State of Decay: Breakdown
State of Decay: Breakdown

Overall, I suspect State of Decay: Breakdown will be greatly appreciated by those fans who dove right back into State of Decay after completing the campaign for the first time, or who (like me) have been looking for an excuse to revisit the game since finishing the State of Decay story. The game's first expansion is essentially a never-ending extension of pretty much everything I loved about State of Decay; though it would nice if the dev team spent a bit of time fine-tuning the combat before moving on to whatever's coming after State of Decay: Breakdown.

If you recently finished the State of Decay campaign and were already considering another run, or if you've already completed the State of Decay story multiple times because you just can't get enough of Undead Labs' zombie-survival game, then you'll likely find exactly what you are looking for in State of Decay: Breakdown. It's still not perfect, but State of Decay (and its expansion) remains one of the greatest zombie-survival games I've ever played.

Recommendation - Buy It

Have you had a chance to check out State of Decay: Breakdown since the expansion was released on Friday? Want to take a minute to brag about how many RVs you managed to find before dying? Feel like you wasted seven dollars on Undead Labs' first State of Decay DLC?

Let us know in the comments section!

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