State of Decay 2 doesn’t contain much of an overarching story aside from the general zombie apocalypse premise, as most of the narrative elements emerge out of small contained quests. The first 10-15 minutes set up the story and relationship between the two starting characters you choose, but from there on out the story takes a backseat to the game’s intense time and resource management mechanics. State of Decay 2 also gives players the option of choosing between three different starting points including the foothills, plateau, and valley, which adds to the replayability of the game. Aside from the team of characters you choose to begin your community with, the survivors you encounter are procedurally generated and you are unable to edit their name or appearance in any way. This feels like a missed opportunity on Undead Labs’ part, as how cool would it have been to model your community after a popular film or TV series, or even your own family? I could finally exile my mother-in-law and see how long she could last on the outside!
The three pillars of the gameplay loop involve scavenging, combat, and base building, with an emphasis on time and community management. State of Decay 2 ramps up the intensity by making time the game’s most limited resource, in that you never feel like you have enough of it. There is always someone who needs a favor, a resource that is running low, or a horde of zombies threatening the compound. Scavenging for food, fuel, medicine, building materials, and ammunition is of central importance and you’ll want to make sure that you’re well equipped before you step outside your compound. Traveling through town and searching the various buildings is a dangerous game of cat and mouse. As you approach a building, you can get a good idea of the resources that will be found inside. Gas stations will contain fuel, grocery stores will contain food, pharmacies will contain medicine, and so on. While scavenging you’re given the opportunity to “fast search” containers or quickly open doors with a shoulder check, both of which run the risk of alerting a gang of zombies. I enjoyed this added element of strategy and found that it added an interesting amount of risk vs. reward to the often routine task searching and clearing buildings.