E3 2019 Hands-On – Zombie Army 4: Dead War
My hands-on appointment with Zombie Army 4: Dead War was a bit different than most appointments. Typically you’re put in a room and given a bit of a rundown of the game, its story, and its features. However, Rebellion probably figures that if you don’t know what Zombie Army is about then the demo will do the talking for you. I was brought in and right away put on a set up and was given the okay to hop in and play. I had some experience with the Zombie Army Trilogy and Rebellions other co-op shooter Strange Brigade, but I’m unfamiliar with the story. . . if that even matters.
I talked to the Rebellion rep after the demo to get a story beat and its main focuses for this installment. Apparently the story isn’t so deep, but honestly, it’s a co-op shooter so the fun is with your friends. But for what it’s worth, the story is essentially that the resistance have defeated Zombie Hitler and cast him into Hell, but the dead rise once again (typical undead). You’ll continue the alternate history of Zombie Army Trilogy to uncover a sinister plan that takes the Survivor Brigade across Italy and beyond.
Before hoping into the gameplay, you can set up your crew with up to four players and customize your character. Each character has their own special ability and proficiencies with certain weapons, but you can still change loadouts. Browsing through the options revealed a ton of unlockables with weapons, mods, attachments, gadgets, skins, and trinkets. There is plenty to look forward to as you progress through the game.
The demo had us play solo because they wanted to show their focus on trying to create a more solid solo experience in the game. Adding more cut scenes and story moments to engage a solo player and balancing enemies and such to make it easier. I played through a fairly short demo that had me talking to NPC’s, interacting with the base, and gathering some story based intel. Once I explored the base area, all hell broke loose promptly with a train barreling towards us filled with zombies. Crash, crash, boom, boom and the base is filled with flesh hungry Nazis. Once the carnage began, it quickly turned back into the typical 3rd person shooting gameplay you expect from Rebellion. Also, the story and cutscenes were over until, I assume, the end of the level (the demo cuts out before the end).
During the mission there were multiple stages with waves of enemies and often times there are environmental dangers to look out for. There was an instance where I ran around a horde of zombies only to find an airplane engine with a propeller hanging there. I shot the electrical box to activate it and was quickly sucked up and sliced apart. After I revived at the checkpoint, I tried again and was able to stay clear and slice up some zombie sashimi. As I played through there were other traps to utilize, like electric floor traps to freeze and kill some groups. It takes a bit for the traps to cool down, so time them right.
For the most part the zombies have been typical slow shuffling foes. Some would still have a rifle or pistol in their hand, but other than that there wasn’t much variety. Towards the end of the demo, however, a suicide zombie came into play lined with explosives. They will sprint at you and blow up once they’re within proximity. If you’re quick and smart enough, you can use these enemy types to quickly eliminate hordes of the regular undead. At the very end they teased the flamethrower enemy coming out to fight, but unfortunately the demo ended before I got to fight it.
(Rebellion allowed me to capture footage using their software, but for whatever reason it did not record game audio. So this is their official commentary of the E3 Demo I played.)
While Rebellion is trying to focus on having a fun time solo, much like the other games in the series and other similar games in the genre, it will always be more fun with friends or other players. There are secret items you can explore and find, one resembled Thing from The Adams Family. I saw it scurrying around the top of a train car and shooting it was enough to collect it. Zombie Army 4: Dead War being made by the Sniper Elite crew means that the slow motion x-ray kill camera is still in effect and it’s just as fun with zombies as it is with living enemies.
Release Date: Early 2020
Platforms: PS4, Windows, Xbox One