“If the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, what would you do?” It feels like practically everyone has asked themselves this question, but when The Walking Dead came along we finally got a real-feeling representation of what life would be like if the undead came back to get us. Now, Overkill Software are looking to expand that experience and take us to the next level of zombie immersion.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead puts you in the shoes of four survivors in the middle of a zombie infested Washington D.C, each with their own set of skills and tricks. For the purpose of the beta, I chose to use Heather, the Scout class, mainly because she started with a crossbow and fans of the TV show will know why (cough, Daryl Dixon cough). Other choices included the Tank class, Aiden, the support Maya, and Grant the tactician. Each has different starting weapons and skills tailored to various types of play style. As an added bonus, you can equip characters with whatever weapons you find on missions, if you fancy a change up from the character’s regular weaponry.
Like Payday, OTWD is an online co-op FPS where you and your mates (or strangers) can team up and complete various missions for loot and glory, all while trying to scavenge supplies for your camp. The first mission, The First Shot, saw me and three others defending our camp as The Family tried to sabotage it. The nasty bunch had led a horde of walkers to our camp (a tactic seen many times in the TV series), so they could run through and clean us out. With only a short amount of time to prepare before the horde arrived, I ran and grabbed some planks of wood and barbed wire, setting up the wire in key places before they broke through.
When they came, the pressure was on to make sure they didn’t get through in enough numbers to overwhelm us, periodically patching up the barricades with planks of wood during small breaks. It was only three waves, but as we were fighting for our lives, it felt like an eternity. As there were three areas they spawned from, had we not been supporting each other, we would have been quickly overrun.
However, during the attack, the Family had snuck in and stolen our Water purifier which led to the second mission, in which we were tasked by our camp leader, Anderson, with finding the enemy camp and taking back what was ours. During these situations, it’s far better to try and go in quietly and not to attract too much attention. Sneaking through a level riddled with walkers, I felt like part of the show; it was fantastic.
The four of us worked in unison to tactically take out each zombie, backing each other up as we made our way through. I initially stood back, playing the Daryl of the group, taking my time and making heads shots. Eventually we came across the camp, keeping our heads low as to not attract any attention. However Maya, one of the other players, didn’t see the trap – a set of bottles attached to a string, tied between two cars – alerting the enemy to danger. We’d been rumbled and before you knew it, everyone jumped up and opened fire. Surrounding Zombies noticed and started to flood the area. Things were getting out of hand. We had to be surgical and we had to be quick to take out the enemy and got back the water purifier, before making our escape back home.
Naturally The Family then decided to get their revenge (despite the fact they started it) and set about trying to raid our camp themselves. The third mission echoed the first, but this time the enemy fired back and this was much harder. A dozen enemies would storm the gates at a time, nearly killing me in first few moments of the mission. It was tough going, but we sent them packing, boarded up our camp and rested up before taking on the final mission of the beta where it’s again our turn to go on the offensive, infiltrating the Family’s base to steal their radio equipment and get the upper hand.
This mission was tough. The slightest noise seeming to attracted every walker in Washington, so we had to be quiet. All it took however was one jumpy player to ruin everything and before you know it, I’m stood on top a van surrounded by zombies, fending them off with my pick axe. It was fantastic and at that point I was fully immersed. I felt like I was actually a character on the show. The danger was real and my friends were in trouble. When we finally made it through and got our radios, there was genuine panic as we fired the flare gun and were told to make it to the truck. Between us and our escape was a sea of hungry undead and we were looking worse for wear. We must have killed hundreds zombies trying to make it out. We were battered, bruised, and covered in blood, but we were still breathing.
Between missions, you have the option of upgrading your camp and keeping people happy. This is done by building new sections like a Radio Work Station and a Clinic, using materials gathered on missions. You need to make sure you save materials as you do need to maintain your base as time passes, which costs you building materials and food. After successful missions, survivors will also join you, letting you put them to work in various parts of the camp, providing benefits such as increased health regeneration or reduced noise while walking. With enough materials you can even expand out to new areas and unlock more missions, timed events, and eventually expanding the story.
Outside of Telltale’s adventures, people have struggled to make the most of The Walking Dead in video games, but Overkill’s venture is really looking to be the TWD experience we’ve been asking for. Across the TV show and comics, the series has shown that despite the horror of a zombie apocalypse we can build a better future by working together. Stick together with your team and it’s clear that the idea has translated across well in Overkill’s The Walking Dead.