The “shooting hordes of zombies” genre refuses to die, as evidenced by the enduring popularity of 2019’s World War Z. A surprisingly solid third person shooter based on the film that was rather loosely based on the book, Saber Interactive’s co-op shooter hit has continued to mutate over the past couple of years.
Following the recent Aftermath expansion, World War Z has now infected the Nintendo Switch, and comes hot on the heels of Dying Light Platinum Edition for a double dose of zombie mangling action. Just how well does this port hold up and, more importantly, is World War Z still fun to play?
For those who have played Left 4 Dead, its sequel, or any of the myriad imitators, World War Z will feel instantly familiar. This is a co-op shooter that has you and up to three friends, strangers, or AI companions running missions as you gun down dozens, if not hundreds of infected enemies. Split between four acts and four distinct locations, missions are meant to be replayed over and over. They adopt a linear mission structure, but spice things up by featuring an AI director that alters the flow of zombies that come your way. Imagine running through zombie-infested gauntlets, punctuated by the occasional cinematic set piece as well as World War Z’s signature “swarms”.
These nail-biting sequences have you hunkering down as a flood of infected washes over you. The way they move, forming fleshy pyramids that spill over walls and fences, emulates their behaviour depicted in the 2013 Brad Pitt blockbuster. One of the worries picking up this version of the game was that the Nintendo Switch wouldn’t be able to handle that many enemies on screen. However, the hybrid console is more than up to the task. While it’s likely that Saber had to cut some corners visually, the developer has managed to squeeze these tense moments of gameplay onto the Switch without a noticeable compromise.
Admittedly, the campaign in World War Z isn’t all that memorable with very little focus on the characters or the situations they find themselves in. It comes as no great surprise given how missions are meant to be replayed over and over, pushing you further along the character class progression path. This is intended to be the main hook of World War Z as you unlock new skills for your favourite classes, levelling up weapons as you use them.
That said, the classes don’t feel distinct enough in terms of the gameplay variety they offer. When coupled with inherently repetitive mission designs and the eventual tedium of mowing down endless streams of fodder-like enemies, there will be plenty of players who fall off after the first few hours.
Thankfully, there has been no shortage of survivors to team up with, even though the Nintendo Switch version lacks crossplay. Playing in co-op is the only way we’d recommend experiencing World War Z, as running the campaign solo with AI grunts can quickly start to feel like a chore. Ideally you’ll want to find a group of friends to buddy with up, max out your classes, and learn the ins and outs of every map as you gradually dial up the difficulty.
World War Z on Nintendo Switch is a technically sound port that comes with all the trimmings, minus the new Aftermath expansion. While there are better survival shooters out there, those who have been dying to play World War Z (or take it with them on-the-go) won’t be left disappointed, this re-release hopefully hinting that there’s more to come from this fledgling series.