My next two games came out of nowhere to be standout hits for me this year, and for #6, we have a game that it seemed that not even the developers were expecting this big of a reception.
Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are two of my most played multiplayer titles of all time, with them being featured in my first book for their amazing coop play. Sadly, Valve hasn’t continued the series and the original developers’ follow up Evolve didn’t work out.
While they are still working on a new IP, developer Saber Interactive released World War Z earlier this year. Loosely based off the movie, which itself was loosely based off the hit book, no one was really expecting much out of this game. Instead, the game became a breakout hit for Saber and left them scrambling to do post-release support.
World War Z can best be described as “Left 4 Dead Lite” — four players must brave the zombie apocalypse in multiple scenarios.
As with Left 4 Dead, zombies come in two forms — the mindless hordes and special infected. With that said, World War Z does go above and beyond Left 4 Dead in a few areas. Like the movie, a lot was done to represent the zombie horde as just a tidal wave of death, and the game recreates that with some of the most frenzied zombies seen in a video game.
A complete 180 from the slow and threatening zombies of Resident Evil 2, these enemies want to win via numbers and surround the players. The game also features a class system with long term progression and persistence. Players can level themselves and their weapons up — which makes stronger variants of weapons when they equip them in the field. Each of the game’s four campaigns features different locales and objectives for the players to complete. Since the launch, there have been several content patches adding in new weapons, modes, and campaign missions.
World War Z managed to fill the Left 4 Dead hole out there, but it’s not without some significant issues. Balance is a key one, as zombies can spawn literally out of nowhere to attack the player; which is deadly on the highest difficulties. Some maps require perfect team coordination, which can be hard to find in random groups. The grind for new perks and weapons doesn’t add much depth to the game, and you are still very limited in what you can do.
The game also shipped with a Call of Duty-esque team deathmatch mode that while interesting, distracted from the coop nature of the game. And if you were hoping for a survivor vs infected mode like in Left 4 Dead, there isn’t any.
With continued support, World War Z could be one of the most surprising successes of late, and has hopefully inspired more developers to work on coop-focused multiplayer.
Moving on we’re entering the top 5, and that is a game with one of the strongest core gameplay loops I’ve seen this year.
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