Overkill’s The Walking Dead triggers me in the same way GTA V heists and, to a certain extent, Payday did. There is a huge reliance on teamwork throughout the multiplayer missions. But there’s always that one guy who’s lagging behind, running around in circles, attracting attention firing their weapon into puddles and then gets themselves downed. Do you save them? Well, someone on your team does, so then you’ll all have to retreat back to make sure they don’t get downed too.
Of course there’s a million and one games like this, so it’s unfair of me to attack this one for it. It is especially irritating, however, when you get the end of a particularly long level (made even longer by the incompetence of your teammates), you fail, and you get booted back to the lobby screen. There is the option to retry with the same group, but more often than not they will all leave and leave you standing around in an empty lobby like the loner that I am. I was actually on one level for about an hour until we all died. All that effort, wasted.
If you’ve read my preview – which, of course, I highly recommend that you do – you’ll know already what you’re in for in The Walking Dead. If not, here’s Overkill’s description: An action-filled four-player co-op multiplayer first-person shooter set in Washington, D.C. It’s based on Unreal Engine 4 so for the most part looks really nice, with the lighting in particular leaving me quite impressed. You can see light rays piercing through open blinds, and spotlights actually leaving shadows. Not that any of this actually means anything, though; you can flash your handheld flashlight right at enemies and they won’t notice you.
It dons the Walking Dead name, but aside from the name and Walkers, there is nothing that actually relates at all to Robert Kirkman’s established world. Instead, we have four brand new characters offering slightly different roles. Heather as a scout, a crossbow specialist along with a pickaxe. Grant, a silenced sniper with a Morgan-esque (from AMC’s The Walking Dead that is) staff/stick. Maya, small SMGs with a machete. Finally, Aidan, with a silenced shotgun and a bat.
You can unlock better weapons as you progress, but truth be told I just stuck with the standard ones. Longer lasting silencers can be unlocked, as well as several other abilities and improvements. Each character is supposed to have their own “personality”, and “story”. Instead you get utterly shit half-monologues at set times during the missions, and their writing is possibly even worse than some of the dialogue from The Walking Dead past couple of seasons.
This dialogue is even worse when you get some survivors into your camp. You’ll get these survivors added after completing certain missions, and you can send them off to do their own missions. Doing that will earn you extra supplies, so you can upgrade your camp and unlock new areas of the map. That is much more favourable than going back and repeating the same missions over and over, as long as you don’t send your survivors to their untimely deaths. But as you walk through your camp, you hear the same “At night, I dream about how things were before. It’s nice to dream.” Or, my personal favourite, “Staying alive in all this is…not your usual nine to five.”
There’s an old grandma in your camp who you can purchase weapons from, and another older guy who will store things for you. It’s like it’s trying to implement some kind of RPG system, but it doesn’t work. I don’t care about any of the characters, or the camp, because there is absolutely no reason to. The little snippets of backstory you get from any of the characters is just offhand in the middle of missions. Not interesting. And when I want to visit the camp, why do I have to enter matchmaking? Of course no one else can join you, so you have to enter a lobby, ready up, and then it’ll start loading. Why? Just let me go to my camp, none of this extra crap.
Talking of loading, my God is this one of the slowest loading games I’ve played recently. Even Battlefield V loads faster in Conquest with the massive maps. I even have The Walking Dead installed on an NVME SSD, and it still takes forever.
There are some nice gameplay elements in the missions, though. Make too much noise as you’re progressing and you’ll attract an ever greater number of Walkers. Firing weapons is the number one cause of Walker related mishaps, which is particularly difficult to avoid with the fundamentally awful AI. Your adversaries, “The Family” (which are very similar to The Saviours, albeit no charismatic leader in Negan) attack your base a few times, and you have to get into their base a few times to steal things, or break things, or whatever else you’re told to do. There’s a cutscene before each mission to tell you a bit more about the story and what “The Family” have done this time – thankfully you can skip these with the spacebar. If you don’t, you get put into the mission after it has already started. “The Brigade” make an appearance later on, but they’re just more of the same.
Combat is passable, but when your suppressor dies you’re stuck with a machete or whatever other hand combat weapon your character has in an effort to reduce noise. There is absolutely nothing tactical to anything you do, so forget trying to flank or anything of the sort. Walkers can be dispatched easily enough, but they seem to be in possession of the same laser vision as human enemies, so sneaking around usually gets you nowhere.
Overkill tells us that this year was four years in the making. I find that extremely hard to believe, unless there was a heck of a lot of slacking off during development. There is a severe lack of content at launch, and many of the bugs that were present during the beta, and were reported on, were still present when it launched. A couple of weeks later and Overkill has provided a number of patches already, but we are still without in-game voice chat (which would probably solve the issues I stated in the beginning), I had major FPS drops at random intervals, and if you try playing this game on your own – even an aimbot won’t help.
If you have a group of four friends to play with together, then Overkill’s The Walking Dead will most likely provide some entertainment. £46 worth of entertainment? Absolutely not. The fact is that the price tag has been so off putting that the all-time peak is just over 14,000 concurrent players, with the average now sitting at a little over 5,000. It hasn’t even been out a month yet and its player base has dropped by 69%. Give it a few months, and good luck even getting into a game.
Overkill's The Walking Dead (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is unenjoyable, but it works.
I really wanted to like this game, and after the beta I was hoping there would be more to it than what they were testing. Unfortunately, there’s not, and there’s absolutely no way I could recommend buying this game. If you could pick it up for £10, sure, but four times that? No way.