How to Survive, again...
A bit ago I took a look at How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition on the Xbox One and I liked it overall, it was a bit clunky here and there but it was solid enough if you were a fan of the zombie, and survival-style genre. An Isometric Dead Islands if you will.
Flash forward to 2017 and there's a new How to Survive on the block, How to Survive 2. Which for those who don't like to read articles or reviews has a bunch of enhanced mechanics, new features and a bigger emphasis on survival - once you get past the rather long-winded tutorial missions and grind of the early game segments.
Kovac's Back Baby
Set 15 years after the first game, you turn up in New Orleans to find the mysterious and badass Kovac, to learn from the master just How to Survive in a zombie apocalypse. Thus begins the game, and the seemingly-endless slew of minor quests that set up for the main game itself, introducing various new mechanics as they open up.
Survival being one of them. You're going to need food and water, things for basic human needs. Zombies don't count, they just eat you or your fellow survivors - they're the ones getting the best deal out of this post-apocalyptic scenario. Except for the twenty or so you left back there with their heads cut off, or their faces bashed in.
There's a few new things to watch out for in How to Survive 2. First up, your character is yours, you can customise them over the course of the game and there's a heavily expanded skill tree to play with. You have a base, or you will do, which throws in the new base-building aspect of the game where you'll be upgrading a ton of things, building more things, staving off waves of zombie attacks and scavenging for resources as you explore.
That's changed too from How to Survive. No longer is the game set on a series of islands, nope, now it's set in a hub world where you have all the quest givers and missions. Then when you accept a quest (there's a lot, and a lot are generated randomly) you'll end up going to a new area as the map loads a brand new zone. Here you'll get to accomplish various objectives, slay a horde of zombies and hopefully come out alive.
Once you're done with those objectives you teleport back to the main base camp area.
Just keep an eye on food and water and all that good stuff, don't worry though, Kovac'll teach you with one of his funny vignette cartoon guides!
With all the resources you get, you'll also get to crafting all sorts of things, with new things opening up as you go on. New weapons, traps and barricades for the base, upgrades - the staples of this kind of genre. There seem to be a lot more resources in How to Survive 2 as well, so upgrades and crafting is a LOT easier compared to the first game.
Not only does your character have a level, stats and all that good stuff - now you have a base to level up too. That base is the key to your characters progression, you need to level the base before the character can progress and you can access bigger/better missions with more rewards. It's a simple enough gameplay loop and can be rewarding, as long as you can handle the grind (so if you played Diablo etc, you'll be good).
You have an improved camera (still a bit twitchy) and a bunch of new techniques for dealing with the zombie hordes in this one. When I say hordes, I also mean hordes, because things can go from bad to worse in a heartbeat and you can end up facing off a bigger group of Zs than you first expected. Combat feels better than How to Survive though and that's the important thing you can take from this.
The atmosphere in this game is dialled up from the previous, the graphics and design are better and the music has a neat way of tracking the peril you're in. It changes based on the on screen action and provides subtle (or not so subtle) clues to the situation. The same can be said of the sound effects, though they sound mostly recycled from the first game.
It sounds good on paper, but I didn't have anyone to try this with so I couldn't dive in. The game's page boasts some neat things, so if you do get the game and throw down in multiplayer with some folks you can:
Invite 16 people to access your camp, play with 4 of them cooperatively.
You can all cooperate to build the camp, form strategies and work together for common goals.
The Element of Surprise
How to Survive 2 has a lot of random elements to it, randomly generated quests, mission areas and the like - no two runs will ever be the same.
I like this game, it's a slow burner but it has potential and it's pretty good. There's a few annoying things that do mar it slightly for me, such as not being able to pause even when you're playing solo. So good luck if someone knocks the door, or the phone goes, or a zombie smashes in the back door and tries to eat your face as you're playing.
If you can forgive the game that glaring fault, then there's a lot to like here and a sense of struggle as you build your character and camp up over time.
Survive, because you can!