An unfortunate trend in this day and age is the release of broken and buggy games. It seems there isn’t a month that goes by without at least one anticipated title being released in a busted state. But all is not lost and with the wonder of the internet, a great game is often only some time and a patch away. This is where “As Time Goes By” comes in. We look at these once broken games a few months (or years) on and let you know if they are now worth your time, helping you decide once and for all if the game is finally something to be purchased or a title to be forgotten forever.
As Time Goes By - State of Decay 2
I have always been pretty bullish about the State of Decay franchise. Ever since I reviewed the first game way back when (well at least after it dodged its ban by Australian authorities) I have dug the community survival gameplay and the setting of the US heartlands. The joy of building a successful colony among the ruins of a Zombie apocalypse is unlike anything else out there and it really struck a chord with me personally. That being said, despite my deep love for both the first and second games, there is no escaping these were some rough titles. Plagued by bugs and jank, the second game seemed to be especially troubled upon release. But now, four years later, I have jumped back in to see what State of Decay 2 looks like and let me tell you, it is almost a whole new game.
A couple of weeks ago I loaded up State of Decay 2 for the first time in what feels like an age and I was immediately impressed by just how much has changed and how much new content has been added. The original release had 3 maps (not including the tutorial area) and a very basic set of launch options. Now there are 5 full maps, including an upgraded version of the first game’s map, and a whole host of ways to tailor the game to your preferred way of playing. Deep difficulty and accessibility settings, the ability to bring previously used survivors on a new journey and even toggles as to how many people, resources and plague hearts are on each map. A lot of effort has gone into both making a more complete game for those that have been playing since launch as well as a more accessible one for those that are new.
In-game there have been a host of new changes as well. New community systems, better information displays and prompts, numerous balance tweaks and new buildings, facilities and outpost structures. All of these items have gone a long way to rubbing the rough edges from the gameplay and creating a frictionless (in terms of systems) experience while playing the game. It is clear to me that Undead Labs have taken fan feedback, as well as their own internal data gathering and used it to refine the game till is shines. In fact, State of Decay 2 is still receiving support today, with a brand new patch adding legacy survivor options arriving last week.
The real question is, have Undead Labs fixed the bugs? Well, I can confirm that State of Decay 2 may as well be a different game in that regard, because there is barely a problem to be seen, especially when compared to the mess that the game was at launch. I remember playing when it came out and suffering horrible framerates, crashes and more graphical glitches than a Bethesda RPG. Now it is buttery smooth, crash-free and barely a glitch or texture pop-in in sight. It is really quite wonderful to see this game get to this point, especially after such a rough launch. It doesn’t fully excuse the launch woes, but it does show a very dedicated team of developers, a team that wants to make sure their community gets the game they deserve.
Many people point to No Man’s Sky as the perfect example of a game launching in a rough state and transforming into something amazing and it is hard to argue with that. But after my time with State of Decay 2, I think it is fair to say that this game is right up there in terms of constant support and improvements over a long period. It honestly feels like the original release was an early access title and it has only reached version 1.0 recently. Everything and I mean everything has been improved since 2018 and if you haven’t touched it since launch I strongly urge you to check it out again. It will be very interesting to see what happens with State of Decay 3. Undead Labs is clearly very talented and has the skill to put out an amazing product, the question still remains as to whether they can deliver that product on launch day. In the meantime, however, know that State of Decay 2 is now no longer a game you possibly enjoyed despite the problems, it is a game that feels polished from head to toe and any survival fans should absolutely give it a go.