Thanks to the success of the comics, shows, and Telltale’s video games, The Walking Dead is as much of a household name as you can get in entertainment these days. Thankfully, more recent seasons of the show aside, all of these ventures have been pretty great, which has led to many other attempts at adapting the series in some form. Overkill is looking to do it later this year with a co-op first-person shooter in the vein of Left 4 Dead or their successful Payday series. From what I played at E3 2018, the game is shaping up pretty well at its core, but there are some serious rough edges that need work before release.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead has players choosing between four heroes, all with unique weapon sets and abilities. You then have to team up to take on the zombie horde, as well as the much more dangerous AI-controlled humans scattered across the map. But be careful, making too much noise will draw more walkers to you, and that could lead to disaster as each party member is picked off one by one.
The core gameplay is very reminiscent of Left 4 Dead in all the right ways.
The core gameplay is very reminiscent of Left 4 Dead in all the right ways. Moving through the map, collecting supplies, and working to take down walkers whenever possible. Every once in a while you stumble upon a setpiece of sorts, either having to search nearby houses for objects to open a door, or running across a human controlled encampment. Unlike the slow and easy to dispatch zombies, humans fire back and can move around to take cover.
At least, they would if the AI wasn’t having so much trouble keeping up. This was an early, pre-release build of Overkill’s The Walking Dead, so bugs and glitches are to be expected. However, there were too many here to ignore, including multiple human characters getting stuck on level geometry, or just behaving in extremely dumb ways. Perhaps the team will iron this stuff out for release though, and I really hope they do because aside from this and a few other bugs, the game was a blast.
Ammo was scarce, dispatching walkers with my melee weapon was tense, and working together to get through the level was a joy. There were moments in my play session that brought me back to events in the comics and show, such as finding myself off on my own, surrounded by walkers. Taking out one or two is easy enough; just whack them on the head a couple of times and you’re good. If you get surrounded though, you can easily be overwhelmed and taken down yourself. Your friends can help, but once one of us went down it became that much tougher to keep everyone alive.
After fighting off a group of humans, our gunshots had drawn in every walker within earshot, so we got swarmed quickly. The gunplay is janky in a way that actually works very well for the series. At one point my gun actually jammed, requiring attention to fix. My ammo ran out just a little while after we’d eliminated the other humans (which are all AI controlled, just to be clear). After a couple of headshots on the swarming zombies, I was left with just my trusty machete, which wasn’t so trusty once a dozen or more had surrounded me.
When my time with Overkill’s The Walking Dead was up, I felt like it had accomplished its goal of feeling exactly like the TV show and comics. Unfortunately it also replicated the rougher patches the show has seen lately, mostly with technical bugs and other problems. The team has some time to get this stuff sorted out, but with November fast approaching, it does seem like we could see a few of these things linger into the launch. If they can get them all worked out though, the game will be a hit with fans and should satisfy anyone looking for some of that co-op zombie shooting that we haven’t seen properly since Left 4 Dead 2.