GameTech: ‘World War Z’ revives ‘Left 4 Dead’

World War Z feels very much like a sequel to Left 4 Dead.

Ironically, Left 4 Dead lived up to its name. Valve’s hugely popular zombie shooter was abandoned by its developer after the second game was released, ten years ago, leaving fans desperate for more. The years went by like shambling corpses, with no sign of a revival.

It’s no surprise, then, that someone went grave-digging in Valve’s gilded tomb. Saber Interactive decided to pull out Left 4 Dead’s remains and clone the DNA. The result, bizarrely, is a game that takes the name of another famous property — World War Z — but one that is a ‘Left 4 Dead sequel in all but name.

Just like Valve’s long-dead series, World War Z is a co-operative shooter in which four players must fight off hordes of zombies, while working their way from one end of a level to another. There are ‘standard’ zombies, which the players can shoot off with relative ease, and there are special zombies. These are harder to put down and can kill or incapacitate players if left one-on-one.

The fun comes from choosing your class, working together, and the relative uncertainty of the enemies that will spawn each time you play. No two sessions are ever quite the same, yet the fundamentals are simple and satisfying, which makes World War Z an ideal pick-up-and-play experience, the kind of game you can hit for 30 minutes or three hours.

Where World War Z arguably improves upon Left 4 Dead, albeit in small steps, is with the level progression system.

As players pump experience into their chosen class — there are six at the moment, ranging medics to heavies — they can then achieve more abilities for that class, which can really improve your skillset. In addition, you can level up weapons, too.

It’s also safe to say that World War Z’s standard zombies are significantly scarier than Left 4 Dead’s hordes, although the opposite is true for the specials.

In World War Z, the hordes pout from atop buildings and around corners, like water, flowing over each other, clambering over themselves to reach you.

They fling themselves from buildings with no care for the consequences. It looks great and it’s pretty chilling.

On the other hand, the special zombies, which are directly copied from Left 4 Dead and include a strong charger type and a screaming ‘siren’ type, are disappointing in ‘World War Z. That’s something Saber Interactive may need to improve upon, if World War Z is to have a long shelf life. But, let’s be honest, any kind of life is better than being left for dead.

CONSOLE WARS TO BEGIN

Microsoft and Sony will be hoping to leave each other for dead in the console race next year. It’s looking increasingly likely that both the next Xbox and the PlayStation 5 will be revealed in the next few months, with Sony even confirming multiple details of their next-gen console recently.

Mark Cerny, Sony’s lead system architect, surprisingly revealed details of the PS5 in recent interviews, the first time the Japanese company has officially confirmed they are working on the console.

One of the highlights was that the PS5 will be backwards compatible, meaning your PS4 games will also play on the new console. That feature was lacking in the current generation, so it’s good that Sony will make amends this time around. Cerny also mentioned that the PS5 will have an SSD hard drive, and he showed an example of this would significantly increase loading times. There was also confirmation of the use of ray-tracing and 8K output.

Meanwhile, the new Xbox is rumoured to be revealed at E3 in June, an event that Sony has declined to join this year. Let the battle commence!

ARE APPLE GAME?

Finally, one company that won’t be joining the fray is Apple. While the tech giant recently revealed Apple Arcade, a subscription-based gaming service, it seems as though the focus will be on mobile games and not high-end streaming, as with Google’s Stadia.

Apple Arcade will allow for offline gaming, which seems to indicate that the games will be capable of running on mobile hardware, meaning they would be severely limited by those technical specifications.

Apple may have something else up their sleeve for Apple Arcade, but we don’t picture them joining the fight any time soon.

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