Overkill's The Walking Dead

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Overkill Software
Release Date: Feb. 6, 2019 (US), Feb. 8, 2019 (EU)


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Overkill's The Walking Dead'

by Redmond Carolipio on July 5, 2018 @ 12:04 a.m. PDT

Overkill's The Walking Dead, based on the series created by Robert Kirkman, will deliver a completely new co-op experience to The Walking Dead universe, exploring new characters and storylines.

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During the zombie apocalypse, what would you do? Even in joking, colloquial geek-ish conversation, it's a unique kind of fun to imagine what you and your friends would be like in such dire, fantastically awful circumstances. I've been in conversations where we even break it down into attack patterns, weapon use and techniques. It's the kind of stuff that's been washing around in our brains (braaaaains) since zombies became more of a thing. At the heart of that zombie lore resurgence has been The Walking Dead.

Whether you're into the comics or the TV show, there's a good chance The Walking Dead helped to completely re-wire how you view and think about zombies. They went from oddball and even occasionally kitschy Halloween horror fare to a damning indictment on the darkest corners of humanity's survival instincts. Sandwiched between all that pathos is some good old-fashioned combat. Enter Overkill's The Walking Dead, a four-player co-op FPS that looks to dance between the worlds of survival and splattering zombie insides everywhere. We got a chance to look at a very early build at E3 2018 before its release much later this year.

One thing became apparent: This is a game constructed and built to house the spirit of The Walking Dead universe, and not some throwaway FPS with a fancy property attached to it. Robert Kirkman, who created The Walking Dead comics,worked with Overkill to put it together, and you can feel some of the influence in the game's atmosphere.

You (and your friends/teammates) step into the roles of four people, each with their own set of skills and deep backstory, fighting to survive in zombie-torn Washington, D.C. At the outset, veteran FPS players and gamers will automatically think about titles like Valve's Left 4 Dead, which came out about 10 years ago and helped breathe life into the concept of teaming up to blast away at zombies. That series carried a frenetic, tongue-in-cheek energy in its action.

That's not what I got with Overkill's TWD. One of the first things in the demo we were told monitor was our level of noise. Much like in the comics and the TV series, the power of noise is to be respected and could mean the difference between life and death. Too much noise will attract every walker within earshot, and one look at our ammo and supplies meant we wouldn't be able to shoot our way out of trouble. Therefore, we all switched to melee weapons, stabbing away at walkers we couldn't avoid while we were working our way through some abandoned housing. And about those walkers — they were not all easy to take down. They can take plenty of hits if you're not hitting them in the right spots (like the head), and they can really screw up your day if they, you know, start coming up the stairs.

We finally made it out of the house we were in and proceeded slowly until we encountered yet another one of the dangers of The Walking Dead universe, or any zombie universe for that matter: other people. In this case, it was members of The Family, sort of like a pillaging gang of survivors who wouldn't hesitate to kill other people for their stuff. We fought them off in a straight-up firefight, but apparently the noise dynamic could also have been used to our advantage to attract walkers and have them occupy any enemy humans. That would have been helpful to realize, instead of stressing out about how perishable my melee weapons are and using the game's intuitive weapon-crafting system to see what I could actually assemble.

Our demo came to an ignominious end, as we ran face-first into a pack of walkers and I got a first-person viewpoint of what it's like to be overwhelmed by zombies: my character lying on his back, looking straight up while zombified, ghoulish faces mashed away at my character's body. In trying to help, a member of my party accidentally chucked a crafted Molotov cocktail at my pack of feeding zombies, setting them — and me — on fire. Perhaps it was a mercy killing. We'll never know.

It's very early, but Overkill's The Walking Dead carries a lot of potential to add some extra gravitas to the typical shoot-'em-up zombie-fest one might be expecting. It's slated to come out in November.

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