The War Z is the latest MMO title to join the ranks of the illusive survival genre. Announced earlier this year the game was instantly compared by players and critics to the popular Arma II mod, DayZ. Although comparisons continue to be made, the Alpha release of The War Z earlier this week has definitely cleared up a few concerns for fans of both titles.
Being a zombie-survival MMO The War Z is obviously going to share some features with DayZ but other than the premise and genre, there's a huge amount of differences that create an almost entirely separate playing experience. You get to create your own survivor from 1 character template, although more can be unlocked once they've been released. You can edit the basic features of your character such as face type and clothing, but other than that it's pretty basic. Select a name, find a server and you're in.
Similar to DayZ, you begin your journey in The War Z with very little other than a flashlight, some food & water, and basic medical supplies. Your food and thirst meters degrade at a much faster rate than DayZ, making the struggle for food and water more apparent. Currently there's only a small game area available, although the developers have said that they will release multiple maps, some of which are over 400sq kilometers in size.
Like DayZ, players spend their time traveling from town to town in the search of vital equipment and food. The zombies are far more intelligent in The War Z than its mod counter-part, but the same technique of noise and sight are used as detection. Zombies are able to run through buildings to chase fleeing players and are also attracted by loud noises such as gun fire. However, if you want to lose them, jumping on top of a car sends them into a frenzy.
Two of the most controversial features of The War Z are the server setup and Global Inventory feature. Every server is unique in terms of the players and possible configurations but your characters gear and stats carry to each server. This means that players are able to abuse the system in a similar way to that of DayZ. Finding a location with a lot of rare spawns, looting it and logging off to find another server. Couple this with the Global Inventory feature and the survival aspect is almost nullified.
Global Inventory is a system that allows players to store weapons, items, food and water in an inventory that can be spread across multiple characters. This also gives players a chance to stock up on powerful weapons, with minimal risk of losing them as the Global Inventory system is not affected upon death. There have been rumors that this is just a temporary feature but I've not been able to get any confirmation from the developers.
The shooting is one of the games finer points. Players don't take an entire clip to kill and zombies go down with 1 head shot. As the game uses the same combat engine as War Inc, the FPS controls and twitch shooting is still available, creating intense firefights in both PvP and PvZ.
It's early days yet but The War Z is shaping up to be a great title. We'll have a full review and some gameplay footage up as soon as the NDA is lifted so look out for that.