Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Saber Interactive
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: 21 September 2021
Price: $39.99 USD / $56.95 AUD – Available Here
World War Z: Aftermath is billed as an upgrade from the original title released in 2019. The same over the top third person zombie co-op experience is back with upgraded visuals for the new generation consoles, new content, and a revamped melee system, all while offering the World War Z’s original content. World War Z: Aftermath is available as an upgrade for owners of the original game and features cross platform support and compatibility with owners of World War Z.
World War Z: Aftermath offers three new chapters. The Paris and Rome chapters are brand new mini-stories. The final Kamchatka chapter is the thrilling conclusion to the Moscow and Tokyo chapters in the original game.
Paris and Rome are decent self-contained story. It’s hard to create an in-depth plotline in only four missions. The writers do a decent job by focusing on a single plotline and stripping any sort of character development or side plots. The only problem with the tightly controlled story is it is so easy to slip into unintended camp. There are several times where the writers either uncomfortable edge to or pass through the border.
Story-wise, the Kamchatka mission offers players the best version of World War Z’s story because it ties the Moscow and Tokyo chapters together. The writers were able to stretch their wings a little with the extra space and makes me wonder what the writers could have done by dedicating all three chapters to expanding and closing content from the original game.
Based on the evasive marketing, it’s a little hard to figure out what World War Z: Aftermath is when looking from the outside. Is it a brand-new game? DLC? World War Z: Aftermath is one part expansion and one-part graphical update for the new generation of consoles. Saber Interactive has made the wise decision to allow owners of World War Z to play with Aftermath owners, only preventing base game owners from playing the new content. On the gameplay side, new guns, the vanguard class, and a revamped melee system has been added.
The combat mechanics has been improved, though the changes are mostly subtle. The Swarm Engine is still impressive with its liquid like hordes of zombies rushing at the player. The new firearms are nice but feel like small variations of the original weapons. To a certain degree, it is a challenge to add firearms that differentiate themselves as the original game covered almost all the standard archetypes. On the other hand, I hoped the developers would take some more creative liberties by exploring more obscure weapons like they did with the Advanced Combat Weapon. The ACW fires small explosive rounds like the Payload Rifle but with a smaller explosion radius.
The new melee system is fantastic. Previously, the only thing different between the melee weapons were the skins. Now each melee weapon has classes, stats, and perks that have a meaningful impact on the game. Now choosing a melee weapon needs to be taken in consideration when constructing a build, and the slasher class has new life breathed into it
While those who haven’t touched World War Z since the game’s initial launch will assume two classes have been added to the game, Aftermath actually adds only one: the Vanguard. The class wields an electrified shield that can protect the team from incoming zombies or charge through the horde to create an opening or rush to save a fallen teammate. The game wasn’t very clear about how the shield is to be used as I ended up relying on YouTube to have a proper demonstration. It’s tap to pull out the shield and hold to charge. The shield is an interesting idea, but the real frustration is pulling out the shield automatically eats up a good chunk of the equipment charge, even if the shield wasn’t used on zombies. It turns an accidental deployment into a costly mistake. It makes more sense to pull the shield out for free but use up charges when the shield touches a zombie.
The first-person camera is a new gimmicky addition to the game. In theory, the new camera should make the experience more tense. The execution is where the new camera angle stalls. It is essentially a close zoom of the existing camera. There’s no addition of iron sites or scopes which makes the whole scheme feel half baked.
The new maps follow the same rhythm as the old ones. They are linear maps with defence segments littered throughout the map. The defense segments still represent the best of what World War Z has to offer. While players have more equipment at their disposal, there’s an intense excitement when hundreds of zombies come pouring into the team’s position.
World War Z: Aftermath is still a grind heavy game. In fact, it just added more things to grind. The price to level weapons and classes is still high, especially for players in the early game. The random spawns for equipment and enemy are still a touch too limited. Maps could still benefit from more options that would encourage players to dig further into side areas.
The visual style haven’t changed much from the base game. It still leans towards a realistic look. There is still enough zombies to prevent the hordes from feeling like a clone army, but players will definitely see a the same handful several times over. World War Z: Aftermath would benefit from having a few more models.
The audio quality hasn’t changed much from the base game either. The sound effects are still solid, and the soundtrack really puts players in the right mood. Annoyingly, the voice acting is still just as bad. Most of the accents tend to B level quality, as many actors seem to use the wrong accent. There are a lot of moments where a character will start with a passable accent and before suddenly dropping to an obvious classic American accent for a few words. There was even the odd line or two where the actor clearly gave up on trying.
World War Z: Aftermath is a good expansion. The extra content and the revamped melee system bring some much needed variation to the game. It still a grind heavy game that could benefit from more variation between runs. The audio/visual presentation is decent, though the voice acting could use a lot of improvement. Aftermath makes the game stronger. With the addition of the content patches released later in World War Z’s lifetime and Aftermath, this is the World War Z game I wish was released back in 2019.
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