State of Decay: Year One Edition at PAX Prime 2014

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Back in 2013, Undead Labs’ State of Decay became one of the fastest selling XBLA games in history, amassing 250,000 units in two days, by the end of the month that total was over 750,000, and it has since gone on to sell more than 1 million combined units across XBLA and PC. State of Decay: Year One Edition, coming Spring 2015, is bringing its brand of Zombie Survival to Xbox One in 1080p.

At PAX Prime 2014, we had an opportunity to discuss the new edition with Lead Designer Geoffery Card, who has led design on both the Breakdown and Lifeline DLC, as well as the new content in the upcoming State of Decay: Year One Edition.

State of Decay: Year One Edition will feature all previously released content for State of Decay, in addition, new content will be added to old DLC experiences.  Card indicated that there would be a new mission type, new vehicles, new weapons, and visual improvements included with the new release. PC fans will have access to all of the same content as the purchasers of the Xbox One version of State of Decay: Year One Edition, but it will be presented as a new product – not an update. Card also indicated that Undead Labs is currently exploring ways to reward early adopters.

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State of Decay: Breakdown gives the player a sandbox environment to test the mettle of their survival skills

What is the ‘old DLC experience’ included with State of Decay: Year One Edition? The first DLC released for the original State of Decay was Breakdown, on November 29th, 2013. While the original State of Decay was a story-based experience designed to introduce players to the game and world, Breakdown was released as an Open World Sandbox experience in the same world. The reason, as Lead Designer Geoffery Card explains, “For a lot of players, this wasn’t really about the story, this was about living their own survival fantasy.” An interesting bit of trivia knowledge is that due to Breakdown utilizing the same map and level design as State of Decay, the Environment Artist, James, was able to begin working on Lifeline while the rest of the team was preparing Breakdown.

“Whereas Breakdown is liberating in the sense of freeing the player to explore the Sandbox as much as they want, Lifeline was liberating on the violence side.”

Lifeline, the second DLC for State of Decay, released May 30th, 2014 revisited the original story-based experience of State of Decay. Lifeline focuses on the storyline of the Military, which runs parallel to the original State of Decay storyline. As Card explains, “In the original game, the military felt kind of like this insidious force. They felt like they had their own agenda and it did not line up with yours, whatever it was. It kind of creeped the player out a little, and then they abandoned you!” Pulling on the military experience of Undead Labs team members, Card and his team wanted to show the other side of the story, “There is a reason why, they’ve got things they’re worried about. There is a point of view that you were not getting in the original State of Decay.” The result was Lifeline, which focuses on “the time management, and the ethical questions of what are you going to do that gives you the context to understand what the military was actually going through during that original State of Decay experience.”

SoD_YO_Screenshot_2_179What specifically does State of Decay: Year One Edition add to this previous DLC? A new mission type called ‘Cleo Drop’, which involves supply crates dropping into remote areas, with beacons that attract large quantities of zombies. One of the new vehicles being released is a durable SUV, and new skins for existing vehicles can be found throughout the map. Breakdown will feature the ability to unlock playable characters from Lifeline, and under-barrel attachments are finding their way into the world. Established game composer added an additional 30 minutes of music to State of Decay: Year One Edition, and a number of State of Decay Community improvements being put in. Xbox One specific additions are limited to features found only on the Xbox One, with Community and Individual Challenges, as well as Game DVR.

During our discussion, we also had a chat regarding the future of the State of Decay franchise. Recently, Undead Labs announced a long term, multi-title partnership with Microsoft Studios, and hired noted MMO industry veteran Pat Wyatt. When pressed to expand on the future of the franchise, Card offered the ultimate personal goal, “Can I create an open, flexible system, like the sandbox world of State of Decay that creates stories? That lets the player through their own choices, create stories that are just as entertaining as the story I authored myself might be? That, for me, is the ultimate thing I’d like to achieve.”