The lights are on
It's an obvious analogy: Like the undead enemies they
contain, zombie-themed video games and DLC simply won't die. Zombies have
games, and even your
lawn. Considering how many games I play for my job, you'd probably think
that I'd be tired of titles that have legions of the undead in them. You'd be
wrong. I hope even more zombie games come out in 2011, because as I see it, the
industry's current offerings are missing some characteristics that are key to the
The Left 4 Dead series has set the standard for undead shooters, but its epic
set pieces feel more in line with Modern Warfare than a zombie Armageddon. As a
fan of open-world games, I would love to see a GTA-style zombie game (Red
Dead's newest DLC pack obviously fits the bill, but I'd still like to see
something in an urban setting). Dead Rising offers an open world to explore,
but its light-hearted nature doesn't make traveling around town very
challenging. Exploring a post-apocalyptic city in a video game should be like
it is in the movies, where even traveling down the street to a gas station for
supplies is a life-threatening proposition. Fallout 3 is probably the closest
comparison; exploring its deadly wastelands is a major part of the fun. Perhaps
an Assassin's Creed approach would be entertaining, where the player is
presented with a giant open city packed with zombies, and traveling between
rooftops could offer some mild safety.
Beware The Bite:
Zombie bites are supposed to be deadly. But for some reason video game zombies
just gum you like some old geezer that has lost his dentures. How lame would 28 Days Later have been if the
protagonist could get bit by a dozen undead corpses, then slap on a bandage and
have everything go back to normal? The zombies we fight in video games are
essentially melee enemies with incredibly stupid AI. For a game to capture the
terror of a zombie outbreak, there has to be a real consequence to getting bit,
and that consequence should be death. Instead of giving players the ability to
miraculously heal their wounds, employ multiple protagonists and a branching
story. When a character gets bit, they die and that branch of the story simply
People who get killed by zombies turn into zombies. This is what separates
getting attacked by a zombie from getting attacked by a dirty hobo. As such,
characters who get bitten in video games - be it NPCs, co-op partners, or even
your character - should turn into zombies. Resident Evil Outbreak toyed with
this concept, but in most games your allies are still impervious to infection. Rescuing
innocents would be a lot scarier if those characters were capable of dying, and
a game like Left 4 Dead would be even more suspenseful if, after being bitten,
you had to watch your partners for signs that they're becoming a zombie. Also,
stick to zombie lore and require headshots, decapitation, or explosions to
finish off your undead enemies.
Plenty of games have nailed a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, but part of what
makes zombie films like Dawn of the Dead
so entertaining is the actual apocalypse, i.e. when the chaos first erupts and
civilization goes to crap. Games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising always start
after 99% of the population has been transformed into shuffling corpses. How
about letting us play through those tense first hours as the disease spreads
across the city? An open-world game could even do it in real-time - think of GTA
San Andreas' gang system, only with zombies. Not only would it be cool to see
and combat zombie outbreaks as they pop up through the city, but a random
system would also add a lot of replay value.
The undead are supposed to want to eat your brain, but with how underused it is
in most zombie games, we doubt it would be very tasty. I'd love to play a
zombie game that's based more on strategy than action. The Resident Evil series
has managed to do this with slower pacing and resource management, but the
games are still linear and sport bizarre storylines. An open world environment would
present plenty of opportunities for strategy. Scavenging for precious resources
would require figuring out viable routes to target areas and formulating exit
strategies, and the player could create safe houses by fortifying empty
buildings (with said resources). The addition of a day/night cycle could add a
sense of urgency to all of your actions (since zombies would be deadlier at
night, 'natch) - anyone who has ever rushed back to their home with a sack full
of resources in Minecraft knows how terrifying nightfall can be when your life
is truly on the line. Finally, multiple protagonists could provide different
skill sets, which would require the player to choose which characters to guard
at all costs, and which to gamble during dangerous situations. Don't get me
wrong - I still want a game where I can blast the crap out of zombies. I just
don't want that to be the only thing I can do.
Do you have any other gameplay elements you would like to
see in a zombie game? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
"People who get killed by zombies turn into zombies. This is what separates getting attacked by a zombie from getting attacked by a dirty hobo." I burst out laughing when I read that!
I like the sound of an open world zombie game, maybe even add in millitary/some agency trying to capture you kind of like The Crazies. So you just don't have to worry about zombies.
these are all brilliant ideas that all of us zombie fans have been aching to see forever! we need a game like this, an iconic genuine zombie survival game!
I like everyones ideas. Zombie games can definitely get better. Im sure we'll see some form of these ideas in future games.
ive had this exact same thought for at least 4 years
if anyone can pull off a game like it probably would be rock*
I like the 'get bit by a zombie, turn into a zombie idea,' and it sucks it hasn't been put into games. I don't care if it means you die, walking around as a zombie for a while until getting a game over and restarting from a save would be a fun little think, and not difficult to implement.
Also, I wish Sheva could have gotten infected in Resident Evil 5 (single player at least). I would have gotten rid of that healing and pistol only obsessed skank immediately. Or if you could make her right-handed in co-op.
I like the multiple story line idea, and honestly that could be incorporated into any horror game not just zombie ones. It's a great alternative to the infinite retrys that video games usually have and it wouldn't be too frustrating because you'd have another storyline to go through. It would make the game more replayable because after finishing it or getting the last game over, people would play it again to try and see the earlier character's endings. It would also be a great way to make the horror game even more scary because players wouldn't have the comfort of being able to replay a section easily if they die, they'd have to be careful not to die at all if they want to see the end of their current story.
Great article. I'd use everything you suggested for my perfect zombie game. It would have to include an online, 5-8 player co-op feature too. The players could customize their class with a job type (i.e. soldier, carpenter, medic, politician, mechanic, teacher, priest, & scientist.), pick a back story for your character like the Dragon Age / Mass Effect series; open the world up "GTA-style", and we'd all have to work together to survive and make it out of the infested city.
The objective would be; to create this team of survivors (5-8 players online), find a building to hold up in, clear it out, and when it's fortified, head out to collect supplies and other possible survivors around the city. Of course the player would start off alone, but close enough to a few other survivors in this zombie infested metro area. If you invite players, your crew will start off in an infested safe house.
When one of your team is infected, the remaining crew will be faced with a moral decision to either spare them the agony of becoming an undead killer (kill them right then and there, dude), the party leader could boot the infected out of the safe house to fend for oneself, or let them stay with the crew until they turn...and then kill 'em!!!
Thank you Jeff. This is my dream game, and I can't believe so many zombie games have dropped the ball, when you, me, and everyone else can picture this game so easily. Please someone, make us a great zombie game!
This article made me hungry; I think I'll get some Bbrrraaaa....n crackers.
As much as I loved Dead Rising 2, whenever I got bit by a zombie I couldn't help but think, shouldn't I be dead now?
a zombie infested GTA4
with a quentin tarantino style
filled with many many quests/challenges
a central base to return to- to upgrade weapons/defenses/characters
not just a lame, dull base- a cool batcave/xmansion/jazz club- style base
lots of colorful details (throughout the game) such as textures/settings
lotsLOTS of weapons, lots of upgradeable armor
perfect game would be an open world fps, with lots of rpg elements
lots of strategy...
think borderlands, GTA, the action of left4dead, the fun of deadrising
but also, add lots of npc's
in the daytime, people should be busy, working, building, talking
at night, giant sentry guns guard the cities
also, you gotta have the old tavern full of mysterious strangers like in fable lol
best game ever ^
I like the GI concept, a lot, but all is easier said than done.
I would love to see a game that features each of these solutions: An open world apocalyptic zombie title, where people become infected and survival is more emphasized on not being bitten and gaining resources.
Hey, there is a open-world zombie game with survival. It's called dead nation, not the PSN game, it's a flash game on the internet. Check it out.
Ahhh! Thank you Jeff! I actually sent in an email (because in one of the podcasts, Joe mentioned that you guys can send in game ideas given to you by readers) a rough outline of a zombie-themed FPS with RPG elements that I scrawled in a notebook as a child (I've always been a zombie-lover)
Here it is:
-Idea for original(?) zombie game
-for interactions w/ survivors and leveling up diff skills
-for combat, of course
-level design would be small town/city
-could change venue by organizing trip to other city
-would require gathering of supplies, cars, etc.
-could only explore the town/city, but could go anywhere you want, search for supplies/survivors/etc.
-return to home base for “renovations” i.e. building defenses
-survive the night – basically just assault by insane amount of zombies
-similar in concept to “the last stand/the last stand 2” on armorgames.com,
-can choose to talk it out, or kill them and take their stuff
-not all will join, some will just attack, etc.
-similar in concept to Mass Effect 2's system of trust etc.
-to add variety, you make journey to new safehouses, and therefore cities, in (optional. meaning you are given a prompt saying, “do you want to drive? or skip? if you do drive, action-y things occur, like in CoDMod driving bits) driving sections (reasons? story – searching for parents/relatives/govt. camp/idk)
-upon arriving would choose a building as your new safehouse
-go in w/ the survivors you brought, clear it out
-realistic difficulty – zombie bite means eventual death, not immediate. there’d have to be some sort of reward for not starting over though, otherwise everyone would just restart from last checkpoint
-passive level ups i.e. running a lot makes you run faster/longer and using a certain gun a lot makes you better w/ that gun
after u get bitten u should have to help the zombies, sort of like a man hunt through the world. and under water zombies would be amazing. Reading "the zombie survival guide" should tell any one what needs to be in a zombie game
I'd like to see a I am Legend type thing, where the game doesn't end until you cure the actual outbreak and administer it to the population.