ZombiU was a launch title for the Wii U that launches you into the role of a random silent survivor and tasks you with surviving the zombie apocalypse in London. The identities of survivors are a common name and a job they had before the ravens left the Tower of London. When a survivor succumbs to the undead horde another pops up to take their place. With the game being as hard as it is most people will go through survivors faster than a zombie chews through flesh. When the first survivor dies, the weight of their death comes down on your shoulders. All of their progress, their gear, their journey comes to a screeching halt .Even if the player were to make up a backstory and a personality for a survivor in their head; the constant slew of deaths makes it hard to connect with any one character. It creates a sense of detachment between the player and survivors. That’s okay, because the headline of ZombiU’s story is not the survivor you control; it’s the Prepper.


When the game begins, the first survivor is lurking about wide eyed in fear through the trash and rubble of London, trying to come to terms with the nightmare he has been thrust into. When he passes in front of a London Tube entrance, a voice comes over a speaker:


“Hey! Over here! Come down into the station! You! Yes, you! I’ve got eyes on you! Follow my voice! In the Tube!”


The heavy Yorkshire accent that blares out of the speaker and into the streets attracts a horde of countless zombies. The survivor is paralyzed with fear.


Don’t just stand there gawping! Hurry!”

            With no one else to trust in a world gone mad, the survivor puts his faith in the faceless voice and follows directions to end up at the Safe House.


“My friends call me THE PREPPER... You know why? Because I’m always prepared.”


The Prepper is the survivors’ only guide through their journeys. He gives the survivors tasks to do and monitors their progress and helps out in any way he can, from warning them of upcoming danger or remotely hacking security cameras and doors.


He seems trustworthy enough. He apparently worked for the British military before the outbreak. He said that he helped build multiple safe houses. This is aside the fact that he has taken a Nobody in, someone wandering the infected streets of London, destined to die. Prepper plucked them off the street and gave them the tools and the knowledge to survive the brave new world.


On the other hand, he can’t be really trusted. The survivors know nothing about him or his motives. He remains a faceless voice through their journeys, an omniscient being watching their every move, guiding them on the right path. He seems to care about the survivor he’s helping. There are times when calls up before a possibly difficult section or during a tense situation, frightened, saying encouragements such as “I can get you out of this” and “don’t you die on me now.” However, he is annoyed whenever a survivor sticks out their neck for somebody else. One example is when the gas station manager asks the survivor to procure medicine in exchange for fuel for the Safe House’s generator. The Prepper calls up right after and says “He asked for what? You can’t be serious. He’s leading you towards your death! You know, there’s still time to change your mind and storm the gas station.” Prepper definitely cares about keeping you alive, putting you ahead of everyone else, yet it seems hypocritical of him to ignore helping any other person except you. There is several times where he chastises the survivor for risking their life, once shouting “and meanwhile the Safe House is vulnerable!”


A lot of that distrust of others stems from the fact that Prepper has a cynical outlook on the zombie apocalypse. He firmly believes that the entire world is doomed. He doesn’t think that there is a cure out there for the infection, nor does he think there’s any hope for a better tomorrow. He doesn’t trust others that believe in that sort of thinking, believing that they are holding onto an idea that will ultimately lead to their downfall. Prepper is all about surviving. Even the name prepper is what modern day survivalists call themselves.


This is why when he discovers at the end that the survivor has been caught up with those who promise cures and an evacuation, he turns on the survivor:


“Oh. I see how it is! You’re all bloody plotting and conspiring behind my back! The Doctor, the Ravens… You know what, fine! Try to save yourself! Die in the fire, for all I care! You’re no survivor, like me! None of you are! You’re nothing to me! Go on, go! Get out! You people are no better than the plague! I gave you shelter, weapons, equipment… I taught you how to survive! You’d be dead without me! And this is how you repay me? You needed me! Oh, you’re all grown up now, strutting off on wild goose chases all by yourself, sticking your neck out…but just remember where I found you! I should have let the Safe House burn, just like the whole of London will! Just like John Dee foretold! No bloody gratitude, that’s the problem with people like you! You just take, take, take, like a selfish child! It’s no wonder the country’s gone to the dogs, is it? Well don’t you worry, because I’ll have the last laugh! I will outlive you all! I thought we were partners! I trusted you, gave you skills and knowledge! I should *** kill you myself! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY SAFEHOUSE!”


The survivor runs away, chasing the possibility of an evacuation, leaving Prepper alone. Players are treated to a brief glimpse into the Prepper’s life. He walks out of his locked room and into the Safe House, taking out everything the survivor left in the storage bin. As he limps back into his room, players see that his right foot is gone, replaced by a metal rod and a shoe. Inside his room he begins stacking the supplies left behind onto shelves. These shelves are already full and stocked to the ceiling with food, water, ammunition, guns, everything he needs to survive for months, maybe even years. When he’s done sorting, he walks over to a screen full of monitors, types several things onto a keyboard, and pulls up a survivor on screen who is in a similar state to the first one he found.


“This is the Prepper. Do you read me? Over.”


The Prepper is using survivors for his own ends. He picks them off the street, trains them, and sets them out into the streets to scavenge supplies for him. As he is a survivalist, there is the possibility that he acquired most of the supplies from before the apocalypse, but he knows that those supplies won’t last forever. Despite his military knowledge and survival skills, Prepper can’t go out and gather supplies himself because of his amputated foot. He’d be unable to run, leaving him a vulnerable target. In a way, survivors are expendable to him, as shown explicitly in his last cut scene where he picks up another survivor right after the last one left. Yet, there are hints of this throughout the game. Whenever a survivor dies he doesn’t lament their deaths. He’s more frustrated than sad when another one goes down, saying things like “Hello? Can you hear me? Dammnit!” Most of his comments are unnaturally cold, such as, “Well, at this rate I’ll be the only one surviving,” “You wouldn’t be dead if you listened to me,” and even “Good riddance.”


Those types of comments are completely different than the rant Prepper goes off on when he feels that the survivor turned their back on him. In that scene it’s obvious that he feels hurt by what he sees as the survivor’s betrayal. If survivors are a dime a dozen to him, why does he take it so personally at the end when he’s abandoned? It’s because he grew attached to that survivor. They followed his orders and survived all the tasks he sent them out on.  He thought they were like him, a true survivor. Perhaps Prepper he feels guilty by holing himself up and surviving while others die. He obviously cared for the survivors at one point, especially the last one that betrayed him. Yet, while he wants to help one, training them to be a kindred spirit and survive with him, Prepper distrusts others distances himself from people. Sitting at a desk and giving orders to survivors from behind a screen does not connect you the same way face to face interactions do, it distances him from the survivors he’s guiding. And at the frequency that survivors die, he doesn’t have the strength to attach himself emotionally to any of them if they are only going to die further down the line. It’s a similar feeling of detachment that players feel towards the survivors when the fifth one dies under their guidance.


While Prepper is the headline of the story, it’s unclear whether players should put the words of the Prepper above those of others in the game, but they are worth considering. At the end, London is firebombed in an attempt to eradicate the infection from the city as the helicopter evacuates the area. However, it’s unclear whether the rest of the world is safer, or if the Prepper was right in thinking that the world is doomed and that only the strong will survive. Perhaps the Prepper was right in focusing on survival, looking out for oneself, and not trusting others unnecessarily. Whether or not Prepper is right or not about the direction the new world is headed in, he will most likely survive the firebombing of London in his Safe House. When the ashes of the old London settle, a new city made of those who survived will emerge. I would not count out Prepper becoming the leader of a band of survivors in a new London. We’ll only know when the sequel comes out.  



For those who have played ZombiU, what are your thoughts on The Prepper? Do you trust him or not? Love the post or hate it, leave a comment below of your thoughts and thank you for reading.