The vast majority of city building games on console first make their debut on PC, but more often than not, they then stay confined there. It’s understandable, after all, complex control schemes are easier to lay out for mouse and keyboard. However, there are some games that decide to make the leap. Frostpunk and Cities: Skylines are two great examples of those that successfully made that transition.
Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is another that is hoping to make that jump. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, where terrorists managed to blow up nucleur power plants and plunge the world into chaos, you control a handful of survivors. These people emerged from “Endzones”, underground facilities that saved them from the fallout, 150 years after the attacks.
It’s very much Fallout meets the city builder genre, reminding a lot of a PC game called Banished, but on console I’d say the themes heavily match that of Frostpunk. There are set campaigns to play through, as well as a survival mode. There is also a fairly lengthy tutorial that I definitely recommend playing through on your first time picking up the game.
The tutorial goes through everything and there is a handy guide that can be accessed from the menu at any time. I definitely caught myself referring to it a couple of times, but overall the mechanics are intuitive and the controls wonderfully adapted for controller.
For my first real playthrough, I dove straight into survival mode. Endless modes in these kinds of games are always my favorite and I wanted to be able to experience everything. The game starts off simple enough as settlers gather around the makeshift base as they await orders. The first goal is to set up collection points for water, food, and resources – the primary one being scrap. There are a variety of ways to collect each of them and as the game progresses you can use a research station to unlock more.
I loved the variety of resources that Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition has. Scrap can be broken down into more refined resources, like plastic, metal, electronics, etc, while the late game focuses on collecting luxury items. This starts off simple with items like soap and coffee, but progresses to introduce new resources, such as concrete, which can be used to make even nicer structures. I like that it’s possible to eventually have a nice, clean settlement in a post-apocalyptic world.
The only hiccup in the system is the research facility. To research new items, you need to use intelligence points and resources. But to unlock new tiers of research you need research tools. The only way to gain research tools is through expeditions where you send scouts to different places and then arrange expeditions to that place.
There are a couple of things I don’t like about this system. For starters, there isn’t a pool of explorers to send out. You’ll assign scouts as the building workers, but the expeditions needed to have individual workers assigned. This isn’t too bad, but I would prefer just to assign explorers and have the game handle the rest.
The bigger issue has been how dependent you’ll be on RNG to find these research tools. Some buildings are almost guaranteed to have them, but you’ll need to also have the right settler badges to collect them and those are randomly given to settlers. It isn’t impossible to get them; just more tedious than I would’ve liked.
The RNG also proves frustrating in some of the campaigns. For example, one of the campaign scenarios involves collecting different seeds. These can only be gathered from expeditions or a random event that your settlers can start. I explored every farming location on the map but couldn’t find enough seeds to complete the objective. Maybe I missed something, but the entire system is certainly more tedious than I would’ve liked.
On the other hand, one of the unique mechanics which is nice is the individual tile values for moisture, radiation, and attractiveness. Part of ensuring settler health means keeping radiation levels down and radiation can be manually removed. Increasing water levels while there is low radiation will cause trees to stay green and healthy. This was brilliant – I am a huge fan of being able to make an environment look nice and the fact that it was an option was incredibly gratifying.
In terms of overall playability, Endzone does a good job adapting itself for console. The UI has been overhauled for console and, while I never played the PC version, they’ve done a great job at making the UI readable and accessible for controllers.
There are a couple of things I didn’t particularly care for though, the biggest being how damaged buildings don’t automatically display the resource requirements to repair them. Instead the status bar of the building has to be clicked on and this makes cycling through damaged buildings cumbersome, especially since sandstorms cause damage to a large number of buildings.
The other issue which cropped up throughout is in regards the UI. As the game went on, the UI would sometimes glitch out for a second and I wouldn’t be able to select buildings until the game caught up. It never caused the game to crash on me and it fixed itself quickly, but it still happened.
Overall though, Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is a fantastic addition to the Xbox lineup. It could use a little more optimization and there are a couple small bugs that need to be squashed, but it is an easy game to sink tons of hours into, with a similar feel to that of Frostpunk. If you enjoyed that game then definitely try out Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition on Xbox.
Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is on the Xbox Store