It’s been just over a year since World War Z was first released on Xbox One, based on the 2013 blockbuster of the same name. I was lucky enough to review it at the time, and very much liked what it delivered. It seems, however, that many others didn’t quite agree, and as a result they offered up lower scores. Personally, I thought this was harsh and the game was underrated.
Still, World War Z shifted a decent amount of copies, and before long DLC and a Season Pass became available. Now we have the Game of the Year Edition in place, which gives you everything you will ever need in one package. Will it be enough to convert the naysayers? Or will it just provide more of the same – which, for the record, is just fine by me.
As you may have guessed, I really enjoyed the initial release of World War Z, especially the online multiplayer. It was a game that you needed online opportunities to properly enjoy, otherwise it was a bit of a lacklustre experience offline. Further still, when it was added to Xbox Game Pass, matchmaking was made so much slicker thanks to the much expanded player base. “But exactly what do you get in the GOTY edition?”, I hear you cry.
Well, simply put you will receive the Season Pass content as well as all DLC packages released (paid and free). This means you’ll get your hands on a brand new campaign episode, two new game modes, loads of weapon and character skins as well as a brand new weapon pack which is still to be released. So, basically, loads more ways to kill hordes of zombies. What more could you possibly want?
Episode 5 of the campaign is set in Marseille, and as usual follows a group of four survivors battling tooth and nail to keep it that way. All in all, it’s more of the same campaign action, but this is no bad thing. Of course, it is best played online with other human allies. Communicating isn’t always easy though, due to the limited amount of communication commands if you don’t opt for voice chat.
Unfortunately, the three parts of the episode only add up to a couple of hours of gameplay (if that), so it is pretty short lived. However, the online co-op offers some replayability despite the story itself not changing each time. The narrative is straightforward and simple but is just a mechanism to allow you to shoot loads of zombies, which is all we could want from a game such as this.
That said, you will be navigating your way through several set pieces which mix up the shooting action nicely, allowing for things to keep being varied. You’ll go from searching the sewers for explosive charges to loading hillside rocket launchers to collapsing bridges and tunnels to slow the Zeke swarms. It’s big budget Hollywood storytelling on a global scale.
The new episode once again looks pretty, especially the second part in which you’ll be meandering through quaint French streets where the Zeke could jump out from any number of hiding places to try and take a bite out of you. The usual special zombies are back too, such as the charging bulls and support-mustering Screechers, however there are no new additions to the roster, which is a shame.
It must be said that, even on the easiest difficulty, the campaign is still a lot of fun and provides a certain level of challenge in places. There are four levels above this, which gives you some idea of how difficult you can make the experience for yourself, if you should wish to.
It’s not just a new campaign episode that you’ll get however – there are also two new game modes to get your teeth into. First up is “Challenge Mode”. The clue here is in the name. You’ll play through an episode you are familiar with, except there will be certain conditions set to make things harder (think skulls from Halo). It’s difficult, and will probably be enjoyed by the true sadists out there who don’t mind dying over and over again at the hands of the Zeke.
The second addition is the “Horde Mode”, which I have found much more enjoyable. This is essentially an endless or survival mode where your team sees how long they can last out against waves of Zeke. It’s not easy, but feels a bit more tactical as you can repair and purchase new defences, and set them up in between waves. In this mode you may recognise maps from the regular online multiplayer which have been adapted for Horde Mode, meaning you can access previously closed off areas. It’s a subtle bit of continuity that I really appreciated having previously ploughed many hours into the online multiplayer.
Talking of the online multiplayer, this sadly is the only part of the game which remains largely untouched. You can play as any of the characters from the Marseille episode, but otherwise that’s it. Some new level caps or different classes to play as would have been nice (they exist in the co-op mode) for addicts such as me who have maxed all the existing ones out. As it is, the lack of any new content here feels like a missed opportunity considering the price tag. Alone, the season pass is £24.99 and only the base game is included with Xbox Game Pass. If you want to purchase it all in this bundle, it will set you back more than £40.
However, you do get all of the customisation options released for World War Z in the form of skin packs. The character packs – “The Professionals” and “War Heroes” – are included, as well as the weapon packs of “Last Aid”, “Special Operations Forces”, “Biohazard” and “Lobo”.
As always, when you complete any co-op episodes your character class and weapons will gain XP (depending on how and if you used them) and level up accordingly. Some weapons also have special unique versions which are often far superior to the regular counterparts.
Overall there’s a decent amount of content here, but when put against the price tag it may feel a bit thin on the ground for some. There are missed opportunities where more content could have been added, and as a result this will only extend the game life moderately for those after new experiences. This won’t be the case if, like me, you were addicted to the multiplayer modes from day one.
Generally, it’s a case of more of the same with World War Z – GOTY Edition on Xbox One. There’s nothing here that will win over new fans, but it is a decent offering to keep existing ones entertained, even if they might be left wanting more.