Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Played on: Xbox One X
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: Avalanche Studios/THQ Nordic
Release date: March 26 2019
You might have noticed I put the word review in quotations? It's hard to admit this but I can't call this a real review for the simple fact that I didn't finish the game. If you're still interested in wanting to know why, and my thoughts on what I did experience of the game, continue reading. If not, I totally get it. No hard feelings but I'll explain why I didn't finish further into the "review".
This is a solid looking game, as far as the environment goes and overall look of the game. Yes, they reuse the same house/building layouts over and over again and the same vehicle models it seems as well. Once you've ransacked 4 houses or vehicles, you've seen all the layouts and that's true with any other building I noticed in the roughly 10hrs I put into the game just kinda playing and walking around.
Your equipment shows it's condition too. Which I thought was a pretty nice little touch. The sun shinning through the trees can be an amazing sight when you're just walking around and taking in the beautiful landscape. Night time can be just as equally beautiful while the weather effects add their own flair to the world as well. However the buildings and vehicles are all fairly basic in design and it's apparent they put more focus on the actual world environment than the things in it.
How Generation Zero plays is not unlike any other FPS game out there. Pretty standard control scheme as well. The inventory management is a little awkward, considering sometimes you have to manually combine your ammo and first aid kits from time to time. I don't know how to explain that one. It's just something that happens. Your inventory space is pretty limited, and could possibly stay that way, depending on how you spec your character. So that adds to the awkwardness of the overall inventory control of your character. There's also a huge map with no real means of transportation. You unlock safe houses as you progress and can fast travel between them, but ultimately you're hoofing it over large distances. This gives you a chance to experience the beauty of the game, but it's so openly vacant and lifeless it gets old quick. The lifelessness adds to the overall undertone of the game and is probably intentional but I think was a bit too much.
Your character gains levels from the experience they receive from defeating the machines of which there are several different types. All with varying weapons and sensors. The most common is the little dog like machine, which can either carry a small caliber automatic weapon or what seemed to be a largish caliber semi-automatic weapon with pin-point accuracy. Then there was this weird mech like machine that had a sword, automatic rifle and sometimes a grenade/gas launcher. Those were arguably the hardest I had to deal with since they could leap what seemed like 100yds at one time and smash down onto you with the blade, and said blade could swing through walls and barriers to cause massive damage. There are much, much larger and intimidating looking machines I just didn't get a chance to experience them.
There is an awesome mechanic that I give Avalanche Studios credit for and that's all the robots have weak points where sometimes one hit will take them down. You have to shoot off pieces of the machine's armor to expose the weak points a lot of times, but it's worth it. Any damage done to the machines is also permanent, so if you've badly damaged them but had to run away your next encounter with them they'll still be just as damaged when you ran away so maybe you'll get to finish the job in the second, or third, encounter.
Your character has 3 skill trees you can use your skill point on when you level up after getting enough XP. I wasn't very impressed with the skills they had to offer. The game seems to also be heavily skewed towards not engaging the enemy unless you absolutely have to. I got more experience for evading combat than actually winning a fight. You had things such as fireworks and flares you could throw out to distract the machines while you either ran from them, or laid waste to them. Those distractions come in handy when there's multiple machines around. There's also a handful of different weapon mods for each of the weapons which you can use to cater to your play style, so extra point there for adding weapon mods.
Generation Zero seems to be heavily focused on multiplayer. That being said you can do it solo, like I did, but it comes at a price of being a lot harder and probably at too slow of a pace. I knew going into the game though that this would be the case, however, I didn't quite think it skewed the difficulty level that much. Boy was I wrong. One on one the machines aren't too bad. But once you get more than one on you(unless you can snipe and lay traps...basically guerilla warfare tactics for your solo play) you're probably going to die...a lot. Be warned if you decide to undertake this game by yourself.
Last but not least would be the bugs in the game. Where the machines seemed to phase their weapons through barriers and still hit you, or where you would have to jump through doorways at times and completely ruin your stealth option and once one machine knew where you were, they all did. Or how it seemed that the machines could just randomly spawn on you or drop down into the map itself but still be able to damage you. Also the machines all respawning after you exit the game and then restart seemed like a weird thing to institute. The loot also respawns too. I guess I just figured in a game like this once you clear an area it would stay cleared of enemies and loot. Kind of a means of forcing progression.
Now, this is where Generation Zero really falters and where they lost me. The story is you basically coming back from a weekend getaway with your friends. You were camping with them on some random island and when you get back to the mainland, everyone is gone and the machines are just roaming around seemingly killing anything that lives. The story is told through notes, scraps of paper, newspapers, voice recordings and answering machine messages. I guess there is a good story here but this is where I lost touch with the game and ultimately just lost interest. It's not engaging enough at all and the story/quest line tracking is a mess.
There's also these bunkers scattered around that everyone was supposed to go to during this weird catastrophe, but of course the ones you go to are empty so you gotta go look for another one where "people might be" so you're forever on a wild goose chase.
I lost interest in the story and then began not to care at all about what happened to the people, or the story that was trying to be told. I found myself maybe progressing the story by one or two missions and then buggering off to wander around aimlessly. That by itself got boring quick because of the before mentioned lifelessness of the environment itself. So, I got bored with the game and put it down and haven't come back to it. Yep. Go me.
That's why I can't really call this a review because I didn't finish this game and probably won't. It's not the first game I've done this with and won't be the last. At least I only paid $25 for it and not a full $60 like I have before.
Look, this game has a lot of potential. During my time with it they updated it a few times and it seemed to get better. Though oddly they took away the stats the pieces of clothes gave you or, at the very least, if you found a piece of clothing and it said that it gave you "Bullet Resistance" when you went in to equip it, it didn't say anything at all. So it made me wonder if they just turned all the clothing into cosmetics now?
Anyways, like I said, it has a lot of potential but I don't think we're going to see it. I'm not sure how dedicated Avalanche Studios is to this project or if it was some sort of a "test" game to see if they can make something else aside from Just Cause games.
With it getting as boring as quickly as it did, the lackluster story to keep you engaged, and the heavy emphasis on multiplayer(which doesn't really seem to make the game much more engaging or interesting just easier as far as combat goes) this just seems like a a "Back up" title. Maybe something you'd play once you hit a rut with your main game, or something to add to your rotation on your stream when you or your viewers get tired of watching/playing the same game.
Such a shame too, the concept is awesome; it just fails to deliver on anything meaningful.