World War Z Interview – Reviving the Zombie Shooter Genre

World War Z Interview – Reviving the Zombie Shooter Genre

Zombie shooters aren’t anything new, especially since there have been so many released in the past few years. With that said, the Saber Interactive developed and Focus Home Interactive published co-op zombie shooter World War Z seems like it’ll be far from the usual zombie shooters we’ve all played before. After checking out the most recent gameplay trailer, which is absolutely insane, we’ve been wanting to play the game as soon as possible.

During GDC 2019, Noisy Pixel had the chance to jump right into the world of World War Z and also, ask creative director at Saber Interactive, Oliver Hollis-Leick, questions to learn more about the upcoming title.

WWZ Screenshot 10

Brad Crespo: How exactly does the “Swarm Engine” in World War Z work, especially since you mentioned how 500 zombies can show up at once? How does it affect zombie AI? 

Oliver Hollis-Leick: I wish I could understand that, haha. It’s beyond my mathematical knowledge. But, rather than 500 individual spawned enemies, they act like a group, so like a school of fish or a flock of birds. If they encounter a player, they take off from the group and start attacking and interacting with that player, but the enemy will actually think and move like a hive until they encounter something. When the enemies pyramid up together, it’s very impressive — the way they crawl and climb up the wall.

WWZ Screenshot 01

BC: Now, I sadly haven’t watched the World War Z film, but I did read the book. What was the process like to get the World War Z license — did you approach Paramount for it?  

OHL: Essentially, Matt [Matt Karch CEO of Saber Interactive] went to Paramount and said “look, I believe I can make a game with these huge, massive crowds of zombies. I know we can do it, what do you think?” and Paramount responded, “well, we’d love to see it.” And that was the beginning of the relationship, and once we got the license, it was full steam ahead. They [Paramount] are really into it, actually, and they were flexible with us on how we achieved the right mood and setting for our World War Z.

BC: Is the World War Z game more geared towards the book or the movie? I’m assuming the movie since you mentioned Paramount but just wanted to check. Has Paramount been overseeing the game’s development? 

OHL: So, we have the movie license. What we did was try to take the universe of the movie and build a game around that, but tell our own story with it. Instead of carrying on with the Brad Pitt story, we decided to do something different.

As far as overseeing development, yes, they [Paramount] definitely have been. They wanted to know that what we told them we were going to do, that we were really going to do it. They didn’t want to see any last minute surprises or anything. They’ve been working closely with us and they’re really, really happy with the game.

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BC: Recently, the film sequel was canceled. Did that affect anything with World War Z’s development at all?

OHL: It’s really difficult to time that kind of thing. With movies, sometimes they say they’re going to be finished in two years or three years, but you never know what’s going to happen. So, there was no way we knew that that was going to happen. The good thing about this game, though, is that we will be continuing to support this game and add so much more to it, especially after release.

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BC: How did you handle game balance for World War Z?

OHL: For game balance, overall, our team has put in a ton of work into the AI system — it’s so in-depth and intuitive. Also, we have different difficulties for players so they can start off on an easier difficulty and work their way up.

BC: One Saber game that I believe is underrated and unfairly overlooked is Timeshift, which I know had a couple of development woes. Is there any chance Timeshift could make a comeback, maybe a remake?

OHL: Couldn’t tell you, honestly. I can’t say. However, it [Timeshift] has been on our mind — we’re just waiting for the right time and opportunity.


World War Z is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via the Epic Games store on April 16.

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