What started as a DLC campaign for Sniper Elite V2, Zombie Army gained extreme popularity with its compelling gameplay for both single-player and co-op enthusiasts. Following the success of other similar titles, Zombie Army gained its own identity, and Rebellion went ahead to develop Zombie Army 4: Dead War, a full release title, well worth all the hype.
Although the Führer is long dead and burning in the never-ending fires of hell, his Z plan remains the most significant threat the world has ever seen. A legion of zombies roam freely, and the resistance persists against the decaying corpses. Four new characters will take the fight up and personal: Boris, the resistance badass. Jun, a Chinese diplomat with an attitude. Karl, the well-known veteran from the Sniper Elite series, and lastly, Shola, a Nigerian engineer stationed in Italy.
The resistance will fight across Italy, Croatia, and straight to hell, passing in some iconic places like Venice, Naples, Sardinia, and other beautiful historic locations, now under the undead Armageddon. Across nine different chapters, with several levels each, player’s will be the strong front against the demonic forces.
Wrapped around the fundamentals from the previous titles, Zombie Army 4: Dead War presents a third-person shooter, fighting waves of zombies while preempting their attacks, as well as being proactive will be the key to success. Built with four players in mind, the campaign delivers a robust and challenging adventure, that is equally fun on a solo terrain. Some of the mission’s goals consist of defending a key position or pushing harder against the infestation, as well as searching for items to advance. In this regard, missions don’t change much from the previous trilogy, but they still feel compelling.
There are a lot of new features to talk about, and these give Dead War a well-deserved push in the right direction. One that aims to please replayability and entertainment values. Leveling up is back, with score points awarded at each completed level. Stats such as the number of kills, highest combo, accuracy, and best shot will set out the final score. These numbers, together with the collectibles you found, and a particular in-game challenge will increase your experience points.
As players rank up their levels, new abilities will unlock, and each character can use up to a handful of them. Resisting damage, increasing speed, ability to carry heavy machinery, and plenty of other skills can be selected, creating different builds that will play out well if in a group of players that compliment your loadout. These abilities, once unlocked, can be applied to all other characters, which opens new paths for the solo campaigners out there.
Character upgrades are not the only new features among the new deck of content, as weapons will benefit tremendously with unlockables. Upgrading damage, ammo capacity, reload speed, and overall control will do wonders while crowd-controlling dozens upon dozens of zombies. Further upgrades can go as far as the inclusion of explosive rounds to many other intense add-ons.
The customization doesn’t end there, as players can personalize their weapons with style. Several skins unlock as the campaign goes on, as well as little charms that look awesome for decoration. My personal favorite is the reticle selection. This is huge, especially if you’re like me, and love to change your reticles to be clean and precise, something I feel similar titles need to do.
With this amount of features, the gameplay has to be worthy of such investment and rest assured, it is. The first implementation that stands out is the ability to use new attacks. Such as takedowns that allow players to kill zombies with a finishing move, these animations are quite a sight to behold. The second is these special attacks that players can perform with their weapons. These weapon abilities are a limited bonus you can use, and all it takes to recharge it is continuing to kill zombies. Another small and exciting tidbit is the ability to stomp on fallen zombies, therefore dropping extra loot, such as health packs and ammunition.
Traps and baits will also play out a significant role, as players can activate them and create some substantial scale damage. The sound beacon is the perfect example to attract one group of zombies, in which you can just grenade it, or, if you’re lucky, the trap already includes an embedded hazardous surprise, like an electrical grid.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War can be fun while at the same time, adaptive to your gameplay style. Focusing on either defensive or offensive strategies require different approaches, and I always felt that both of my characters, using a different set of skills, had plenty of resources to utilize each ability to my prospect. Meaning Zombie Army is no longer exclusively about shooting guns. Instead, it delivers a wide range of possibilities to kill your enemies. Meanwhile, new threats are also part of the fun, with some old fortified enemies joining the party. Heavies and Bosses gave me plenty of hard times, but despite dying when I gave it my all, I felt I learned some new tricks to help me afterward.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is more satisfying than ever, with upgraded kill-cams and dismemberment. Shooting zombies is incredibly fun, and Rebellion cranked it up to 11 with the destruction. More than ever before, Players can deliver mayhem across hordes of undead mindless zombies, with a pure manifestation of pleasure for extermination.
With such amazing gameplay, you wouldn’t be surprised if we forgot to talk about the visual design. Here’s a short description: It looks fantastic. But let’s get deeper. Levels are structurally efficient and provide challenging moments, whether it is in wide-open plazas or tight sewers. Although dark and intense, there’s a certain charm to it, one that wasn’t previously there. It almost feels less horror-oriented, even though demonic forces are still alive and well. Areas deliver a diverse atmosphere, in both indoor and outdoor levels, with each level providing a new art style, which pleases me a lot.
Effects and particles look well made, especially with the kill-cam, as it is more refined and showing all that sweet gory mess. A lot of good ideas went into this fourth game, and some are straight-up creepy, but don’t we just love it that way? Character models are spectacular, but some of the animations, like running, feels strange and almost cartoonish in a way. Zombie aesthetic is decent, and in some cases, original, but most will be dull, generic rotten zombies.
On the optimization side, I was surprised to find full support for DirectX 12 and Vulkan. We managed to run Zombie Army 4: Dead War with an RX 580 4GB graphics card with high settings on textures and anti-aliasing (which I believe to be Temporal AA), as well as drawn distances, shadows, and in-game reflections on medium. This performance is probably due to Vulkan, as it is well known for obtaining better results with AMD graphics cards. Either way, the in-game settings have a vast amount of preference settings, including the size and opacity of the subtitles. It’s great to see this level of attention and respect towards players.
Day one downloadable content includes mostly skins, as well as extra characters and weapons. These offer different stats, but not necessarily superior. In fact, with all the possible upgrades and skills, weaponry becomes almost a matter of preference. Horde mode is available, as well as weekly events, which I’m sure will please players looking for more content beyond the campaign.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is one of the best games I’ve seen in 2020, with well-done solo and multiplayer campaigns that are engaging and responsive. Top-tier gameplay with captivating ideas is a fun approach to a genre that needs as much creativity as it can find. Different difficulty options welcome all types of players and significantly lets one grow and aim for yet, another challenge.
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