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‘State of Decay: Lifeline’ feels more like a sequel than a DLC add-on

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State of Decay: Lifeline (PC)

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For their second DLC offering to the zombie survival game State of Decay, Undead Labs has created an entirely new chapter to the title’s unique blend of community building meets zombie killing. Adding much more than what may have been expected in an add-on, Lifeline introduces a new story campaign that is set within a new map.

The shambling heart of the city

Gone are the rural fields and farmlands that State of Decay fans are accustomed to. Lifeline places players directly into an urban environment that not only provides a new look to the undead outbreak, but also introduces an all new set of dangers.

From storefronts to overpasses and underground tunnels, the new DLC truly gives players the sense of being in the middle of a city torn apart by the undead. The scene is completed by twisted wreckage, debris, and burning skyscrapers in the distance. The setting is in stark contrast to the meadows and small towns of the base game.

As if the threat of being in a city full of zombies wasn’t great enough, players who venture deep into the streets may find themselves inside of danger zones which act like undead hot spots. Designated as red areas on the map, the add-on’s addition of these zones aren’t safe to scavenge as traveling to these areas will result in endless combat and running as the locations constantly throw zombies at the player.

This isn’t a job for civilians

In Lifeline, gamers aren’t in control of some ragtag group of survivors with assorted skills. Instead, the add-on places players in command of a unit of trained soldiers. As such, the survivor group is much better equipped and well suited to the presence of hungry reanimated corpses than previous survivors.

With better weaponry at their disposal, and the ability to get resupplies from HQ for more gear and additional ammunition, players have the resources necessary to put the shooting skills of their trained squad to use. Melee combat is still useful and required at times, but fans will be able to open fire upon the hordes of the undead in Lifeline much more often than ever before.

Home sweet home

With the addition of a new map comes a new base of operations. Located within a shopping center, Lifeline’s base is codenamed “Black Friday” due to the masses still clamoring to get in the stores. As before, the base contains bunks, parking spaces, and various other optional structures that players can choose to build using the supplies that they have scavenged throughout the city. There are even new plots including a latrine for sanitary purposes and a generator to power the complex.

Taking advantage of the advanced assets that are at the unit’s disposal in the DLC, the base also has a number of new militaristic options which help gamers dictate how their team behaves. From the ops center, players can issue different tactics which determine what the squad will focus on while out in the field. This includes options to have soldiers search for additional supplies, hunt the undead to keep the local zombie populations lower, or seek out potential soldiers from other teams to add to the player’s own roster of survivors.

“Black Friday” isn’t completely cut off from the outside world however. Players have the ability to radio in support from HQ to send in helicopter supply drops which can include various materials or even new weaponry depending on what is requested. There are also specific military sites that are located throughout the city which provide access to new abilities such as mortar strikes and sniper reinforcement teams if players can find the locations and set up new outposts on top of them.

A city overrun

Fans can’t ignore their base in Lifeline and expect it to remain safe while they freely explore the map. As the number of undead inside the city grows, a threat level indicator rises until the player base becomes under siege by a tide of zombies that can no longer be held at bay. During a siege, the base must be defended or the dead will take it. Players must use the full force of their military might to prevent this from happening.

These periodic base sieges consist of multiple waves of undead that want nothing more than to eat every last survivor. To stop this, gamers can set up a number of makeshift traps along the outside perimeter of “Black Friday.” Of course, this measure alone won’t stop the dead from busting through the gates to enter the base.

Sieges require a well-equipped team to assist players in turning back the undead hordes. Ordering a few properly placed mortar strikes doesn’t hurt the preservation of the base either. Once a siege is over, threat level reverts to stage one as the number of undead recedes, but it is only a matter of time before their population regroups and another siege is at hand. Players must use this time in between attacks to scavenge for supplies and search for survivors.

A new chapter in undead gaming

State of Decay’s Lifeline DLC offers an all-new way to experience last year’s zombie survival game. The new campaign and setting gives the title a new life while the gameplay still retains a familiar feel. The new DLC seems more like a sequel built upon the same engine instead of just an add-on for State of Decay. Lifeline is a must for fans of Undead Lab’s zombie survival entry. Gamers who enjoy the genre and haven’t tried the game yet should really give it a shot as it remains one of last-gen’s best examples of zombie gaming.

Lifeline also launches alongside the latest title update for State of Decay which adds inventory spaces to all of the game’s vehicles. This gives players the option to bring multiple supply sacks home at once rather than having to take them back one a time.

Positives

  • Features an all new map and story campaign
  • The siege system and danger zones add a new level of challenge to the game

Negatives

  • The “race against the clock” mechanics provided with the new threat level indicator makes it hard to undergo extended expeditions in the city as players must constantly return to defend the base.

An early copy of State of Decay’s Lifeline DLC was provided for the purposes of this review.

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