How to Survive E3 Preview: Top Down ARPG Meets Zombie Survival Sim
I found the overall crafting element in How to Survive to be much deeper than I expected and really fun. Mixing and matching seemingly random items to create something new kept me invested and interested in exploring every square inch of the island to find more stuff. It’s also worth noting I could deconstruct items I’d made and re-use the individual parts, and this will often be done in How to Survive based on needs. For example, when I was low on bullets, I pulled apart the rudimentary machine gun I’d crafted and used the parts to make a bullet-saving handgun instead. In a pinch, a bottle I’d been using to hold water was emptied, filled with gas, stuff with a rag, and transformed into a Molotov cocktail. (If I was feeling especially explode-y, I could have added fertilizer to my cocktail to create a full fledged, albeit stinky, bomb.)
There is one glaring omission in all of this item finding and crafting, though: a complete lack of “armor” for your character. You’ll be able to create tons of weapons, but there aren’t any items (helmets, boots, gloves, etc.) you can find or craft to better protect from zombie bites. EKO Studios told me it’s just not something they plan on adding before How to Survive’s October launch, instead focusing on the crafting of weapons alone to make that as fun and deep as possible. Shame.
I could have used a bit more protection when a number of different types of zombies came after me. There is a day/night cycle, and when the sun goes down, fast, scurrying zombies came out. Thankfully, they hate bright lights, and a flashlight to the eyes served as a good deterrent. I also ran into a number of massive, Left for Dead-like exploding zombies, and EKO says there are many more players will encounter.
These zombies will come at you from all sides, and you shouldn’t expect to plan the easiest route for a quick replay. EKO said there would be randomized zombie spawn points, so things will be a bit different each time you play. There will not, however, be randomized maps, so players will be able to get a lay of the land.
The RPG elements come in the form of skill trees. Each character has a number of common traits to improve things like slowing down the rate at which your hunger or thirst bars decline. There will also be a number of special skills for each of the three “classes,” but EKO was keeping those under wraps for now.
Yes, players will also be able to bring a friend along for the zombie battle. Two player co-op, both online and off, will be available on Steam and consoles. There won’t be any combining of skills for special coordinated attacks, and experience will not be shared, but EKO said that players would be able to drop items that their buddy can pick up. I didn’t get the chance to sample co-op myself, but How to Survive does feel like it will be a ton of fun to dive into with a friend. There is a Challenge mode (survive as long as possible) to go along with the Story mode, and I think that feature in particular will be a blast for two players.
I definitely plan on checking the game out on my own and with a buddy when How to Survive launches as a digital download on PC and consoles in October. Publisher 505 Games isn’t ready to reveal the price point just yet, but if this falls into the $15 range, it has the potential to be a fun genre mash-up and a surprise hit.