The world as we know is not over - it is changed - and in its place is an eerie replica this time crawling with the rabid undead. Those who remain alive have a new ethos in place: stop running away, start pushing back - and use all the firepower necessary to do so.
There is something about the zombie genre of games and films that just never reaches Ad Nauseam; guns, gore, destruction and a survival instinct borne from pure fear, there is always something new to try in the zombie apocalypse. It is sobering knowing the character’s first mistake will likely be their last, that often times, if we are talking 28 Weeks Later, no miracle is coming; the Earth is now infested with what were Humans just like you and I but are now rapid creatures who would give an arm and a leg to have a little bite of your arm and leg. Very romantic. For those who love the Z-genre, you can just picture our delight when Saber Interactive gave us the World War Z game that allowed us to go Rambo-mode on some biters. But wait, I’ve got better news – there is a new game in town: World War Z: Aftermath – and this time we can play in first-person!
The fall came on the 11th of June 2021. I was pretty sure I was watching footage of shoppers panic-buying from Tesco’s during the early days of the COVID pandemic, but no, it was actually the World War Z: Aftermath trailer. I got confused! First inspired by the 2013 blockbuster movie featuring Brad Pitt, Saber Interactive’s gory game has since garnered over 15 million players, and rightfully so – the original title is a superb play. That said, it’s about time for a new journey, and this is where Aftermath steps in with enough guns and ammo to take out, well, a horde?
What is World War Z: Aftermath?
Aftermath is a death-defying co-op episodic survival experience, though it can be played in horror-fuelled Single Player mode along with a squad of AI teammates if desired – Saber Interactive give you the ability to choose how you want to fight, or die for that matter. Being less about narrative and more about intense battle, Aftermath tails a group of survivors among many scattered across the remains of civilisation as they fight back against the sea of flesh-devouring undead, mounting an offensive with one overarching goal in mind: to take out ghouls in their hundreds and thousands. Our band of the living have sharpened their skills and loaded their weapons, recognising that merely standing their ground and sitting idly will not be enough – they have to make up lost area and take back what was theirs, and this is where you come in with your COD-honed zombie-train and headshot techniques and your infallible rapid-fire shooting. You are a real ace of the apocalypse!
Where is the game set?
Jumping peripatetically from city to city, World War Z: Aftermath throws us into several zombie-crawling locations each effectively designed; the murky catacombs of Vatican City, the abandoned but lively streets of New York, as well as Moscow, Marseille, Tokyo and an unholy feeling Jerusalem…and of course the frozen Russian peninsula of Kamchatka to clear out a frozen cruise liner in hopes of securing a Nuclear Submarine. Everyday things, you know? Aftermath drags us through a wretched hell and back across a bloodthirsty globe rampage - 23 maps in 7 huge episodes each spanning various cities; it’s not exactly a romantic interrailing experience, but I guess our pack of survivors will be worldly enough, if they last that is. Unfortunately, surviving has been made that much harder since we last visited; the world has regressed into 14th century AD and undead rats have re-emerged as a bit of a viral hurdle. Thankfully there’s a solution to these little zombie critters…blow them back to 14th century BC before they take a good old nibble at your legs and infect you with the virus. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, you have undead humans to attend to as well. Good luck.
What does gameplay look like?
Our post-apocalyptic globetrotting takes place this time round in first-person perspective, making for a visceral, spine-tingling and utterly chaotic gaming experience. More, the game runs in 4k and 60 frames per second - I thought the original title was a brilliant game in and of itself, but in first-person with this calibre of stats (on next-gen consoles), it really does feel as though you are in amidst the bloody, fiendish action of Aftermath. If you haven’t tried having a zombie fling itself at you in first-person – you quite simply haven’t lived. More, with a new melee system, with axes, sledgehammers and other handheld weapons, combat against the undead is all the more riveting. Saber Interactive have even introduced an aptly named trailblazer class named Vanguard, imbuing players with an electrified battering ram in order to plough through hordes of reanimated corpses. Otherwise, we are again entrusted with an array of weaponry ranging from shotguns to flamethrowers, to fixed ordnance like mortars and mounted guns…and one rather large weapon too. Put it this way, there will be no shortage of ways to fire into and wipe out a crowd of sprinting ghouls after some brains, and boy will you need it. Aftermath is a heart-pounding journey from minute to minute – when you look in the distance and see a swarm of biters
I first played the original World War Z title when I was ill with man-flu, and boy did it entertain me effortlessly for a good week day-in-day-out until I returned back to life. It was awesome. The renewed iteration of the series, World War Z: Aftermath, offers an equally as if not more alluring prospect – late nights spent as an itinerary survivor in a brutal bloodbath, only in first-person with better graphics and more weapons. Outliving civilisation is not easy, especially if said civilisation is constantly scurrying after you in their thousands – but the challenge and the carnage is all part of the fun, at least for us viewing it safely from behind a screen. Players have been getting hooked on World War Z: Aftermath for a few days now since the game's release, and many fans (including myself) have certainly noticed that the title has made some headway on its predecessor; it seems that things can get better even in a zombie apocalypse!
Images sourced from Steam.