Death is the game, loot is the reward.
With my Wii U safely home and ready to go, I spent several hours plowing through the campaign in ZombiU. There wasn't a ton of information about this game prior to release, especially with regards to how the campaign was structured, so I was curious and not sure what to expect.
The campaign of ZombiU puts you in the role of one of many survivors of a zombie plague. You could be Sarah Johnson, a dental assistant, or Jack Pryor, actor. None of that really matters, and exists mostly to add a bit of flavor to the proceedings.
Whomever you are, you receive instructions via voiceover from a man who calls himself the Prepper, because he's always prepared. He helps you find a survival kit, which mimics the Wii U GamePad. From there, you proceed to explore the safe house, which is an underground railroad station. This is the hub world of the game, and one you will continue to come back to, via death or simply to save and stash some supplies.
Speaking of supplies, they are in short supply in this game. You are always armed with a cricket bat and pistol, but getting more than six bullets requires you to find them. It's much like old Resident Evil games in a way: you need to be able to kill enemies to get the ammo needed to kill enemies more easily in the future. If you die, you lose everything, but you get the opportunity to find your corpse and reclaim your supplies.... once. If you die while trying to reclaim those supplies, they are lost. This makes the game incredibly difficult at times.
One way that the game gets easier is through Miiverse. Although the game has no direct online multiplayer, Miiverse invades your game by sending in your friends as zombies as they die. This is extremely helpful, because you also can get whatever loot your friends were carrying when they died. The more friends you have playing the game, the more opportunities you have to stock up on whatever goodies they were carrying.
ZomibU feels like a very complete game. The world is wholly realized, and although some textures are pretty blurry, the game looks very good at times. A thunderstorm scene in particular was frighteningly real, and stressful.
I had a brief chance to check out the ZombiU multiplayer modes. Unfortunately, without a Wii U Pro Controller, the person I was playing with was relegated to using Wii Remote and Nunchuk controls, which they were very unfamiliar with. The game doesn't support the Wii Classic Controller. In the multiplayer mode, one player places zombies on the map, and the other player tries to either capture the flag, or survive as long as possible. It's very simple, but fun. There isn't any option to play this mode online.
The full review of ZombiU from Nintendo World Report is coming shortly, but for now, things are looking horrifyingly good.