Zombies, Pinkberry, Analog Triggers, Crossbows, you know... a different look at ZombiU.
This past Thursday, Ubisoft was kind enough to invite us down to their Holiday Showcase event for a more intimate hands-on with their upcoming Wii U offerings in New York. Let’s face it, the opportunities to go hands-on with games that publishers and developers provide us with at events like E3 are often marred by background noise and crowds. That's why we chose to take this opportunity to just sit down, play, and get a good feel for the games at hand.
Jared and I already gave you a look at Rabbids Land. This time we take a look at Ubisoft’s launch star ZombiU. So strap in once again and take a little textual trip with us while we feed you what you should know about this game!
Upon arrival at the Ubisoft Holiday Showcase, I was given a good amount of Wii U-related game rooms to select from. ZombiU was the last room I entered at the event; rumor has it that I like to save the best for last. Considering ZombiU has become a well talked about game (a great writeup by Neal), I will use this time to try and bring some lesser-known things about the game to the forefront.
One of the primary concerns I’ve heard about ZombiU is that the game might be a little lackluster in length, likely stemming from Ubisoft’s ‘how long can you keep your character alive’ rhetoric. From what I learned while playing, there is no reason to worry. Ubisoft's Loic Gounon assured me that the campaign is quite beefy, despite the fact that you might lose your main character and his or her stats 20+ times. I was also told that there will be 3 main characters to interact with throughout the story, with one them being the mysterious man who guides you through the demo via “walkie-talkie”. I was glad to hear this news as coming away from this game all I could think was, I WANT MORE.
Another complaint that I have heard is that having to look at the GamePad during gameplay is distracting and disrupts immersion. Now, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree. Having to look at the GamePad during gameplay is no more a disruption than having to look at Google Maps on your phone when trying to find a Pinkberry in midtown (too New Yorky? Fine!… when trying to find an Olive Garden off Route 5). If anything, I felt that looking down at my GamePad and rummaging through the fat of the land - that is, my gun and different types of ammo - is more immersive than anything I have ever experienced on any console (and that is taking into account that I was surrounded by Ubisoft employees). I have to imagine that the experience would even be greater at home, on my comfortable couch. All of this should not detract from the fact that the Wii U GamePad does not have the world’s most accurate touchscreen. There will be moments when you might miss a tap here or there, but from what I played, it won’t be enough to come close to ruining your experience.
One of the things I also noticed while playing ZombiU was that at least one apparition appeared. That quickly prompted me to ask Loic whether or not we could expect to see other things, like talking teddy bears, that add to the weirdness. I got a maybe, so expect talking teddy bears! I would love some F.E.A.R.-like scares baked in to the game. Another great question, this time coming from Jared, was whether or not the triggers on the Wii U GamePad were analog (or pressure sensitive). Loic seemed to be sure that they weren’t. Keep in mind that this is not confirmed (as only Nintendo knows the truth), but if you are a person who worships pressure-sensitive triggers you might be disappointed.
ZombiU was fun and solid experience. I didn’t encounter anything that I didn’t like. For the most part checking out a demo is like eating a slice of cake. You try a piece and if you think it’s good, you assume that the rest is the same… and that is where my comparison falls apart. The rest of this cake could be super delicious or it could have been left out to rot. From what I played I’m betting on the delicious. So, for those of you who haven’t played ZombiU and are wondering, should I pass on this game? Is it just a shooter clone wearing a zombie mask? Will GameStop ever stop asking me to reserve games? The answer is no, I think anyone who is picking up a Wii U on day one should definitely not pass this up. It’s an original first person shooter and if it weren’t for the game's radically different approach to gameplay (specifically how it handles character development, player items, and multiplayer), then I would think otherwise. And no, GameStop will never stop asking you to reserve games. But, and this is a big but, if they ask you if you want to reserve ZombiU, it might not be such a bad idea to say yes and throw a Lincoln down until further notice.
ZombiU is not a game for children. In the demo you are able to destroy zombies in myriad ways, including stomping on their heads with your foot by shaking the Wii U GamePad. To keep you on your toes, the game does not pause when you are looking at your inventory. There was one point in the demo where I was quickly trying to change my weapon to the crossbow while three zombies were getting closer and closer on the television screen. It was quite nerve-wracking being able to see the zombies approach, and it really made the game feel like you were inside a zombie film. Without a doubt, the coolest weapon in the demo was the crossbow. Aiming the crossbow utilizes the Wii U GamePad's gyroscope. You must move the actual GamePad to aim the bow, and it feels super satisfying watching a zombie's head explode, right on the screen, after carefully lining up your shot. The demo on display at the Ubisoft event was the same one shown at E3. I recommend watching our ZombiU Developer Walkthrough from E3 to see more of what ZombiU's single player has to offer. It's embedded below.