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Last week, Undead Labs revealed that they're developing a sandbox mode for their Xbox Live Arcade zombie game State of Decay. In a new interview, Decay executive producer Jeff Strain explained what players can expect from this downloadable content.
State of Decay is an open-world game that depicts a zombie outbreak. The player must lead a group of survivors in the midst of this chaos. They have to keep their base safe from zombies and also make supply runs into the nearby towns and farms to get supplies. All the while, they must also perform missions to advance the storyline.
"The game is basically a giant simulation of zombies versus humans," Strain told Polygon. "The narrative we tell gives you some context and drives you through the experience, and there is a beginning, middle and end. I think people take between 15 and 25 hours to play the entire game, and we found that after that, players are immediately restarting."
While players have a lot of freedom in the game, they're forced to eventually tackle story missions. You can't, for instance, switch your home base until you've completed a certain mission. Strain says that the sandbox mode will allow players to avoid having to play through these same missions over and over.
In the "pure survival" mode, players will be tested to see how long they can survive. They'll gather supplies, recruit new survivors, upgrade their base and so on. While playing this mode, the game will track their progress. For example, you'll be rated based on how long you keep characters alive, maintain your survivors' morale, and gather supplies. Strain describes it as a "SimCity-style simulation" in the interview. I hope we get some colorful pie charts.
While that sounds great, I'm also sort of craving an opposite mode. In other words, a mode in which you can play the story missions without having to deal with the simulation aspects. Right now, the game simulates supply usage even when you're logged off. Your survivors keep eating food and getting sick and so on. Every time I log on, I feel like I spend most of my time trying to replenish stockpiles and get my community's morale back up. I'd love to be able to single-mindedly pursue the campaign. Maybe I just need to be less of a perfectionist and just plow through the campaign without worrying about base upgrades.
The sandbox mode will be released as DLC on an unknown date. It's not known yet whether it will be free or paid DLC. Apparently that's up to the publisher, Microsoft. The potential revenue from selling the DLC to State of Decay's many, many owners might be too tempting for them to pass up. We can hope for a freebie, though.
State of Decay debuted on Xbox Live Arcade on June 5th. A PC version is also in development but is currently undated.