World War Z: Aftermath
World War Z: Aftermath Is Bonus Content At A Discounted Price
The video game adaptation of 2013's World War Z saw its release in 2019, with World War Z: Aftermath seeing a release two years later. The original game had no real tie-ins to the original movie nor the novel that it was based on. It's simply set in the same universe, zombie war, and atmosphere. Each of the five episodes utilizes real-world locations from New York, Jerusalem, Moscow, Tokyo, and Marseille. With every region offering a unique challenge and four survivors for each region, this ensures one campaign is different from the next.
Rather than utilizing Left 4 Dead's mechanics where each scene is split into "acts," each "episode" is treated as an act by itself. New York, for example, is split into four different scenes. Some episodes are split into three scenes. World War Z: Aftermath builds upon the base game by adding two new campaigns. These are exploring the Vatican City in Rome, with four new survivors, and the Russian snow lands of Kamchatka. What's unique about the Kamchatka episode is that it is a direct continuation of the Tokyo episode, following the four survivors as they try to adjust to life after evacuation.
Each Survivor Has A Story To Share
One of the major positives of World War Z is its engrossing story, which is a rarity in gameplay-focused games. Using the movie and novel as inspiration, each survivor has a story to tell. The added lore details that are found in mission briefings, character bios, and world notes also help bring this to fruition. An example of this is one of the playable survivors in New York, Bunko Tatsumi. Her bio indicates that she's a young hacker living in New York who was able to breach government info about the virus. As she was one of the first civilians to know about the virus, she was one of the first to prepare and warn her parents to evacuate immediately.
That last tidbit is something the player wouldn't know unless they looked up the dossier for the New York episode included in the game. There are several pieces of lore related to each episode that correspond to the survivors' own lore. None of these are paramount to find enjoyment out of the game. It is also by no means as in-depth as Telltale's The Walking Dead levels either. For those who wish to know about the lore, the world-building done by Saber Interactive is amazing.
Teamwork Makes World War Z: Aftermath's Dream Work
World War Z: Aftermath's gameplay is a simple one. You and a squad of three others fulfill objectives and reach from Point A to B. What differentiates it from Left 4 Dead and the like is how "Horde" events are handled. In other similar titles, the player activates a mechanism, survives a horde, and moves on with the level. In WWZ, the player is given ample time to prepare for the oncoming horde. Setting up electric fences, automatic turrets, and scoping vantage points are all examples. That's because the hordes are massive. Gunning down hundreds of zombies with a mounted rifle is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game.
Unfortunately what kills the momentum is the NPC survivors. Depending on the episode, the players are tasked to protect the NPCs during the horde. This means leaving your fort and diving into the depths to ensure your allies are safe. It breaks the flow of the horde mechanic, but the payoff is worth it. Other than that, there are other elements that aren't seen in most games. These also include stealth mechanics, picking off zombies with silenced weapons so as not to alert their flesh-eating buddies.
The "Aftermath" Content Is Lacking
Everything I've mentioned so far about World War Z: Aftermath is more so about what World War Z has to offer. In terms of the Aftermath, there's not much aside from some QoL changes. These changes include how the melee functions, which I would assume was just a basic melee button in the original. In this game, players can dual wield melee weapons if they so choose, while also directly hacking away at the undead. While Back 4 Blood handled melee better, there was one mechanic that Aftermath kinda botched on.
The game also added a "first-person" mode, that I use in air quotes because it's the same responsiveness as Grand Theft Auto 5's. Obviously, the original WWZ was meant for a third-person perspective, and shifting the view to first-person doesn't make it a "first-person shooter." The animations are exactly the same, complete with head bobbing and general movements. There is no such thing as ADS, instead "zooming in" as if you were in third-person. Lastly, the melee button shifts to third-person camera mode briefly before returning to first-person. It's jarring and it comes off as a novelty more than it does a different gameplay perspective.
So, Is "Aftermath" Worth It?
If this is your first time playing World War Z then World War Z Aftermath is essentially the "definitive" version of the game. It adds two new campaigns for a total of 7. There are 28 survivors to choose from (although four of them are "reskins" of existing ones due to the nature of the Kamchatka episode). There's also the overhauled melee mechanic and...the "first-person" mode.
Players who already own World War Z can purchase Aftermath for $20, making this expansion a worthy investment for fans. With a next-gen upgrade on the horizon, free for players who purchase Aftermath, there's a further incentive. As of now, World War Z: Aftermath serves as another option for the "co-op Zombie Survivor" crowd. With games like Back 4 Blood on the horizon, also sharing the "live-service" mode, fans of the genre have a lot to sink their teeth in. At least, better their teeth than that of a decayed zombie corpse.
World War Z: Aftermath is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The PS5 and Xbox Series versions are due for release in the near future.