When I first played State of Decay in June 2013 it only took me about 20 minutes to become hopelessly addicted. The game was always giving you new things to do which made it hard to get away. I liked it, alot. Between the open world, atmosphere, and near-perfect representation of what it's like to be a scavenger in a town overrun by the undead, it was just my cup of tea. I was so impressed, I went on to officially announce it as my game of the year for 2013. In that I said....
"The biggest compliment I can give this game is that it had me talking outside the self confinement of my inner social circle. I told my parents, by friends, strangers, my wife, you guys, all about State of Decay off and on leading up to it's release and non-stop in the weeks afterwards."
In revisiting this game on the Xbox One it again, only took about 20 minutes for me to realize just why I loved playing this game on the 360. Undead Labs has done the game right by polishing everything that was originally there, and adding a few things to make it a complete and solid experience. Now, it's time to talk about whats new in State of Decay Year One Survival Edition.
Presentation: The base game, Breakdown, and Lifeline DLC all stand as separate games accessed from the main menu, with the base game being the fullest experience. New graphics, animations, and music support the technical side, while a new mission type, vehicles, weapons, and characters all add up to help serve what is the definitive version of State of Decay.
Gameplay: First of all I should point out that while they were introduced via patch in the original, being able to load the boot of your vehicle with rucksacks is one of the best things that could have happened to the game. At first, this ability makes the game feel like it's giving too much, but it eventually boils down to not feeling easier, just streamlined. New weapons, cars, and a new mission type work to make this feel like a fuller, more complete game. The new mission type has a mysterious character dropping care packages around the map at random. They provide the best weapons in the game like grenades, machine guns, etc. but make alot of noise so getting to them is a challenge all by itself, and cleaning them out is just as difficult. Still fun, and a great way to introduce the military hardware present in the Lifeline DLC to the base game. The rest of the gameplay is standard SoD fare. Fight, scavenge, survive. I should point out that in my second play though, I came to notice that the game still doesn't prioritize missions, so newcomers might end up spending hours doing Zed Hunt and Infestation missions, not knowing that these are both infinitely spawning, and for the most part, optional. Be warned.
Graphics: Let's get he obvious out of the way, shall we? The graphics are better, draw distance, character models, animations, have all been improved to look the way you imagined they should have in the original. With an extra two years to polish up what already exists, Undead Labs has cleaned up the game considerably, and while it doesn't look built for current gen by any stretch, the improvements are still immediately notice. That isn't to say all the cracks have been filled though. Asset pop-in, frame-rate dips, and the occasional slow loading textures are still present. The Pop-in happens much further off in the distance than before, and the slowdown seems to happen at random. The slow loading textures are few and far between and were only (noticeably) experienced a few times throughout the game.
Sound: So it's as atmospheric, and chilling as ever. Tense music kicks in at all the rights moments turning a stressful looting situation into a panic inducing flee for your life. It's so great. There has been 20 minutes of music added to the game and if I didn't know better (I don't) I would go to assume that that music was made during the recording of the original soundtrack, and just not put in the game for some reason. It blends perfectly with whats already there and really helps to fill some of the long stretches of silence the original game had. The dialogue and sound effects are as solid and repetitive/recycled as ever. It's repetition isn't too annoying but the "I got you a pony" line is noticeably absent in this version. That's just wrong.
Value: This is the definitive version. If you already bought and played the game (and it's DLC) to death on Xbox 360, it's going to be up to your better judgement whether or not $30 is worth a game you already played. If you loved the game the first time around and either never got around to playing the DLC, or did and still loved it enough to want to play it all again, $30 for a physical copy is right on the money. For everyone else it all depends. If you love Zombie games and have never touched State of Decay, go out right now and buy this.
Overall: When I look back on all that State of Decay is as it existed on Xbox 360, and how it's presented in the Year One Survival Edition, a sense of satisfaction washes over me. This is one of those rare open world games that balances all it's parts almost perfectly. There is never any down time for your character or the enemies and that is always apparent. I love this game. If there is one thing I hope Undead Labs takes form this moving forward, it's polish, polish, polish. I really hope to see a patch or two get rid of the few technical hiccups YOSE has, and I have my fingers crossed that Land of Decay will feel more like a complete game than the beta-like feel I got just when coming from the 360 to XONE version of this game.
I give it a strong 8/10.