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State of Decay  

PC Port Report: State of Decay photo
PC Port Report: State of Decay

5:00 PM on 11.13.2013

Worth putting up with

Every time I play a new zombie game, I think it'll be the last one I'll ever enjoy. And then, inevitably, I get invested in certain aspects enough to overlook the same old tropes that have given me such a hyperbolic outlook on the undead's presence in gaming. That's what happened with State of Decay, Undead Labs' open-world survival sandbox game.

It's been available on Xbox Live Arcade since June, but the studio only recently brought the title over to PC by way of a Steam Early Access release. I intentionally held off as this was a bit too work-in-progress for my liking -- keyboard and mouse controls weren't even in there to begin with -- but the PC version has since come together. Well, more or less.

State of Decay (PC)
Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Released: November 5, 2013
MSRP: $19.99
Rig: Intel i7-2600k @3.40 GHz, with 8GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 580 GPU (SLI)

To be clear, I didn't start playing the PC version until its "official" launch earlier this month. The game is still being updated by Undead Labs, but it is no longer a part of Steam Early Access. As was the case on XBLA, despite an overall lack of polish, this still ends up being one of the better zombie-survival simulators in recent years.

It isn't much to look at, visually, even at higher resolutions on PC, but dig into the game's persistent open-world simulation, set up a community of survivors, and tragically lose one of them to zombies after you've spent ages leveling up their stamina -- you'll more than likely be hooked.

For all of its faults, there's still more to love in State of Decay than there is to hate. Though, I have to say, there are a number of issues with this PC port. To start, it's clear that this was a console title before being brought over to the platform.

A current lack of in-game key remapping is a nuisance and the graphics settings aren't great, either. For options, you're looking at aspect ratio (4:3, 16:9, and 16:10), resolution (ranging from 640x480 up to 1920x1200), and graphics (min, medium, max, and ultra). These settings are all on user-unfriendly sliders, I feel it should be pointed out.

Then we get to the standard VSync on/off switch and a gamma slider. And ... that's it. I've certainly seen worse PC ports and at least there's no Games for Windows Live functionality shoehorned in here but, again, this is all fairly basic stuff that could be better implemented. More options would've been greatly appreciated, particularly in terms of customizing graphical features.

I played with mouse and keyboard controls for long enough to know that a gamepad would be the better way to go, which didn't take long at all. While this scheme is functional, mouse acceleration and a user interface that is clearly designed with an Xbox 360 controller in mind were reason enough for me to switch. Driving vehicles using the WASD keys proved to be especially difficult, though I'll admit this isn't a problem exclusive to State of Decay.

Playing State of Decay on the ultra spec, I generally had acceptable frame rates but would occasionally encounter slowdown while driving at high speeds (which is the only way I drive), and there was also some blatant object/texture pop-in in similar situations. Annoying, yes, but nothing completely off-putting.

And that's been my experience with the game in general: flawed, and yet still worth dealing with. For as negative as this little impressions piece might sound, I'd still happily recommend State of Decay as one of the premier zombie-survival games.

The first time I lost a character, I was utterly shocked, not realizing that death is permanent in the game. It was my starter, too, and he was unceremoniously ripped in half by a big brute. So much investment lost so quickly. After that, I had a bit more respect for the walking dead and found myself getting entirely too drawn into Undead Labs' sandbox.

From a technical standpoint, this port isn't where it needs to be. It rather clearly needs work. But it sounds like Undead is fairly committed to making improvements and what's here right now is certainly playable, especially if you're fine with or even prefer to use a gamepad. If you own State of Decay on Xbox 360, I don't know that I'd double dip, but between the two versions, the PC version is going to win out in the long run.

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timeline following:
State of Decay

2:30 PM on 01.20.2015
State of Decay Xbox One remaster hits April 28, upgrade plan detailed

Oh, right, State of Decay is coming to Xbox One. Rough as it is in spots, the third-person zombie survival game is worth experiencing (though preferably during a Steam sale). Running around town with your crew, fortifying bas...more

2:00 PM on 08.29.2014
State of Decay coming to Xbox One in 1080p

State of Decay, which came to PC late last year, is coming to Xbox One in spring of 2015. It includes all DLC released to date and is remastered in 1080p, along with other bits of polish.more

5:45 PM on 05.27.2014
State of Decay: Lifeline out on Xbox 360 this Friday

Undead Labs will take State of Decay to a new city with its upcoming Lifeline DLC releasing May 30, 2014 on Xbox 360 for $6.99. Here's a trailer showing that, yeah, this definitely looks like an extension of the core game, f...more

7:00 PM on 02.11.2014
State of Decay's next DLC for PC and Xbox 360 is Lifeline

Undead Labs is locked in with Microsoft Studios now that it has signed a multi-year, multi-title agreement with the publisher, but in the more immediate future, there's more DLC on the way for State of Decay. This second expa...more

4:30 PM on 01.10.2014
Undead Labs signs multi-title agreement with Microsoft

After releasing State of Decay for Xbox 360 and PC, Undead Labs has decided to commit to Microsoft Studios -- the studio has signed a multi-year, multi-title agreement. "We'll be able to share details later this year, but as ...more

4:30 PM on 11.15.2013
Two weeks until State of Decay's Breakdown DLC drops

The first DLC for State of Decay is gearing up to release on Friday, November 29 for $6.99 on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. Breakdown is more of an endless survival mode -- it's actually separate from the game's main story -- ...more

6:30 PM on 11.01.2013
State of Decay to see full Steam release on Tuesday

Undead Labs is nearly ready for its zombie-survival sandbox State of Decay to release on Steam proper. It's been playable as an Early Access title on the platform since late September and has seen a number of updates since. (...more

11:00 AM on 10.08.2013
State of Decay hits one million in sales

Undead Labs, developer of State of Decay has announced that they've hit the one million player mark, including Xbox Live and the Steam Early Access program. The first DLC, titled "Breakdown," has been teased, and it's already...more

1:30 PM on 09.19.2013
State of Decay PC hits Steam Early Access tomorrow

For all of its issues, State of Decay is still a survival sandbox I very much wish to explore. It has been an exclusive on Xbox Live Arcade -- where it's been doing incredibly well for itself -- but that's about to change. Th...more


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