Zombie Army 4: Dead War - Hands on preview

Published: 11:18, 18 November 2019
Key art for Zombie Army 4: Dead War
This chap is in desperate need of a fresh dental plan.

Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the latest in a successful run of Rebellion produced shooters, embracing the oft maligned genre by doubling down on what makes these games such memorable experiences: good old fashioned co-operative play

There be no denying the palpable joy that comes from curb stomping a shambling infected foe, and Zombie Army 4: Dead War welcomes this approach with open arms. Based on our hands on session with the game at EGX 2019, developer Rebellion have thrown the kitchen sink (and then some) into this latest instalment, with more ways than ever to dispatch the oncoming horde.

It's all very slapstick, with a sense of barely controlled chaos that can be quite overwhelming. At the same time, you feel capable, with an arsenal of interesting tools at your disposal that ensures you're never short of ways to overcome each challenge. 

One thing that became immediately apparent was a renewed focus on set piece moments. A zombie infested train slammed its way through our base of operations, leaving us to pick up the pieces. It resonated by upping the stakes, but also confirmed that this is far from a cheap, cash in sequel. There's tangible effort being made to deliver a more cinematic experience, and across the board, it felt like this 4th effort will be worth the wait.

As with any in development title, there's still work to be done. The framerate needs tightening, and we found the UI to be a tad obtrusive. There's so much going on at any given moment that being bombarded by notifications is not conducive of a stress free experience. Regardless, there's something deliciously satisfying about a game that puts the feel of its combat are the forefront, and in that regard, Dead War is a resounding success. 

Rebellion A special zombie type from Zombie Army 4: Dead War You thought the chainsaw guy from Resident Evil 4 was tough...

Your aforementioned tools of the trade can be upgraded with various lethal enhancements (the electricity mod is particularly effective), but there's also an expanded selection of melee executions that are incredibly satisfying. You can either knock Zombie's off balance, give them a curb stomp (Gears of War style), or perform a longer animation that locks you in but ups the brutality. The guiding principle here is choice; you'll still be fighting waves of enemies and progressing through multi stage maps, but the way you achieve this is more in your hands than ever before. 

Graphically speaking, this is on par with Sniper Elite and Strange Brigade. The always delightful X-Ray kill cam makes a welcome return, but also seems to have been adjusted to occur less frequently. Since Zombie Army is a co-op centric multiplayer title, this balance makes sense, and ensures the flow of action isn't disrupted too often. Still, it's an appreciated flourish, and one that doesn't outstay its welcome.

That seems to be a running theme in Dead War; the sense of pace and progression keeps things moving briskly. You're not really afforded many chances to slow down and take a breath. And much like many of Rebellion's previous third person efforts, this is very much geared toward co-operative play. Based on what we've seen, you'll want to gather your full crew for this one.

Rebellion Four of the main characters in Zombie Army 4: Dead War surrounded by infected. This could be from Zombie Left 4 Army Dead... War...

We'd like to send a huge shoutout and thank you to the team at Rebellion for giving us the chance to go hands on with the game. Zombie Army 4: Dead War launches on 4th February 2020, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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