If this is the first time that you’re reading one of my articles, (I still feel weird calling this an article, even though I’ve been doing it for some time now), you might be aware that I like zombies. Similar to the young lad who likes turtles, I tend to talk about zombies even when the conversation isn’t necessarily swinging that way. That being said, I’m directing the conversation now, so it’s time to talk zombies.
If you don’t own an Xbox 360 or don’t really game on your PC (should you own one), Undead Labs’ horror survival game, ‘State of Decay’, might have slipped right by you. It was a Microsoft exclusive that I had been wanting for some time. “Finally …” I thought to myself, “someone’s used their common sense and created a free-roam, open world zombie survival game”. The genre had been staring us in the face since the success of open world city based games like Grand Theft Auto and the cult following of the graphic novel / T.V. series the The Walking Dead. Rockstar gave it a good old college try with their Undead Nightmare expansion to Red Dead, but it never really took off. Dead Rising was the closest we could get to zombie survival games, but it wasn’t quite hitting the nail on the head. Now, however, we’ve been graced with both State of Decay and Day Z to sink our undead teeth into (or have the undead sink their teeth into us, if you’re not very good at the games).
With the release of the Xbox One and the PS4, I was hoping for some decent free-roaming zombie based games. The Xbox One has Dead Rising 3, which is a good game, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t exactly what I want from a zombie game. The PS4 has Dead Nation, which is alright but nowhere near the levels of zombie survival I’m envisioning. I want State of Decay, but bigger and better with more character customisation options. I basically want an MMORPG zombie game, not unlike Day Z. There have been rumours that Day Z could be hitting the Xbox One, but there isn’t anything solid yet and the game isn’t even finished on the PC. So even if they do strike a deal for the next-gen, I can’t see it hitting the shelves for a good few years. But here’s where Undead Labs come in.
State of Decay was codenamed ‘Class 3’ and, after a bit of reading around, I discovered that ‘Class 3’ was designed to act as a base for a later game codenamed ‘Class 4’. It was a way of testing the water, if you will. For an Xbox Live Arcade game, State of Decay was incredibly successful, so I guess that means the water was pretty warm? But, since the release of SoD, we’ve heard very little in the way of a sequel. I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that this is because of the nature of the contract between Undead Labs and Microsoft. From what I’ve read, it seems as though Undead Labs have been told to keep their mouths firmly shut. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t drop hints and, after “masterfully” reading between the lines of a relatively recent blog post from a new member of staff at Undead Labs, I get the feeling that work on a zombie based MMO is well underway.
You can read the full blog post here, on Undead Labs’ website.
The post starts by saying that “the studio is contractually obligated not to talk about … anything interesting right now”, but that, “you’ll just have to read between the lines instead”. The author, Pat, goes on to talk about his childhood and how he spent much of his youth playing Pong with his brother until he eventually found a career with Blizzard as well as working on Guild Wars, (you starting to see the bigger picture now?). He’s now working for Undead Labs and is on a team made up of a good number of his friends from Guild Wars on a project that he can’t talk about. Though the project is with Undead Labs … and Undead Labs are currently held in a deal with Microsoft that has already seen the release of State of Decay aka Class 3 … And he’s working with some friends from Guild Wars … an incredible MMORPG. Do you see! Of course you do. So by using my powers of deduction, like a nerdy Sherlock Holmes, I have jumped to the conclusion that Undead Labs have well and truly started working on an MMO (or possibly MMORPG) zombie survival based game that will be a full title as opposed to an XBL Arcade game like State of Decay. Could I just be jumping to conclusions? No, I doubt it. If State of Decay is anything to go by, the future’s looking bright for zombie based survival-horror game fans.
They’ve also hinted at a lot of features about Class 4 in various other blog posts (some from a few years ago), so it’s well worth having a read through yourself! You can check those out here.
The one thing that I really don’t want to see is the game being pay-to-play with a monthly subscription. Apart from that, I have nothing but excitement brewing for this game. I’m going to put it out there, I think we’ll be hearing something at E3 in June. Either a teaser trailer or at least an announcement of what they’re working on. Microsoft have been keeping their cards pretty close to their chest when it comes to their upcoming exclusives. Unless you count Titanfall, which they literally haven’t shut up about for months. So I’m looking forward to E3, Class 4 announcement or no Class 4 announcement.