There’s not a lot of subtlety in Zombie Army 4: Dead War, available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, which really shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who watches literally any of the promotional material or even just reads the game’s title. As one of a handful of characters – including some exclusive to the game’s season pass – you take to the streets of Europe and take down zombies…tons of zombies.
To be fair to the developers at Rebellion, there IS a story here, and as schlocky as it is, I must admit I find it hilariously engaging. The basis is that Hitler, known for having a fondness for the occult, summoned zombies to fill out his armies and dominate the world – events that happened in the past games. In Dead War we discover that our triumph in the last game (available now as part of the Zombie Army Trilogy collection release) has taken away the commander of the zombies but hasn’t worked to eliminate the threat entirely.
So back to the streets of Europe we go, taking on multi-stage missions in what we’ll call ‘wide-linear’ levels that allow for some exploration but aren’t quite what you’d call ‘open world’ in nature. You’re given specific missions to taken on, with side missions like helping innocents being attacked popping up as filler from time to time. There are also some collectibles to gather, if you’re into that kind of thing, and goals to complete, like using a Takedown to kill a specific zombie type, to unlock ‘stickers’ you can collect.
There’s even a progression system that allows players to upgrade their weapons in mundane ways like doing more damage or reloading faster, or more unique ways like add special modifiers: electricity or explosives, for example. There’s also a perk system layered on top, with perks (categorized as Offensive, Defensive, or Other) that allow the player to build up their character directly. Perhaps you’d like to have more stamina so you can outrun zombies, or maybe it’s more attractive to take less melee damage – both options in the Defensive category.
Completing objectives like finishing a level without going under half stamina – for the previously mentioned stamina perk – unlock the perk for use, and then you can level it up to make it more effective by completing still more objectives.
The result is that your character and weapons become far more deadly the more you play, which allows you to take on the hardest difficulty levels or just have a lot more fun with the easier ones. Zombie Army 4, as the title kind of implies, is just a crazy ball of ‘dumb fun’ – sniping zombies, setting traps, throwing grenades…it’s no-excuses mindless fun and a blast to play solo or in co-op.
The game allows four-player online co-op, and I highly recommend it, but you’ll still have a good time solo. After all, if you can’t have a good time with a game that allows you to reanimate a zombie shark so it’ll chew up zombie Nazis, I don’t think we can be friends.