How State of Decay 3 Can Improve the Franchise’s Hordes

State of Decay fans are hugely excited for the upcoming release of State of Decay 3, but the series zombie hordes could do with an upgrade.

It’s a little over three years since the launch of State of Decay 2, and excitement around the upcoming release of State of Decay 3 is growing. There’s still just a vague 2022 release date for State of Decay 3, however, and the game was absent from Xbox’s E3 conference. Despite this, fans have been very eager to share their thoughts on what the third installment in the State of Decay franchise should look like, with one common complaint standing out among the rest.

In the previous two games, State of Decay’s horror elements were rather toned down, with the games leaning into the survival aspect. This means scarce loot, plenty of exploring, and a lot of enemies to provide an obstacle to the player’s accumulation of resources. However, the latter point ended up being one of the less believable elements of the game, the endless zombie hordes ripping the player from their immersion. If State of Decay 3 changes one thing about the series, it should be the way the zombie hordes function.

Improve State of Decay 3’s Horde Believability

While believability maybe isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about zombie games, if the player doesn’t believe what’s unfolding before them is plausible, they find it difficult to become invested. This is why getting State of Decay 3’s hordes right is a vitally important step to improving the game as a whole.

Population density should be a serious consideration in determining the size of the hordes. A player exploring a remote town in the middle of nowhere doesn’t expect to be greeted by the entire zombified population of said town, they expect the low population to bring safety. The open world of State of Decay 3 should feel dangerous but grounded in reality.

Reducing the frequency and size of State of Decay‘s hordes also affords Undead Labs the opportunity to beef up the scariness of zombies as a whole. With a CG trailer seeming to allude to the inclusion of mythical creatures in State of Decay 3, the franchise could be set to embark upon a more horror-centric path, and when it comes to creating great horror games, less can be more. Decreasing the size of State of Decay’s hordes could be great for the future of the franchise.

The distant shrieks of the infected, or threatening groans coming from inside a building the player is about to loot should invoke horror, rather than annoyance. Each individual zombie should carry an element of threat, which is ramped up to 100 when forming a part of a horde. This would be unbalanced at the current rate in which which the player encounters hordes in State of Decay, making them an insurmountable foe. However, this could be remedied by reducing the frequency and size of the hordes the player encounters and affording them the opportunity to avoid hordes by being smart with the locations they visit.

Rewards For Defeating State of Decay’s Hordes

At current, a player is offered little incentive to take on a horde, because their investment of time and resources into a battle is not fairly compensated. More realistic zombies in State of Decay 3 could go some way to remedying this issue. In State of Decay 2, the player defeating a horde means very little as hordes will continue spawning while the player is in the area. This removes any real motivation to take down the hordes and turns them into more of an annoyance than anything else. State of Decay 3 must remove this aspect, allowing the player to defeat every enemy NPC in town if they wish to roam in peace.

Alternatively, the player could be adequately rewarded in loot. Taking on a horde in State of Decay is a good way to level up but that’s essentially where the benefits end, which is not only frustrating for players who invest time and resources into defeating a horde but also doesn’t make a lot of sense. Zombies are the bodies of those who’ve fallen, in many cases, after the apocalypse. They must have been carrying something when they met their fate, so why wouldn’t the survivor check for weapons or ammo? Lootless zombies make the carcasses feel more like empty shells rather than former human beings and makes the world of State of Decay feel empty.

Improving the believability of State of Decay 3’s hordes could be key to the game’s overall success. The series has a great base to build upon, but many fans have been left frustrated in the past by a feature that should be key to a lot of fans’ enjoyment of the game.

State of Decay 3 is in development for PC and Xbox Series X/S.

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