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July 2019

Generation Zero

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Release Date: March 26, 2019

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Generation Zero'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Oct. 23, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Experience an explosive game of cat and mouse set in a vast open world. In this re-imagining of 1980’s Sweden hostile machines have invaded the serene countryside, and you need to fight back!

I really had no idea what to expect from Generation Zero once the screen faded in and I found myself on a rocky beach somewhere in a fictionalized Sweden. The game puts you in the shoes of up to four friends who were on an "island excursion" off the coast, and their boat was sunk by weapons fire on the way back.  With nothing more than the clothing on your back, you find that the area is deserted, seemingly evacuated, and man-hunting robots are on the prowl.

Generation Zero is set in an open world, so while there are little strands of objectives to guide you forward, it's entirely up to you as to how you get there.  The first few prompts are your traditional tutorial-style ones: move around, find supplies, get armed with a handgun, and scrounge up some ammo.  How you navigate the environment is important. While sprinting is the fastest method to get around, there are times when you'll want to go prone and crawl to avoid attracting the attention of the robots.

The most common of these robots is roughly the size of a large appliance, like a dishwasher. It travels around on four legs and is armed with a turret-like machine gun on its back.  The first time I encountered one, I was foolishly sprinting down a road, focused too heavily on the robot I saw in front of me, and I didn't hear the one that was coming up behind me.  In any other game, this wouldn't be a situation.  "Shoot the front one a few times, spin around and repeat," right?

In Generation Zero, the enemies are more of a challenge.  Much as I'd expect in our eventual robot apocalypse, handguns don't do a ton of damage to metal plates and reinforced components.  Successfully fighting off these robots with such a weapon takes a surprising number of bullets, and while shooting, you must take cover from the withering gunfire that's coming from their turrets.  I'm of the opinion that most PvE content in open-world games feature enemies that are too weak, but this game strikes a much more challenging balance.

To help even the odds, you'll need to find better weapons, such as a hunting rifle or a shotgun.  All of the weapons in the beta could also be used with different types of ammo; for example, we could use shotguns with either slugs or birdshot.  In addition, you can find things such as scopes and shotgun chokes to upgrade your weapons.  However, both weapons and attachments can have various "condition" levels; while a dilapidated weapon may just look rusty, a dilapidated scope may have cracked or blurry lenses.

There was a lot of promise to the beta, but much of the functionality simply isn't in the game yet.  Additionally, it was sometimes difficult to pick up on what the game wanted you to interact with to complete an objective, as the game has a very minimalist approach to guiding the player beyond their first steps.  Still, the beta allowed for a taste of the direction in which the developers are taking the game, and I am certainly on board so far.  Skulking around, scrounging up supplies, and fighting off murderous robots has all the makings of a compelling gameplay loop.

The mix of an '80s aesthetic, killer robots, and open-world gameplay means that Generation Zero already has a lot going for it.  Many features were still missing from the beta, so much remains to be learned about the game, but then again, it was only announced a few months ago.  With that in mind, Generation Zero is a very interesting concept, and I'm curious to see how the game comes together.

Previewed on: Intel i7 4790k, 16 GB RAM, NVidia GTX 970

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