GENERATION ZERO
The machines will remember.


REVIEW
By JAY TEE
03/05/19

The controls feel good, and the unscripted nature of combat adds stakes and pressure. The menu’s need to go in the bin.

The music adapts to your current situation, and responds nicely to the level of threat. Weapon sound effects are excellent.

The game is in a much more stable state now, but the launch edition was riddled with glitches. Crucially, exploration and combat are fun.

The lighting design is excellent, and despite the odd janky texture here and there, this is definitely a looker. Performance is also solid.  

THE LAST WORD

Generation Zero is an ambitious shooter that is best experienced with friends at your side, with huge potential for future expansion.

THE FINAL SCORE

3/5

REVIEW POLICY

We use a simple “out of 5” rating criteria for all reviews.

3 out of 5 is GOOD.

Something with this rating is absolutely worth checking out, but it’s flawed with a couple of mis-steps.

*Reviewed on a PS4 Pro, with a retail copy purchased by The Cantina Club*


The TEA OF SIEVES badge is for a game with truly emergent moments.

The SPECIAL DELIVERY badge is for a game with lots of optional content, like audio logs, letters to read, and / or environmental storytelling.

The MARSHALL LAW badge is for a game that lets you fight back against an overwhelming force.    

The EPIC RESPAWN badge is for a game with superb post launch developer support.

The BEST WITH FRIENDS badge is earned if a game is significantly more fun playing with people you know, either in campaign or online.

The BUFF TING badge is for a game that has an excessive number of patches, or requires a huge day 1 update.

The OPTIONAL HUFFMAN badge is for a game with confusing and /or poorly presented settings or options.

IS IT FUN?

*Yes, but there’s a lot of running.*

There’s an inescapable Half Life 2 vibe at play here, and despite the lofty comparison, there are plenty of similarities. Fighting an overwhelming force, across large open areas, against oppressive robotic foes makes the parallel with Gordon Freeman’s adventure [sort of] justified. There isn’t the same sense of raw ingenuity; weapons are realistic and therefore a tad dull, but fortunately pack a punch in the sound department (particularly the shotgun). There’s also much less emphasis on narrative, making this closer to Left 4 Dead with ambient, environmental storytelling and lots of optional things to read. You’ll feel just as satisfied sneaking past a cluster of enemies as you do surviving a stealth mission gone wrong. And mercifully, you’re not penalised for either approach. One of Generation Zero’s greatest strengths is it gives you room to do things your way, whilst still presenting you with a sizeable challenge.

Generation Zero feels strikingly ambitious despite laser focused design. This is a shooter that doesn’t hold your hand; you’re forced to carve out your own path, completing objectives and discovering secrets organically as you explore. But despite its open ended nature, you’re rarely left to wander aimlessly. There’s a mainline path that drives you forward, with enough distractions along the way to keep things fluid. It’s also not afraid to up the stakes, with enemies capable of quickly overpowering you with superior firepower and numbers. The balance definitely skews toward co-operative play, but crucially, all progress is retained regardless of whether you’re in a public session or going solo.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS?

*Yes, but enemy behaviour is wildly inconsistent.*

It won’t take long for you to make your own stories, thanks to regular unscripted encounters. I had a particularly enjoyable scrap around an abandoned house during an early side mission. Eliminating the first batch of stragglers was easy enough, but a couple of wandering reinforcements forced me indoors, peppering the porch with a hailstorm of death. It was during the ruckus I realised that the A.I. refused to venture inside, which meant I could just avoid all windows and wait for them to forget my recent attack. This felt odd, and symptomatic of a wider issue where the various robot classes (which are impressively varied in size, threat, and individualised tactics) betray their own design by suddenly becoming useless. It’s a shame, because combat is regularly exhausting (in a good way), so better consistency in these situations would really elevate the whole experience.

In well co-coordinated packs, these little buggers can be lethal.

ANNOYING STUFF?

*Yes, but there’s still something special here.*  

The state of the game at launch was glitches galore, with blocked mission progress, impassable bridges, and graphical oddities that left a bad taste. Fortunately, [developer] Avalanche have been fantastic at addressing community feedback, and have offered weekly updates and a series of post launch patches to address the worst of it. The game, as it currently stands, is a lot healthier, but there are still elements that grate from a design standpoint. The lack of drivable vehicles is baffling, with wide stretches of open terrain offering nothing but a relentless jog in the hopes you’ll stumble onto something relevant. This becomes all the more annoying when you pass countless abandoned vehicles, of various types, which can be looted but not commandeered! The menu’s are also absolutely dreadful; a needlessly complicated interface that is fiddly and poorly laid out.  

NEXT STEPS?

*Patch out pesky bugs, and please add vehicles!*

As outlined above, the inclusion of ANY type of motorised transport would be a huge win, and I very much doubt would break the gameplay loop. After having spent so much time in the world, I really appreciated the more subtle approach to storytelling. It suits a co-op experience, since you don’t have to worry about your mates in party chat talking over cutscenes. However, there’s huge scope for expansion here, with meaningful DLC story content that could perhaps take the gameplay into a smaller, more densely packed region? I’d love to see how the gameplay loop fits into a sprawling cityscape, with perhaps an increased focus on survival elements? I think Avalanche have the beginnings of a cracking franchise here, and I hope they get to continue supporting their new IP.

THE BASICS - First person open world shooter, with seamless co-op and persistent enemies.

PLATFORMS - PS4, XB1, and PC

MAX PLAYERS - Offline - 1, Online - 4

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - The entire single player narrative can be played in co-op. Progression is retained.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - None announced.

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

These things are an absolute nightmare to take down without explosives or a well armed team.

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