Hands-On with Overkill’s The Walking Dead at E3 2018

With the TV show’s audience the lowest in years, can Overkill’s TWD still be a huge success?

June 20, 2018 by

Overkill’s The Walking Dead has been one of the longest teased games at E3 over the past few years. Originally announced back in 2014, the developers have impressively been able to keep the game under wraps for the past four years. Thankfully, at this year’s show it finally made its gameplay debut and we got to go hands-on with the upcoming co-op multiplayer game.

With the developer of the Payday heist series originally taking heavy inspiration from the Left 4 Dead zombie series, Overkill are the perfect team to finally bring fans of The Walking Dead a good first-person shooter experience.

Aside from Telltale’s story-driven choose-your-own-way games, there hasn’t ever been another good TWD game. Activision’s The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct was pushed out quickly back in 2013 to capitalize on the growing popularity of the TV show — and was just as quickly panned by critics.

Overkill's The Walking Dead E3 2018 001

Most streets are flooded with walkers and ammo is limited.

Now, with The Walking Dead’s ratings on TV the lowest since season 2, developer Overkill and publishers Starbreeze and 505 Games must be feeling the pressure to hurry up and launch the game before gamers lose interest in it too.

As you would expect, Overkill’s TWD is very similar to L4D. A team of up to four players drop into a map with various objectives they need to complete in order to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. Each player can select from a different character and customize the loadout with different weapons and items — essentially building your own class. If you want to use shotguns or assault rifles with a silencers or a sniper rifles as your primary weapon with lockpicks or med packs as your items or other various tools, the choice is yours.

With ammo scarce, most the walkers were best taken care of with secondary melee weapons — which range from knives to machetes to baseball bats with nails in them. However, we didn’t see any bats wrapped in barbed wire… sorry, Negan. But there’s still hope for Lucille to make her appearance in the final game.

However, having a team of similar class builds could hurt your overall progress, preventing your team from interacting with various items on the map that require specific items to activate them — a team’s meta players a huge role here. Like Payday, the objectives in the game seem a little more detailed than L4D requiring players to work together if they want to quickly collect pieces and solve puzzles. And the developers have thrown human A.I. enemies into the mix to try and spice up the slower combat with zombies.

As is the case with the more recent episodes and comics, zombies aren’t much of a threat compared to humans… unless you make a lot of noise and let yourself get surrounded in a tight space by a herd of walkers. But oddly, the game’s biggest threat came in the form of bear traps – which seemed to annoyingly be placed in almost every tall bit of grass and around every corner to catch you off guard.

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Working as a team to complete objectives is key.

Originally developed as a VR game for Starbreeze’s own virtual reality headset, Overkill’s TWD isn’t as exciting as we had hoped after such a long wait. Gameplay already seems a little dated compared to other recent zombie games like Dying Light and the just announced sequel, Dying Light 2. And sadly, the game won’t feature PvP… one of the best features of the L4D series.

We can’t help but think that switching focus from VR to a more traditional co-op experience is surely one of the reasons for the game’s long delay. But with so many gamers still playing Payday 2 and Left 4 Dead 2, Overkill’s TWD could very well catch on and become one of the next successful co-op games online.

From what little we saw and got to play, maps seem full of detail with interesting item mechanics that could certainly make the game’s co-op enjoyable when playing with a group of friends. As with their previous games, Overkill’s level design once again seems to be very well thought out here to make playing the same missions over-and-over again enjoyable — which is one of the most important features when developing a co-op game such as this and creating longevity online.

Overkills’ The Walking Dead is set for launch on November 6, 2018 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.