Undead Labs surprised all zombie lovers with a classic third person adventure that is one of the best survival sims ever made (if you can think of any that is). As one of the prime examples of a stunning Xbox indie exclusive, State of Decay but the survival back in the zombie genre in ways that few other games have even touched upon. With that said, the dedicated fan base provided the ears of Undead Labs quite a few suggestions. While the main wish of cooperative play was deemed unattainable, the next best thing was a story-free sandbox mode and this gift was delivered in the form of the DLC named Breakdown.

SoD choose

Breakdown places you at the helm of a randomized survivor and places you in a sort of survival horde mode. You are tasked with gaining your group of survivors and keeping as many of them alive as possible until you can find and repair an RV that will take you to the next ‘town’ (or level). Going to the next town will put you back into the same ‘looking’ town with regenerated resources to scavenge yet with an increased difficulty. That means more of those vicious Feral zombies, less resources to fortify your camp, and less ammunition! As you go along this task, challenges are given that, once completed, will gain you access to unique characters. with special abilities and default equipment. Many of these heroes were characters you encountered in the main storyline but could not be used as a part of your camp. Some of them are just new all together. Thankfully, once you unlock them, they become regulars that you can encounter and add to your camp as you progress from level to level. Trust me, you’re going to need them and all they bring to the table if you are hoping to make it past say level 7 or 8 where the difficulty reaches near impossible status.

Playing through State of Decay revealed a few quirks about the game’s original difficulty and the storyline that didn’t seem to drive the experience as much as the random events did. The result was a huge outcry for an experience that displayed the difficulties in surviving. In the original, vehicles were plentiful and were probably the main weapon used to take out hordes which essentially disturbed the desperation balance that should be the main focus of a game of this genre. Breakdown executes this task beautifully as vehicles take a bit more damage and the number of usable vehicles to be found is reduced drastically. This makes handling zombie hordes quite a bit more frantic when you realize that all of your saved vehicles are flaming and need to be repaired before continued use! Also, since the higher levels find you using less ammunition and less weaponry, you’ll find yourself using flares and noisemakers quite a bit more in order to successfully scavenge what you need given the increased amounts of hordes and infestations. Breakdown forces you to utilize every aspect of survival the game has which is a far cry from the strategy used to get through the original game.

SoD Big Un
You’ll see many more of these Big Un’s as you progress to higher levels. Do you shoot and attract more Zeds or run?

Surprisingly, the addition of this mode does NOT include any ‘new’ areas. The map from the original game returns with minor changes in building locations. While this could be an unspoken advantage since you’ll know most of important building locations before hand, it still would have been nice to visit another randomized town each level. Even if the higher difficulty levels tacked on pieces to the edge of the map or something would have been nice. Certainly, randomization of the map would be a HUGE task for an indie developer to take on, but here’s to hoping it is on their list of options to develop.

SoD map
Trumbull Valley can easily fill up with roaming hordes. Be sure to carefully plan where you place outposts.

Undead Labs clearly loves their dedicated and growing community. Even before Breakdown was released, title updates were released (the release of Breakdown marked the release of update 4) according to feedback and suggestions provided by the community. These updates have and will address the various bugs (clipping issues, graphical issues, and other annoying yet not game breaking glitches) that were seen in the original game. Knowing this heightens the appeal of the game as the experience (which used to be one play through and done) is now an evolving experience that is easily the best zombie apocalypse survival experience on the market!

State Of Decay: Breakdown is a DLC pack offered at $6.99. The original game, State of Decay, is available for XBLA and PC and is rated Mature for violence, gore, and language.