After sitting through two press conferences featuring Ubisoft’s upcoming zombie survial horror ZombiU, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the title. In Nintendo’s booth at E3, not only was it hands-on but there were two modes of play available. And while the single player looked quite enticing (David’s preview should fill you in) with it’s detective mode and scanning mechanics, I couldn’t help but try out the game’s multiplayer component. And I’m so glad that I made that choice.
This adversarial mode, which has yet to be officially named, pits two players against one another where one player (using a pro controller) asumes the role of “survivor” and the other (using the Wii U Gamepad) as “Master Zombie.” The play mechanic at its core is pretty basic but how it plays out is what makes all the difference. Opposing players will find themselves fighting over 3 points on a map, sort of like the “domination” modes that you find in your every day first person shooters. So what’s the twist? Both players aren’t playing in the first person perspective.
Instead, the “survivor” plays on the big screen in first person, while the “Master Zombie” uses an overhead touchscreen map on the Wii U Gamepad. The result is a frantic paced experience for the “survivor,” while the “Master Zombie” has a more strategy driven experience where they can pick and choose where to spawn their zombie minions in order to grief the opposing player.
Considering I played as a “survivor,” It let me get a feel of movement in ZombiU. Think of a slightly faster paced version of Left 4 Dead, where the zombies are not only more agressive but also have the ability to bring you down with a single bite. To make matters worse, you’re constantly finding yourself out of ammo which, in turn, forces you to run about the map in hopes of finding enough to fight off the next wave that your nearby neighbor sends your way.
“Survivors” are allowed unlimited respawns until either they or the zombies have completely taken over the map. And while the overhead map may seem like an unfair advantage, especially since the “survivor” player has no radar indicator, they do fortunately have access to power ups like turrets which certainly helps to level out the playing field.
The one thing I have to say about this style of multiplayer is that it pretty much embodies what Nintendo is trying to do with the system, and that’s to bring people together. I can’t tell how many times I’ve been disappointed to find out that a game doesn’t have a local multiplayer aspect — whether it’s couch co-op or otherwise — let alone one worthy of playing. ZombiU uses asymmetrical gameplay to bring something new and fresh to multiplayer, and that’s certainly something gamers should get behind.