In most ARPGs, any challenge they have to offer usually comes from ramping up the actual game difficulty in order to make enemies tougher; or perhaps there’s a special area that tests how long you can go without dying. In Zombasite, the challenge is ever present. You can’t just go running around slaying everything you see. In part this is because high-level enemies aren’t held off until some determined “end game;” the next area you wander into from your current low-level area may put you face-to-face with foes that will smite you in just one hit.
The other reason you can’t spend all your time mucking about in the wilderness is that you have to tend to the needs of your clan. The world is dynamic and situations are constantly changing. Two NPCs who don’t like one another may start fighting so you either have to try and separate them, appease them with gifts, or just let them duke it out until only the victor remains. Your nemeses (you start every game with two) will actively be plotting against you by sending monsters at your base, kidnapping potential NPCs you could recruit, and even taunting you. Maintaining good relationships with your neighbors can be difficult if they’re unpredictable and will suddenly decide that it’s better to be at war. No matter what, you’ll need to keep one eye on what is happening outside of the immediate combat in which you find yourself. This may feel like busywork for some, but I found it to be more of a welcome break from the ARPG routine to which I find in so many other games. Of course, all of that micromanagement gets easier with friends.
Rather than being the sole person to shoulder the burden of keeping track of how your clan is doing, what quests you need to do, and why some other clan is mad at you, why not spread some of that responsibility across a group of people? Co-op in Zombasite works pretty much the same as it does when going it alone, i.e., you still have to keep your clan alive, but now you have more people around to help manage things. The exact number of players that can team up together isn’t defined. You can have any number of people in a co-op game, but allowing too many players at once might cause issues for everyone involved. So while you’re free to bump it up all the way to 128, you’re probably good with keeping it to under 10 to ensure there aren’t connectivity/frame rate issues, and to keep that feeling of being a small clan struggling to survive.
Each player that joins you can freely choose their character class, take on and complete quests, gather a party of NPCs to assist them, and generally help ensure your clan’s survival. Players aren’t tethered to one another and are free to wander about wherever. If one player is off in a different area and completes a quest, then all players get the rewards for its completion. Loot drops are communal but players can trade freely between one another so if your buddy grabs a bow that she can’t use but you can, then she can just trade it over to you. Trading does require you both to be in the same location, but there are warp stones scattered throughout the world that will instantly take you back to your clan’s village. The decision of whether you should all stick together or go your separate ways for a time is entirely up to the group, though there are cases where it makes more sense to group up. Taking down a particularly tough foe or raiding a rival clan for supplies, for instance, tends to go more smoothly when everyone is involved.
Zombasite is a niche title, but that doesn’t mean it’s got a big sign hanging out the front that says “only hardcore gamers need apply.” The folks in its community have put up guides to help familiarize new players with a lot of the various systems, the developer has a manual that lays out the basics, and the game itself is pretty forgiving when it comes to actually playing it and learning everything. It’s easier, too, to figure things out when you’ve got a few people looking at it. Managing a group of post-apocalyptic survivors is more fun when you’ve got a couple of friends around to help you do it, and I found myself getting a little more invested in everything when I was working with couple of people instead of all on my own. While it may be most inviting to those gamers that are looking for an ARPG with a little something different to offer from the usual loot grind, there are enough interesting ideas here that it’s worth a little bit of exploration by everyone.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with other players to survive the zombie apocalypse. Quests and experience are shared among all players in your group
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.