World War Z - Switch Review
"A testament to the expertise of Saber Interactive."
In the blink of an eye, the world as we know it has been turned upside down. Humans have been infected with a rampant disease with the primary symptom turning them into undead monsters also known as Zekes. With the world turned into disarray, they've begun to devour human flesh, kill the living and feed their insatiable appetites. In World War Z, a band of survivors stand against the odds by fighting a desperate struggle against undead swarms to find salvation for humanity.
Let’s just get this out of the way right now: World War Z is a marvel thanks to Saber Interactive's handling of this game’s development on Nintendo Switch. While there have been some understandable downgrades in terms of graphical fidelity, the performance is quite solid at a steady 30 frames per second. This is an impressive feat considering the amount of zombies on screen at most given times.
Campaign is the meat of the game which allows you to play either online (public) matches with random folks or (privately) with friends or just play the game in the offline mode with AI if you so choose.
The main campaign proceeds through four episodes, with each containing three to four missions following four unique characters per episode. New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo are the areas you will complete a series of linear missions in, with each marked with an objective marker which you will follow to each new point of interest. Objectives involve flicking switches, activating gates and fighting undead but the real fun begins when you stumble into a swarm arena. It takes place like a battle like no other; the game will pit you against hundreds of running, screaming zombies that flood the area, all hungry and out for blood. It's here where I was really blown away by the sheer amount of on-screen zombie models with each climbing up and jumping from the tops of buildings to get to you - it was heart pounding! The sense of dread as they approach your position is heart wrenching!
It’s great to see that the zombies act very similar to the movie adaptation which launched in 2013. As they climb up walls in huge hordes and throw themselves off ledges, it certainly gets the adrenaline pumping. Thankfully in these arena based areas, you'll have a refill box at your disposal when you're low on ammo. You can carry one main, one side and one special weapon, with each tied to your class which is selected in the loadout menu and can be upgraded throughout your play time. There are seven classes in total with each having their own unlockable perks. You will always have the same weapons when you start each mission but there are a number of pick-ups while playing. Plus, each weapon can be levelled up by purchasing new upgraded versions. There are 25 weapons available each to unlock with multiple different variations split into a tier system.
Defensive pick-ups are also a crucial key to survival. These include barbed wire, auto turrets, electric fences and many more that I won't spoil here. Depending on your difficulty setting, equipment and resources may be limited. It's these battles that will test the most hardened survivors and while you can play with voice chat if you own a headset, there is a simple communication tool that allows you to mark enemies and points of interest.
World War Z is at its best when played online with others - there is no doubt about that. Playing multiple games with random people has been flawless aside from one disconnect. The only other mode available is Challenge Mode, a quick play option (and the ability prestige after rank 30), allowing you to unlock new rewards.
- Exciting swarm battles
- 14 total missions
- Plenty of unlockables
- Online play
- Solid performance
My biggest issue here is in World War Z's offline mode where I found the CPU AI to be completely useless. They don’t heal themselves, they have no common sense and mostly stand right in your way and then have the audacity to say “oi, stop shooting me!” If you're ever downed by an enemy, you can watch as your useless helpers stumble into zombie swarms and not fire a single shot. It’s pathetic and makes offline mode needlessly difficult because you're practically playing four player mode by yourself with a couple of dead-weights following you.
In addition, I was sad to see that there are no missions tied to the official movie. Seeing some missions involving Gerry (main character: eg. Brad Pitt) and his family requiring your help to get to the evacuation point on an apartment rooftop. But sadly, there’s nothing here apart from the zombies that tie the game to the movie - it's a missed opportunity.
Lastly, I can't help but be unsure in regards to the longevity of the game itself. With only 14 missions available and the ability to change up the difficulties adding a bit more challenge, there's not much else here unless we see some new content added in future.
The multiplayer shop is a little strange as it takes you to the eShop page to allow you to buy its DLC. I think the wording needs changing there as it is positioned to the average player as another online multiplayer mode.
- Awful CPU AI
- No tie-in to the movie
- Misleading DLC wording
- A lack of content
Final Score: 7/10
Despite the game not reaching the heights that Dying Light had in terms of content, World War Z is still a whole lot of fun with friends or random people online; that’s where the game shines the most. Thankfully, the solid performance holds up throughout the battles against huge swarms and it's a testament to the expertise of Saber Interactive! Although as a word of warning, don’t bother playing offline with the excruciating CPU AI as they will only hold you back. Looking forward, I hope to see some more content to bolster this game's offerings but in the meantime, there's still a whole lot to write home about here.
Thank you for checking out our World War Z switch review, thank you to Saber Interactive (via Five Star Games PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: