World War Zwas a surprise hit when it launched back in 2019, with the four-player co-op action proving thrilling, deep, and, most importantly, a lot of fun. I played it for hours on end back then, so I was naturally interested in the follow-up, World War Z: Aftermath. This isn’t a direct sequel though, but rather an evolution on the existing game that brings with it two new story episodes, a new character class, and refreshed gameplay mechanics,
It all comes together to make for the definitive World War Z experience and one that will certainly entice both new and returning players to get down for some zombie killing action.
Check out a gallery of screenshots below:
At its core, World War Z: Aftermath is a four-player co-op zombie shooter that’ll be familiar to anyone who has enjoyed the Left 4 Dead series before. It feels a bit cheap to liken the game to Valve’s own zombie-killing franchise, especially since World War Z evolves upon a lot of the things seen there, but it’s the best comparison point: you pick one of a selection of characters, arm yourself with melee and ranged weapons, then kill lots of enemies as you complete objectives and reach safety points.
The action takes place across the globe, with players slaying zombies through New York, Jerusalem, Moscow, Tokyo, and Marseille in the main campaign, whilst this new release also brings with it additional story episodes taking place in the Vatican City in Rome and Kamchatka in Russia. Each brings something substantially different to the fray and will certainly excite returning gamers, with Kamchatka standing out as a favourite for me. Killing zombies in the snow is super fun, after all, with the new addition perfectly complementing the action found in the main game’s Moscow episode.
Both new episodes feel more expansive, with developer Saber Interactive clearly refining their level design to better suit the game. There are also some clever ideas introduced that tie into the freezing temperatures of Russia, with players having more to worry about than just the festering zombies. The only disappointment is that the objectives haven’t seen much evolution, with them feeling a little samey when compared to the game’s previous story episodes. They’re not bad by any means, but it would have been nice to see a bit more creativity – especially for returning players.
“Both new episodes feel more expansive, with developer Saber Interactive clearly refining their level design to better suit the game.”
Unlike the aforementioned Left 4 Dead, World War Z: Aftermath utilises a class-based system with its character selection. These classes bring with them different starting weapons and equipment, but also have upgradeable perks that allow them to suit different playstyles more efficiently. The Gunslinger suits players that want to go all-guns blazing for example, whilst the Medic will heal both themselves and allies. The Fixer is great when it comes to providing extra supplies for players, whilst the Slasher is unstoppable when it comes to melee kills. Upgrading them brings a satisfying sense of progress to the experience and makes re-playing levels all the more rewarding.
The seven classes from the original release are present here, but there’s also the all-new Vanguard class that’s primary benefit comes with its shield. Now I’ve never been the type of player who uses a shield in a game and I typically prefer all-out offense, but being able to charge through groups of zombies and wipe them out with my electrified shield as a Vanguard NEVER stopped being satisfying. It acted as a good means of crowd control and can be especially effective when working with a team who can take out the stragglers that are left behind. It’s just a really fun class to play as and one that really fits the co-operative vibe of the game perfectly, all whilst giving the player a good balance of offense and defence.
It should also be noted that there are individual classes available for the game’s competitive multiplayer mode, but it’s not something that I’ve played around with a lot. World War Z: Aftermath is at its best for me when playing in co-op through the story episodes, with the PvP something I’ve dabbled with but not invested myself in.
“Being able to charge through groups of zombies and wipe them out with my electrified shield as a Vanguard NEVER stopped being satisfying.”
Another new introduction to the game comes with the rats, which will form up in packs and quickly overwhelm players who aren’t prepared for them. I’m embarrassed to admit the amount of times that I’ve been caught out by the little b******s so far, with them being quick to take me down and nibble away at my insides. You can’t blast at them with bullets either, but instead need to use grenades or your flame thrower – items which you aren’t necessarily always going to have on hand. They add a new dynamic to taking on enemies and will certainly require teamwork to take down. Who would have thought that in a game full of ZOMBIES, it’d be rats that caused me the most issues?
There have been some other new additions added to the game, such as reworked melee attacks that bring with them new perks, dual-wielded weapons, and more impactful moves, whilst the game can also be played at 60FPS and 4K on current-gen consoles. However, one of the additions I’ve found myself enjoying the most is the new first-person camera. When this was announced, I didn’t think it’d interest me much; one of the things I liked the most about the original game was that it was third-person, which helped differentiate it even further from Left 4 Dead. I’ve found myself playing exclusively in first-person now though, with the horrific zombies even more frightening (and satisfying to take out) when seen up close. Again, it’s something that doesn’t feel like a major improvement in any way, but goes a long way in making the game more refreshing to play. It should be noted that it switches to a third-person view when performing melee attacks though, which could feel a little bit jarring.
“I’ve found myself playing exclusively in first-person now though, with the horrific zombies even more frightening (and satisfying to take out) when seen up close.”
Between all of the additions, World War Z: Aftermath really feels like a worthwhile and meaty upgrade. It isn’t just a case of having new levels and a new class to play, but the gameplay has been evolved upon to make it feel even better than it did back when it launched over two years ago. It’s still as satisfying as ever to play with friends, it’s got a decent community to play with strangers, whilst the AI even holds its own well and can keep up with all of the action. It’s just a very fun game to play, with the new upgrades and additions making it even BETTER than it was before.
World War Z: Aftermath Summary
Whether you’re new to the game or a returning player, World War Z: Aftermath brings plenty of worthwhile additions that ensure it’s a real blast to play two years on from its original release. Saber Interactive have really gone all-out to make the expansion feel substantial with its new levels, new class, and new enemy type, whilst the refined melee combat and first-person viewpoint make the game even more fun to play than it was before.
Add a few friends to the mix and you’ll quickly find that World War Z: Aftermath is as addictive and enjoyable as ever. With a free current-gen upgrade coming this Spring, the future certainly looks bright for the game.
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Saber Interactive, Focus Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC