(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios | Twitter)
What you need to know
- State of Decay 2 is a first-party, zombie-slaying, community-managing survival game from Undead Labs and Xbox Game Studios.
- On Wednesday, the team announced that Update 33, under the "Heart Attack" moniker, is now available.
- Nearly five years after the game's launch, the Heart Attack update brings massive feature overhauls and changes.
- Plague Hearts, Infestations, and Sieges are all more dynamic, dangerous, and deliberate.
It's difficult to believe that it has already been nearly five years since the launch of State of Decay 2, but it's true. Despite the passing of time and the game's mixed reception at launch, though, Undead Labs refuses to let State of Decay 2 die. On Wednesday, the team released a gargantuan new content update packed with new features and changes for players to explore.
State of Decay 2 Update 33 "Heart Attack" is busy rolling out to players, and it brings the final form of feature overhauls teased early in 2022, when Undead Labs made it clear there was a lot more heading to State of Decay 2 in the future. With the Heart Attack update, State of Decay 2's world will become more terrifying and feel more real, thanks to major changes to several core mechanics. You can read the full changelog linked above, but here's an overview of the largest changes:
- Plague Hearts. These pulsating masses of grotesque zombie matter lay at the heart of the zombie apocalypse, but now the threat they pose is even more specific and gradual.
- Plague Hearts will begin as dormant on a new map, with various actions players taking in their territory slowly awakening the Plague Hearts
- Once a Plague Heart is awakened, it will begin amassing and controlling Infesting Hordes via Screamers, sending them out to begin and build up Infestations
- Once Infestations are strong enough, Plague Hearts will use those Infestations to build Siege Sites, which will eventually attack your Base with waves of deadly Infesting Hordes
- The more player activity in an area or the louder their Base, the more Infesting Hordes will be created and the faster Infestations will appear
- The only way to stop this ceaseless onslaught of zombies for good is to destroy the Plague Heart at the center of it all
- Infestations. These hubs of zombie activity no longer randomly and sporadically sprout up around the map, and are instead deliberately created by Infesting Hordes, which are led by Screamers and controller by Plague Hearts.
- Infesting Hordes will roam the map at the behest of its controlling Plague Heart, seeking a suitable location to create an Infestation
- All Infestations have Severity levels, which refer to the number of Screamers at that Infestation
- Stronger Infestations can send out Infesting Hordes to create new Infestations, begin establish Siege Sites, or strengthen an existing Siege Site in preparation for an attack
- Infesting Hordes actually take or add to the zombies at a location, meaning an Infestation that sends out an Infesting Horde will lower its Severity, while an Infestation that gains a new Infesting Horde will increase its Severity
- Infesting Hordes can also target and infest player Outposts, thus mitigating all benefits from that Outpost
- Players can intercept and destroy Infesting Hordes to slow Infestation growth or to stop invasions and Sieges
- Stronger Infestations can also attract powerful Freaks like Ferals and Juggernauts
- Infestations also increase the number of zombies in the surrounding area
- If players successfully defeat all Screamers at an Infestation, it will naturally dissipate on its own (as Screamers control Infestations for Plague Hearts)
- Destroying the Plague Heart will also slowly weaken and eventually dissipate all Infestations in its territory
- Siege Sites. Instead of Sieges now being launched suddenly by an unseen horde, Plague Hearts will use Infesting Hordes to establish Siege Sites around player Bases.
- After Siege Sites have grown strong enough or enough Siege Sites have been established, the Siege Sites will launch waves of Siege Hordes to attack player Bases
- Siege Hordes actually take from the zombies at Siege Sites, meaning consecutive Sieges will gradually weaken then dissipate Siege Sites over time (unless they're strengthened by new hordes)
- However, Siege Sites will save their strongest, most difficult Siege Hordes until the final waves, meaning Sieges will progressively become more difficult
- Siege Hordes will also gather around player Bases shortly before attacking
- Base Threat levels, which take into account Base defenses and noise levels, influence the strength of Siege Sites and the frequency of Sieges
- Players can also reduce Siege Site threats by intercepting incoming Infesting Hordes or targeting Screamers at Siege Sites
- If players aren't present during a Siege, their Base will suffer from Siege Consequences depending on the difficulty level, strength of Siege Sites, your Base defenses, and even random luck
- These Siege Consequences can range from minor setbacks to major issues, but can be prevented if players are present at any point during a Siege
- Player characters will earn Prestige for helping defend a Base during a Siege
- Radio Commands. Players can now command their other Survivors to scout the surrounding area for Infestations and even take out nearby Infestations, in exchange for resources.
- Outpost Defenses. There are also new tools and abilities to help defend Outposts and Bases, with each option taking its own resources to use, including:
- Scouting range, with each Outpost and Base having a scouting range to automatically discover Infesting Hordes, ambient Hordes, and Freaks within that area (adding an icon to the map)
- Incendiary Landmines, which can automatically destroy Infesting Hordes as they enter an Outpost safe zone, preventing Infestation growth
- Infestation Bait, which can attract and reroute any Infesting Hordes that enter the Outpost's scouting range toward that Outpost, potentially slowing Infestation growth and weakening nearby Infestations by forcing them to dispatch new Infesting Hordes
- Plague Disruptor, which is placed on cell phone towers and greatly reduces the effect of player actions awakening a dormant Plague Heart
I did say it's a big update. This is a dramatic overhaul for one of State of Decay 2's core mechanics, which is unexpected for any game after its initial launch. With these changes, State of Decay 2's zombies now feel more present in the world, as zombies and Infestations aren't just magically appearing in the world and actually exist at all times. Plague Hearts and Infestations also pose more deliberate, intelligent threats to you and your Survivors, reacting to your movements and plotting to destroy you at every turn.
These changes are enough that State of Decay 2 almost feels like an entirely different game than it did before this update, which was already hugely improved and expanded over the original launch. If you haven't given State of Decay 2 a try in a long time (or at all), this feels like the perfect time to do it. Despite its launch state, State of Decay 2 is now comfortably one of the best Xbox games for those wanting a zombie fix.
State of Decay 2 Juggernaut Edition includes the base game, all of State of Decay 2's premium DLC, and every free update ever released on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PC. There's 2-4 player co-op multiplayer to play with your friends, the game is Xbox Series X|S Optimized, there are plenty of options to customize your difficulty, and the game is packed with countless hours of content. Now, the zombies are more dangerous than ever, and I doubt Undead Labs is done updating the game.
Oh, and State of Decay 2 is currently half off on Xbox and PC. Even if you don't want to buy it, it's included in Xbox Game Pass. I have to admit, all of this makes me pretty excited for what's to come with State of Decay 3.
State of Decay 2, in all its undying glory, is a part of the first-party Xbox portfolio and is a permanent member of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate library on Xbox consoles, Windows PCs, and the cloud.