If you don’t have a lot of experience playing an RPG rouge-like with turned-based combat and the survival elements of Fallout then you are in for something special. Dead Age II does a lot of things right while there are obvious levels of growth you’ll notice as you play along.
The world of Dead Age II is a large one. Along this map is a rich cast of characters with a great story to tell. The tutorial may take you up to an hour, and it goes across several in-game days to make sure you understand various fundamentals. What’s unfortunate is there is no way you’re going to remember everything, so you will find yourself wondering what you actually learned. Once the game takes you out of that, you are ready take on this world and all it has to offer.
The story is somewhat incomplete, and we are still waiting on it to be fully fleshed out, but what we are served up is pretty interesting. You feel like you were planted right in the world of The Walking Dead, the seriousness of their tones and all. The problem isn’t necessarily with the story itself, but how the story is being told. There are so many text boxes you’ll read through, it’s almost as if you’re playing a graphic novel than a video game itself. The parts that you do read tell the story of a captivating community of factions and other survivors just looking to make it to another day. Whether you run into a smuggler, get ambushed by a zombie, or try to impress a soldier in the town over, there is always dialogue to be read and a story to be told.
During the story, you’ll get a crash course on how the quest system works. You have several different categories of quests you can undertake, different types of quests within those categories, and various ways of earning money and faction allegiance. Although the quests are varied, fleshed out, and robust, you will find yourself somewhat frustrated with the amount of juggling between quests that can happen. Thankfully, you have a lot of freedom and flexibility in the amount of quests you take and which kinds you take, just be careful to stay focused on those story and camp missions if you want to have a chance at surviving this bleak existence.
During the initial quests, you’ll learn about a huge element to this game: base-building. The base building is the backbone of Dead Age 2 and where you’ll find yourself at most of the time when not out traversing the map. You’ll assign your camp inhabitants to work the gardens, build new buildings for the community, making sure that everyone has a job and every upgrade is being met. There is a day/night system that plays a part in this base-building. This is a system that works fairly well and can be somewhat addicting if you’re into town management simulations.
The meat of this game is the combat, and that is where Dead Age II truly shines. There is so much to be said here and so many variables that go into crafting the perfect strategy for even the simplest of zombie fights. There are melee weapons, ranged weapons, status affects, a wealth of skills, a row system that triggers what attacks you can do, buffs, ammo management, and even ammo manipulation. There are many possibilities with the battles you run into that it is almost more satisfying to just level your characters rather than hear what they have to say about it. You may not be able to build the ultimate character that you want, but you will certainly love the one you have.
Dead Age II tries to do a lot of things right and it mostly succeeds, but sometimes having too much of a good thing can even apply to gaming. You’ll love the combat system, but not enjoy all the skills you’ll have to keep up with which can create an imbalance. You’ll enjoy questing across the map, but you will then realize you’re overwhelmed with the amount of quests and forced to return to base to deal with a horde before you know it. There are just so many nuances to the game that it can be hard to manage them all and that is definitely going to frustrate some.
The good news is that this game is early access and there are still a ton of patches, updates, and reworks on the horizon. I have no doubt that Dead Age II can be the game we all know it can be, and one day soon this world will be one worth visiting.