So after investing 92 hours in Generation Zero, my friend and I finished the game. Here is my overall feedback and thoughts on Generation Zero in it’s current state, what I think could be improved, and what I’d like to see. I read the May 15th developer letter posted to Steam, but as many professional game reviewers will say, I need to review the game in the state it’s in NOW, not after what a day 1 or later hotfix or patch will do, but with what I have in hand. With that being said, here are my thoughts:
I played the game on Skirmish Difficulty. The game advertises this as the middle ground balance of storytelling and combat. Not too easy, but not too hard. Just right. While tempted to once or twice, I didn’t ever change the difficulty. Of my 92 hours in game, I’d say I spend around 80% of them playing cooperatively with my friend. A few times during the free play week there were 3 of us, and once 4.
Overall thoughts and if I had to give the game a review score or a buy / do not buy:
- Generation Zero is a unique game. It scratches the looter shooter itch, while being a beautiful and challenging first person shooter in a VERY LARGE sandbox. I LOVE the visuals. The game is very beautiful to play in and everything from the environment to the machines given the scale and likely budget of the game, is fantastic for what it is.
- The weapons, despite their varying degrees of feeling weak (ex: rocket launcher and .50 cal sniper against hunters), are VERY satisfying to shoot. The sound, the handling, and everything in between feels appropriate. I particularly enjoy the shotguns. Though I do wish that some weapons hit harder than they do now. Having read a little bit on the forums here and on Steam, I can infer that when new weapons are introduced to the game, they are generally considered overpowered when compared to everything else and are shortly afterwards nerfed. Which is shame. Because nothing is less satisfying than firing a weapon that is satisfying to shoot, and then have your enemy just look at you, and put you in the ground with a railgun to the face.
- Machines are brutal. Until I see the upcoming changes the devs have announced, I can’t overstate this. Hunters and Runners being able to shoot through hedges and terrain foilage you can’t see through, harvesters, hunters, and tanks with rockets that seem to have no distance limitations paired with an aimbot so crazy the only way to win is breaking line of sight. Even then, they can lob their rocket up in the air with a mortar effect. If you encounter a Harvester or Tank a long distance away from a safehouse and there are no large houses or barns nearby, such as in an open field or hillside, you must avoid them. Otherwise their rockets will kill you.
- Loot quality is inconsistent. We got about halfway through the main story and moved to the DLC island. The loot quality improved VASTLY. Tier 3 to 4 was plentiful. Tier 5 showed up when relatively when expected, we were happy. When we returned to the mainland, we were greeted with tier 1 to 3 loot. Until we got to the final 2 or 3 main missions where the game hands you a tier 5 rocket launcher, smg, and pistol, the only Tier 5 drops seem to be from Tanks and Harvesters. But those are rare. Now that we have finished the game I think we may end up migrate back to the island of radioactive toasters to get get better loot RNG.
Verdict: Buy…when the game is on sale.
This game is fantastic and great loads of fun with 1-3 friends when it works. But until the aimbot AI is fixed, it will be a major thorn the in the side of casual players. Weapon balancing is inconsistent as is the RNG. It’s beautiful sandbox to get murdered by machines in, but the beauty will fade you are only left with your ragdoll body tumbling down hills. Wait for the patch, evaluate, then buy if it’s better. If not, wait for a sale.
Areas for improvement:
Expand the game. Given the number of islands on the map that are not reachable, I look forward to hopefully seeing more DLC packs like Alpine Unrest that open the world up more, bring more story to the game, and new areas to explore. There is A LOT of potential here. I hope to see the Generation Zero team put out more in this area. Most importantly, make they include people. I understand the message being communicating by the lack of NPCs in game and the audio logs you pick up. The machines were merciless and relentless. They killed A LOT of people. But NOT everyone.
New Game+. Currently when you beat the game, you can still run around and kill machines. But there is no way to reset your skills, and subsequent characters you create, cannot benefit from mission XP as mission progress is tied to your account. So in effect you have to start over if you want to gain XP from the mission again. Otherwise you are stuck killing toasters for XP. The exception to this seems to be if you join another player’s game who has not finished the story. At which point you can gain XP that way. However, for a game that advertises itself as being a solo experience as well as team experience, a New Game+ would be fantastic here. Give players the option to replay / reset the missions once “Behind the Curtain” and “The Resistance” (if you own Alpine Unrest) have been completed. I did not put two points into inquisitive mind, so I imagine I could have maxed out my level if I had early on. However, I only reached level 27 by the end of the game. Without the ability to replay the missions, the only thing we have left to do is loot farm. And with the game in it’s current state, that is a painful experience. Especially given how you have to mark enemies to get the bonus XP.
Inventory and Crafting. Looking forward to seeing where crafting goes. I saw that this is supposed to the “first iteration” of the crafting system. I would like to see higher tiers of clothing be crafted. Right now the Tier 1 quality items that only provide a 1% stat benefit is rather underwhelming. It is in fact better than not having it, but again, with the machines behavior as it is now, the benefits you get are near nonexistent unless stacked with bonuses from your skill tree. I would REALLY like to be able to craft weapons and ammo. For some reason .44 and 7.62 ammo seem to drop off of AT LEAST every other machine I kill. But rocket ammo is rare. When it drops, there is an unfortunate possibility to it being smoke rounds which don’t seem to do anything again the machines at the moment despite it’s advertised description of helping provide you cover. I’d LOVE to be able to break down surplus weapons, ammo, and crafting materials and use it to make ammo I’m short on. I’d also really like to craft Tier 5 weapons and attachments. Maybe add in schematics for them to the game? Or at least up to the Tier 4 level if nothing else. I’ve gotten about a dozen Tier 5 shotgun chokes now, but can’t find anything above a Tier 2 magazine for my Automatic 4.
Provide the ability to reset the skill tree. I’ve seen several topics, and seen those topics be merged on a demand from the removal of the level cap to skill tree rework suggestions, to reset requests. Mine falls in the latter most. I mostly like the skills as they are. While I don’t care for all of them, that is a discussion I will add to the appropriate thread. My suggestion as part of my overall thoughts, is to allow the ability to reset your skill points. Be that at will any time throughout the game, or if a New Game+ system is implemented as I suggested above, make it so that the skill points are refunded to you and you are given the ability to spend them again as you desire. As things are now, there is no benefit to players locking the skills in the tree until a patch rolls around resetting them for everyone. It forces people to plan ahead and commit to a limited number of paths. While it is true there are 4 character slots, given that missions can only be played as a host / solo play once, there is a STEEP time investment there given the lack of a New Game+ system in place.
Make the Challenges / Prestige Points meaningful. While I appreciate the prestige points and find them neat, there is A LOT more possible potential here. Short of taking a screenshot and posting it on the forums or an external site, they don’t confer anything other than bragging rights. The Steam achievements provided with the game are more tangible milestones to measure with other players and they are visible to anyone who makes can see your Steam profile. Maybe make it so they can be converted to XP or skill points. For every 10 prestige points, you can spend on a skill point. Or tie them to cosmetics and/or schematics for higher tier craftable items. There are lots of possibilities here. Read the forums, take suggestions, and incorporate the more popular ones.
Why can I take a rocket, but roll 5 feet down the hill and stub my toe to death? Not much else I can say here.
This game has A LOT of fantastic potential. I plan on spending a couple nights a week farming for experimentals and Tier 5 attachments, and hunting down the remaining “Rivals” on my map. But unless some improvements are made, I’ll be moving on to other pastures / greener games. Hope to chat with more folks on the forums and chat about how the coming year is going to look for this game.