My pretty big write-up on the good, the bad, and the deabteable

Okay, I like this game. I definitely do. Otherwise I wouldn’t have spent well over 24 hours by now playing it. So I’m gonna try to do the best I can to put out the fairest write-up I can.

The good:

  • It is stunningly beautiful. It is a hungry, hungry game that really likes everything my CPU and GPU has to offer. And it shows in the end result. People who complain about the game not looking good clearly can’t have read the hardware recommended specs at all.

  • The setting is wonderful. Being Norwegian, having spent many summer vacations in Sweden in the eighties, the aesthetic tickles my nostalgia a lot.

  • The soundtrack is a synth-pop labour of love.

  • The sound design in itself is pretty well executed. Especially the machines. There’s nothing like running through the woods, and suddenly noticing that you’re faintly hearing something a little odd, stopping, and realizing it’s the thumping footsteps of a Tank. And after having encountered my firs tank and having had to run away, the fact that you can still hear them 200+ meters away, faintly thumping around in the distance, makes things outright EPIC. It’s a big, noisy machine with a signature sound that should make a mid-level character fear what’s to come.

  • The netcode is either impressively smooth, or really good at hiding that it isn’t. Playing co-op, I can’t say that I have noticed any lag, rubberbanding, players or machines glitching anywhere, or problems with hit registration. So that’s either some wonderfully tight netcode right there, or some equally impressive programming voodoo going on to hide it if it isn’t.

The bad:

  • Inventory management. Oh god the inventory management needs a BIG workover. Having a limited inventory to work with, it becomes extra annoying when you have to manage the stacks of items in your inventory. If I can have a stack of 60 buckshot “attached” to my shotgun, there really is no reason why I should have 23 buckshot loaded, and another stack of 17 buckshot taking up space in my inventory as well. This needs to be reworked, so whatever you pick up first “flows” to your attached ammo/quickslots, and then starts filling up a stack in your inventory. We’re here to kill robots, not stop ever so often and rearrange all loaded ammo and all stuff assigned to quick slots.

  • The bugs. Of course. Not being able to complete quests due to missing triggers. Not being able to progress for those poor, poor PS4 players. Enemies respawning inside safehouses. Enemies melee attacking you through walls, through roofs, glitching through walls, or trying to fire through 20 meters of Mother Sweden’s finest bedrock and some bunker walls without having a line of sight.
    But we’re in 2019, I don’t think I’ve had single game bought on launchday that didn’t come with some crippling bugs, sometimes entirely game-breaking. In the case of Generation Zero, the end result is actually less flawed than some full price AAA releases. As long as these get weeded out, we’ll be happy.

  • Setting up and joining multiplayer games. This is too clunky. Waaay too clunky. There’s really no good reason for it to be so goddamn clunky at all.
    At the moment, invited have to be sent through Steam. If you’re in-game when you get the invite, you can’t respond to it. If your game is running, you don’t get put into the multiplayer session.
    This really needs a rework, making it possible to host a multiplayer session that allows friends only to join, and making it possible to see multiplayer sessions hosted by friends.
    Making this work would probably need one overhaul for each system (Steam, Xbox, PS4), but that’s unfortunately the price of developing a game for three different platform.

The debatable:

  • “Persistent machines”
    This was a thing that was pushed over and over again in the early material on the game. How the machines would be unique and persistent, and keep roaming the countryside in a damaged condition. Now that’s true to some extent. But at the same time, maybe not so much.
    Instead, it seems like machines stay somewhat persistent over time, until they get sideswapped out of existence if you roam too far from the area they’re in, and resets to their initial spawn-point and spawn-state. For instance, the Hunter guarding the bridge from Saltholmen, which is a bit a challenge in solo play if you get there too soon. Having had to withdraw and go scrounge up more healing kits and ammo across most of Saltholmen before trying again, I was pretty disappointed to see it having regenerated from the 72% it was at when I left, being back to 100% again when I came back.
    It seems some of the promised persistence is there, yet not entirely. So the game over-promises and underdelivers a bit in that aspect.

  • The follow-up.
    The game launched on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday saw the deployment of two quick-fixes, Thursday saw us get a “Letter From the Development Team”. Then we got a lot of silence.
    I hope this means that Friday was spent on an epic launch party leaving the team crippled with hangovers over the weekend, but we really need to see a bit more pretty soon. I know that the support team/dev team is buried under a slew of error reports and crash report data, and trying their damndest to make sense of it all. But we really need either a patch fixing some problems pretty soon, or some sort of update telling us what’s going on and what’s being fixed.
    If all hands are busy trying to sort out the issue PS4 players are having, being unable to get past the invisible wall, that’s reasonable. Focusing efforts on letting a rough third of the player base actually get to play the full game is pretty understandable. But right now a lot of us have a bit of a buggy product we’ve bought, and would like to know a little more about what kind of things we can expect to get fixed somewhat soon, what kind of stuff that for mysterious reasons nobody predicted turned out to be harder to get to work right than expected, and what is acknowledged as a bit of a problem, but not something that will get looked at right away.

  • The AI. I’m really on the fence about that one. Sometimes it seems like the AI is pretty damn smart, and when fighting several machines at once, you’re constantly getting flanked. At the same time, I’m having a hard time telling whether several machines are making moves to make my life as hard as possible in conjunction with one another, or whether a swarm of several machines doing random things at once makes it seem like they’re smarter than they are.
    And then, as soon as I abuse the terrain or some nearby buildings a little, they end up dumb as bricks, standing more or less still, or running a little from side to side while they keep shooting at the walls or some rock. Same as with the machines attacking bunker walls, it seems as if they’re simply not able to handle walls and pathfinding particularly well.

But really. I do enjoy the game a whole lot. It is clearly a labour of love that a lot of people have poured a lot of time and effort into. The reception has been pretty mixed. Some of it for good reason due to issued with both bugs, and some flawed ideas in the design. Some of it for less good reasons, because people bought the game without understanding what kind of a game they were purchasing, only to be upset that it wasn’t the game they wanted.

In the end, Generation Zero in it’s current state is unfortunately merely a decent game for it’s price which is outstanding in some areas. Some more love and care, ridding the game of the worst bugs, and some reworking of the most annoying design flaws, and it will eventually be a good game.

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