World War Z sees you shooting through unbelievably large hordes of the undead using modern day weaponry, and even some sci-fi laser technology. Rebellion’s Zombie Army 4: Dead War is at the opposite end of the spectrum by comparison, but it feels a lot more fun to play. Everything is slower, from the weapons to the zombies and playable characters, but the tension this creates, coupled with the terrific game design and obvious appeal of Nazi zombies, makes this a game you want to jump into each and every day.
European Tour Campaign
Zombie Army 4 follows the events of the previous three games. Zombie Hitler was thrown into the pits of hell, but that hasn’t stopped the zombie Nazis rising from the dead. Now in 1946 the dead are striking back hard at the living with more ferocity than ever before, and it’s down to a small group of soldiers to uncover the reasons why.
The game’s campaign is massive. It spans a number of regions throughout the alternate timeline of the Zombie Army war, but that scope isn’t the only reason the campaign is so big. Rebellion has doubled down on the size of levels in the game, giving you much more to do than move from point to point and shoot at zombies with sniper rifles.
Every mission is made up of a number of chapters. As you work your way through each level you’ll come to a safe house, and it’s these zones of peace that split the mission up. It may not sound like much, but what used to be a quick 30 minute Nazi zombie-shooting jaunt has transformed into a two hour-long per mission experience, and the game feels much better for it. This is the natural evolution for the games to make, and it pushes Zombie Army 4 from being just another zombie spin-off game into a new IP in its own right.
As the campaign progresses, players face tougher and tougher encounters. Beginning with easy stuff like shambling hordes falling over themselves out of a zombie-controlled train, to a zoo filled to the brim with dangerous undead animals to contend with. All of this is without mentioning my personal highlights of the story mode, the bosses.
Rebellion has gone above and beyond to think outside the box when it comes to zombified enemies. Zombie Nazis were fresh when the series began, but now they’ve started to become as stale and rotten as they look. To spice things up, Zombie Army 4 adds new variants, including Hell Planes that airdrop zombies onto the battlefield, a Zombie Shark, which is exactly what you think it is, and undead tanks. Taking down a zombified tank is no easy feat, and relies upon precise shots to uncover the beating heart inside before mercilessly killing the amalgamation of flesh and steel.
Even outside of the obvious boss enemies, Zombie Army 4 has enough to challenge any player. Mini boss enemies wielding flamethrowers, machine guns, and even a buzzsaw pose a genuine challenge on any difficulty. Taking these tougher enemies down awards the player their weapon, which is where the tide of war can really be turned. Running into hordes of weaker zombies with the buzzsaw transforms your surroundings into something resembling a grizzly jam factory. The flamethrower simply burns away every zombie within a one mile radius, even if they take a couple of seconds to die and the flames look a bit rubbish. Finally the machine gun, arguably the weakest of these bigger weapons, is great for creating a decent amount of space between you and the zombie hordes, but really it’s nothing special. Each of these bigger weapons can be moved around a mission, saved for just the right moment, adding a layer of forethought that some similar games don’t allow for.
Team up to Take the Zombie Nazis Down
Zombie Army 4 isn’t a single player only game though. Every mission can be attacked with a group of up to three other players. These missions become quite hectic, but they take advantage of the game’s new upgrade systems much more so than single player missions do.
Each character and weapon can be upgraded as players earn experience points. Upgrades consist of specialised melee abilities, such as Divine Blast which is a Hammer of Thor-esque attack, or specialise passive abilities. Characters can be equipped with the power to self-revive once, take more incoming damage, or have upgrades grenades that boost damage for the entire team.
Weapon upgrades are something entirely different. Every weapon can be equipped with upgrades for aspects such as damage and ammo capacity. These may not seem like much, but as the upgrade paths are progressed they become far more powerful, and essential for the game’s hardest difficulties.
Once again, it’s clear in these elements of Zombie Army 4 that Rebellion have doubled down on the Zombie Army series. They’ve taken elements from other popular multiplayer shooters, and adapted them for the universe of the Zombie Army games, keeping everything firmly within the real of occult Nazi zombie killing.
While achieving victory in the game’s hardest campaign missions with a group of friends or random players is a lot of fun, once you’re finished that is, Zombie Army 4 still has a lot more to offer.
In Horde mode players take on endless waves of enemies using their best characters and weapons. As the waves advance, they’ll become more complex, with some containing larger numbers of mini bosses, and others just being filled with Suicider Bomber Zombies.
This mode is a nice distraction if you’ve been playing a lot of the campaign and want something different. It’s nowhere near as good as the rest of the game though. That isn’t to say that Horde mode isn’t without its charm.
It’s in this game mode that it’s possible to rack up as many points as possible using the game’s kill-tracking system. Combos can be built up to some ridiculous numbers, awarding points and experience for each one you add to the combo.
These combos also have gameplay implications. With a 10 kill combo, players unlock a Takedown ability that will award a small amount of health regeneration for a close up kill. With medikits being a scarce resource throughout all of Zombie Army 4’s game modes, this Takedown ability becomes an essential move that you need to track and use at just the right moments in order to survive and fight on.
The game has only been out for a few weeks, but already there have been some genuinely brilliant events. Each event takes a mission, including all of its levels, and applies three modifiers to them. These modifiers could affect anything, removing medkits from the mission entirely, providing infinite rifle ammo whilst removing all weapons apart from primaries, or even preventing players from earning Takedowns.
These events are worth a try though, because of the rewards on offer. I managed to get myself a unique skin for my M1 Garand by completing the game’s first event. For this I had to finish the first mission with just my rifle, though I did have infinite ammo. It’s worth noting that this event also had easy difficulty, while others force players into hard mode or higher.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War builds upon the Zombie Army Trilogy, but it takes the series to another level entirely. The evolutions in gameplay mechanics pull this game aside, making it much more than a Sniper Elite 4 zombie spin-off game. Players can find hundreds of hours of content here if they choose to look for it. Yes, most of that might be shooting zombies, but under the surface there’s a deep progression system with upgrades upon upgrades to earn, as well as those coveted time limited cosmetics.
- Part of the Zombie Army series without being just another spin-off.
- Offers a wide variety of zombie types to kill.
- Huge campaign with load of replayability.
- Zombie sharks are terrifying.
- Events have the potential to keep the game interesting for an incredibly long time.
- Some bigger weapons feel underpowered.
- Certain visual effects don’t look as good as polished of the game does.