I must say I was looking forward to playing Avalanche’s Generation Zero since it was announced. The game takes place in Sweden in the 1980s – 1989 to be precise, and you play as a young teenager that has returned home and find these killer machines that now roam the countryside. The idea is for you to discover the mystery of what happened. Sounds good right? I mean what could go wrong? Well, a lot apparently.
Now I tried my best to not compare this game to Horizon Zero Dawn but it was hard not to do the comparison, after all, it was an amazing game and won the game of the year award, but after playing Generation Zero for long enough, the only comparison worth noting are the machines which I will come back to later on. Horizon thoroughly succeeds at being a better game.
So let’s begin with the game. It thrusts you into things by giving you a rolling text start explaining what has happened to your character, before you appear on a beach being warned to find safety as it isn’t safe outside. As you look around you notice a house and as there aren’t really many other options, you end up in the house. Of course, it’s empty of people but somehow is still churning out electricity as the TV is showing static. It also provides you some loot which includes your first handgun.
The game makes it clear that you need to find ammo and as you walk out on the balcony you notice an abandoned police car. Walking over to it you can see machine parts on the bonnet – your first glimpse that something is amiss. You search the police car and get different kinds of ammo including a limited amount for your handgun.
The game to me didn’t really make it clear which way to go from there until I went into the menus and found that I had to “follow the road”. Which, of course, I did. I was met with a white bar with an arrow in the center of the screen which indicated that an enemy robot was near. The closer I got, the more the bar filled, eventually turning yellow, and then if the machine saw you, it turned to red and inevitably it attacked. I jumped straight into combat, my handgun firing off rounds anywhere it could hit. The machine knocked at me a couple of times and took some dents in my health, but before long the combat was over and the machine was a crumpled mess which allowed me to loot it.
I thought it was a great start to the game, patched myself up and off I went. Seconds later I was met with a second and third machine. Seconds later I was dead. Okay, so this game wasn’t going to be a walkover. A couple more deaths later, which meant a respawn to the safe house and a walk back up the road and some ammo spent each time, I had finally killed the machines. Hooray!
For your first hour or two gameplay, the ‘Tick’ is the only machine you encounter. Unfortunately, this is where I started comparing to Horizon Zero Dawn without meaning to. Generation Zero features 6 different machines varying from the ‘Tick’, the small annoying one, to the monstrous ‘Tank’ which is literally impossible to take on in solo mode. Now, the machines are scary as fuck, especially when you haven’t noticed them, so it is just a shame there are only 6 different types. Horizon managed to pull out 26 unique machines… I don’t need to say anymore.
The machines themselves feature weak points and have armored parts that fall off if you shoot in the right places. The ‘Tank’ has a nice one placed behind it, so as mentioned if you are playing solo it is pretty impossible to ever shoot it. You kind of have to work the weak points out yourself, but it becomes ever so slightly easier once you know. At least with Horizon, they managed to highlight those weak areas for you.
So how is the game after a couple of hours playing? Well, to be completely honest, it’s poor. The game feels like it’s on a bit of a loop, the missions generally guide you to go somewhere, explore it, loot it, find out a clue, go somewhere else, meet some robots, fight, find a house, fight, more fighting and so on and so on. There are no talking NPCs in the game except for voicemails and notes, and more annoyingly no working vehicles, which means a lot of walking around aimlessly.
The more houses you visit, the more you suddenly click on that they’re a copy and paste job and there are only about four different interiors which quickly becomes tedious ransacking the same house over and over. What’s possibly even stranger is that you never stumble across any bodies or survivors in the game. Honestly, ten hours in and the game becomes a bit of a chore.
There are a couple of positives which I find in this game, which include the visuals and the environment. The game environment is good and even the map size is sizeable, it’s just a shame the content within it is very stretched. You spend a lot of time in the world walking amongst it, so at least it looks good right?
Another good point about the game is the guns they have available. There is a range of weapons available to you – generally 3 in each class, shotguns, handguns, rifles, etc. They also have different qualities as well which run from worn to special. Obviously special meaning the weapon will do more damage. There is a variety of attachments to go with the guns which are a nice add on to the game as well. On top of this, the bullet sounds are realistic enough, and combat is good enough for this type of game.
Overall, the game feels like it is missing something or a lot of things. Maybe it should have been released in Early Access and had a bit more support before having a full release. The machines sometimes seem to lack intelligence and are overpowered so much so that the game solo is nigh on impossible. Sure the game is likely to be easier and most probably more fun with 4 of you playing together. It is just a shame that the game doesn’t really know what it wants to do with itself.
Yes, it is an open world game, but the open world is limited with what actually lies in it to explore. Give this a couple of weeks and people would have forgotten this game was even released. It had a good concept behind it and with Avalanche being behind it, they should have known better, especially after releasing games like Just Cause and Mad Max which were games that I really enjoyed. Personally, I would steer clear at all costs.