Preview: The Walking Dead Onslaught – Possibly the Best Tie-in to Date

There aren’t many virtual reality (VR) developers that sit in the industry’s upper echelons, providing continual high-quality videogame content. If a list was made then Survios would certainly be in there somewhere, having created notable experiences like Raw Data, Sprint Vector, Electronauts and Creed: Rise to Glory. The studio has another two on the way, Battlewake and The Walking Dead Onslaught and by the looks of things both are turning out nicely.

With that pedigree, it’s easy to see why AMC entrusted such a high-profile franchise like The Walking Dead to the studio. The TV show is in its ninth season with the tenth season confirmed and has either appeared in or had videogame adaptions made in some form or another. However, with a virtual reality (VR) title in the works, the prospect for fans to step into their favourite zombie-filled universe is even more tantalising.

The demo Survios provided at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2019 wasn’t some rushed five-minute job as some of them tend to be. VRFocus actually had time to play with the controls and most importantly the much talked about ‘Progressive Dismemberment System’. This is going to be a core part of the gameplay, encouraging melee-based combat over ranged, and should instantly appeal to any zombie fans wishing to delimb an undead foe or two.

Survios hasn’t gone for a purely hack and slash approach either, taking your time with a machete will actually produce greater results. The system only worked from the waist up for the demo, allowing for arms to be separated at the joints – a team member did state knees and legs would be removable in the final version – depending on the weapon being held. Which kind of makes the machete the weapon of choice. Even more so when factoring in the ‘Melee Restraint System’, allowing a zombie to be grabbed by the neck before parting their head from the body.

And because of some sort of mesh system being used for each walker you’re able to run a sword straight through their body. A weapon can even get stuck in a walker if you’re not careful. All this means The Walking Dead Onslaught lives up to the ‘onslaught’ moniker, highly visceral and gory to the extreme.

However, melee attacks only worked in certain situations, when maybe one or two zombies are in the vicinity. That’s definitely not always the case in The Walking Dead Onslaught as there were moments when a horde would suddenly break through a wall, or burst out of a shipping container. So there is the option for guns, and dual wielding a pistol and a solid implement certainly worked well. Popping heads at range is always fun and you can dismember zombies with well-placed shots. The urban level on offer also had some rather useful sticks of dynamite just tied to a post. When shot these provided a great way of clearing some of the more tightly confined areas, but the blast was considerable, so they couldn’t always be used when stood too close.

The Walking Dead Onslaught is being geared towards a realistic within the franchise universe. As such locomotion was all about smoothly walking around, picking up ammo, health and other items to help survive the zombie apocalypse. While VRFocus does prefer smooth locomotion it’s understandable why not everyone can. There wasn’t an opportunity to check the menu system at this stage to see what comfort options were available.

In its present form, The Walking Dead Onslaught looks like it’ll provide a fairly brutal zombie gameplay experience for fans of titles like Arizona Sunshine. The level design was completely linear as it’ll be following an exclusive story arc, hopefully, Survios will be implementing various solutions to encourage players to return. With a fall 2019 release window, VRFocus is looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

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