One bite and you’re dead. This was my briefing on ZombiU.
My character (whom the Ubisoft rep named “Kris” after looking at my nametag) started out in front of Buckingham palace equipped with a pistol. I had no context as to why I was there, and even less information about what I was supposed to be doing. But I was told that if my character died, I would have to hunt him down and get my stuff back.
Noticing a zombie that was marked with player a name (presumably belonging to a previous player of the demo) who was carrying a sizeable backpack, I walked towards them, eager to try my pistol out. After a headshot (aim with L, fire with R, no surprises there) , I ran over to the fallen zombie and was given the option to loot his things.
As I did that, the onscreen image switched to a view that showed me what was behind and to the sides of my character as he rooted through the backpack. All inventory management was done on the gamepad. While there was a handy “take all” option, to equip the crossbow I found, I had to slide the crossbow from where it sat in the boxes representing the backpack to my equipped weapons.
The crossbow worked a little bit differently than the pistol. As a silent weapon, it wouldn’t attract any other zombies (which was helpful, since blowing off the first zombie’s head had drawn a couple), but it obviously fired quite a bit more slowly. Since the zombies were approaching me from a distance (including another previous demo player) I had a chance to play with the scope. Holding L to aim and lifting up the Wii U GamePad brought up a view from the scope, and tapping the screen allowed me to zoom in further. Using the crossbow was quite a bit of fun until I heard a moan behind me.
Immediately redirecting my focus to the TV screen, I saw a nearby zombie lunge toward me. At first, I expected that I was dead, but instead of biting me, it just smacked me. I switched to my pistol by tapping its icon on the gamepad and started running back and shooting at it, taking off an arm, and then its head.
Unfortunately, this began attracting more zombies. I kept moving back, trying to kill all the zombies I could with my pistol until I noticed that I had two bullets left, and there were too many zombies shuffling around to use my crossbow effectively. I chose to run.
Fortunately for me, I ran right by the former demo player that I’d shot down earlier, so I took a chance on his backpack. As the camera angle shifted from the first person view, I could see my undead foes closing in. It was much more frightening than I’d expected it would be, given that I knew that a single bite would mean death and I had to redirect my attention to the controller. Luckily, there was a bit of pistol ammo in the backpack I was looting, so I quickly tapped “take all” on the gamepad and started running away and reloading… but I ran backwards into a loading screen and the Ubisoft rep told me my demo was over.
Food for Thought:
1. The demo’s title screen proclaimed that the game had a multiplayer mode. When I asked about that, the Ubi employee told me that in that mode, one player uses the Wii U GamePad to place zombies around the map and the other player uses a Pro Controller to fight them off.
2. The demo I played was very short, but effective. I wonder how long the game will manage to make inventory management scary, especially with the “Take All” option in place…