World War Z Aftermath Review: Witness The War From A New Perspective
World War Z seemed like an odd project when it was announced years ago, and only after I finally got to play it did I learn to look past the strangeness of it being attached to a seemingly dormant franchise and appreciate it for the great zombie shooter it is.
Over two years later, the game has received several updates major and minor, paid and free, but arguably none have been as big as Aftermath, a new expansion offering new levels, new ways to play, and additional refinements.
While none of its new offerings feel revolutionary, it's also certainly true that any fan of World War Z or co-op horde shooters in general should consider unlocking the fun new content in this post-apocalyptic postscript.
World War Z Aftermath Review — Witness The War From A New Perspective
Perhaps the most frustrating part of World War Z Aftermath has been its rollout. Is it a full sequel? A standalone DLC? A repackaged original game? Even I had questions, and I tend to pay close attention to anything with the undead in it.
The answer is Aftermath is a new expansion for the 2019 game that can also include the full game for first-time buyers who need it. It comes alongside a free new-gen console update that all players can enjoy provided they have a PS5 or Series X|S.
As for paid content, the headliner is the new first-person mode. The feature can be toggled in the pause menu on an individual level, so if I want to play in the new perspective but you want to stick to the legacy view in third-person, we can both have it our way, which is really fantastic.
In my review time with Aftermath, I couldn't decide what I liked better. I tend to prefer third-person in games generally, and the game's original POV did help separate it from the countless other horde shooters as of late, which are almost always first-person games. First-person mode works well in World War Z, surprisingly so.
Running feels a bit heavy, but I think on purpose. It's of a piece with how it feels to move in third-person too. This is a game about scraping by, and even the more bombastic scenes require tight teamwork, not John Wicking the zeds with grace and flair.
First-person mode can, of course, be applied retroactively to earlier levels, but Aftermath also adds two new campaigns — one in Italy for the first time, and one that returns to Russia but stars our foursome of heroes from Japan. Each brings with it three more levels, though neither level rewrites the rulebook of what a WWZ campaign has been to date.
For the most part, levels all play out how you're used to if you've played World War Z before. The Game of the Year Edition's Jerusalem levels did a lot of interesting things with cooperative play, but neither Rome nor Kamchatka stray far from the path left by most previous levels.
One fun wrinkle is the attention paid to freezing temperatures in Russia, demanding players move swiftly from heater to heater or else slowly wither away in the cold. So there is some variation here at least.
The cadence of explore, hunker down, explore, hunker down, and so on is alive and well in Aftermath, though I've found that for dedicated players like myself, adding more levels into the quickplay matchmaking is a value in itself.
Horde shooter fans are downright spoiled with options right now. We are right in between August's launch of Aliens Fireteam Elite and October's Back 4 Blood, with even more coming in the future. World War Z rejects its expected shelf life by continuing to add fun content to a base game that was already very good on day one over two years ago.
I'd not have predicted a game tied to a dormant license would be so memorable, and I certainly wouldn't have identified it as a game ripe for a strong post-launch roadmap.
The Aftermath content is now about the third or fourth time I've had to step back and appreciate this game for becoming much greater than most probably thought possible, including me.
World War Z Aftermath — The Bottom Line
- First-person mode feels good and can be set by each individual player
- New levels and characters bring even more variety to the growing game
- Mission objectives don't defy what we've seen before in WWZ
If you've already enjoyed World War Z, the first-person mode alone is enough to merit another run. And if you're totally new to World War Z, then this all-inclusive new version is blatantly the best way to play the game that came out of nowhere to earn a place among genre greats.
[Note: Saber Interactive provided the copy of World War Z: Aftermath used for this review.]