Generation Zero Review

I feel the need to review Generation Zero because after reading several reviews mainly shortly after the launch of the title or before release date it was dealt an extremely bad hand. What this has proved to me is that you shouldn’t judge a game always off the read of a review. Yes, reviews are a good base for knowledge and understanding of a title, however, I tend to read a few reviews and then survey some gameplay footage on YouTube or streaming sites. As a gamer, you’ll get a gut feeling whether you’ll like a game even if it’s had some average reviews or at least that is how I deal with my personal gaming situation.

Generation Zero is developed and published by Avalanche Studios and is available on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4. If you’re a fan of open-world games, this will be right down your street and you’ll want to pursue reading. Generation Zero is an open world, Co-operative, first-person shooter survival game which can be played alone or up to three other online friends. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world set in Sweden and occurs in the year 1989. Sweden has been overrun by killer robots which come in a variance of differing sizes, you’ll encounter machines that almost sprint like dogs, drones that scan and scout out areas and even full on mech sized goliaths which eclipse the buildings in the world. Generation Zero sets you off with your character creation which will give you some preset styles and you go from there, punk rocker, hip-hopper, greaser or popular. Even though the character creation wasn’t too deep, there was enough to create something I was comfortable with, you’ll be able to change gender, skin tone, outfit and style.

I was drawn to Generation Zero as not only was an 80s kid, the thought of exploring this vast open world was appealing. Before I even put one foot in front of the other I took the time to take a gander at the world map and it is very sizeable and appeared to be enormous. This excited me and made me eager to get started with the exploration and uncovering the secrets from this world. Visually the game is aesthetically pleasing, with its constant day and night cycle and differing weather effects it really added to the spooky 1980s tone. The view of the sun, blooming from its rise and seeing the light glistening through the forest areas was actually jaw dropping and probably the best I have seen this utilised in any game I have to be completely honest. You’ll mostly scour the world through abandoned buildings with the electrics still running, food still on the table, even the milk still in date in the fridge. It appears this apocalypse has only just occurred, and you are left to associate with its aftermath, alone or with your online buddies.

There is plenty to loot, and I found it addictive, trawling through every room, opening every box and searching every shelf. You start to collect first aid kits, fireworks, ammunition for guns, textiles for crafting, and eventually you’ll be lucky enough to collect some weaponry for your arsenal. These weapons are much needed as taking on the robots is no easy feat whatsoever, and the artificial intelligence is actually robust and clever here. It is clear after running past a few of these that if you’re fairly close to them, they will spot your movement and they will chase you if you scarper. When I finally got a pistol, it took me a good four to five accurate shots to disable a robot and destroy them. We will discuss robots further into the review as they are consistent throughout the world map.

The level of detail in Generation Zero is incredible to be fair, from its forested area with the already mentioned day and night cycle, the way fireworks that you throw to distract robots light up the night sky so realistically to the glisten of the water from the lakes and rivers splitting sections of the island apart I had so much admiration to the hard work and dedication put in here. Just standing on a cliff for a minute and using your binoculars to observe a town with several buildings ways in the distance always gives you that goal of wanting to reach that point. The only criticism I would have of the buildings is that even though there are so many to trawl through and loot, they do tend to get a little repetitive in the design. You’ll come across clues and documents that lead you to your quests and objectives, and they do a great job of pushing you in the correct direction, so you’ll always know where you are headed.

The early reviews I have read of Generation Zero stated that there were a lot of bugs, glitches and general issues. After my playthrough, I can’t say I experienced much in that respect, although I can recall a lantern floating in the middle of the air. It wasn’t game breaking, and it was laughable and shrugged off in seconds. I can only hazard a guess that since launch, the game has been tidied, patched and fixed in a lot of areas. I also have read that players complained of spending hours going from place to place with no real sense of direction on the next aim. Whilst this encouraged exploration I can say that between towns and interesting areas there is nothing to really see and do and the world is vacant and empty. I can imagine this is done for effect and it is done exceptionally well. In the darkness, it is eerie and spine chilling as you make your way through forested areas with a torch hoping a robot doesn’t clock you. There are no real suggestions on how to fill the void of travelling from place to place, the world is abandoned and empty so it’s understandable that it feels this way. You can travel via bicycle, but this only seemed to work well on flat roads which aren’t always the way to travel. The moment you took a bicycle on rough terrain or up and down hills frustratingly, there was no way to propel yourself to normal speeds. Often I’d end up abandoning the bike and continuing on foot with a short sigh of frustration as you really do want to save time and not run everywhere at times. I will state I have a blast riding around on bikes with my online friends and we spent twenty minutes just trying to go really fast and smash each other. This would often result in falling off the bike or triggering a hilarious bug where you would catapult about fifteen foot in the air. I salute the developers for not fixing this bug as it was the most I’d laughed at a video game in years.

The enemies you’ll encounter in the game world are a little relentless and difficult to take on, even with a few of you. Depending on the type of enemy, it can range from four to five shots for smaller machines to a lot more for the larger ones. Using your ammunition is very important, as you are limited to what you’re looting in the world. I found it easier to dodge and avoid enemies and take the longer way around sometimes than to try to fight them. There is an on-screen indicator that starts of white, turns amber and then turns to red when you are eventually detected. At this moment you can choose to do a runner and hide or face the wrath and try to conquer them. You’ll gain experience points either way, and the advantage of killing them is looting the wreckage of the machines immediately afterwards. Reading into Generation Zero, it is clear that the difficulty of the enemies doesn’t scale with the number of players taking part. Whether you’re playing alone or with four of you, the machines are the same strength, this puts you on the back foot if you’re doing this solo but a very good challenge. There are some clever ways to kill off these machines with simplicity, for instance, you can place a gas canister on the ground and then fire towards it to cause an explosion, wiping out robots out instantly. When I said they are relentless I am being completely honest, they are intelligent enough to chase and follow, they can also sense your movements if you’re inside by scanning buildings. Their aggressive nature is like nothing I’ve seen in an open-world game and it has you constantly adapting, monitoring your inventory and looking over your shoulder.

One thing I noticed which was a minor annoyance was the inventory usage. You can choose to place four separate items into a quick select function by using the d-pad so that healing for instance was quick and easy. Frustratingly once you have used up the amount of first aid kits at your disposal, it then disappears from this menu and you then have to reequip them back to the slot when you find more. This was a bugbear when you’re in the middle of a firefight and you’re trying to quickly heal only to remember that you forgot to put them back into the slots. Again, not game breaking but certainly annoying and it would have been nice for the game to automatically allocate them back to these positions when you gained more through looting.

Lastly, another main factor worth mentioning is that there is a skill tree system as you progress through the world. You’ll be able to use skill points every time you level up, these can be used for various things such as increasing stamina to learning how to pick locks. Along with this it was interesting to build up weaponry and attach scopes, ammunition and magazines to make them more powerful as you found more kit. There are also additional clothing items to be found out there to cater for your characters if you fancy a change of clothes at any stage.

Overall, I hugely enjoyed my time with Generation Zero for what it was. Sure the world can seem a little bare at points, but that is because of the world being abandoned so I’m not quite sure what more the development team could do in this respect. It would have been welcoming to see a little more variation in the type of buildings that you were looting as they felt a little samey after 60 hours of rifling around for loot. I felt that there could have been a lot more depth to the story, even though you do find clues dotted around that hint at what’s taking place, it doesn’t feel meaty enough for my liking. What I loved though was the design of this world, its eeriness and the suspense. With the day and night cycle and the incredible scenery, it does more than enough to even out the few downfalls. I hope that Avalanche Studios attempt another open world title as it is clear to see they are very ambitious and know how to create the atmosphere, but I’d urge anyone to try this game, especially if you’re scratching around for something to play as there is easy over 50 hours here for you to dive into and enjoy.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Generation Zero Review
  • Gameplay - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Graphics - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Sound - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Replay Value - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)
Overall
8/10

Summary

Generation Zero is a vast open world set in 1980’s Sweden where robots dominate its abandoned world, play solo or with up to three others as you unwrap the mystery of the aftermath of what has taken place.

Pros

  • A beautiful vast open world gifting over 50 hours of exploration.
  • Fantastic fun with up to three other friends in co-op.
  • Day/night and weather cycle works really well.

Cons

  • The AI can be very unforgiving and aggressive which may frustrate casual gamers.
  • More variety in building types would be welcomed.
  • Inventory handling is a bit fiddly.