E3 2012 – Hands On With ZombiU Multiplayer

ZombiU is the exciting new game being developed by Ubisoft for the Wii U, and is probably the most unique out of all the announced titles to date for the new console. Unlike most, this is not a Nintendo first party or a port from existing IP.

In multiplayer mode (single player mode shown separately), you have two players in contention: one plays a survivor on a Wii U Pro controller, and the other unleashes the zombie horde swarm gaggle dozens with the touch screen of the Wii U controller.  There are three flags for the players to contest over; if one side controls a given flag for a period of time, they will gain a point.  First player to four points wins.

The survivor has access to several different weapons such as the pistol, shotgun, and crossbow, each with respawn-able ammo caches located around the map.  The zombie master must wait for his points meter to get large enough in order to place zombies on the map anywhere not directly in the vicinity of the survivor.  There are a total of four different types of zombies, each with its own role and cost: one capable of claiming a flag (multiple zombies at a flag claims it faster); defensive zombies which stay in place unless the survivor approaches; attacking zombie which will seek out the survivor; and the super zombie which is a faster version of the attacking zombie.  The game boils down to strategy of maximizing your ability to claim a flag before the other team.

As the zombie master, I would try claiming multiple flags at once and then send attackers at the survivor from multiple directions to keep him distracted, forcing him to run all over the map.  As a survivor, the strategy seemed to be to hold a location.  On a one-to-one basis of survivor vs. claim zombie, the survivor’s capture meter will fill faster.  Therefore, as the survivor, it doesn’t make sense to go after the zombies unless multiple claim zombies are sent to a single flag.  Something else to note, the zombie master has limited resources and can have at most ten zombies on the field at a time, which keeps things balanced.

The new Pro controller will definitely take some getting used to as muscle memory is built.  Compared to those of the PlayStation and Xbox, this is the only one with the right analog stick on the outside of the main buttons.  The result here is the start button is actually just north of the Y button.  I noticed I wasn’t the only one hitting Start by accident when switching between right analog stick and trying to find the reload button.  To fire a weapon, you’ll have to hold down the ZL trigger (Xbox would call this L and PS3 would call this L2) to bring up your weapon and press the ZR trigger to fire.  Without the ZL trigger, you’ll simply melee the zombies, which is quite useful keeping them at bay.

I guess what it boils down to is the question: is the game fun? The answer is that it can be.  But that really depends on the quality of your opponent.  Having a zombie lord who doesn’t have a good strategy means the survivor will win fairly easy, claiming flags and nothing to do but pick his nose with his shotgun.  I’d really like to see more modes in multiplayer or the ability to see more players involved, hopefully increasing the pace of the experience.  I guess we’ll see as we get closer to launch.


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June 15, 2012 - 8:00 am