Generation Zero Review | (PS4/Xbox One/PC)


With both the surprisingly great Mad Max and
pretty decent Just Cause 4 games under their belt, I was looking forward to Avalanche Studios’
take on a story-driven shooter. How they manage to create an interesting premise
and yet still accompany it with a boring world to explore is beyond me though. Generation Zero takes place in Sweden after
World War II. Coming out of the war, Sweden invested most
of its resources into building a robotic defense force to protect its people should anything
like the war happen again. You play a kid who along with their classmates
have been secluded from the world for quite some time now. Without any real knowledge with what’s been
going on, you and your friends sail around on a boat near the Swedish shore and quickly
get attacked by missiles. Miraculously you survive and wind up on the
shore where something seems off. With every house in the area empty, something
went down here and it’s up to you to find out. However, Swedish’s absurdly powerful defense
force doesn’t make it easy. These robots are pretty much the Boston Dynamic
robots as a video game. While trying to both avoid and destroy them,
you have to search for clues that then become mission objectives and you piece together
what happened here through environmental storytelling. While games like Firewatch and What Remains
of Edith Finch have successfully shown how a game can make use out of environmental storytelling,
Generation Zero really lacks the skill. The opening scroll story explanation sound
cool, I wish I could see a glimpse of it. The explosion opening that’s described,
is completely absent and we just sort of wash up on shore. Exploring the world looking for clues feels
empty and with it comes bad pacing. Generation Zero did a good job at creating
an elevator pitch for this game’s story but when I finally decided to start playing, it
was made apparent early just how badly it was executed. Upon getting the quick introduction to the
world’s story, we’re sort of just thrust into the open world without any real context. Exploring the world it seems like everyone
was just here. Some tvs are on, dinner tables are set, it’s
apparent that whatever happened to these people wasn’t planned. It’s with that that you’re left to just
wander the world and figure it out. Across the open world are cars and houses
that have just been abandoned. You’re supposed to loot them and find anything
worth keeping. It’s not a safe world though. Scattered throughout the world are the Boston
dynamic robots just waiting to hunt you down. They’re tough foes but luckily for you,
you can co-op with other players online to take them down. You’ll need to too because for some reason
the difficulty of enemies doesn’t balance out based on your squad size. That means if you decide to play alone, you’re
going to feel at a severe disadvantage in terms of difficulty in a world that’s arguably
very boring to explore. The way you learn about the story and earn
your missions is by simply searching through the world for notes and clues. The big problem with these missions is that
they’re just boring. Most have you just going to a specific house
to loot which I’m already doing anyway so it just becomes a large repetition. Ultimately this leads to several moments of
padding throughout the story in a story that already feels slow-paced, that’s padding
to padding. Add on top of everything a clumsy inventory
system with clucky ui design that feels like the bad cherry on top. For a lot of what Generation Zero fails at
doing, what it does do right is making a pretty looking game. While the world map may look like Erangel
from Pubg, it’s a damn good looking one. A dynamic weather system keeps the world feeling
somewhat lively even when it’s so empty. It’s odd because you get elements of beauty
with a sense of eeriness just because everyone is missing. Character animations range from scary looking
robots that accurately mimic the movement out of something from a black mirror to odd
spasms when your character dies. I’ve even had issues with my character getting
suck when on the run from the robots, pretty much leaving me helpless. As far as performance goes, I wasn’t able
to test out the console versions in time for this review but I did get my review copy on
PC. Running a gtx1070 with an i7 4790k, I was
pretty much able to run this game on ultra settings and maintain a 1080p 60 fps picture. So on that note, I can at least say Generation
Zero runs and looks great, even if I can’t say the same about the gameplay or its ui. When it comes to the audio front, Generation
Zero does a pretty good job at designing the little things. The steps of your booths running through the
forest is the little iterations of stepping on grass, mud, and concrete. In a world that’s pretty empty, the subtle
sounds that are usually just the background sound even louder in this case. As for the music, it oddly enough kind of
reminds of a blade runner aesthetic. When wondering about the world, there’s
a chill drum base vibe playing in the background. It compliments the eerie tones of exploration. However, that quickly changes to a faster-paced
action track any time a robot detects you. I’m more of a fan of the audio design than
the music but it’s certainly not bad by any means just doesn’t really stand out. Generation Zero feels like an early access
game that ran out of a development budget and then was forced to release to turn a profit. There are some cool ideas here but they’re
so shallow in comparison to the amount of empty and just uninteresting space you’re
forced to explore to find those interesting bits. Gameplay feels unbalanced thanks to the off
choice of not balancing difficulty to the size of your squad, making this one incredibly
difficult to manage game playing solo. Keep in mind that’s coming from a game reviewer
off the heels of beating Sekiro Shadows Die Twice. Ultimately Generation Zero is nothing but
a pretty looking first-person view of what looks like pubg’s base map in first person
view with some interesting story details buried under so much boring navigation.

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