The isometric zombie co-op game is back with a sequel. How to Survive 2 takes place fifteen years after the events of the first game in which a zombie outbreak ravaged the tropical Los Ricos archipelago, but is it worth learning to survive all over again?
Amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, the action is shifted to Louisiana where the mysterious Kovac is once again recruiting survivors to fight the undead hordes. Will you (and up to three friends) have what it takes to overcome his challenges? If you played the first How to Survive, you'll already be up to speed with how much of H2S2 works. You're tasked with scouring the landscape for food, water and crafting materials while simultaneously defeating countless shambling enemies. Superficially, How to Survive 2 shares a lot in common with its predecessor. It has retained its quirky style of humour and presentation, brings back many of the same enemies, and even recycles a lot of the music and sound effects. However, developers Eko Software also attempted to add some new features to expand on the formula.
The main change concerns how you're assigned missions. How to Survive 2 ditches the open-world style of the original in favour of a large central hub area in which all of your quest-givers reside. Once you select a mission from the available list, you're transported to a new area. Then, you teleport back when you're done. There are lots of these missions available. However, many of them are very similar to one another. Essentially, you are always sent out to collect a set amount of resources, speak to someone, or kill a certain number of enemies, then come back. Of course, there is some variation as most missions are at least dressed up as something unique such as having to herd zombie pigs into a barn or collect Christmas presents left by Kovac's adoring fans.
Unfortunately, it can often be difficult to find some of your objectives in these large areas thus leaving you running around aimlessly for long stretches of time. This is exacerbated by an awkward inventory interface that clearly wasn't designed for consoles and the absence of a pause button even when playing on your own offline. As your thirst and hunger meters go down constantly and you can be attacked by zombies at any time while on a mission, this means you could likely die if you have to go answer the phone in real life during play. It's a truly bizarre omission.
A much more welcome change is the addition of base building which adds a whole new expansive element to the gameplay. After doing the introductory quests, you're able to construct a variety of buildings in the hub area such as an armoury, kitchen and foundry. As you gain XP, you can level up your base which allows you to upgrade your constructions as well as add defensive walls and traps. Occasionally, your camp will be attacked meaning you'll have to think strategically where to erect your defences. This gives you a whole other aspect to focus on rather than just running around completing missions.
While base building is definitely a positive inclusion, it also means that you'll need a large amount of materials to keep upgrading and repairing your camp. This usually entails having to redo certain missions in order to get the requisite items which can quickly turn the game into little more than a constant grind for resources. In the original, you had a clear objective: to escape the archipelago. Here, your only apparent goal seems to be to earn the requisite XP to level up enough to be allowed to do the next mission on the roster or upgrade your building to its next stage without any end target in sight. If that's okay with you then you'll get a good amount of time out of H2S2 as there are a lot of quests to complete and hundreds of upgrades to acquire and craft for your character and base camp. Just be aware that a lot of it will feel like doing the same things over and over again.
How to Survive 2 expands on the ideas of its predecessor with mixed results. On one hand, its enlarged scope and addition of base building adds longevity to the experience but on the other, its missions frequently feel monotonous and grindy. However, if you don't mind a fair bit of repetition then there is still a lot of game here to keep you busy.
- + Loads of crafting and upgrade options
- + Base building adds depth and is a welcome expansion to the core gameplay
- + Lots of missions
- - Missions can be repetitive and grindy
- - Interface isn't well designed for consoles
- - No pause button