Dawn of the "Zombie-Survival" Genre

Didn’t you know? Zombies are the new vampires.

Gamers have fought zombies ad nauseum for the last few years in games like Left 4 Dead and its sequel, and zombie-themed expansion packs for games like Call of Duty: World at War and Red Dead Redemption. Even the hero in the Dead Space games battles a futuristic version of the reanimated dead. And let’s not forget the casual title mega-hit Plants vs. Zombies.

So why is Microsoft Game Studios publishing yet another zombie-themed game, exclusively for Xbox 360? Because this one is unlike anything you’ve played before.

Developer Undead Labs was formed with the intention of creating the world’s first zombie apocalypse MMO. While the MMO part has been put on the back burner (I’ll get back to that), the zombie apocalypse part remains a major part of the studio’s debut title, currently code-named Class3. Unlike other zombie-themed games that find you fending off hordes of the undead, Class3 takes a radically different approach. In a scenario that sounds a lot like The Walking Dead, it’s not about destroying the zombies, it’s merely about surviving the apocalypse.

Class3 is described as an “open world zombie-survival game,” and it’s being planned for release via Xbox Live Arcade sometime in 2012 at the earliest. Still in the earliest stages of production, Undead Labs isn’t even showing off any preliminary screenshots at this point, instead opting to reveal a truckload of conceptual art (a full gallery is at the bottom of this article).

In Class3, the end of the world has come. Humanity is all but wiped out, zombies dominate the land, and what few survivors there are must band together to attempt to rebuild some semblance of civilization in the fictional town of Dunniway, a completely open sandbox for you to explore. Played from a third-person perspective, the game features no shortage of guns, cars, hand-to-hand combat, and zombie gore. But don’t let all that violence fool you: the core focus of the game is survival. You’re not trying to take out the zombies, you’re trying to stay as far away from them as possible. You’ll spend most of your time designing and fortifying settlements at locations of your own choosing, undertaking pulse-pounding raids to gather food and ammo, and rescuing other survivors. Undead Labs says that the game’s open world unfolds in real time, being shaped entirely by player actions, with content largely determined by player choices, though there will be some directed objectives, including determining the cause of the zombie outbreak.

The game is expected to offer drop-in/drop-out co-op play, allowing a friend to easily pick up a controller and jump into the fray in the midst of your current game. But what about that MMO aspect?

According to Joystiq, Class3 is just the first part of this zombie-survival franchise that Undead Labs is producing. There are already plans in place for Class4, a sequel that will improve on the original by using the same gameplay (which will be fine-tuned during Class3‘s public release) and add the massively-multiplayer online world aspect to the game.

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Robin Parrish
@robinparrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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