While Breakdown, the first downloadable add-on for the zombie-infused State of Decay, offered gamers a reason to revisit Trumbull Valley, it didn’t add new locations or an extension of the story. Undead Labs’ newest offering, Lifeline, does just that, however, placing you into the boots of the military (a unit known as Greyhound One) in the city of Danforth.
Unlike the original title and first DLC, Lifeline gives you a home base from the get go. And though it’s on the dilapidated side initially, repairs are both fast and cheap in cost of resources. As part of the army sent in to help you’re also much more lethal as there are a lot more guns, bullets and traps to lay waste to zombies. That’s important, too, since there seems to be a greater concentration of zombies here, and they feel more dangerous than ever before.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the new sieges, where zombies will attempt to overrun your defenses. It’s a sound addition, one that the game attempts to counterbalance by allowing things like airstrikes and mortar fire to thin the herd. The problem here is one that has plagued State of Decay since its release: the A.I. can reach jaw-dropping levels of stupidity. I lost count of how many times I watched trained soldiers just standing around the base while zombies broke down fences and attacked their squad mates.
It’s an issue that undermines some of the game’s other additions, such as the ability to bring along a CPU partner to watch your back. Sometimes they engage the enemy, and others they just sit there, allowing themselves (and you) to be attacked. Your partner won’t pick up any rucksacks either, though that’s assuaged by letting you store items in vehicles — depending on the size of the vehicle, you can haul multiple rucksacks back to base, which makes supply runs much more productive.
Visually, the new city of Danforth is well constructed, showing all kinds of attention to detail that help make it feel like a place that went from fully functioning to abandoned overnight. I enjoyed traversing the freeway, now littered with cars and wreckage, to reach trapped civvies or assist someone with a supply run. It felt more claustrophobic and centralized than the sprawling Trumbull Valley, and it works effectively with the less forgiving mission times.
For everything good about Lifeline, however, it still falls prey to the glitches, texture loads and choppy animations that have hamstrung State of Decay since the beginning. Some of the issues are amplified by the higher difficulty, and it can be pretty upsetting to lose a leveled up solider because your A.I. partner just sat there and watched you get ripped apart. Many of the quests take on a similar feel as well, and the longer you play the more you’ll long for new ideas or goals to accomplish.
Priced at $6.99, Lifeline is a quality addition for State of Decay fans. Yes, it’s saddled with a number of issues (most notably poor A.I. and technical shortcomings) that chip away at the fun, but there’s an addictiveness to the game that can’t be derailed by any of them.