Preview: ZombiU Single-Player

Preview: ZombiU Single-Player

ZombiU plays to the strengths of the Wii U to create an intriguing experience worth looking at.

ZombiU isn't the best title for a game in my eyes. Given the current state of Nintendo's affairs with game titles on the Wii, it evokes feelings of "simple," "rail-shooter," or "cash-in." Would anyone pay attention to a game called ZombWii? I wouldn't by instinct, and I wasn't paying much attention to ZombiU either. How wrong I was.

A brief hands-on with ZombiU's single-player mode was enough to determine that Ubisoft is not putting together a quick money grab for the Wii U's launch. ZombiU is a first-person, mission-based shooter that looks very nice, which is a good first step toward immersing players in a scary, zombie-filled world. But beyond looks, a deep experience that gamers are drawn to, like a zombie to a brain, is apparently being crafted inside of ZombiU

Players operate out of their safe house, your basic level hub. In the safe house, you're able to work on weapons at a workbench, mess around with a multi-screen computer, take a nap (i.e. save), and more. All of these actions require both a button press to activate, and then a head tilt downward to look at the Wii U GamePad screen. Yes, we're in the future now. All the busywork of menus and making choices is quickly handled with the GamePad's touchscreen interface. Quickly swiping your finger up returns the action to the big screen.

This shouldn't feel as good and new as it does, but it does. We live in a world with tablets and talking watches and holograms of Tupac Shakur, but controlling our TVs with a tablet, much less our TV games, isn't that common. Even better, the Wii U GamePad is used for much more than just menus.

Remember how you used to have to press a button, perhaps the D-pad, to cycle through weapons in an FPS? Or press pause to equip a new gun in a game like Resident Evil (the older versions, anyway)? No more. With a tap on the GamePad , ZombiU lets you quickly switch weapons, or turn on and off your limited-use-hence-stress-inducing flashlight. In addition, the GamePad allows the use of other features like a scanner you move 360 degrees around the real world to search for secrets and items, and a zombie-detecting radar. Just don't look down while a crowd of zombies pops out of the darkness right in front of you. It's as if you were actually holding a zombie radar in real life.

Further, because of the GamePad , ZombiU has no user interface on the television screen (aside from context sensitive action prompts). None. Just you, a dank sewer, and an Olde English zombie (the demo took place in the Tower of London) whose head you need to cave in with a wooden paddle. Pretty cool.

As for gameplay, ZombiU is your basic FPS. Tilt, aim, and move with the control sticks. Bash zombies into a bloody pulp with your melee weapon, or push them away and blow their heads off with a variety of limited-ammo guns. Zombies will be lit on fire, they might spit, or they might be wearing an exploding backpack. Nothing wrong with anything there.

I didn't get to learn too much about ZombiU's storyline, but it does seem to guide the entire experience. Players aren't just shooting zombies, but exploring an apparently non-linear world trying to complete certain objectives. For some reason, there were high-tech devices blocking my zombie radar that I had to shoot out. The zombies sure didn't place those, so there must be some kind of conflict going on there. From the hub, players will go out to explore this world and its interconnected levels. Once you complete certain conditions, you'll earn the ability to quick-travel to areas you've previously visited.

Taking a cue from Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, when a player dies he/she will start again in the hub as a different character, leaving a backpack behind at the spot of death. Well, not just leaving a backpack behind, but becoming a zombie wearing that backpack. If you can manage to get back to kill the old you, items can be recollected. If the player dies first, those items are gone. Also like the Souls games, you can spray paint hints around the world which your Wii U friends will be able to see in their games.

As you can see, in addition to multiplayer modes previewed earlier there's a lot of neat stuff going on in ZombiU. It's an intriguing game that is squeaking all the use it can out of the Wii U's new GamePad and features, while still potentially catering to hardcore gamers that want that deeper experience. Don't be turned off by the name alone.

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Granted a Zombie wouldn't much of a fill from the title, but that doesn't matter cuz they won't be living much longer anyway! >)

What a Really Really Really stupid name for a game that actually looks pretty good. The video was corny as hell though.

Ok. Its a nintendo article, this is the escapist forums. Bring on the hate!

Decent looking game, terrible title, lame video...

... but holy shit am I ever tired of zombies, anyway.

What a corny video haha. Wiping the sweat off his brow was just too much for me hahaha

The question I have is whether Zombi U can win the big Homecoming game with Werewolf State. For the rest of this message, turn away to look at your cellphone while a zombie eats you.

Looks pretty gimmicky, but not bad. The one thing I just can't really get used to is playing an FPS with dual stick controllers rather than having a mouse. But, eh, it's redundant anyway as I doubt I'll buy the console.

Hehe, also, the title? What, is it a movie tie in game for the Zombi series or something? ^^

nice. I will pick this up.

DugMachine:
What a corny video haha. Wiping the sweat off his brow was just too much for me hahaha

I was more interested on him shaking the pain away from his hand after firing a gun or that molitov.
Either A: Damn! That hurts!
or B: Damn! The WiiU controler pad cuts into my hands like a very dull knife!

I'm seriously wishing that the WiiU does a shitton better than the Wii did in terms of games I was actually interested in, I mean I love Metroid, Red Steel and a few other games, but my library for it is miniscule, at best. I'm probably going to snag a WiiU just for this game though, shit looks like everything I wanted in a zombie game outside of decent multiplayer and I have Left 4 Dead and DayZ for that particular fix.

Tom Goldman:

Remember how you used to have to press a button, perhaps the D-pad, to cycle through weapons in an FPS? Or press pause to equip a new gun in a game like Resident Evil (the older versions, anyway)? No more. With a tap on the GamePad , ZombiU lets you quickly switch weapons, or turn on and off your limited-use-hence-stress-inducing flashlight.

The description hasn't really sold me on this bit. Instead of tapping the right trigger, which our fingers rest on to hold the controller (or okay, tapping a button on the d-pad with fingers in reach, but it's normally right trigger) we can tap a screen instead? Do you have all your weapons on the screen and you can tap the one you want? I guess that would be an improvement, cycling through weapons on a normal controller was normally a pain (hence Halo's two-weapon innovation), even with circular selection ala Resistance and Halo.

Also how does the attention work, with the UI on the screen, do you find it natural glancing at the two or do you have to lose focus on the TV screen to look at the UI?

Last question (this is the problem with Nintendo being innovative, there's so much stuff to understand :D ) how is it to hold? Pictures make it look like the thumbsticks are as awkward as PS Vitas and it's larger than that. I'm glad they've got proper games in the works for it though

Impluse_101:

DugMachine:
What a corny video haha. Wiping the sweat off his brow was just too much for me hahaha

I was more interested on him shaking the pain away from his hand after firing a gun or that molitov.
Either A: Damn! That hurts!
or B: Damn! The WiiU controler pad cuts into my hands like a very dull knife!

I think the idea was supposed to be that the person playing the game was turning into a zombie. The hand spasms were a reaction to the spread of the disease/virus/whatever.

BrotherRool:
The description hasn't really sold me on this bit. Instead of tapping the right trigger, which our fingers rest on to hold the controller (or okay, tapping a button on the d-pad with fingers in reach, but it's normally right trigger) we can tap a screen instead? Do you have all your weapons on the screen and you can tap the one you want? I guess that would be an improvement, cycling through weapons on a normal controller was normally a pain (hence Halo's two-weapon innovation), even with circular selection ala Resistance and Halo.

This is my problem as well. I don't actually see how any of these supposed "innovations" really helps immersion. It's just replacing a button press for another type of button press.

If the recent 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time is anything to go by then tapping a screen for various menu items is just a pain in the arse. It means a whole hand has to be removed from the device, which is awkward enough with the 3DS but will probably be crippling for something as big as the WiiU pad.

I'm not buying it, literally or figuratively. Mark my words; the WiiU will just be another gimmicky console that everyone will soon forget about.

Impluse_101:

DugMachine:
What a corny video haha. Wiping the sweat off his brow was just too much for me hahaha

I was more interested on him shaking the pain away from his hand after firing a gun or that molitov.
Either A: Damn! That hurts!
or B: Damn! The WiiU controler pad cuts into my hands like a very dull knife!

So does that mean, look down to the controller in your lap and get neck strain OR move your arms up (and block the TV) and get arm strain...

Both are unnecessary movements that detracts from the experience and the moment my eyes LEAVE the TV I suddenly remember that I, in fact have a controller that I HAVE to acknowledge!

This feels like artificial tension that could be accomplishes another way rather than the "look away from the screen and expect a zombie to be there" the moment you look back from the controller cause that's just cheap

And god help them if they scripted EVERY. EVENT (with a random percentage of it occurring?) that that gives you no choice BUT to look at the controller to check the map and inventory just to look up to see a zombie in the TV ready to kill you yet AGAIN that should NOT be there under any circumstances for the short period you look away

At least your eyes get exercise from constantly focusing on your TV and the controller back and fourth... that's a good thing right?

I can think of no better technology to break immersion, let's have you look off screen to keep playing...

I'm going to buy a Wii U, hope this game will be included or at least be affordable for me :p

BrotherRool:
snip...
Also how does the attention work, with the UI on the screen, do you find it natural glancing at the two or do you have to lose focus on the TV screen to look at the UI?

Last question (this is the problem with Nintendo being innovative, there's so much stuff to understand :D ) how is it to hold? Pictures make it look like the thumbsticks are as awkward as PS Vitas and it's larger than that. I'm glad they've got proper games in the works for it though

lets put this in perspective of what they are doing in Colonial Marines the motion tracker is on the game pad, and never appears on the TV screen, so you know how artificial it felt that: the character is holding a pistol with one hand, and the motion tracker with the other, and I still have to put the motion tracker away to shoot the gun, or this gun is supposed to have the motion tracker on it, but I have to press a button to look at it. when in all the movies whenever a person wanted to look at the motion tracker they had to stop looking at the things right in front of them (sometimes it was for suspense), and look at it which with respect to the world is actually more immersive then what has been done with it: have it on screen, but still able to "look over it" when that never happens in the movies, or have it in the corner of the screen like its on that funny eye piece the character wheres even though that has never been in any movie.

then in other perspectives like here "I need to look into my backpack", so if I push a button the character is looking through their backpack, and I have to "look" at the backpack by looking at the gamepad.

then in like Fallout the pipboy is on the characters are but when you go to look at it the character brings it up to their face like they have glaucoma, or are near sited, but with this you can actually be looking at the gamepad like it was your pipboy (just in your hand instead of on your wrist) even though how heavy the thing looks.

then in a game to look at a map its in the corner of the screen I find that this is unimmersive because "hey my character has a photographic memory of the terrain"

Mr.K.:
I can think of no better technology to break immersion, let's have you look off screen to keep playing...

so I take it you had no problem of immersion with "I am a powerful Nordic warrior. Wait freeze in time for a minute while I navigate this 2 times more complicated then it should be menu to find a potion that takes no time to drink even though it is buried in my pack." oh you didn't, funny I would think more then a few people would understand what immersion meant because I know that Bethesda doesn't.

gardian06:

Mr.K.:
I can think of no better technology to break immersion, let's have you look off screen to keep playing...

so I take it you had no problem of immersion with "I am a powerful Nordic warrior. Wait freeze in time for a minute while I navigate this 2 times more complicated then it should be menu to find a potion that takes no time to drink even though it is buried in my pack." oh you didn't, funny I would think more then a few people would understand what immersion meant because I know that Bethesda doesn't.

Your argument is invalid. software and the story is one thing but hardware is another just like the Wii remote as there's a notable delay/detection between your swing and the game's response.

Personally, it does seem very distracting as with games like RE, I like to have a small think when within the inventory screen and constant switching between screens is an distraction in it's self.

mad825:

gardian06:

Mr.K.:
I can think of no better technology to break immersion, let's have you look off screen to keep playing...

so I take it you had no problem of immersion with "I am a powerful Nordic warrior. Wait freeze in time for a minute while I navigate this 2 times more complicated then it should be menu to find a potion that takes no time to drink even though it is buried in my pack." oh you didn't, funny I would think more then a few people would understand what immersion meant because I know that Bethesda doesn't.

Your argument is invalid. software and the story is one thing but hardware is another just like the Wii remote as there's a notable delay/detection between your swing and the game's response.

Personally, it does seem very distracting as with games like RE, I like to have a small think when within the inventory screen and constant switching between screens is an distraction in it's self.

wait so you state that my argument is invalid after erasing the context that makes it valid really. in many situations this hardware can be used to be more meaningful then current because you are realistically taking the players attention away from the screen for the same amount of time that the character's attention is being taken away from their environment which actually can make more sense in terms of story, and atmosphere then pulling up a menu does, and that is above, and beyond removing clutter from the screen which in real life because you got shot, and think you can go on doesn't mean that you know you could take 3 more before you die, or realize that you feel better because enough time has passed (actually I have never seen a reasonable argument for regenerating health outside of a non-human because I am still shot, and my leg is still broken "just walking it off" can make it worse not better)

and on the whole thing of thinking while in menu. never said that the game on screen wouldn't be paused while you where looking through the menus, but in contexts of like the Aliens motion tracker that historically has been supposed to be going on at the same time, so its your own damn fault for taking so long.

gardian06:

mad825:

gardian06:

so I take it you had no problem of immersion with "I am a powerful Nordic warrior. Wait freeze in time for a minute while I navigate this 2 times more complicated then it should be menu to find a potion that takes no time to drink even though it is buried in my pack." oh you didn't, funny I would think more then a few people would understand what immersion meant because I know that Bethesda doesn't.

Your argument is invalid. software and the story is one thing but hardware is another just like the Wii remote as there's a notable delay/detection between your swing and the game's response.

Personally, it does seem very distracting as with games like RE, I like to have a small think when within the inventory screen and constant switching between screens is an distraction in it's self.

wait so you state that my argument is invalid after erasing the context that makes it valid really. in many situations this hardware can be used to be more meaningful then current because you are realistically taking the players attention away from the screen for the same amount of time that the character's attention is being taken away from their environment which actually can make more sense in terms of story, and atmosphere then pulling up a menu does, and that is above, and beyond removing clutter from the screen which in real life because you got shot, and think you can go on doesn't mean that you know you could take 3 more before you die, or realize that you feel better because enough time has passed (actually I have never seen a reasonable argument for regenerating health outside of a non-human because I am still shot, and my leg is still broken "just walking it off" can make it worse not better)

and on the whole thing of thinking while in menu. never said that the game on screen wouldn't be paused while you where looking through the menus, but in contexts of like the Aliens motion tracker that historically has been supposed to be going on at the same time, so its your own damn fault for taking so long.

Wtf? Realism is not the same as immersion and in fact has very little collaboration.

Still, your argument was based on apples and oranges. The "context" had very little to do with the main problem.

gardian06:

BrotherRool:
snip...
Also how does the attention work, with the UI on the screen, do you find it natural glancing at the two or do you have to lose focus on the TV screen to look at the UI?

Last question (this is the problem with Nintendo being innovative, there's so much stuff to understand :D ) how is it to hold? Pictures make it look like the thumbsticks are as awkward as PS Vitas and it's larger than that. I'm glad they've got proper games in the works for it though

lets put this in perspective of what they are doing in Colonial Marines the motion tracker is on the game pad, and never appears on the TV screen, so you know how artificial it felt that: the character is holding a pistol with one hand, and the motion tracker with the other, and I still have to put the motion tracker away to shoot the gun, or this gun is supposed to have the motion tracker on it, but I have to press a button to look at it. when in all the movies whenever a person wanted to look at the motion tracker they had to stop looking at the things right in front of them (sometimes it was for suspense), and look at it which with respect to the world is actually more immersive then what has been done with it: have it on screen, but still able to "look over it" when that never happens in the movies, or have it in the corner of the screen like its on that funny eye piece the character wheres even though that has never been in any movie.

then in other perspectives like here "I need to look into my backpack", so if I push a button the character is looking through their backpack, and I have to "look" at the backpack by looking at the gamepad.

then in like Fallout the pipboy is on the characters are but when you go to look at it the character brings it up to their face like they have glaucoma, or are near sited, but with this you can actually be looking at the gamepad like it was your pipboy (just in your hand instead of on your wrist) even though how heavy the thing looks.

then in a game to look at a map its in the corner of the screen I find that this is unimmersive because "hey my character has a photographic memory of the terrain"

In some sense are true, but the logic isn't necessarily sound, we've found both with the Wii and the Kinect that an action which is more physically similar to the action, can increase immersion but it can also decrease immersion despite being a more realistic action, because the extra gap between the fiction and the players mind doesn't allow the player to slip into the game. The action has to be very natural and good to make up for this gap.

In this case, the situation you describe, if you stop to look at a tracker in the situation, you're looking at it surrounded by the dark with these weird noises looking at you. In our case we have the player remove his eyes from the screen, which represents the hostile environment he's in, leave that hostile environment and consciously consult something that resides in not only a different, non-hostile environment, but one he probably very much connects with safety and security.

I'm not saying it's definitely immersion breaking, I was asking a genuine question to someone who had experience with the game and the system, but unless you yourself have had experience of the game and can say it's not so, then we can't make a conclusion either way. You have made a sound argument, but it's also sound that a book can be just as/more immerrsive than a film, despite recreating much less of whats going on, because the gap between the mind and it's material is lessened.

Also, if you haven't, check out the Extra Credits episode I was referencing when saying that more realistic mechanics don't naturally improve immersion
http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/kinect-disconnect

BrotherRool:
snip...
I'm not saying it's definitely immersion breaking, I was asking a genuine question to someone who had experience with the game and the system, but unless you yourself have had experience of the game and can say it's not so, then we can't make a conclusion either way. You have made a sound argument, but it's also sound that a book can be just as/more immerrsive than a film, despite recreating much less of whats going on, because the gap between the mind and it's material is lessened.

Also, if you haven't, check out the Extra Credits episode I was referencing when saying that more realistic mechanics don't naturally improve immersion
http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/kinect-disconnect

actually at the beginning of the press conference on the 13th they were talking about the hands on events. I went to the one in Seattle, and in terms of feel I have what you would probably call medium sized hands (the gamecube controller was a little awkward, but usable), and the controller felt to have about the same amount of stretch needed as the gamecube controller. in terms of weight it felt about the same as the old XBox controllers (before the smaller ones), or a little heavier then a gen1 Ipad.

in terms of the immersion I found that when sitting, and something needed me to look away from the tv at the gamepad I instinctively lifted the gamepad from the resting position, and brought it to a short distance from the tv line. though for some of the displays where they asked me to stand while playing it didn't feel as natural to bring the gamepad up, but that just tells me that it is a sitting to play system. then someone brought up the touchscreen, but it felt similar to using any touchscreen tablet, and the modelling of the sides actually felt pretty good to rest in.

the only issue I could see with using it is if you have hands on the smaller side, but even my friend who does have smaller hands said that she found it a little bit of a stretch to be in the grooves, but it never felt tedious, or painful to play like the gamecube was for her.

and as a note I still find it funny to be dancing with the WiiMote.

gardian06:

actually at the beginning of the press conference on the 13th they were talking about the hands on events. I went to the one in Seattle, and in terms of feel I have what you would probably call medium sized hands (the gamecube controller was a little awkward, but usable), and the controller felt to have about the same amount of stretch needed as the gamecube controller. in terms of weight it felt about the same as the old XBox controllers (before the smaller ones), or a little heavier then a gen1 Ipad.

in terms of the immersion I found that when sitting, and something needed me to look away from the tv at the gamepad I instinctively lifted the gamepad from the resting position, and brought it to a short distance from the tv line. though for some of the displays where they asked me to stand while playing it didn't feel as natural to bring the gamepad up, but that just tells me that it is a sitting to play system. then someone brought up the touchscreen, but it felt similar to using any touchscreen tablet, and the modelling of the sides actually felt pretty good to rest in.

the only issue I could see with using it is if you have hands on the smaller side, but even my friend who does have smaller hands said that she found it a little bit of a stretch to be in the grooves, but it never felt tedious, or painful to play like the gamecube was for her.

and as a note I still find it funny to be dancing with the WiiMote.

Cheers that was a nice description. I've got small hands but I don't remember the gamecube controllers being unusable for me, so that should be fine. And definitely the whole point of Wii Mote dancing is to be laughing at the silliness =D

For the love of god, even watching somebody else constantly switching between two screens frustrates me. I hope, I HOPE that you can turn that shit off and just have everything on the one screen. Pleeaase.

itchcrotch:
For the love of god, even watching somebody else constantly switching between two screens frustrates me. I hope, I HOPE that you can turn that shit off and just have everything on the one screen. Pleeaase.

Making the game in First Person view makes this controller REDUNDANT since Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Slender man doesn't need a smaller screen to make things tense since you would only see in-front of you and would need to turn around to make sure the undead is not on your tail

Nintendo tried to reinvent the wheel but only ended up adding spinning rims to the thing!

BrotherRool:

Tom Goldman:

Remember how you used to have to press a button, perhaps the D-pad, to cycle through weapons in an FPS? Or press pause to equip a new gun in a game like Resident Evil (the older versions, anyway)? No more. With a tap on the GamePad , ZombiU lets you quickly switch weapons, or turn on and off your limited-use-hence-stress-inducing flashlight.

The description hasn't really sold me on this bit. Instead of tapping the right trigger, which our fingers rest on to hold the controller (or okay, tapping a button on the d-pad with fingers in reach, but it's normally right trigger) we can tap a screen instead? Do you have all your weapons on the screen and you can tap the one you want? I guess that would be an improvement, cycling through weapons on a normal controller was normally a pain (hence Halo's two-weapon innovation), even with circular selection ala Resistance and Halo.

Also how does the attention work, with the UI on the screen, do you find it natural glancing at the two or do you have to lose focus on the TV screen to look at the UI?

Last question (this is the problem with Nintendo being innovative, there's so much stuff to understand :D ) how is it to hold? Pictures make it look like the thumbsticks are as awkward as PS Vitas and it's larger than that. I'm glad they've got proper games in the works for it though

You have a small inventory of icons you can touch. They're in the corners of the touchscreen (3 at each corner) so it's easy to reach over and switch. It was very natural to glance down at the GamePad and I felt it worked well. It added to the immersion as opposed to if you had a zombie radar on your screen, which is "unrealistic" (unless you were wearing Google Glasses)... like I said as if you were really holding a gadget inside of ZombiU's world.

This was after a short impression of the game, so we'll have to see how it works in the long run. I actually liked the GamePad's functionality more than I expected, and it was very easy to hold... not heavy or uncomfortable or anything like that.

 

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