Avalanche Studios, creators of Just Cause 4 and the upcoming Rage 2, are responsible for Generation Zero. This new video game is one of the in-house made titles from the Swedish developer, they created an “independent” title with AAA production values. Resulted in an immersive and solvent first-person shooter with a great atmosphere, but that is burdened by its playable and narrative deficiencies.
Party-up and fight
Generation Zero offers the possibility of playing alone, so those who seek a more personal adventure can face this ruthless world without aid. However, the title has been designed to be enjoyed with up to four players cooperatively online (either through matchmaking or inviting our friends). An approach that ends up being essential to fully enjoy the adventure.
Solo the difficulty of the title is very high due to a large number of existing enemies, and the limited ammunition makes this even tougher. This means that the only way to overcome the most demanding challenges is to add more players to increase the firepower since our ability will not be enough and we will end up desperate. This design error ends up being decisive, as it irremediably unbalances the solo game experience.
Trying to survive
Whether alone or in a company, Generation Zero offers a style of direct play, opening before us an immense open world to explore freely. On the bright side, we will find ourselves with all kinds of enemy robots such as small mechanized ticks or huge tanks equipped with missile launchers.
The presence of the machines is intimidating, although there is a small variety of enemies and their artificial intelligence is very limited. These problems with AI are reflected both in combat and during stealth phases. If we decide to confront ourselves frontally we will see that they are quite aggressive, but also that their behaviours are basic and with some errors, being able to avoid conflicts simply by hiding inside a house.
If we opt for stealth the thing does not improve, since the sound and visual perception of the machines is limited and quite random. In addition, we do not have the skills for stealth, so the hiding simply delays the clashes. In this sense, there are some objects of distraction in the inventory that we can use, although they are scarce and questionably effective.
One of the strong points of the adventure is its attractive audiovisual setting, achieving a unique atmosphere. Narratively we are in 1980 within an alternative future in which Sweden has decided to arm itself with the best technology after what happened during the Second World War. The story begins with the return of our protagonist after a few days on a nearby island, finding on his return that everyone has died or disappeared and that Sweden is dominated by machines.
This surprising post-apocalyptic setting traps us from the first moment, especially thanks to the great production design and an outstanding eighties soundtrack. Our way of discovering what has happened will be collecting clues and going into different facilities in search of information. However, although the initial concept seems interesting, after a few hours it ends up losing all its strength, showing that we are facing a story as empty as its world.
The open world of Generation Zero is huge, offering us a multitude of areas to explore. Initially, this immersive experience works well, the problem comes when you discover that the entire map is enormously empty. This substantially reduces the exploration in the absence of playable content, which ends up causing rapid and uninteresting progress.
The missions of the story are activated when they reach different locations, but they are very simple and repetitive, something that also happens with the additional information that advances the plot. There are also some safe areas scattered around the map, places that will allow us to use the fast trip to avoid long trips and reappear in case of death.
The design of the locations is tremendously similar, always finding the same buildings and elements throughout the map. Even so, it will be fundamental to explore each corner well, since there will be many objects for our inventory. Not only will it be important to obtain weapons, accessories and ammunition, but also kits and essential distraction elements to survive.
In cooperative each player will find different objects on the stage, a key element to avoid unnecessary disputes. It will also be possible to share any object, although the practicality of the menus is very questionable since the design is not very intuitive and has important limitations in management, errors that become very annoying in time.
As we move forward we will raise the level and get unlock points for the four available skill trees: Combat, Support, Survival and Technology. Each one allows us to obtain different improvements, such as increasing the speed of aiming, recovering more life using first aid kits or, for example, unlocking special features.
Generation Zero also allows customizing the visual appearance of our character (man or woman). Besides being able to modify many decorative elements to achieve a unique look, some of these garments and accessories also give us playable advantages such as reducing the sound when running or minimizing the damage suffered by certain elements.
Also, the weapons and accessories that we find will have different ranges and statistics, being essential to properly manage our inventory to achieve the highest possible efficiency. The handling of all weapons is precise and agile, counting among our arsenal with shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles or rifles, although we must take good care of the scarce ammunition available.
Graphically we are facing an outstanding video game. In order to achieve this, they have used the APEX graphic engine, which is capable of recreating a huge open world without loading times. In addition, it includes day/night cycles and meteorological changes very well recreated. The lighting is also surprising and great use is made of the particles, thus achieving very realistic sceneries.
The negative part is that there is very little interaction with the environments and excessive repetition of the modelling, which causes an inevitable sensation of repetition. The title offers great performance on PC, keeping stable a rate of 60 frames per second and a resolution of 4K, and can also enjoy the adventure on PS4 and Xbox One.
The eighties soundtrack fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the title. Finally, we must highlight the great sound effects on weapons and robots, developers gave special attention in this section.
Generation Zero is an interesting first-person shooter with a striking eighties setting that, although it can be played alone, yet it is designed to be enjoyed cooperatively with up to four players. While playing with a party makes the progress more pleasant and manage to alleviate the playable and narrative deficiencies since the co-op will make us live our own adventures.
However, irremediably we are facing a badly designed video game, very demanding and excessively repetitive if you play it alone, making this huge world an uninteresting place. Therefore, unless you are a fan of the genre or think you enjoy it with several friends, then we recommend this new title from Avalanche Studios.
We prepared this review on PS4 Pro with a digital review code provided by Terminals.