Here’s the good news. Yes, you CAN shoot zombie Nazis in the bollocks in Rebellion’s Zombie Army 4: Dead War. It was the first thing I tried to do in my hands-on preview and one of the first things I asked Senior Systems Designer Vicki Boyce. When I finally did manage to nail an undead fascist right in the scrotum, I was giddy beyond belief.
Zombie Army plays very similarly to the franchise it spun off from; Sniper Elite. It shares DNA and plenty of commonality with the WWII shooter, one being the slow-motion X-Ray camera.
If you’ve played Sniper Elite, you’ll know what I’m talking about. When you land a shot on an enemy in a particular way, you’ll be given a bullet-time cinematic showing the bullet entering the enemy’s body and destroying various organs, bones and the like.
The same thing happens in Zombie Army 4: Dead War, except instead of living Nazis, they’re undead ones.
But it’s just as satisfying.
Zombie Army 4 Preview
Where Zombie Army differs from Sniper Elite is that rather than slowly exploring maps, lining up shots and trying to remain hidden, you’re blasting ahead, guns blazing and doing it with three friends by your side. It’s hard not to draw comparisons with Left 4 Dead when talking about Zombie Army 4.
Both games see four players team up to fight hordes and waves of zombies co-operatively. Both include safe rooms and chapters within overarching campaign levels. And both feature super-powered, special zombies. However, it’s unfair to call Zombie Army 4 a clone of Left 4 Dead as they are quite different games.
Aesthetically, Zombie Army leans heavily on a Grindhouse aesthetic, whereas Left 4 Dead was more classic horror. Zombie Army 4 definitely fits more within the Grindhouse style too being that it’s an over-the-top look at Nazi Zombies destroying the world post-WWII.
Gameplay across the two titles is also two different stories. Zombie Army 4 is played from the third-person perspective and players aren’t limited to a handful of weapons. Each and every weapon can be upgraded and each has three trees of upgrades.
Take the Mosin Nagant M91/30 for example. You’re able to upgrade it to fire explosive rounds, increase its magazine and improve the scope. Some weapons can be upgraded to fire electrified rounds, others incendiary and so on. There is so much customisation of weapons in Zombie Army 4 that players will be able to kit out their character however they see fit.
Each of the weapons also has its own Overkill or super ability which, when charged, can be used to unleash serious damage. When using rifles, I was able to unleash a supercharged armour-piercing shot and while using shotguns or machine guns, I could unleash far more rounds with an increased firing rate.
These are only a few examples and there are bound to be more to unlock as you go. Zombie Army 4 is literally overflowing with content from what I’ve seen so far.
Weapons aren’t the only thing players can customise. Each character can be equipped with three perks, which are unlocked through playing. These include things like being able to take more damage, dealing more damage, being more efficient with health kits and more. Zombie Army 4 is really set up to allow players to play however they want and it does its best to remove any blocks.
In that vein, while there are four playable characters, Rebellion lets you all choose the same one if you like or any combination of them if you’re playing co-operatively. Each of the characters also comes with their own unique strengths and weaknesses which you can offset through perks.
These perks are also upgradeable and so, as you play you’ll always be working on something, upgrading a weapon or perk and heading towards that next unlock. This is something that’s reinforced as you play through constant feedback on stats and achievements.
While I was playing Zombie Army 4, my screen kept flashing with counters telling me how many zombies I’d killed, how many limbs I’d detached, how many zombies I’d electrocuted, headshots, melee kills, elite kills and so on and so forth. There are tonnes and tonnes of these counters, all of which lead to special unlocks, cosmetics, in-game comic books and more.
I can’t yet say whether or not there’s a testicle counter as Vicki Boyce wouldn’t tell me, but my fingers are crossed.
In my hands-on, I was able to tackle two of the nine campaign levels that will be available at launch — Meat Locker and Molten Nightmare — as well as the Horde mode. I have to say, I had an incredible amount of fun with Zombie Army 4. The shooting is precise and easy and works just as well in third and first-person; first-person only being used when aiming with a scope.
The number of zombies on screen at any moment is also really impressive as is the absolute lack of frame drops or slowdown I experienced. Zombie Army 4 is buttery smooth and runs without any hiccups, which only makes it even more of a joy to play.
Campaign levels are separated into chapters bookended by saferooms. Players need to fight their way through the hordes of zombies along a linear path, survive and push on. In the two levels, I played there were some light puzzle-solving and exploration in addition to plenty of secrets and easter eggs.
Each of the campaign levels in the game helps to tell the story too, giving you a reason for all the Nazi/Zombie killing, not that you really need one.
Horde mode is a lot like Call of Duty Zombies. You fight successive waves of enemies, each growing larger and stronger as you earn better equipment, set traps and try to survive.
It’s a blast.
I was only able to try one level of Horde mode in my session but it included the undead shark which is a hilarious and deadly trap.
So far, Zombie Army 4 is looking like an awesome time whether played solo or with friends. The drop-in, drop-out co-op is great for uninterrupted gameplay and Rebellion is stacking the game with so much content and so much to do that players will be killing zombies for ages.
I’m a big fan of Sniper Elite but I honestly think that I’m way more excited about Zombie Army 4. It’s silly, it’s funny, it’s a lot of fun and best of all, it lets you blow the balls right off of those damn Nazi zombies.
What could be better?
Leo Stevenson attended a preview event in Sydney as a guest of Rebellion.
It will be available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on February 4, 2020.