DLC doesn't usually do much to change a game. New weapons, new maps, and new characters may be added in, but it usually does little to change the style of gameplay. Lifeline, the second DLC for Undead Labs open world zombie survival game State of Decay, takes what we have known of how to play the game and changes things up. As the last military unit in the City of Danforth you're not just trying to survive, but follow orders from your commanding officers and possibly save some un-sanctioned civilians in the process. State of Decay: Lifeline, though riddled with old issues, is a refreshing take on Undead Labs view of a zombie apocalypse.
Lifeline seems to follow the 'If it ain't broke' mentality. Combat, resource collecting, and missions continue on the same as they do in the original game, but the missions seem to make more sense with the military backdrop. Sure, they're the same 'go here and pick up this guy' or 'go kill this freak zombie', but the idea that as a soldier you are following the orders given to you makes the reason for doing these mission coalesce better.
Undead Labs seems to be pushing the use of guns during this DLC. When you first arrive at your base, which you can't relocate by the way, your stash is littered with guns and ammo. It makes sense that the military would have a supply of guns at their disposal but noise draws Zeds, and I have found myself continuing to stick to melee combat when out looking for resources or on rescue missions. The one time I unloaded with an M-60 I found myself trapped on a roof, and the more Zed's I shot the more Zed's that came running.
The one area where the noise of your guns won't matter is when your base is besieged by Zed's. These events happen on a daily basis and add a large scale defense aspect to the game. Zed's will swarm three entrances to your base, and you will be frenzied trying to keep them from breaking open any of the gates. Sieges increase in difficulty as time goes on running through your ammo reserves rather quickly, and making supply runs more crucial than they were in the original State of Decay game mode or Breakdown(the first DLC).
In the original State of Decay game mode, setting up outposts around your base would allow you an area where you only needed to worry about the occasional Zed wandering into your safe zone. These siege modes completely counteract the idea having a safe zone, as Zeds will pour in from all over the city no matter how large of a safe zone you create. Sieges add a level of stress that never existed in the original game mode of State of Decay, and completing them caused me to exhale a large breath quite a few times where I thought I was a goner.
The other new features in Lifeline work well to make supply runs easier for better time management. The new military truck is around the same size as the pickup from State of Decay, but is a lot quicker getting around. Also, the addition of vehicle storage makes getting multiple rucksacks back to base a lot easier. The military truck and newer pickup can hold up to 6 rucksacks, plus you carrying 1…that's a lot of resources out of one supply run (and you don't even have to unload the trunk). Lifeline also gives you the opportunity to power your base with generators, allowing you to have more advanced areas within your base and allowing for members of your group to read to increase their wits skill. This actually gives you a reason to collect fuel, other than for making incendiary weapons, and can be extremely useful in later points in the game.
The new map is a mixed bag of good and bad. The map itself is refreshing after having nearly a year of Trumbull County, but unlike the previous map there are areas you aren't allowed to access due to being totally overrun with Zeds – the entire center of the map. The freeway makes it easy to navigate around Danforth, but just like Trumbull it is one giant loop. Even though the map is new and refreshing, it still mimics the same style as the previous map with less area to explore.
Lifeline isn't without its problems, and most of those problems are the same ones that carry over from the base game. You'll find Zeds and other characters trapped inside of walls and doors, completely unable to move until you knock them loose in some way. During one siege I actually witnessed a Zed jump off the top of a wall and instead of landing on the ground, he fell through the bottom of the map. State of Decaycontinues to have frame rate issues and will stutter along at times to the point where aspects of the map won't render in until you're almost on top of them. Even with these continued issues, there is something about State of Decay that makes you want to come back for more.
Lifeline tests you by putting you in situations where you truly have no way of saving everyone, and must decide who is the most important person to rescue at the time. The new siege missions add a level of urgency to the gameplay where everything you've done to rescue survivors can be destroyed in a few short seconds. State of Decay: Lifeline may not be a perfect game, but Undead Labs has yet again crafted a different approach to a zombie apocalypse that has me ready to jump right back into the city of Danforth for another round.
Senior Associate Editor of Front Towards Gamer from New Jersey. Raised on games without saves and checkpoints. Addicted to coffee and General Tso's Chicken.