Exclusive review of the browser MMORTS World of the Living Dead

As a presentation, we can define World of the Living Dead (WoTLD) as a Javascript and text-based massively multiplayer online strategy role-playing zombie game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Players are tasked with commanding and protecting one or more squads of survivors as they roam the deserted streets and fight for survival. Players assume the role of an operative of the National Emergency Control and Relief Agency (NECRA), a government agency tasked with rebuilding civilization. Players cannot control the survivors individually, but instead use squad-level controls to accomplish objectives. The game has both player vs. player and player vs. environment elements.

You control these groups of survivors using a modified Google Maps interface. The game is primarily about scavenging for supplies and avoiding contact with other groups of survivors or, alternatively, about finding other groups and stealing their supplies. Characters are managed by placing them in squads. You need to manage the survivor’s fear, fatigue, hunger and route as the zombies increase their grip on the world. The live position of any plays in the area around your squad is updated real-time - so the game is effectively a browser based RTS.

Since it is a browser based game, you just need to register a user name and you’re immediately thrown in the apolcalyptical world of the game. At the beginning the SCUGS (Survival Cell User Guidance System) assigns you a group of three survivors, in our case it was two girls and a guy. Males have a larger carrying capacity, allowing them to carry up to 30 kg as opposed to the 20 kg carried by females. Furthermore, males consume 2000 calories a day, as opposed to the 1000 consumed by females. The objectif is simple: guide survivors to safe locations and find supplies, otherwise you gonna die very soon!

First thing you see when you enter the game is a map and your squad of 3 survivors is marked on the map by a red Spades (like on playing cards) icon. You move on the map by clicking on a location near your squad, but be carefull and don’t go to far: movement is tiring and dangerous. SCUGS satellites track the movements of the living dead and this zombie density is shown as a number and color on your map.

Our first mission is to loot a NECRA emergency item cache. To complete the mission, we need to plan a route on the map between our location and the Necra cache avoiding the dangerous zones of the map infested by zombies. This first one is easy; we found the place and loot the items safely. We also won some survival points by completing the mission.

The items are collected in your inventory and you can distribute them between your three survivors. We found some food and a gun. Now we need to rescue a survivor, so again we plan a route on the map to reach the guy. Ok, now we have four survivors. The problem is that they need food and begin to be dehydrated and we don’t have a lot of supplies… Characters need a certain amount of calories and volume of liquids per day otherwise they will start to accumulate thirst and hunger. Once these reach maximum, the character will die the following day. It takes about four days for dehydration to result in death, and 28 days for hunger to prove fatal.

Your survivors are just ordinary people, but they can learn to survive. Without skills, survivors will waste bullets and be more likely to die. To developp skills, you will need to spend survival points. There are various skills are divided into categories: combat, fatigue, fear, infection, movement, scavenging and survival. For instance, you can increase your movement speed and your accuracy with a gun and you can reduce the chances of zombification or your fatigue recovery time.

Next step consists in scavenging places to find loot. You can scavenge for supplies at many locations. You can also leave messages for other players on the walls of the places you search. Memento mori (Remember you’re going to die) seems appropriate in this case. Unlike many other zombie games, locations do not replenish. Locations can become depleted, thus forcing players to move their squads in search of new supplies. Stockpiles start playing an important role, and bartering with other players becomes imperative in a totally depleted area.

Your survivors just put in some effort. It's time to let them recover from fear, fatigue and any injuries. You can tell them to barricade an apartment and take a rest! Each safehouse has an integrity value. This reduces over time, as zombies explore the defenses. You need to assign one of your characters to defend your safehouse.

If your characters are in very bad shape, you can also exchange Necra crédits earned in the missions to buy some medicines to help them recover a little quicker than usual or get some boost (you can buy some amphetamines, benzodiazepine and morphine!).

Combat is not seen on a first-hand, instead popping up as a series of combat reports, detailing any injuries, kills and/or deaths. Life in WoTLD is cheap, and thus every expedition must be carefully planned before ordering your people to leave the relative safety of your safehouse and risk to get in a fight with zombies.

As far as we reached in the game, we saw that when you reach level 3 you can have a second active squad. The game aslo allows you to chat with other players. And, if you have some time left, you can even write a biography for each of your characters.

To summarize the game experience, we can say that there is a lot of information to parse, and plenty of missions to leap into; the game is really immersive and intense. It’s free to play and very easy to get involved into but probably dificult to master. Give it a try, its free!

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