As we get ever close to the years end I’ve started thinking more and more about my end of year awards and as it stands I have only reviewed 3 games from this year (Resident Evil 3, Final Fantasy VII Remake & Fall Guys), which kind of makes for slim pickings. So I’m hoping between now and the end of the year to build up this list by first reviewing games I’ve already played followed by games I’ll hopefully be able to afford to purchase. So lets start off with a game I eagerly anticipated when I first heard about it, Endzone – A World Apart.
Endzone is a post-apocalypse city builder where mankind has emerged from a series of underground bunkers called “Endzones” 100 years after the world was devastated by nuclear war (Guess it is true what Ron Pearlman said “War never changes”). It is up to you to build your settlement, gather resources, keep your settlers happy and healthy by keeping them fed, watered, clothed, entertained and free from radiation.
Hands up anyone that’s played Banished? If you have then you have a pretty good idea about how Endzone plays. It feels a lot like a re-skin with a new overlay and a few extras tied in. The manual resource gathering is exactly the same, the allocating of workers is the same, the farming mechanic is identical to name but a few. Aesthetically however they are completely different, where Banished is lovely and bright Endzone is mush moodier and darker (I suppose an apocalypse is a sure fire way to tone down the mood).
I have a love-hate relationship with city builders. I love the idea of them, watching as from noting but an idea a small settlement emerges from it’s humble beginnings into a vast expansive metropolis. However I do find that as my settlements start to expand and become a bit more complex I start to loose interest. The problem I find is that as my project expands I start to loose sight of what the overall objective is. That’s why I prefer mission based strategy and simulation games, at least then I have a tangible goal to aspire too. This may have less to do with the actual game itself and more to do with my own indecision and inability to set long term goals for myself… but I digress. In fairness though Endzone in one of their recent updates has introduced a scenario mode into the game which renders everything I’ve just said moot.
The game is still in early access so as to be expected there are still a few kinks in the system that are being addressed, this is more in regards to balancing the gameplay and adding features rather than anything physically wrong with the running of the game. In the 15hrs I’ve played the game in total I think I’ve only crashed to desktop once or twice.
I mentioned earlier how Endzone has a few extra bells and whistles compared to Banished. Some of those additions you can imagine are more common place in a post-apocalypse world, things like radiation levels, dust clouds, drought, electricity etc. Although one addition that does stand out for me that I particularly enjoyed is that of the expeditions. This involves sending scouts out to ruins such as warehouses, greenhouses, factories and the like. Then sending out teams of explorers to scavenge ruins for resources. What I really enjoy about this mechanic is that some ruins will require explorers with certain expertise or equipment, for example exploring a greenhouse would require someone who has expertise in farming in order to gain new seeds or you might need to take better grade tools in order to clear obstacles. My only problem with this is that there is no way to micromanage your settlers so that you can train specific settlers to gain experience in specific fields, meaning that meeting conditions for some of the more demanding ruins can be more pot luck than anything else.
I have been playing Endzone on and off since it came out back in April and it has been steadily improving since it’s initial early access release and with more improvements scheduled I hope to see further improvements. Additionally, the developers have teamed up with OneTreePlanted who will plant a tree for ever purchase of the Save The World Edition of the game. Turns out you can save the planet by playing video games… Who knew?