We really didn’t expect to be playing Saber Interactive’s World War Z nearly four years after its launch. But here we are.
It’s a sad truth that for every one multiplayer-focused game that hits the mark and garners a healthy fanbase, there are multiple that crash and burn. We have to be honest: we were sceptical about the longevity of World War Z on the run up to its launch. People were done with zombie games, supposedly. And besides, it looked highly derivative of Left 4 Dead. Thanks to being available on a range of modern formats and being an absolute blast to play, however, World War Z soon gained a legion of fans.
One reason in particular why we quickly succumbed to its charms was because of the sheer number of zombies it throws at you. Encounter one zombie and you’ll quickly put it down and carry on. Meet a small group of them and you might perhaps get a bit unsettled but it’s still no problem. What do you do when there are so many zombies that they pile up, gaining access to the areas that you thought were relatively safe, though? That’s the wonder of World War Z. When you have to make a stand against hundreds of zombies, all eager to take a nice chunk out of your juicy flesh, it’s thoroughly exhilarating.
Another reason why World War Z has been a success is undoubtedly its post-launch support. As well as free updates that have fixed bugs, improved balanced and added new content and modes such as Horde Mode, a steady stream of paid DLC has allowed players to expand the game’s campaign and equip themselves with snazzy weapons. Saber Interactive isn’t done with the title, either. Native PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions have just been released, not only improving visual quality and performance, but also adding a new Horde Mode XL mode.
Exclusive to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC, Horde Mode XL is exactly what you suspect it is. Taking refuge in a shopping centre, your team of four now battle-hardened survivors must make a stand against waves of ferocious zombies. They attack on numerous fronts, and between each wave you get a small amount of time to purchase and place valuable defences as well as weapons and helpful items for yourself. Manage your resources well and you might just survive. You probably won’t though – the odds are truly against you.
You see, your goal in Horde Mode XL is to defend a specific shutter in the shopping centre from attack. Should it be breached it’s game over, even if your team is still living and breathing. With defences in place and some AI-controlled guards to back you up, a standard wave of zombies poses little threat. Survive long enough to encounter an XL wave of zombies, however, and you better be prepared for a real fight. As improbable as it sounds, four survivors against a hundred or so zombies is a piece of cake, but four survivors against a thousand?
Thankfully you can even the odds a little if you put aside some of your valuable resources. Invest in enhanced defences wisely between rounds, and when you do encounter an XL wave, one of numerous special attacks will be launched, killing a large number of zombies before they have a chance to become a threat. Even with enhanced defences, however, you’ve still got a real fight on your hands. And if your team doesn’t work effectively, your hopes of defending the shutter and saving civilian lives will be shattered within seconds. Needless to say, it’s tough. But who doesn’t like a challenge?
While there’s only currently one Horde Mode XL map, it is rather large with numerous fronts for you to protect, so it will take a long time for you to tire of it. The new mode arrives alongside a new weapon progression system, too, allowing you to develop your favourite weapons in a linear fashion while jazzing them up with any skins you have available. And Saber Interactive has vowed to continue supporting World War Z: “As you’ve continued to support this title, we’re going to do the same,” states Sergey Danchenko, Lead Game Designer.
Those who frequently spend their time getting knee-deep in the dead of World War Z will no doubt appreciate Horde Mode XL and the additional carnage it brings. And it’s a good time for those who have perhaps lapsed on their zombie-killing antics to return, too. To jump in, all you need is to own World War Z and its Aftermath upgrade on PC. The same goes for Xbox; Smart Delivery will do all the work. And on PlayStation, anyone who owns the PS4 version of World War Z and its Aftermath upgrade can claim a PS5 version for free.