Score: 7.5/10           |         SURVIVAL         |         HORROR         |           GRAPHIC

“The Daybreak Pack adds a new game mode to State of Decay 2 which is fun to play, intense to get through and rewarding when you finally outlast the clock and those blood juggernauts for victory.”

State of Decay 2 Daybreak Pack is a new game mode for the open-world survival horror game developed by Undead Labs and published by Microsoft Game Studios. This is the second add-on for State of Decay 2 (SoD2), the first being the Independence Day Pack, and the Daybreak Pack released on September 12, 2018 for Xbox One and PC via Xbox Play Anywhere. For owners of the Ultimate Edition of SoD2, we got the Independence Day and Daybreak Packs for free. Otherwise you can pick up this pack for $14.95 through the Microsoft Store/Xbox Dashboard, and I highly recommend you give this game mode a bash!

The Daybreak Pack was first announced at Gamescom 2018 in Cologne, Germany back in August and watching the trailer got me excited to play the new-game mode which is essentially a re-playable zombie horde defence mode. You and three other Red Talon members must protect a technician within a fortified compound while they are hacking a satellite tower. Armed with new weaponry and wall repair kits, you must conserve what little ammunition you have available in the three starting crates, whilst you lead your team maintaining the integrity of the fortified fence line and protecting the technician. You will face seven waves of zombies, each getting increasingly more difficult and more intense as the clock slowly ticks down the time between waves. The longer you stay alive, the more Prestige Points and rewards you will earn to unlock new weapons and other items for use in the game mode but also to use in your main game’s community.

I reviewed the base game back in August which you can read here. Like the base game, you can play the Daybreak Pack mode solo with three AI teammates. The AI behave quite well and react appropriately to where the zombies are along the fence line. They also seem to have their own ammo supply, so you only have to worry about the ammo you need for your own weapons. In my first game I stayed within the relative safety of the walls, shooting zombies through gaps in the fence. This caused a lot of zombies to build up against the walls and I burned through a couple of wall repair kits, barely surviving wave one. Subsequently I was overrun in wave 2.

Game 2 saw me conserve ammo by switching to single-shot fire as opposed to automatic and I was able to survive wave 1 and 2 but then succumbed to a nimble freak zombie in wave 3 who vaulted the walls and killed the technician. The next game I lasted to wave 4 however I had run out of ammo in both the automatic rifle as well as the shotgun that you are provided with at the start of wave 1. This was a problem when I heard the familiar roar of a Juggernaut who subsequently wailed down one of the walls and a swarm of zombies took down the technician. At the end of rounds 3, 5 and 7 you earn a reward which is a weapon or item that can be used firstly in the Daybreak mode and further unlocks for your regular community which is really cool.

At this point I decided to try an online game with real players. Straight away the game strategy changed. Everyone started outside the wall using melee weapons to fight off the zombies. This strategy worked well because a) the zombies weren’t hitting the walls, and b) we were conserving ammo. When we got to round 4 and a Juggernaut came, two of us took him down while the others cleaned up the other zombies. We ended up getting to wave 6 with the new Blood Plague Juggernauts who look really foreboding, especially when you set them on fire with grenades. Their powerful attack releases a cloud of Blood Plague, infecting you and those close-by.

I was feeling some lag which meant the zombies would often zoom across the playfield. Then there were some real exorcist moments where I would see a bloater on the radar but couldn’t see him coming towards me. Then out of the bushes comes the feet and shins of a bloater, sliding along the floor which freaked me out! Another exorcist moment was when I was out in the field collecting CLEO drops. After the first two waves, CLEO drops arrive in the time between waves, so you’re able to run out into the field and loot as much as you can carry before running back to safety. In the later waves you will find freaks waiting for you in the dark, and one of them was standing bolt upright moving towards me like a reverse-moonwalk. I figured it was lag playing tricks. Also, the issues we had when alt-tabbing in the base game were still prevalent in Daybreak, with disconnections and having trouble reconnecting to the host’s game.

The next evening, I joined up with Johnny “Garbz” Garbin and we started some zombie slaying. After a couple of intense games, we finally achieved our first victory, and man was it intense! We managed to survive to wave 5 without too many hickups, and we had collected a good amount of ammunition. In the CLEO drops we started to see some new weapons such as a CLEO SMG, CLEO Shotgun (amazing!), sticky bombs and a deployable minefield. We relied on our voice commands as well as assigning zones to each other. I covered walls 1-3 and Garbz covered walls 4-6. We cleared out regular zombies and bloaters whilst keeping an ear out for freaks and juggernauts.

In the seventh wave, all hell breaks loose. You are swamped with zombies, and whilst you’re busy with those there is a constant stream of bloaters who sneak up on you through the stink clouds causing more mayhem. Constant status shouts were relayed between us, then we would converge together to take down the often two juggernauts at a time. As soon as we see one of them buckle over, we would yell ‘JUGG DOWN!’ and race in to perform a take-down manoeuvre. Sometimes though there would be so many zombies around that the take-down manoeuvre would initiate on a zombie instead of the juggernaut, causing it to wake up and wreak more havoc, but at last we achieved victory, and boy did it feel earned! Those last 2 waves are so intense, you almost need a break from the game.

As much as you wanted to take a break, when you review what prizes you have won and unlocked, it drives you on to play more so you can unlock more for your State of Decay 2 community. Daybreak is repetitive, but that completionist OCD within me wants to unlock a lot more of those weapons and items. We loaded up another game and you wouldn’t bloody believe it, we got our second victory straight up! This time it was a flawless victory with no deaths, booyeah! The Garbz and Inferno duo is a tough one to beat, just sayin’! We loved the sense of achievement this gave us, reflected by the achievements and xbox gamer points we were racking up.

The Prestige Points you earn rack up fairly quickly. I logged into my trader community and pressed ‘O’ to use radio commands. You can call in a Prestige Trader for free, or for 3500 Prestige Points you can call in a Red Talon Contractor for your community. I called in the trader and bought myself the CLEO Rifle and CLEO Hand Axe, as well as some remote-grenades, as those bad boys would be awesome for taking out Plague Hearts.

Overall, I gave this new game mode a 7.5/10. The Daybreak Pack adds a new game mode to State of Decay 2 which is fun to play, intense to get through and rewarding when you finally outlast the clock and those blood juggernauts for victory. Playing as a Red Talon soldier, unlocking new weapons and items not only for this game mode, but for your main community means you will want to play more and more as you start unlocking some really cool items. There are still a few issues with multiplayer, and there are still disconnection issues when alt-tabbing during a multiplayer game, however Daybreak is a hell of a lot of fun when playing with mates.

This review utilised a game key provided for review purposes on both Xbox One and Xbox Play Anywhere on PC with 12 hours of gameplay. The game is rated R18+ High Impact Violence, General Online Interactivity and can be bought for AU$14.95 in the Microsoft Store or on the Xbox.

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