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Generation Zero Review - An Open World Mess

VO: DT WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
Dave and Ty tackle the 2019 multiplayer open world game Generation Zero. Things do not go as planned.

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A common complaint we hear these days is that open world games are oversaturating the
market. Everyone and their mother has an open-world shooter with stealth mechanics and
RPG-like progression systems. Granted, we’ve had stellar titles like “God of War”, “Horizon Zero
Dawn”, and “Marvel’s Spider-Man”, but that isn’t to say every open world sandbox game has
been a hit, such is the case with the newly-released “Generation Zero”. Developed and
published by Avalanche Studios, “Generation Zero” puts players in 1980’s Sweden after the
world has been conquered by rogue robots. Has Avalanche added to the pile of exceptional
open-world games, or is this another title that stagnates the genre?
Welcome to MojoPlays, and this is our review for “Generation Zero”!
Upon booting up “Generation Zero”, things were already taking a turn for the worst. While the
game gives players the option to customize their characters, there’s barely any room to make
yourself unique. You can choose from a few presets, mess with the skin tones, and choose
between TWO outfits for each preset. With such lackluster options, we just went with the guy
who looks like Dennis Hopper with a mullet. Then, we were greeted with a text crawl. Yep, this
was going to be a bumpy ride...
Despite having a similar formula to other open-world games, “Generation Zero” takes the
“Minecraft” approach and drops you into the world without explaining anything. You’re simply
told to loot a nearby house, taught the basic controls, and begin your journey. If you really want
to learn how to play, you’ll have to go into your Log and read up on the instructions there.
However, all, if not, most of it reiterates what you already know from other games; right trigger
to shoot, left trigger to aim, etc. As for the rest of the game, Dave and I had to figure out the rest
of the mechanics on our own.
The first thing we learned about “Generation Zero’s” world wasn’t how the world ended, where
the people went to, or the easiest way to kill robots. No, it was just how lazily designed the world
itself is! Assets are recycled so often that every town, bunker, farm, and military base will feel
exactly like the previous ones. Some buildings didn’t even look like buildings at all because of
how poorly mapped their textures were! Even house layouts felt similar in their architecture with
some featuring the exact same decor! Was this just a massive suburb where everyone has the
exact same house?! If it wasn’t for the map, we would have gotten lost after our second hour…
Don’t be surprised if you find some objects that feel “out of place”, either! It wasn’t rare to find an
awkwardly placed building or objects phasing through the ground. Considering Avalanche
Studios has experience in building open world games (with exceptional titles like “Mad Max” and
the “Just Cause” games), it’s incredibly shocking to see such amateur mistakes being made.

Because of these errors, “Generation Zero” feels less like an Avalanche game and more like a
sequel to “Fallout 76”!
Speaking of the infamous Bethesda title, Avalanche made the same mistake that caused so
many “Fallout” fans to flee: “Generation Zero” has NO NPCs. The entire game is essentially a
wild goose chase as you try to find out where civilization has gone (aka “a plot that gives plenty
of reason to axe NPCs and not worry about dialogue”). So, most of your time will be spent
reading documents, listening to audio logs, and fighting robots every minute or so. Be prepared
to do a lot of wandering!
Fighting robots and exploring locations are the most arduous part of “Generation Zero”! Stealth
mechanics are practically useless when sneaking around towns and farms. Even when I was in
a building, robots were alerted of my presence, whether this was because I stood in front of a
window or one of them glitched inside the house despite the doors being closed. Eventually, we
resorted to going in guns blazing...until we ran into inventory problems.
Yes, inventory is a MAJOR problem with this game! “Generation Zero” is so fussy over inventory
management thanks to its ridiculously specific ammunition types and failure to automatically
stack items. You could have multiple types of shotgun ammo in your inventory, but only ONE of
them may work with your equipped shotgun. As for stacking items, you’ll have to manually move
items over to stack. And if you run out of a stack that was placed in your Item Slot, you’ll have to
open the Inventory menu AGAIN to grab another stack. This severely disrupts the game’s
pacing, and because “Generation Zero” is an online game, you could get shot or die while trying
to manage everything. It certainly doesn’t help that the background is obscured by your
character, too.
Combat is an absolute joke, and a rather unfunny one. On top of the broken stealth mechanics,
“Generation Zero’s” AI can either be extremely pinpoint on accuracy or completely asinine in
every sense of the word. Enemies move incredibly fast and will randomly charge into you at
random intervals. There isn’t much to defend yourself either; you’ll be forced to either fire wildly
and hope you land a hit or use a flare or firework to distract them. There’s also explosives, but
because of how close-quarters combat gets, you’re going to end up wasting revives. While the
enemies can be an overbearing threat, they’re absolutely stupid when it comes to buildings.
Whereas Dave managed to take down a couple enemies just from being inside a house, I
managed to snipe some Runners with a silenced pistol because none of them knew how to aim
up or climb stairs! How the human race failed to stop these machines is beyond us.
Do we dare mention the technical issues, too? “Generation Zero” isn’t as unstable as...other
games have been, but there were many instances where character models got stuck in fences
and walls. Dave also reported that during his playthrough, the game crashed. As for me, I was
dealing with overly hostile enemies! There was one moment where I was in an underground
bunker when I had heard a Hunter within my proximity. After three flights of stairs, I emerged
outside and found the Hunter was trying to shoot me the entire time...even though I was
hundreds of feet below ground. How even?!

What really killed it for me was when I finally ran out of ammo. After firing my last bullet, my next
five minutes were spent trying to outrun Runners and Hunters, desperately searching for a
vacant area to find more bullets. Alas, every place I found was littered with more robots. When I
finally accepted my fate, I respawned at the starting location, hoping supplies would replenish at
different locations. Instead, I ran into more robots with pockets full of useless customization
items. Many locations are devoid of loot, and the ones that do only offer a few bits of
ammunition. The game will gladly hand out bullets like there’s no tomorrow, but when it comes
to weapons, a new gun is about as common as an NES Classic. Taking all of that into account,
the result was clear: “Generation Zero” had become virtually unbeatable, and my only option
was to start a new game.
Dave and I must have spent at least ten hours with “Generation Zero”, and we didn’t even get to
encounter the colossal Tank proudly displayed on the game’s cover art. Ten hours in, and we
couldn’t find one reason to continue playing, not with the numerous accounts of technical
issues, cookie cutter world with copy-&-pasted assets, dense AI, broken mechanics, and
lackluster presentation. Clearly, there’s a reason why the world of “Generation Zero” has been
abandoned; the people either glitched out, or they couldn’t live in a world plagued by these
problems. How “Generation Zero” managed to pass pre-development stages is an enigma that
may never be solved, and the half-assed on display puts us on edge for Avalanche’s other 2019
game. Here’s hoping “RAGE 2” doesn’t suffer the same fate.

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