The year is 1989. The Berlin Wall has been torn down, but there's no-one around to celebrate this fact in the abandoned corner of rural Sweden where Avalanche Studios' Generation Zero is set. It's November, not the most inviting of times in the year, and there's a thick, moist, dense atmosphere in the game and there's the possibility of some early snowfall as well.
The player-character, complete with hilarious 1980s hairdo and attire, wakes up to find the area abandoned. It's a "day after the disaster" scenario, where everything has been left as is. The lights are still on, clearly people were just here, but everyone seems gone and instead, there are hostile machines patrolling the area.
It's easy to draw parallels to Horizon: Zero Dawn, and to some extent we can see why. The machines will patrol areas, and the Seeker works a lot like the Watcher in that it needs to be taken out with stealth before alerting other machines. But in terms of the gameplay, it feels a lot different, as this is less of an action-RPG and more of a shooter. Once engaged with the machines, you'll find yourself strafing, lobbing grenades and trying to hit weak points in real time. It's also important to note that if you go a bit overboard with destruction there will be less to loot afterward.
"We refer to it as a guerrilla action game," says game director Emil Kraftling. "And that guerrilla aspect is really at the heart of it. For any combat we want you to have a look beforehand, is this a combat [situation] I can win? What tools do I have? What equipment? What weapons? What does the surroundings look like? Is there anything I can use to my advantage? Can I set a trap? Or run an ambush? Is it better for me to just sneak around these enemies? Or should I actually fight them?"
Overall we enjoyed the gunplay; it betrays its simulation roots (from theHunter: Call of the Wild), yet here it has been adapted to a very different sort of scenario. Ammunition and weapons are scarce and need to be scavenged and you'll also need to loot machines. It all reinforces the need for a tactical and stealthy approach, something that should make for tense and exciting co-op play.
"You do have certain components on enemies that you are eager to get your hands on, but if you actually take out those components, it will make the fight easier, but you can then not scavenge them," explains Kraftling. "It's a pro and con situation. Also, where you find many enemies is also where you'll find the best loot, so you want to either take them out or get them out of the way, which is also an option for you to sneak in and get the loot basically."