Generation Zero, the first-person open-world co-op action game about shooting robots in the 80s, released earlier this year to mediocre reviews over a variety of issues. Despite that, I still wanted to pick up a copy and try it for myself. After roughly twenty-three hours poured into the game, I still want to go back and play some more. Generation Zero is my newest guilty pleasure.
Before I get into why this game ticks for me, I want to say that this blog isn’t about trying to convince you to buy this game. This game has mediocre reviews, and for good reason: technical issues, cut-and-paste world, missions that consist of “go here, hold the interact key on this,” and much more. The reviews are accurate, and if you want to follow them and not buy this game, then that’s fine. I just wanted to make this blog to talk about why this game ticks for me despite its glaring flaws.
One of the biggest complaints of this game just so happens to be one of my favorite aspects: combat. The combat in this game for me is the Goldilocks difficulty I have been looking for. Fight or flight are both viable solutions, and combat never gets safer. The robots do get bigger and badder over time, but even the low level enemies can be dangerous if you are not too careful. On top of that, the combat in this game isn’t about chipping away at a health bar while using an exorbitant amount ammo. Ammo is pretty easy to come by, but even easier to waste, so this game focuses on weak spots and creativity. Instead of shooting at the large enemies until they die, a more effective method is to lay down traps and distractions to hit at weak spots and cause massive explosions. Instead of taking on a large group of enemies one-by-one, take a sticky flare and throw it onto the largest enemy, which causes all of the other enemies to attack the larger one. Whether I was in the first or the twenty-first hour, the combat was never dull for me.
Combat wouldn’t be fun without good weapons, and this game delivers on what I specifically wanted. Even though the weapons in this game are nothing new, they still feel refreshing. The guns in this game include a pump shotgun, revolver, glock pistol, AK-47, bolt-action hunting rifle, Barrett .50, a rocket launcher, and more. The weapons are simple, yet a lot of fun to use. They also lead into a bigger conversation: loot. This is a looting game similar to a survival game. The loot includes weapons at different rarities, ammo, health packs, adrenaline shots for revival, explosives, emp-type consumables, items to distract robots, and more. I have been looking for a light survival game, and this game scratches that itch with the inclusion of its looting mechanics without having to worry about eating every ten minutes. There are some balancing issues with the loot, but this is the survival game I have been looking for.
One of the reasons why I like the guns is for the time period. They are weapons on the verge of modernity, kind of like the 80s in general. While an 80s-themed game is by no means new, I find it surprising how low-key the setting is. Other than a fantastic synth soundtrack, wacky haircuts, and even wackier dance moves, the 80s theme is really subdued. Instead, the game focuses on the area it is in. The world that you inhabit is Sweden, consisting mostly of open land, small suburbs, and a lot of bunkers. The setting feels new, and it is beautiful. Seeing empty hills roll into forested areas and a giant robot pass by is a strangely solid mix of beauty and fear. The world also has a day and night cycle with dynamic weather, and being in that world while it is super foggy looks incredible.
When it comes to doing missions, I find them to be okay. They pretty much consist of “go here, do this thing,” while human interaction is either in recordings or on paper. It is kind of like Fallout 76 in that regard, but the difference between the two is that Bethesda specializes in human interaction and the choices you make with them while Avalanche is all about open-world games. For me, these quests felt like the quests given in other open-world games like Far Cry, but without having to sit through the dialogue. While they won’t be winning any awards for quest design, they fill up your log pretty quickly and give something to do. Really, that is the game in general: it won’t win any awards for excellence, but there is something here to occupy your time and give reason to come back.
Generation Zero is by no means an excellent game. It has a ton of issues, and it isn’t going to win any awards. Despite that, this is strangely enough the game I have been looking for. The combat is at the exact difficulty I want it to be, the loot is interesting, and I quite like the setting. This game ultimately feels like an open-world game stripped down to its basic essentials, but I have already experienced those parts that have been stripped in other games, so none of it feels missed. Generation Zero is a game I don’t recommend, but it is one I still enjoy.