Fast zombies, slow zombies, infected zombies, mutated zombies - we’ve seen them all, especially when it comes to video games. Overkill’s The Walking Dead, the newest game to to become part of Robert Kirkman’s zombie-infested – sorry, Walker-infested – universe, will feel familiar to anyone who knows that you always go for the head when it comes to those shambling corpses. But there are a few things that set The Walking Dead apart from other games that revolve around making sure the dead stay dead.
1. Walkers are slow - just don’t get cocky
Unlike the zombies infesting Left 4 Dead, Walkers are slow. Moving at a walking pace makes it easy to sidestep around a handful but you shouldn’t get cocky. They can, and will, lurch towards you with surprising speed if you’re too close and start to gnaw on your neck (you can then either shove them off of you or elect to stab them in the side of their head), although most of the time they’ll shamble along the streets at a slow pace. But that doesn’t mean you can just ignore them - Walkers have good hearing, so make too much sound and they’ll start to clog up doorways and exits sharpish if you’re not careful. Plus they even like to play dead, lying on the ground perfectly still until your ankle comes into the reach of their teeth.
2. Walkers are attracted to sound, so get used to melee attacks
Guns are a last resort. This isn’t Left 4 Dead where guns are your main weapon: letting rip with a hail of bullets will call down dozens of Walkers upon you in a slow, shambling wave. They don’t go down easily either: headshots are the only way to make sure they stay dead, so when you bring out your melee weapon (which should be your default weapon, by the way) it’s wise to charge up your attack to deliver a powerful well-aimed swing that’ll knock Walkers down for good. If they haven’t yet noticed you, silent takedowns from behind are always a possibility too. It also helps that Heather’s crossbow is more or less silent, so if you need to take out a lot of Walkers quickly she’s the survivor who you’ll want to make sure survives. However, Heather will have to go and collect her crossbow bolts from the corpses if she runs out as bolts are scarce in the world of The Walking Dead, as Daryl knows all too well.
3. The undead can break down doors, but you can barricade them
They might be slow, but Walkers are strong. Especially when it comes to doors. Upon entering a wrecked home, you might find a handful of Walkers and decide whatever’s upstairs isn’t worth the effort, but the undead are already lurching towards you. Back out, and you can close the door, but that won’t always be enough as Walkers will bash it down over the course of a handful of seconds. Ensure sure they don’t by barricading it to keep them inside. Alternatively, you can nail doors shut to stop Walkers from entering your hideout, or strategically cut off entrances to a building to force the undead to enter using only one entrance, funnelling them down a bottleneck where your melee weapons (or silenced guns) will be waiting.
4. Guns aren’t reliable. Sorry about that.
The apocalypse is underway, and the one way to make it even scarier is to make your gun give out halfway through emptying a magazine into a horde of zombies. While the actual gun won’t break completely from what we’ve seen so far, it will jam, meaning you have to hammer a button to unjam it as the undead get ever closer. It only takes about three seconds, but it’s enough to make that heart start to race from frustration if not from fear. So although guns might not break completely, their suppressors certainly can. Suppressors make your gunshots a damn sight quieter, so without them you might find yourself having to choose between attracting the horde or resorting to riskier melee violence.
5. Other survivors aren’t your friends
You’re not the only one trying to stay alive in the rotting world of The Walking Dead. Other survivors are scattered around the remains of Washington, and there’s no time for pleasantries when you meet in the open. Circles above their heads will fill up to correspond with how close they are to noticing you, so being sneaky is often your best course of action to take them by surprise and eliminate enemy snipers before their red laser sights are trained on you. Time for some good news, though: Walkers aren’t particularly picky when it comes down to who they’ll target. So if you want to set off that car alarm and draw them closer to your enemies, then barricade yourself inside a shop and wait for those humans to be Walker chow...you can. Slightly cruel and calculating, but you completely can.
6. You can easily keep track of how serious the Walker threat is
When you start a game, the little circle at the top of your screen with a skull in it will probably be empty. Every time you shoot your gun that sphere will fill up slightly, until it gets right to the top. When it’s full the noise you’ve made will attract a flood of Walkers and then the meter will tick over into the next level, which permanently pushes up their numbers by one tier. Three separate levels determine how many Walkers will be on the streets, and unsurprisingly the last level is blood red and is an incredibly bad sign. So stay quiet, stay smart, and don’t give in to that itchy trigger finger. Or you’ll very quickly find it being chewed off by the undead.
7. Don’t forget to use your tailor-made Walker grenades
Facing a group of Walkers and don’t fancy reducing their heads to strawberry jam with your melee weapon? Try using one of your grenades. They aren’t the kind that’ll create a crater in the ground, but despite their lack of damage they’re pretty useful. Smoke grenades do exactly what you’d expect them to do, creating an area of dense fog which will prevent zombies from seeing you even if you’re running right past them. Stun grenades turn Walkers docile, so you can jump into groups and kill as many as possible without them grabbing you or moving a single inch. Particularly helpful when you’re facing off against the horde and need to slim down their numbers a bit.