Developer: Avalanche Studios
Rated: T for Teen
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Have you ever wanted to travel to Sweden in the far-flung future of 1989 while the beautiful countryside is crawling with bloodthirsty robots? Then Avalanche Studios has fulfilled your sadistic travel needs! You and up to three of your closest friends can spend a breathtaking summer leaving each other behind to die to the menacing machine invasion in Generation Zero.
The first thing you may notice on your journey are the effects of what I assume are strange Scandinavian physics. You will spot such wondrous spectacles as floating trees, hovering rocks, and fences leading straight off to nowhere as if an asshat Yoda were pulling a prank on you while hiding just out of sight. Occasionally, boxes containing essential supplies spawn inside walls, crates, or other terrain making them impossible to open. What does this mean for you on your visit? Why certain death, of course! When you are desperate for the right caliber ammo or severely needing first aid, our courteous and friendly concierges will have already been slaughtered by the robot horde.
Enjoy the blandness as you travel the neighborhoods that begin to all look to the same. Every building is pulled from a shallow pool of roughly five sections that are rammed together in various patterns. Enjoy the randomness as you explore houses with three bathrooms and no bedrooms or several bedrooms and no bathroom, but at least they are the same bathrooms and bedrooms over and over again. It begins to feel like you are trapped in an IKEA store designed by MC Esher.
Remember to bring a change of pants as you will constantly soak them with urine whenever you hear the clanking of robot dogs on patrol or even something as mundane as the wind rustling through the trees. Occasionally you will hear a loud noise and will have no idea the source. Was that something dangerous nearby? Was it important? Was it part of the ever-repeating soundtrack? In a survival game dependent on at least two of your senses to make it through, these kinds of random sounds can detract and frustrate more than immerse.
Tension builds as you explore the different zones you can’t pronounce, such as Iboholmen or Björknasskogen. Combats are fast and brutal if you don’t take time and plan out a strategy. Running-and-gunning like a 9-year-old Fortnite prodigy almost always fails, even against “easy” adversaries like runners, the robot dogs on constant patrol. But if you shoot and move quickly and quietly to another spot or throw a well-placed flare, the remaining robots will search for you in the wrong location, exposing themselves for more damage from your team’s weapons as you make your escape. Soon, the simple act of walking through the woods (please stay off the main roads for your safety) will fill you with exciting dread as you find yourself jumping at any noise or slight movement.
Journeys are best in groups, and Generation Zero is no different. Bring your friends, and maybe they will still like you by the end! Different tactical options become available when coming across the invading robots. Is the team obviously outmatched? You could give the robots a wide berth and explore elsewhere, possibly missing some valuable loot, or distract them with well-placed fireworks or a loud radio and sneak safely by. If a fight looks inevitable, how do you go about it so you remain in control? Are there environmental factors such as gas canisters or electrical boxes that can be used to deal extra damage? I don’t know, shoot your buddy in the leg and explain to the robots that he is full of tasty, tasty oil. Collateral damage is just one of the perks of this vacation!
Return to the countryside frequently as Avalanche Studios plans to continue making the game even more Swedish and more 1989ish. More variations in robots improved balancing, and general expanding of areas is in the future of Generation Zero. Come and visit often!