Welcome to Black Friday

State of Decay: Lifeline drops you into an infested city with a mission to locate key scientists and other valuable civilians, and airlift them to safety.

Your first assignment brings you to an abandoned strip mall on the edge of town. Its empty parking lot has plenty of room to land a helo. Its position next to the highway gives you access to neighborhoods all over the city. And its eight-foot barbed-wire fence gives you a small measure of security. It’s the perfect place to establish your base of operations.

The soldiers in your unit start calling the place Black Friday, because of the crowds of zombies trying to get inside. If you’re lucky, you should only have to hold out for a few days before your mission is over. If you’re not…well, there are worse places to die.

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From the map, you can see that this is a brand-new base, built from scratch to protect your unit in Lifeline.

It has four custom outdoor sites, an array of brand-new facilities, a layer of zombie-killing defenses, and some new mechanical tweaks.

Field Workshop
Your mission in Lifeline is a race against the clock — you can’t afford to wait around for a day while your weapons sit in the supply chest, waiting to be repaired.

So when you build the new military Field Workshop, it unlocks the ability to repair weapons instantly from the supply chest interface, simply by spending a few Materials.

And if you really invest in that Field Workshop, you can eventually upgrade it into an Ammunition Shop. This allows you to take the raw Ammo resource and process it into whatever caliber of ammunition you might want.

Found a .50-caliber sniper rifle, but only have three rounds for it? Not anymore — get yourself an Ammunition Shop, and you can fill up that magazine as many times as you want, provided you can get the resources.

Landing Zone
In an overrun city full of panicking civilians, it’s a lot harder to track down supplies over the radio. But as a military unit, you have another option — spending some Influence to order a supply drop from HQ.

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Supply drops take time to deliver to your Landing Zone, but once they arrive, they make an enormous difference. You can order packages that contain any of the five core resources, or even order weapons from among the 40 new firearms that Brant (our resident weapons manufacturer) created just for Lifeline.

But file your requests quickly — we can’t guarantee that these options will always be around.

Ops Center
Replacing the old Library is the Ops Center, your commanding officer’s base of operations. You can still research new crafting options here, but more importantly, this is where you get to select your Tactics.

Tactics determine what your soldiers will try to accomplish while you’re out pursuing missions. Set up supply lines, search for stranded soldiers to reinforce the unit, organize zombie hunts to thin the horde … what you choose says a lot about your priorities as a leader.

Perimeter Defenses
These are what really set Black Friday apart from the other bases in State of Decay. Outside the perimeter, there is an open area where you can install a variety of traps, to make it possible to weather a full-scale zombie attack.

Mines are the simplest perimeter defense. Spend some Ammo to stock them up, and they’ll thin out any horde that tries to run across them with a cannonade of explosions. The first wave of zombies usually bears the brunt of this defense — as the mines thin out, the zeds can cross them safely in greater numbers.

Things that make you go BOOM.

Things that make you go BOOM.

Propane tanks are a favorite for commanders who love precision and efficiency. Placed around the outer perimeter, they sit and wait for a well-timed gunshot to set them off in a fiery explosion, taking even the most heavily-armored zombies with them.

Fireworks traps (bundles of fireworks attached to compressed-air canisters) use a pyrotechnic display to lure zombies in, before going off with a giant bang.

Flying a helicopter into your base is like ringing the dinner bell — Lifeline features the largest-scale zombie attacks anywhere in State of Decay. You’re going to want to keep your defenses stocked … or else you’ll be dealing with the horde yourself.

New Outdoor Facilities
Power was one of the first things the city lost, and working generators are hard to come by. You’ll need to build your own Generator facility at the base to keep the juice flowing, and to unlock your most powerful facility actions.

Hawkes gives Maya some privacy.

Hawkes gives Maya some privacy.

But even more important than electricity is the Latrine. You have limited slots for facilities, so you may be tempted to leave the “useless” Latrine off the list. That’s all well and good … until the E. Coli settles in. Make your people go without a Latrine, and soon you’ll find that they’re getting sicker by the day.

Home away from Home
Our goal with Black Friday was to do more than simply add another Home Site to the game. As players, we identify with our base almost as much as we identify with our favorite characters … which means that this new base is probably our single most important means of expressing what State of Decay: Lifeline is about.

It’s about facing the apocalypse as a soldier. It’s about working with capable, confident professionals that you respect. It’s about preparing for everything, and then making fast decisions when things go wrong.

It’s also about blowing up zombies. Enjoy!

(And don’t forget to tell us what you’re thinking in the comments — just click the green tape!)

Duty Roster

GREYHOUND ONE

One of the interesting things about the military is the way it brings people together from every part of life, and puts them in the same boat (or tank, or helo, or humvee).

Greyhound One, the unit you control in State of Decay: Lifeline, includes a wide range of different characters with their own personalities and attitudes. Which ones will you try the hardest to keep alive?

Major Alicia Hawkes
Hawkes is the Marcus of State of Decay: Lifeline — the leader whose confidence and strength sees everyone else through the crisis, as long as she keeps breathing.Hawkes

Hawkes grew up all over the world, following her military father from one assignment to the next. She grew up with a passion for military service, and is a true believer in the Army, and in the values of a soldier.

She served multiple tours throughout the war in Afghanistan, before returning stateside as the war drew down. Her unit looks up to her with the kind of real respect that can only be earned by a good leader in the field.

Sergeant Kilohana “Kilo” Young
Kilo’s father is Korean and his mother is Hawaiian, so he considers himself the ultimate expression of the American dream — people from different cultures coming together to make something new.

KiloAs a child, he was a little hellion, but his parents helped him channel his energy into meditation and introspection, focusing him into the serene, compassionate man that you see today.

Kilo places a huge amount of value on his family — his parents, his grandparents, his cousins, and especially his wife and three daughters. His bunk is covered with pictures and letters and drawings, and though he doesn’t talk all that much, when he does, his favorite subject is his kids.

Kilo has served with Hawkes since she was a new lieutenant in Afghanistan, and they have come to really trust and understand each other.

Private Royell “Vince” Vincent
Vince joined the Army for a second chance. He completely bombed his way through high school — not because he couldn’t do the work, but because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He has a deep-rooted disregard for authority, and does and says pretty much whatever he wants, without anything like a filter.

VinceAnd so he joined the Army? Yeah, he’s starting to wonder about that, too.

But despite all the discipline problems, Vince has become sort of the voice of the unit, saying the things that everybody’s thinking, but that nobody else wants to speak out loud.

Kilo and Hawkes give him a hard time for his attitude, but they’ve learned that the same devil-may-care attitude that makes him a discipline problem also makes him a fearless warrior. They wouldn’t trade him for anyone else.

Sergeant Kelly “Sasquatch” Eldridge
SasquatchEldridge grew up in backwoods Kentucky, where he got tired of being smarter than all of his brothers. He went to a top university, graduated with honors, and then went into the only line of work he ever had any interest in — special operations, deep behind enemy lines.

As a hardcore operator, he’s been down range so long, he no longer fits into civilian life, or even regular Army life. He’s a new kind of beast, and he knows it. He has a level of comfort with danger and death that would make even most veterans shudder.

And now he’s very quickly become one of the military’s foremost experts on killing zombies…which means he’s stuck in this unit of grunts who have no idea what he’s seen, or what he’s capable of.

OTHER CHARACTERS

Lost Soldiers
Major Hawkes’s squad isn’t the only unit in the field. It is, however, the only unit that has survived this long intact. Throughout the operation, Greyhound One receives distress calls from stranded soldiers, giving them an opportunity to bolster their ranks with interesting new characters with their own unique backgrounds and talents.

Colonel Peel
Using the call sign “Doghouse Actual”, Colonel Peel commands this operation from behind a desk at HQ. It’s no cushy assignment, however — Hawkes can hear it in his voice. He’s cracking under the pressure as the zombie horde destroys every unit he sends into the city. At this point, Greyhound One may be his only hope.

Vienna Cho
ViennaNot every character in Lifeline is a soldier. Calling herself the last voice of Danforth, radio host Vienna Cho has taken to the airwaves, standing up for the civilians who are still hiding out in the city — left behind by the Army during its tactical retreat.

Vienna is no fan of the military. The time Hawkes spent on deployment, Vienna spent at anti-war rallies. But as sarcastic as she gets, what Vienna really values is people who put other people first. If you want to make a difference to the people of Danforth, and save as many as you can, then Vienna will be on your side.

TRUE COLORS

Remember that in State of Decay, the characters are only a starting point. We had fun deciding who they were before the outbreak — but during it, all bets are off. It’s up to you to pick up their story from here, and decide who they really are.

Comments? Click the green tape to join the discussion in our forum.

In the Army Now

One major goal of our DLC is to explore new perspectives — to find interesting people in the world of State of Decay whose lives we haven’t experienced yet, and see what it’s like to face the crisis from where they stand.

This is what led us to create State of Decay: Lifeline — an expansion that explores the military side of the zombie apocalypse.

Taking Command
Few people have a greater opportunity to make life-altering choices than soldiers.In zombie fiction, the military is often the go-to badguy. They’re the hammer to which every problem is a nail, blindly mowing everything down to serve some unknown goal.

But this view is fairly one-sided and naïve. On the State of Decay team, we have a different perspective (some of us firsthand) — the military is made up of many good men and women who stand on the line that divides safety and civilization from chaos and war.

Few people have a greater opportunity to make life-altering choices than soldiers. They’ve played that role as side characters in the original State of Decay...but now we are adding a new story, in which you take on that responsibility yourself.

Losing Ground
At the height of the initial crisis, you still have support, but things are rapidly breaking down.You control Greyhound One — a small surviving unit that has been sent to the fallen city of Danforth to rescue scientists whose research is critical to fighting the outbreak.

This is at the height of the initial crisis. You still have a chain of command and access to off-map support, but the voices over the radio are making it clear that things are rapidly breaking down.

So what you end up with is the inverse of the usual progression. Instead of starting with nothing, and slowly building yourself up into a post-apocalyptic powerhouse, you start the game as a well-equipped, well-supported military unit, and then must learn to improvise as one resource after another is depleted…and isn’t coming back.

Holding the Line
You have defenses, artillery to call in, well-trained soldiers, and military-grade weaponry. But in the end, it’s down to fighting tooth versus blade.One of your first imperatives is to secure the Landing Zone where you can receive supply drops and extract civilians. This location becomes your base, which you must defend at all costs against the zombie horde.

Since this is a military story, we have the perfect opportunity to expand on the concept of defending that base. The people you are here to rescue are extremely important — and extremely tasty. If you let zombies overrun your gates, these helpless civilians will be among the first to feed the horde. Lose too many, and your mission is over.

You have minefields and defenses to build and upgrade. Off-map artillery to call in. Well-trained soldiers who will guard weak points and respond to zombie threats. A stock of military-grade weaponry to use from several commanding positions. But in the end, when the zeds get into the heart of your base, it’s down to fighting tooth versus blade.

Distributing Intel
In the coming weeks, we’re going to expand on more of these topics. We’ll introduce our all-new cast of characters, investigate our new military facilities and defenses, explore the map of Danforth, break down the military hardware…and add a few more surprises.

Leave a comment by clicking the green tape down and to the right, and tell us what you’re most excited to hear about!

Die Hard Fans

“In England, we have a saying for a situation such as this … which is that it’s difficult difficult lemon difficult.”
— Simon Foster, In the Loop

One thing we know our community has been looking for is a new challenge. You’ve spent all this time mastering the game, and you want somewhere to go to truly test your skills.

State of Decay: Breakdown is designed to bring on that challenge. As you progress through each iteration of the game, the scenario gets tougher and tougher. The game is daring you to try and survive, and is ramping up the difficulty each time you do.

But what, exactly, are we doing to make it harder?

Vulnerability
The first mark of great skill is how well you avoid mistakes. Thus, one of the best ways to test your skill is to ramp up the consequences of those mistakes. As difficulty rises in Breakdown, the damage you receive from zombie attacks increases. It is up to you to stay out of their clutches.

Attrition
The zombies’ great advantage in State of Decay is their tirelessness. You experience fatigue. They don’t. As difficulty rises, it takes a little more effort to bring down each zombie, which requires you to manage your stamina more carefully.

Speed
In a typical horde, you have a large pack of lumbering slow zombies, and a small handful of fast-moving crazy dudes. If you want to flee, all you have to do is kill the crazy dudes, and you can outpace the ones that fall behind. But now, as difficulty rises, the number of fast zombies in the population will get higher and higher…until it gets kind of ridiculous.

Freaks
Do you ever get that feeling that you haven’t seen a Feral in over four hours of play? As you progress through Breakdown, that feeling will very quickly disappear. (At one point, I did a brief test where I made one out of every six zombies a Bloater. It was a very different game. Don’t worry, I scaled them back…a bit.)

Resources
When we update the game to support Breakdown, everyone will get our updated resource system, which is designed to make scavenging fairer and more consistent across every player’s experience. As an added bonus, when you play Breakdown, the new system allows us to slowly drain out some of the Resources and items as difficulty increases.

We’re putting some limits on this, though — scavenging an empty house isn’t all that fun, and we never want the world to feel like a desert. So the resource drain will hit a floor and stop, while the zombies keep on getting tougher.

Transportation
Remember all the sneaking around you did during the tutorial? Remember how little of that you did after you got your first car? Cars are super-powerful in State of Decay, and they’re everywhere. Smash one up ramming it into a horde, and you can simply trade it in for another.

But now, as difficulty rises, the number of available vehicles drops like a rock. Suddenly, cars become a rare resource that you have to use wisely or not at all, and you’re no longer as inclined to make a suicide run straight into a Juggernaut just for kicks. Sneaking around on foot, using your car as a last resort, becomes one of the best strategies.

And you should probably try to keep your Tools Expert alive.

Keeping Up With You
When I told Sanya about my plans for the difficulty ramp, she immediately told me to take my plans, and double them. Add more difficulty levels, ramp the challenge level higher and harder, because that’s what our players are searching for. So I’ve made it my goal to create a version of the game that gets so hard by the end, I can barely play it, and then let you folks show me how it’s done. Are you ready?

That’s So Meta

Two weeks ago, we announced how the Sandbox game was going to work.

Basically, you can play the game for as long as you want, and when you’ve exhausted your resources, you can fix up an RV, pack it with your best friends, and resettle in a replenished version of the map with a nastier zombie problem.

So now let’s talk about why you’ll want to keep coming back.

Knowing the Score

Throughout the game, we will be tracking and scoring your accomplishments — defeating zombies, freaks, hordes, and infestations, collecting resources and survivors, etc.

Everything feeds into a central score that we post to the Leaderboards, so you can see how you stack up against other players.

Different actions have different score values, and everything increases by a multiplier each time you hop on the RV and restart at a higher difficulty level.

That means that when you’re playing Sandbox, you’re in a competition, with your friends and with the community, to have the most prosperous, longest-lasting, zombie-killingest community in the world.

Needing a Hero

Heroes are tricked-out veteran zombie survivors with specialized skills, based on familiar faces you know and love.But maybe competition isn’t your thing. If you’re not trying to top the charts, then what are your goals?

When you begin your first Sandbox game, your survivors are all pulled from the random pool — they’re just everyday folks trying to get by amongst the flesh-eating monsters.

But then you score your thousandth zombie kill, or your hundredth headshot, or your fiftieth construction job, and you unlock a Hero.

Heroes are tricked-out veteran zombie survivors with specialized skills, based on familiar faces you know and love. They show up with their favorite equipment, ready to shoot some heads, hack some limbs, repair some cars, and cook up some delicious feasts.

The first time you unlock a Hero, you get a mission to pick them up immediately, and add them to your community as a playable friend.

From then on, even if they die, they remain in the pool of characters who could show up in any of your future playthroughs. The more Heroes you unlock, the more often they’ll show up.

You’ll also have the ability to choose your favorite unlocked Hero, up front, to be your starting character.

Which leads me to my final question:

If you could choose ONE character from the game, and have them appear as a playable Hero…which would you choose?

I can’t wait to see your answers in the forum!

Enter Sandbox

One of the reasons people play games is to answer questions about themselves. Am I quick enough to win a street fight or a gun battle? Am I clever enough to solve a mystery? If I had my own empire, could I conquer the world?

“Could I survive a zombie attack?” There are scores of games that raise this question, and some answer it very well. But State of Decay takes a different tack:

“Could I survive the zombie apocalypse?” — we’re not just talking about five minutes of pulse-pounding horror. The question is, could I build a community in the aftermath and survive for years?

That is the context of our upcoming Sandbox DLC. We want to create a setting where players can answer that question, not just until the story is exhausted, but indefinitely.

Infinity Versus Attrition

What do they always do? They find a new town…filled to the brim with zombies.Here is the core challenge that faces us: Surviving in the apocalypse is about attrition. You scavenge a house, and that house is scavenged. You lose a friend, and that friend is gone. Every loss is real, because nothing can be replaced.

How do you take a scenario like that, and make it last forever? Without fundamentally cheapening the experience with infinitely-respawning supplies?

Well, what do the characters in a zombie story always do when they exhaust their supplies in a town?

They find a new town. Fresh, unspoiled…because it’s filled to the brim with zombies.

Buying Longevity with Difficulty

You have to keep moving for as long as you can handle the challenge.Basically, you can survive as long as you want to in the zombie apocalypse, and you’ll never run out of resources…as long as you’re willing to move to places that kill everyone else who tries to move there.

As the world decays, and as supplies are gobbled up, you have to keep moving deeper into the most infected areas, facing bigger crowds of deadlier zombies, for as long as you can handle the challenge.

That is what we want to simulate with our Sandbox DLC — moving towards the danger, and stepping up your game, because in the long run, that is the only way to stay alive.

How it Works

There won’t be room for everyone. You’ll have to leave a lot behind. But at least you’ll have hope.You’ve survived for as long as you can in the valley. You’ve turned over every piece of furniture, in every house, looking for the last scraps of food. You’re pretty sure that the next zombie attack will use your last bullet…and then you’ll have no way out.

Except one — there is a broken-down RV at the edge of town. If you can get it running, you can pack up with a few of your closest friends and search for a new place to survive.

Fixing up an RV isn’t an easy task. You’ll need to scavenge for fuel and materials. You’ll need tools, and a decent workshop. You may run into setbacks, and have to risk your life to resolve them. And it will take time — time during which the zombie hordes are growing.

There won’t be room for everyone (we’re still working out the exact numbers). You’ll have to leave a lot behind, including some close friends. But at least you’ll have hope. That’s more than can be said for those who remain in the valley.

Now it’s a race to get everyone you can on board before the zombies overrun the valley.You turn the key, and the RV’s engine rumbles to life. Now it’s a race to get everyone you can on board before the zombies overrun the valley — taking control of each survivor you’ve chosen, traveling alone and in pairs, from wherever they are on the map. Your friends can still die, even a few short steps from the RV. But once they’re on board, there is nothing keeping you here. You floor it, leaving the dead in your dust.

After a harrowing journey (represented by a loading screen), you arrive at a new town very much like the one you left (actually, the same map) — one where the inhabitants weren’t as lucky as you were. The houses are still unscavenged, and the hordes have gone unchecked for ages, because most of the inhabitants are dead. The zombies are bolder, more numerous, and they’re hungry.

You know you can survive here…but for how long? That remains to be seen.

The Cost of Survival

As always, this is a game about making hard choices, and living with the consequences.

Survival means making sacrifices. If you do get out, it will be by the skin of your teeth.Survival means making sacrifices. Will you bring your best friend, or will the auto mechanic need his seat? Will you load your pack with ammunition, or with medicine? You can’t be sure what you’ll find in the new valley, and your entire community stash won’t fit in the RV.

In the end, the question of what you’ll bring might matter less than whether you can reach the RV at all. It’s like the zombies know you’re leaving — as the RV’s engine revs to life, they step up their attacks, and turn your own backyard into hostile territory. If you do get out, it will be by the skin of your teeth.

But hard choices have their rewards, too. In a later article, we’ll discuss the upside of playing the long game…the Achievements, the unlockables, and the struggle for Leaderboard dominance.

 

(More details coming soon! Meanwhile, comment by clicking the green tape down and to your right.)