Disclaimer: Romero’s Aftermath MMO is in Early Access and is currently in beta on Steam, therefore it is subject to change and improve over the time. This review was written back when you had to buy the game so some of this review may now be out-dated. A new review is in progress and will be published shortly.
Romero’s Aftermath, or just Aftermath for short, is a post-apocalyptic zombie survival MMO developed by Free Reign Entertainment. Anyone who has played War Z/Infestation: Survivor Stories will immediately feel like they have stepped into a re-skin. Dubbed as the spiritual successor to ISS, is Aftermath worth your time, and importantly, your money?
With a torrid history behind it, the guys behind Aftermath have let it slip under the radar with no Steam Early Access launch (as of yet) nor a huge media coverage as we saw with The War Z. This is a fresh start and Aftermath is trying to fix the mistakes that made ISS turn from a zombie survival game into just one PvP hacker infestation. The game wasn’t infested with zombies, but with hackers and bugs. A slow development cycle, accusations of fraud and a terrible reputation makes the release of Aftermath all the more surprising, or remarkable given the circumstances.
I went into Aftermath with a fresh mind however, a clean slate. After all, it is a new game. Unfortunately, it won’t feel like that straight off the bat for anyone familiar with its predecessor. For starters, player models, skins and zombies are all copy and pasted, with the addition of some new ones mixed in. They move the same way and feel the same. It feels a tad lazy, considering that Aftermath does genuinely have a lot of new content and some pretty cool stuff at that. You only get one character in Aftermath however and you get to customise him once you have logged into a server. You can select a body and hair but anything other than the default clothing has to be unlocked, ie bought, in order to wear it. This ranges from hats and helmets to tops, bottoms and shoes. This is where the marketplace is aimed to generate money. Those who played Infestation extensively may be glad to see that, at present, no game altering items are available for purchase. This time it is all purely cosmetic.
The aim of the game is the same as before. To survive. Scavenge for food and water and any supplies you need, grab some weapons, fight zombies and any players who may threaten your existence and repeat. Thankfully, Aftermath does feature vehicles, although they do need a lot of work to even be close to what we see in DayZ. Base-building is another new feature which has made its way into the game, allowing you and your friends to build a base, bunker down for the night and well, survive. It works similar to Rust in that you gather resources and build. No other way you could develop it really! Crafting also appears and is done by getting the materials you need and then crafting.
The one upside of Aftermath however is that it does run smoothly, at least on high-end machines. I noticed the improvement over Infestation: Survivor Stories on my gaming PC, however I am yet to try it on a lower-end machine so I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up just yet, although judging by forum reaction more work could be done with regards to optimization. Graphically the game isn’t anything to write home about but it does look nice in places and items are well modelled.
When it comes to the map, I am not sure whether I like it or not. The map is much bigger than Colorado, let’s get that clear. There is a lot more space than before, yet the world feels empty, half finished. You can walk for a good 5-10 minutes, if not longer and barely come across anything even worth checking out. When you do meet civilization, the new places to explore make the game exciting and refreshing with the world modelled of the US State of Arizona. Work does need to be done however to make the world feel more lively and less like a giant desert I need to trek across to get from town to town as it’s boring and no one likes a walking simulator. Do they?
Aftermath has two game-modes available. The traditional PvP mode or PvE where players can loot and kill zombies without fearing other players. PvE mode particularly doesn’t have a lot going for it. The suspense and thrill of seeing another player and engaging is stripped away, no more fearing your back. Zombies are barely a challenge and can easily be taken down and manipulated to allow for an escape. This leads to PvE feeling more like a looting game than a zombie survival one.
Unfortunately for Aftermath, it’s a game which appears to be unsure of what it is trying to be or who it is catering for. Some of the gameplay and features which made Infestation: Survivor Stories attractive to those seeking a shooter, PvP survival game are gone, while there isn’t enough content or end-game for those who are looking for a survival MMO. It’s caught in between the two. While it is only early days at present and there is still time to shake things up and improve, has Aftermath already fallen into the trap that ISS did?
I tried to avoid comparing Aftermath to Infestation: Survivor Stories as much as possible, but I found myself naturally comparing the two as they appear so similar. Anyone familiar with the latter will feel the same and will make automatic comparisons. Aftermath is a new game in its own right and brings more to the table with regards to content than ISS was ever able to do, yet they feel the same game when it comes to movement and gameplay.
Is it worth your purchase? At £14.99 for the cheapest package, there a lot worse games you can spend your money on. If you were a fan of Infestation: Survivor Stories you will feel right at home with Aftermath and will enjoy its new content, especially the base-building. Gameplay wise it probably won’t change much between now and release as was the case when WarZ was in alpha, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as can be exciting and extremely rewarding.
If on the other hand you have no experience with ISS and are coming into Aftermath blind, I would suggest maybe holding off on a purchase and seeing how the game develops unless you are a sure it is a game you will enjoy.
I enjoyed Aftermath at times and I loved being able to explore a new environment and to have the opportunity to build my own base. However it’s content which ISS should have got as promised and isn’t anything we haven’t seen before in gaming.
You can check out more information about Aftermath or purchase the game on the official website here.