Despite being late to the zombie survival genre, 7 Days To Die on console is far from a refined experience. From the moment you begin the vague tutorial, it becomes quite clear that the game is wholly unready to be released on console.
For Xbox users, it’s best to compare 7 Days to Ark: Survival Evolved, which launched in the Xbox Game Preview program in 2015. You have to manage your temperature, hydration, hunger and more all while keeping away enemies. Unfortunately, though, the game makes the clunky menu from Ark look like a godsend. 7 Days wants you to treat the right stick like you would a mouse on PC to navigate the menu system. This system works in low pressure situations, but quick crafting while fighting or fleeing enemies is an absolute nightmare. Still like the dinosaur survival counterpart, there’s satisfaction to be had when you fight off a small group of enemies or build a fort. These moments of bliss can instantly vanish if you forget to eat, drink or manage any other facet of survival. This can serve to immerse the player, but it can also cause great anxiety.
As for the actual fighting, distance combat works as expected and feels relatively responsive. The melee combat — arguably the core of any zombie game — really suffers. Weapon swings don’t always register when you are clearly within range, and it can take upwards of 12 hits with a powerful ax to totally kill an enemy. When combat becomes this laborious, it’s hard to forget that you’re playing a video game.
Whether I was fighting zombies or any of the game’s wildlife, I was consistently pulled out of the experience by how little effort was put into enemy design. Instead of feeling like I was in a zombie apocalypse, I felt like I was sitting on my couch playing a decidedly last-gen game as a horde of identical zombies chased me.
Building on feelings of playing a game from last-gen, textures in 7 Days are blurry and draw distance is kept to a minimum thanks to atmospheric fog. On top of that, there are consistent frame rate hitches. Framerate loss is the worst when you’re fighting zombies — this makes for frustrating combat as input lag and general unresponsiveness increases as performance tanks. 7 Days To Die, in almost every way, feels like an early access title. If the game were labeled as such on Xbox One or PS4, I would not complain about ugly textures, poor framerate and lackluster optimization. Because the developers have chosen to market the game as a complete product, though, there is no promise to consumers that the game will ever be any better to play.
One of the most promising aspects of 7 Days To Die is online co-op. Unfortunately, I had major issues even getting multiplayer to function at a basic level. I would either sit in the menu looking for a match endlessly, or I would join only to get a server disconnected error as soon as I loaded in. Colleagues have reported that they managed to get a private match to work online, so there’s at least some multiplayer that works at the moment. Still, I can’t recommend anyone purchase this title in its current state.
When Ark: Survival Evolved launched on Xbox One last December, it was part of the Game Preview Program. At this time, Ark is still in Game Preview, and manages to look, play and perform better than 7 Days To Die. The zombie survival genre with deep crafting is relatively untapped on console, so it makes it all the more painful to report that the game is a complete disaster.
7 Days To Die isn’t fun to play on a controller and looks too outdated for me to recommend to anyone on console.
7 Days To Die was reviewed on a Xbox One press copy courtesy of TellTale Publishing.
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