News Article

ZombiU Developers Talk Permadeath And Protagonists

Posted by Lee Meyer

Giving new meaning to "silent protagonist"

At this year's GDC, Ubisoft Montpellier gave a post-mortem discussion on their Wii U launch title, ZombiU, discussing the genesis of the game and the unique approach they took to involving the player in the story.

First shown at E3 2011 as the darkly comical Killer Freaks From Outer Space, story design writer Gabrielle Shrager explained that the game's concept changed because the original enemies, which resembled the deranged stars of the Rabbids series, were too small and quick to work with the game's multi-screen gameplay.

The developers also discussed the challenges of the game's central features, permadeath and "generic" protagonists. Shrager noted that these two features helped create a unique narrative for the player, as they grew attached to the characters they were playing as for longer periods of time. The addition of the omnipresent voice of the Prepper — who assists the player throughout the game — helped to form a unique storytelling method that cancelled out a more traditional protagonist.

What did you think of ZombiU? Did you like playing silent, anonymous characters? Would you have enjoyed the game if the enemies were more like the Rabbids? Let us know in the comments section.


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User Comments (31)



MAB said:

Killer Freaks didn't look that good anyway so I'm glad they changed it



Smitherenez said:

I didn't care for my characters in zombiU at all and I only died 3 times. I killed my character once because he looked like an total idiot. Dying in this game also screws up the story: The prepper calls your new character a moron, even when he/she didn't actually achieve something in the game yet.



MAB said:

I got the impression troll prepper was calling me a moron so I wanted to find the punk and open a can of slap upside the head on his sorry a$$



Sjoerd said:

I did get attached to my character, and I seriously felt more pressure with permadeath. I hope there's a sequel coming up that take out the bumps in the road, I got glitched 2 times, I didn't like that.



WanderingPB said:

I really enjoyed ZombiU and the gameplay features that really left u a very scared, nervous and cautious survivor. I had one character that lasted me to about half the game and when they died i felt distraught i had gotten attached and honestly thought she was gonna make it to the end. Also the way they have u depend on the prepper gamepad then take it away from u in some parts leaves u feeling flat out helpless.
I hope they green light ZombiU2 and also whats up with the patch they said they were working on???



Smitherenez said:

@Grubdog I will give you a better example. The following happend to me: Spoiler alert!: I died at the Tower of London, the first time you need to go there you need to reach a helicopter. You talk to a woman trough te Prepper pad first and when you finish that mission there will be a short cutscene. Well, she was talking to Survivor A, and survivor A was unlucky enough to die, just before finishing the objective, which makes the chopper fly away. Survivor B, not aware of what happend, spawns at the safehouse and the Prepper start yelling to you (survivor B) that he overheard your conversation with that woman. End Spoiler So in this situation he is blaming survivor B for something he/she doesn't even know about. It just doesn't make much sense.



FullbringIchigo said:

i like ZombiU it was like the old survival horror games of old where you actually had to try to survive unlike they are today where you just run a gun everything in your path (looking at you resi 6)

i also liked the fact the game didn't pause when you were using you backpack you know like it would in real life because i'm pretty sure the whole world doesn't pause when your looking through your pockets



Nintenjoe64 said:

I got the impression that the prepper was just trying to get me killed the whole time.

Let's hope Zombi 2 has better graphics, less glitches, better loading times, more ineffective melee weapons, less screaming every time you swing said weapons and a full open world London to try and survive in.



MadJay1664 said:

Graphics were good, weapons were good and the screaming made my heart go mental! If I was fat I'd probably have had a heart attack!



Sir_Deadly said:

@Smitherenez I thought it would have made since when u died and come back as another survivor, there should have been a "previously in ZombiU" or something like that to make it seems as a different survivor because it doesn't make sense to re spawn as another person then the one that died before and the new survivor know whats going on. I know it you playing the survivors but it kinda messed up the story a little. I think thats what your talkin bout?



JAPBOO said:

i really dont have a problem with how this game was set regarding using different survivors. The concept is good... if only they fix the glitches .... I'm stuck since January...nothing from ubi!



Tony_342 said:

I've played through this game three times now. It's still the first game I would recommend to anyone buying a Wii U. I really hope they make a sequel.



SetupDisk said:

Loved it, still have it beat on the one life mode but I have to play other games. If I play just for a few minutes I get sucked back in.



Blue_Yoshi said:

I kinda really wanted to play Killer Freaks it was a launch title I told myself I'd buy.



Aviator said:

It's not really a permadeath game when you respawn at the last checkpoint.



Smitherenez said:

@Assassin87 Well, that is a good solution for the problem I have with the storytelling: The Prepper needs to bring the new survivor up to speed with what happened.



AJWolfTill said:

Breached the "point of no return" and was expecting to end the game tonight, thankfully my survivor and I made it home and can have some rest instead.
This game has immese sequel potential, can you imagine how awesome it would be to run into other survivors instead of just their zombies?
In order to stop the team-up aspect from ruining the tension, you could make it so that if a companion dies they are lost forever + imagine the brutality of permanently killing other players to pinch their resources.



SCAR said:

I'm not playing this until there's a patch. Don't want the glitch to get me again... I spent like around 6-8 hours getting to where I was, just for it to not matter, and me to deem the game unplayable.



MadAdam81 said:

I liked the way your character died and you get a new one, but the rest of the gameplay I just couldn't get into - and I like Left 4 Dead, Walking Dead (the good one) and even Blops 2 Zombies.



RantingThespian said:

I loved this game. It is the best survival horror game I've played since Resident Evil 2. I REALLY hope they make a sequel.



alLabouTandroiD said:

I still think there should be a game where you play as a Zombie yourself. One that's more intelligent than the vast majority of its kind. Maybe even one that could still revert back to his human form in the end.
Could at least be fun.



ULTRA-64 said:

Great game that more or less sold the idea of the Wii u to me. Original in a genre so overcrowded with average games. However, seems to have failed to build on popularity as essential patches are still missing and has no 'pick up and play' game modes like a wave mode or a series of challenges/collectables which has left my copy collecting dust since I Finnished it. A shame as I had no reply to my x-box loving mates writing it of as a gimmick game!



hcfwesker said:

@Aviator Umm, what? You respawn back at the safe house every single time, no check points. But as mentioned, in Survivor Mode, you die once, and it's permadeath for reelz! And, no Rabbids for me, please. ZU was a gem, to me, thank goodness for the changes that brought that classic to WiiU. To me ZU felt like the rebirth of the survival horror genre, many of the classics in the genre have steered clear away.



Araknie said:

I liked the game but i couldn't finish it, i tried the arena part 17 times, maybe i was just unlucky after that number i quit.
Obviously i was in Normal mode, how can you even think of doing something called Chicken? xD

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