The Breakdown DLC is an alternative way to play State of Decay stripped of all its scripted story beats. Here the characters are all randomly generated, arranged in survivor enclaves for you to recruit, exploit, or ignore as you choose. Your only objective is your score, which is a factor of missions accomplished, zombies killed, upgrades researched, and so forth. At a certain point, your resources will get scarce. That’s when you load up the RV and start a new map with harder zombies and a higher score multiplier. The only story beats are the ones you make.
Okay, that’s not entirely true.
After the jump, meet Lyanna Carter, one of the exceptions.
Lyanna Carter is a lush, which reduces the rate she improves her wit skill. She is also no-nonsense, which increases the rate she improves her wit skill. So it evens out. She’ll improve her wit, which determines search speed, at the same rate as anyone else. Her fantasy novels skill is maxxed out at level seven. “Sorry your TV show suddenly ended,” the flavor text reads, “Good thing I already read all the books.” What does this skill do? It gives her +60 to sense of superiority. Is that a real stat? Nope. But it explains why she comes with a “movie replica axe” as her default melee weapon. The flavor text reads: “One axe to rule them all. -Dwarf Lordz”. I expected this would be a joke weapon, sort of like the toy sword in Dead Rising. I was wrong. It’s no joke weapon. It’s a bona fide zombie-dicing battle axe. Lyanna also comes with a hearty sniper rifle called the .45 Justice. She snipes the screamers out of infestations with aplomb, without using the ammo I need for my assault rifles.
Lyanna Carter is one of Breakdown’s 34 pre-made characters, many of whom you met if you played State of Decay’s original mode. When you start playing, they’re all locked and hidden. A tab on the character stats screen lists various achievements, some of which require that you play at the higher level maps. For instance, if I want to unlock “The Grenadier”, whoever that is, I need to get to advance to the fourth map and then kill 50 zombies with explosives. Who wouldn’t want to unlock “The Grenadier”? State of Decay’s grenade launcher is a thing of beauty that never has enough ammo. So you’re almost always better off finding a whole new grenade launcher because it comes with a full load of grenades. I’m guessing The Grenadier, whoever he is, has a pocketful of the things. If you thought sniping a screamer inside an infestation was an “I win” button, wait until you just open the door and lob a grenade inside.
You unlock Lyanna Carter once you’ve killed 100 zombies with a bladed weapon. At that point, you might meet her in an enclave. The enclave will offer you missions. She might come along. You might have to defend the enclave. She’ll swing her battle axe beside you. Eventually, she might join your group along with the other survivors, and become one of the playable characters. You can also begin a game with her as your starting survivor (along with Lily Ritter as your stay-at-home radio operator and three random survivors).
The selection for Lyanna screen reads, “Her friends used to make fun of her annual trip to the Rennaissance Faire. They’re not laughing anymore.” Did I mention she’s wearing an Xbox Live Arcade T-shirt? Pandering? Perhaps. But who can resist a little pandering when she comes with a battle axe and an efficient sniper rifle?
The Breakdown DLC is available for $7 for the Xbox 360 and PC this Friday.