Back in 2013 I flew to Paris to meet with the development team at Eko Software who, at the time, were working on the original How to Survive. At their office I was met by an energetic doorman who thoroughly interrogated me before letting me in; little did I know he had a key role in what I was about to see. It was there I was introduced to the zombie survival game that Eko Software had been developing for two years
In the original game you’re trapped in a zombie-infested archipelago off the Colombian coast, needing to fulfill your basic needs of survival with food, water, and shelter. How to Survive had great sense of dark humor as well, with a story developed around a masked stranger. A man who was an eccentric mix of Mad Max meets MacGyver, who had authored the ultimate zombie survival guide and was more than eager to share his patronizing knowledge with you. I mentioned to the team that he was a great character:
Eko Software: “Still WIP but… his name is Rodolf”
Me: “Rudolph?? Like the red nosed…”
Eko: “No, no… Ro-dolf”
Me: “Ah, Rodolfo…”
Eko: “No. RO-DOLF”
Me: “Ehr… I am not sure what language it’s in… or anyone named like that…”
Eko: “It’s our doorman’s name!”
We agreed to find something punchier. After a small field study we selected, out of a long list, a new name for our master survivalist. A name that would suggest his master crafter skills and hint at some interesting background. That is how Kovac was born. He came to life thanks to Ian Champion’s talent who gave him his characteristic voice and personality. Imagine being trapped in a zombie outbreak with a slightly disturbing Count Draco speaking behind a welder’s mask — great start.
Once How to Survive launched we established a dialogue with the community to implement as many of their ideas as we reasonably could (it’s not every day in this business that you can send developers a document titled “Crazy Ideas” and have them consider it). Then when we reached the point of considering a sequel, we had so much feedback for How to Survive 2 that we drafted a foundation and consulted the community from the start. We laid out the core of the game that would meet our survivor’s most popular requirements: more multiplayer options, more environment variety, more player customization and the possibility to build your own camp.
The community wanted to have great multiplayer as well. So now we have up to 16 characters joining a camp, contributing and developing it over time, while four players can either go online or play locally for some zombie-smashing action. For environments, we left the Colombian islands behind and arrived in New Orleans, where swamps, the French Quarter, suburban areas, sewers, and farms were recreated. There you’ll come across a wide variety of zombies with different characteristics and behaviors. You’ll also find indigenous, infected fauna ranging from deer, turtles, pelicans or alligators as well as farm animals like pigs, turkeys or vicious rabbits.
While roaming the land you’ll meet local survivors (non-player characters) that will introduce you to different quests and missions. Among them will be your old friend Kovac, who will teach you how to build a camp with barricades, traps, storage units, and many workshops to create hundreds of useful items, tools, and weapons.
Another request from our community were character customization features, so we’ve added a character editor where you can choose between a variety of physical features. From there, characters will level up and specialize through a large set of skills and the choice of equipment, armor, and weaponry.
This is just a snapshot of the features and surprises in How to Survive 2, as we implemented as many community suggestions as possible. It may be different from some of the early concepts in terms of content and features, but it’s faithful to the blood-splatting zombie survival fun that inspired it. We hope you like it. Stay safe!