Hi all! Firstly, we just wanted to say it’s been great to see the hordes of new undead slayers joining our ranks since Zombie Army 4: Dead War became available with Xbox Game Pass back in April along with our free Xbox Series X|S Optimized update, so thank you! And on the subject of free, there’s some more free DLC for everyone to enjoy as our homage to Valve’s classic Left 4 Dead continues. Four more iconic characters are joining our roster from Left 4 Dead 2 as Coach, Ellis, Nick, and Rochelle all get ready to take the fight to the hordes once again, this time in Zombie Army 4.
We’ve loved seeing you guys explore beautiful Abrunza and the twisted halls of Abaddon Asylum, so we wanted to give some more details on Alpha Squad’s next zombie-splatting adventure and offer a little behind-the-scenes insight into the minds of our Art and Design teams and how they brought the next mission to life.
We’re picking up where we left off, with players tearing out the Baron’s heart before being ensnared in his trap in “Return to Hell.” As the name implies, Umbra thrusts our intrepid squad back into Hell… but not quite as you know it from the main Campaign. This time, you must traverse the haunted manifestations of Schweiger’s mind, re-living twisted amalgamations of his memories whilst attempting to free him from the Baron’s grasp.
Our final mission of this trilogy keeps with our theme of Season 3, pushing towards a more open and ‘sandbox-y’ gameplay experience. We wanted to ensure players get a huge amount of replayability, so this time the first section of the level is split into 3 expansive arenas, connected by a maze-like series of catacombs.
Each playthrough randomises the sequence these take place in, and the enemy composition of the various encounters, which helps hugely with the twisted, distorted theming and means no two playthroughs are quite the same. Speaking of enemies, we’ve had a great excuse to introduce a huge variety of nasties (both familiar and not-so-familiar) for you to pop the heads off – although don’t always expect that to stop them!
For our visuals we took heavy inspiration from the hellish dreamscapes of Zdzisław Beksiński to make our environments feel dark and oppressive. This abstract theming really allowed our Art team to go all out with crafting a visual language we might not be able to get away with in Dead-War-torn Italy.
Each ‘arena’ centres around one of Schweiger’s key memories, and as you move through the catacombs and approach your next objective our environments mirror this by having fractured sections of previous missions slowly form together into a cohesive whole. It’s been a challenge to balance the need to re-imagine these (incredibly memorable!) previous experiences, whilst also giving our players an entirely distinct experience; but the abstract nature of these areas gave us a license to completely switch up how each area looks and plays.
We’ve of course managed to sneak in the usual raft of fun Easter Eggs, visual oddities and hidden collectibles (we won’t tell the Producers if you don’t…).
It’s been a ton of fun crafting these unique spaces, and a challenge to ensure every playthrough is both unique and consistently balanced, but we hope you’ll enjoy the results! We can’t wait to see what you guys make of our finale for Season 3.
Don’t forget to raise Hell!
Zombie Army 4: Dead War