With Xbox Game Pass absolutely smashing it out of the park in recent weeks, we want to begin highlighting some games from time to time that really resonate with us. With so much coming and going in the service, it can often be easy to miss out on some particular gems. Sure, there are the heavy hitters such as the recently added Outriders, but sometimes some of the lesser known titles can prove to be just as good - if not better.
To kick this off, we have the absolutely superb Zombie Army 4: Dead War, which arrives on Xbox Game Pass today alongside a free next-gen upgrade. For those that don't know, the game is a co-operative shooter (but can also be played in single-player) that has players facing down hordes of Nazi zombies. It sounds like a formula you've heard a thousand times, right? It's actually developed by Rebellion, who worked on the Sniper Elite series, and that same satisfying combat translates beautifully here into a blood squelching sequel that's well worth your time.
Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the developer's best spin-off entry to date and a love letter to the horror genre as a whole. Set across multiple b-movie plots, you'll be blasting down vicious zombies and other mutilated creatures to complete a variety of objectives. The signature combat from Sniper Elite is retained here, so yes, you'll still get those glorious slow motion x-ray shots of bullets eviscerating a zombie's skull - and it's blood-y brilliant.
The sheer variety of locales and how it uses the zombie genre to create pure 80s b-movie nonsense is great. One campaign will have you and your team exploring an infected zoo, whereas another will have you battling a zombie infected tank. There's an obscene amount of creativity that often makes it feel like Dawn of the Dead meets Blackadder. It's a game that takes the inspiration of classic video nasties and celebrates the genre in a crescendo of blood and guts.
To add to this, the game is absolutely jam packed with Easter Eggs. Horror enthusiasts, or anyone who appreciates a good pop culture reference, will spend just as much time scouring each environment for hidden secrets. From Stranger Things inspired puzzles, to paintings that work to create effective jump scares, the sheer inventiveness is something that oozes out of Zombie Army 4: Dead War like gore from a rotting corpse. After a solid trilogy of games prior to this, the latest entry feels like a culmination of the team's ideas and absolutely nothing was rejected. It's creative freedom at its finest.
But all of this wouldn't matter if Zombie Army 4: Dead War wasn't fun to play, and it most certainly is. Each action packed campaign not only has addictive, punchy combat, but for the first time in the series, it has a progression system. As you blast your way through a tsunami of undead, you'll gain experience and in turn, be able to level up your character's skills and weapons. This adds a ton of replayability into the game and encourages repeat playthroughs of campaigns to gain new abilities, becoming stronger in the long run.
If you want to test your skill even further, the game even features a horde mode. Unlike the campaign which retains some downtime in-between set pieces, horde mode is a pulse pounding segment of the game that's as relentless as it is fun. Co-ordinating with your team to effectively disperse of the undead demands different tactics to the more funnelled campaign mode, and feels like a completely fresh experience. For those who want something extra to bulk up the longevity, you're in for a good time.
In a world where zombie games are a dime a dozen, Zombie Army 4: Dead War stands out from the crowd as being one that understands the b-movie roots the genre spawned from. It's drenched in references to classic films, but also backed with stellar combat that makes each campaign run-through more enjoyable than the last due to its intuitive progression system. If you've got some friends with Xbox Game Pass, or simply want to experience the bloodfest yourself, then this is absolutely the game for you.
Will you be checking out Zombie Army 4: Dead War? Let us know in the comments below.