CMON and Guillotine Games’ Zombicide series has become a fan favorite thanks to its frenzied yet tactical gameplay, and now the game has been given a complete refresh in Zombicide: 2nd Edition. The 2nd Edition brings back the turn-based cooperative zombie survival fans love with a few tweaks and changes that streamline certain aspects of the game or add additional challenges, and all of it’s presented in quite the sleek package. Fans of the original versions should find the gameplay they love intact with some beneficial improvements, while new fans will find an absolutely perfect place to jump in and get acquainted with the franchise. Whichever camp you fall into, you’re going to have one hell of a time.
Zombicide has you taking control of a group of six survivors (the game accommodates one to six players) who are attempting to complete missions in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. You’ll need to hunt for gear and weapons and claim objectives as you move through zombie-infested streets and buildings, and the numerous missions will have you protecting your base, hunting for survivors, attempting to scavenge for supplies, and all kinds of other objectives. To do this, you’ll need to work as a team and utilize each character’s unique skillset to mow through ordinary walkers all the way up to massive Abominations, and it’s really the combination of high-tension situations and addictive combat that keeps you coming back for more.
It doesn’t hurt that the components make an immediate impression once opening up the box. The tiles are incredibly detailed and give everything a cinematic feel. Meanwhile, the characters pop thanks to stylish character designs full of color and personality, and the miniatures themselves are stellar, as well, though giving these some color would make them even better. Even the Survivor Dashboards impress, featuring slots for each element you’ll need to play, including pegs to show how far you’ve leveled up and what skills the adrenaline level has unlocked.
Adrenaline is essentially experience points, but the game works it into the Zombie phase brilliantly. Each time you obtain an objective or take down a zombie, you gain adrenaline points, and as your marker moves up you go into different color sections. These correspond to the Zombie cards, and the further up you go the more likely it is that you have to add more undead to the board, though you also continue to gain new abilities for your character, so it’s a balancing act.
The game’s strongest suit, though, is the moment-to-moment gameplay, as your group will need to approach every situation a little differently depending on your skillset and loadout, which changes as you pick up weapons through opening Pimpweapon crates. Some weapons are quiet and allow you to attack or open doors without placing noise tokens, while others allow you more range at the cost of noise or the unfortunate chance of hitting your own teammate. You can also find Molotov cocktails and sniper rifles by searching the world, and this time around, they don’t even need to be crafted, which helps because things can turn dire quite quickly.
Sometimes it’s just the luck of the card pull, as a high adrenaline level can net you a flood of zombies spawning. It’s one thing if this is just several walkers, but Runners can move at a faster pace while Fatties and Abominations take more damage. Abominations are the big bads of the game, and they can only be killed with a Molotov, which will leave you panicked if you don’t have to have one yet. Zombie Rushes, which net Zombies more actions, can also cause havoc, and you also have to be wary of opening buildings, which trigger zombie spawns in Dark Zones, and those turn bad quickly.
Those challenges are what make the game so fun and replayable, though, and there are an absurd amount of missions in the base game, which mixes up objectives, spawn points, tile layout, and even introduces vehicles, which can be used at your leisure but also sometimes serve a specific purpose in the mission. You can get an idea of all the options from the rulebook right here.
There are a few things that hold the game back from perfection. First off, this game is a space hog, as each of the tiles is rather large and for some of the bigger scenarios, you’ll not only need to make room for nine of them but also all of your Survivor Dashboards and your various decks. That can eat up space on even the biggest table, which can be an issue for those without unending space. Also, at times, the unpredictable nature of the game can backfire, resulting in an onslaught of undead that feels overwhelming even for the most prepared team. Things can really turn in an instant, and most times it hovers right near the edge of impossible, rewarding you with a sense of accomplishment once you make it through. Other times, however, it feels a little unfair.
The rulebook is pretty to look at with loads of slick artwork, but it’s not exactly laid out well, so upon your initial playthroughs, you’ll likely be going back and forth quite a bit to figure out certain mechanics, and that makes your first experience with the game a little less than stellar compared to when you get the hang of how everything works. You’ll still have fun, but you might get some mechanics wrong just because of how much is in the rules and how it’s all laid out.
Despite those hangups, Zombicide: 2nd Edition is a satisfying cooperative experience that conveys the sense of tension, stakes, and danger one feels when watching their favorite horror movie. It’s consistently twisting your expectations and throwing curveballs at you at every turn, and the core combat and survival gameplay feels refined and infinitely replayable. Zombicide 2nd Edition is an easy recommendation for any fan, but if you’re a fan of survival horror and the undead, it’s an experience you will absolutely love.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Zombicide: 2nd Edition is in stores now.
What did you think of Zombicide: 2nd Edition? Let us know in the comments and as always you can talk all things tabletop with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!