I’ve said before that the days of half-baked real-time strategy and management sim conversions to console are long gone — perhaps with the exception of some of the more grand features in mega-games like Stellaris or Civilization VI. Sometimes though, that can mean that console players are expected to manage huge amounts of data without the intuitive input that only a keyboard and mouse can provide. Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is massively ambitious, but it may just offer more than some console players are able to chew…
Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is a post-apocalyptic management simulator in which the terrorist act that wipes out most on the planet has long since been and gone. Now, some 150 or so years later, people are beginning to emerge from their endzones — which are essentially Fallout-style bunkers in which people remained protected from the radiation above.
Players can choose to play in either a customisable sandbox mode, or they can dive into one of about fifteen pre-scripted scenarios (including a massive and lengthy tutorial) some of which include DLC features which I guess are unique to Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition and which may not be in the base game (if indeed that becomes available on console).
Whilst specific scenarios might add unique challenges or objectives for the player to contend with, Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is always focused on one core theme — building a sustainable community. Beginning by addressing basic needs like food and water, your community will expand to accommodate a dizzying array of resources, buildings and functions — all of which you’ll have to manage.
The closest console experiences that I can compare Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition to are probably those of Frostpunk and Tropico — and in many ways, there’s a feeling of both here, and yet neither is anywhere near as deep as Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition gets at its deepest.
To bring this to life a bit, let’s talk about food and water. Water can be collected from lakes, rainwater towers or from underground wells. Wells are slow (but can later be powered) and offer pure, uncontaminated water. Rainwater (from towers or lakes) is easy enough to get, but can become contaminated with radiation. To assist in reducing or preventing contamination, the player can make charcoal filters (from a kiln) or use a weather station to cover the collectors when radiation is in the atmosphere.
All of the above takes people and/or electricity to work, and jobs are assigned manually via a reasonably simple and intuitive screen accessed via a left-trigger radial. That’s fine in itself, and i really do think it’s cool that there’s so much depth — but when you then factor in water stations throughout your camp (and the logisticians needed to restock them) and the need to irrigate certain other buildings and so on, you have a massively complex ecosystem to deal with.
Food is similar, but can be obtained from even more sources — many of which again can become irradiated. Hunting, herding, farming (about twenty different species of plant or fruit), gathering and fishing are the most common early game ways to find food. Again though, you need to think about storage, radiation exposure, distribution around the camp and more. The survivors gain health and happiness benefits from having a variety of food as well, which is a nice feature but again, something that needs to be managed.
If you do get your head around food and water, producing building resources offers a similar challenge. Scrap and lumber are your basic resources, then cement and nitrate (for advanced buildings and weapons) can be mined. Scrap can then be broken down into three basic materials (cloth, plastic and metal) and then these can be manufactured into three types of protective clothing and two kinds of tool. Sheet metal and glass can be built if you have sand, and so on.
The number of different resources and the way the tech tree builds in Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is staggering for two reasons. Firstly, because it is so, so vast and detailed, but secondly because for all this complexity, Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition is very intuitive. I often struggled to manage my population between the many jobs that needed doing, and sometimes, my supply chain would dry up so far down the chain that it took a while for me to work out why “something” wasn’t being produced, but it only took a few games to realise how to group buildings, and to understand the logic of how production flows.
Of course, if all Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition were a series of missions about building up your production, it wouldn’t be much fun. That’s where features like scavenging, enemy raiders and population demands come in. Scavenging is quite unique for this genre – with the player first scouting locations and then sending out a party to investigate based on specific “badges” that represent education level or experience. For example, a person who has been collecting scrap their whole life will be an experienced “Scrapper” when it comes to scavenging.
Reaching a scavenging location triggers a minigame of sorts. Each party has an amount of action points based on the supplies sent, as well as protective gear and/or tools. This combination of factors determines how much of the location can be explored — with the best outcome often yielding lots of resources and occasionally new survivors.Conversely, sending a poorly equipped party can often end in disaster.
Dealing with raiders works a lot like it does in Tropico. It’s more of a specific timed event than it is a steady stream of attackers. If the player militia can either kill enough enemies or lower their morale, then they will retreat. Attackers can often be paid off too, and that can be cheaper during some playthroughs than building up a big defensive capability, especially early to midgame.
Visually, Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition does the job well. Panning and zooming is entirely free, and the level of detail on buildings and in the environment is excellent. If I were nitpicking, I would say that the movement animations are limited and look odd when zoomed into – when using certain buildings the survivors have only 3-4 animations and seem to sort of “skip along.” When zoomed out, you won’t notice this.
There’s a lot more to Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition than I could reasonably articulate here. There are several overlays dealing with water, radiation and even ground humidity, there’s a whole host of research options and ways in which power can improve your settlement and there are even some “interesting” late game features that I won’t spoil here. Basically, if you like deep, interesting and perhaps just-a-bit-too-detailed management simulators, Endzone – A World Apart: Survivor Edition will be a fantastic addition to your collection. There’s hundreds of hours here, if you’re willing to invest the time and effort to learn the game.