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The Most Underrated Zombie Game Just Got Bigger with ‘Horde Mode XL’

Horde XL mode takes the zombie-shooting to new heights.

Jeremy Proome

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There’s no doubt that the zombie-shooter market has become quite jam-packed in recent years. The genre has seen a considerable surge with many games and franchise spin-offs giving the satisfying gameplay loop a shot, but some with more success than others. Funnily, one of, if not the, best zombie shooters out there is that of World War Z, a 2019 game that’s head and shoulders above the competition in terms of pure horde-shooting fun, but managed to be somewhat overlooked upon initial release, and it’s a shame. But, the good news is: the game got a suped-up version with the Aftermath expansion, and has now been even further boosted thanks to the ‘Horde Mode XL’, giving the action-survival game another jolt of adrenaline.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the base World War Z video game, there’s a lot to enjoy here. It is loosely based on the World War Z film (sans Brad Pitt) along with iconography and locations from the original book, but is essentially set in the universe of WWZ and ditches the introspective look into the human psyche in favour of a straight-up zombie-shooter from beginning to end.

The zombies work on the same ‘rules’ as seen in the film: they’re fast, smart, and can clump together into giant wall-hopping blobs of death, which makes up one of the core hooks in the game: battling a spectacular amount of zombies at once. These play out as sort of ‘boss battles’ in the levels, where you’ll have to ready some turret sentries, electric traps, and barbed-wire defences; while also grabbing some bigger guns or melee weapons to level the playing field (the grenade launcher and automatic shotgun are immediate favourites). But in between these moments, you’re working your way through fairly linear levels and fending off groups of zombies and some super-zombies, each bringing their own challenges.

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So, what does the Horde Mode XL mode add? You get a new level in Japan, centred around a mall (classic zombie stronghold), which also helps cater for the 1,000 extra zombies that will be on-screen. These additional zombies come in the form of ‘XL hordes’ you’ll have to be pretty-well prepared for.

Thankfully, there is some new firepower on hand too, including a triple-barreled shotgun and sai knives (yes, like Raphael’s from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Admittedly, the extra on-screen zombies don’t sound too impressive (given how many the game already throws at you), but there’s no doubt that this new level is the most visually spectacular of the bunch, especially with the sheer amount of enemies you’ll face along with the slick technical presentation (not a frame-drop during our playtime).

Additionally, the map has some new tricks up its sleeve, including some defensive boosts, such as the ability to call in an airstrike or some AI soldiers to help you out. You have to think fast and activate these in time though in order to get the jump on the horde.

On top of the new level and slight gameplay additions, there are also revamped perks and weapon-progression systems, allowing you to tinker with your guns a bit further, like adding buffs and skins.

World War Z Aftermath‘s new Horde Mode XL injects enough new content and features to warrant a play, especially if you have already bought the base World War Z game on current-gen machines. The additional on-screen zombies can provide some eye-candy, but one drawback is that we would’ve liked to have seen some more gameplay tweaks, such as the ability to look down your sights in first-person mode. But, despite this, the game and new mode still manage to deliver a fun experience despite this omission.

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World War Z: Aftermath‘s Horde Mode XL is available only on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC.

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