State of Decay 2: Heartland – Good But Disappointing (Review)

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Last week I posted a blog about the XBox game State of Decay 2 and said that I would be doing a further blog and reviewing the Heartland DLC, and here it is.

State of Decay 2: Heartland DLC was released in June 2019 for free to anyone who owned the base game. The DLC – I feel – is a game in it’s own right as it’s as big as the base game that it adds to. Heartland takes you back to Trumbull Valley (the location of the first game) where the blood plague has advanced and caused more aggressive zombies as well as creating blood freaks (feral, screamer, bloater and juggernaut).

The game allows you to pick from two sets of characters who each come to the valley for different reasons. You ultimately end up in the same settlement and with the same objective, but there are variations in how you get there. Each story relates to characters that appeared in the first game.

Throughout the story, you will meet and be able to recruit a number of different survivors. Each one has a different skill and will allow you to build and/or upgrade parts of your base to help you in your battle against the blood plague.

I first played Heartland when it came out. I was interested to see if it was worth playing or whether it was an addition that there was little point to. I started a game back then but I kind of checked out when one of my survivors got wiped out by a feral pretty early on.

Recently though when we started playing again, we gave it another go – well, 2 or 3 actually. It took us a little bit to get into the swing of things and to get to grips with the new types of enemy. Once we got the hang of it, we were rolling. We were going out from our base looting and gathering supplies, while following the markers to the other survivors and quest points.

If you focus on building your settlement you pretty much want to recruit everyone you come across. Each one has a little task for you to carry out before they will join you, but most of these are fairly simple. The base that you get is named Jurassic Junction. It’s built around an old gas station and has multiple large dinosaurs that will keep you company – unfortunately you can’t ride them into battle.

As you go through the story you find out bits and pieces of what’s going on in the valley and your aim is to try to find out exactly what’s going on. You will eventually meet a soldier and a doctor that will explain some things and will ask you to fight your way through something called The Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet is built up of what in game are called plague walls. These are masses of what look like stringy flesh and blood that stretched between buildings and blocks your way. Your aim is to fight through four of these walls using a special type of grenade made from parts of bloaters – yeah they’re fun to gather – and any other weapon that you have to hand. But it’s not as simple as that. While you fight the wall, your will also be fending of hordes of blood plague zombies and their freak friends. For me, taking out these walls wasn’t too bad, it was the keeping an eye on your health and plague status, zombies and freaks that are attacking, and timing a well planned out retreat when needed to avoid any deaths.

But here comes the disappointing bit.

When you destroy the last plague wall and gain access to the building, we were thinking there would be something a la rat king from The Last of Us: Part II. But alas, there was none of that. We hoped there would be an explanation as to what was going on and how the plague walls came about. But all you get is a short cutscene which if nothing else leaves you on an unexplained cliff-hanger.

We put maybe 8 or so hours into Heartland and the pay off was nothing short of non-existent. I can get that it was probably a lead in to the next game, but it all just felt a little bit pointless. You don’t even get the option to continue playing in order to wipe out the plague hearts/infestations or build up your base some more. It just ends.

We loved the main game so it feels like a bit of a let down that there wasn’t anything more to the ending of this DLC. We did enjoy it up until that point where we felt a little cheated. I’ve never rated a DLC on this blog before, but I gave State of Decay 2 and 8/10. I feel like I want to give Heartland the same but honestly I can’t. Instead I’m going to give it a 6/10. It could have been some much better.

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