The Walking Dead is one of the most well-recognized franchises in the zombie horror niche. Spanning several exciting seasons of material, comics, video games, and other expansions in popular media, the next endeavor that I had the chance to witness coming about was in the form of a mobile game, called The Walking Dead: March to War.
I had the opportunity at this year’s San Diego Comic Con to interview with the Director of Communications at Disruptor Beam, Elicia Basori and several of her colleagues at the Harbor House overlooking the beautiful San Diego Marina. The interview gave me the chance to see a community-oriented survival game in action, and the results actually surprised me.
Disruptor Beam chose The Walking Dead because the company had worked prior with HBO on Game of Thrones and CBS for Star Trek. Their next proposed IP was The Walking Dead due to its sheer popularity; after reaching out to Skybound, and with the new twists The Walking Dead introduced into the zombie genre, The Walking Dead was the next logical fit.
I was never expertly versed on the goings-on with The Walking Dead. What Disruptor Beam had shown me with this game, releasing this summer on Android and iOS, was an incredibly complex, open world game running on a mobile device. It is not a console-level game by any means, but the idea of something as detailed as this running on a mobile device showed me how far games had come on the go. The demo device in question was a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but it was enough to show me just how large the game was. I asked the team if they had any intentions of bringing the March to War gameplay elements into a game centered in Game of Throne’s Seven Kingdoms, and the team of course confirmed that they had no announcements at the time, instead focusing on making the best possible gameplay for the fan depending on what worked and adding value to the respective IPs they had access to.
March to War takes place in the various regions, or kingdoms, that are popular in the Walking Dead, in addition to Washington, DC for a total of five. The map from what was shown is enormous, but not barren, with size comparisons close to those in open world games. It’s a survival game, not dissimilar to the Xbox title State of Decay 2. It’s a community-oriented survival game, though, with interactions with real players that are playing right alongside you. The tech demo showed me people actually moving around. It felt different from other mobile games, where players get an ID code, and then the friend is there, but they’re not really there with you. In March to War, I saw the players moving around on the map, taking out zombies. These survivors are randomly generated, and have various classes suited to different functions in the community.
With randomly generated characters, I asked the team if there were any intentions to introduce a permanent death system. The team stated that the feature is indeed in the game, with new recruits available through a broadcast tower. The only units that are exempt from the permanent death system are known as the council members, who act like leaders in this community.
The community acts like a base. With the base, one kind of gets the vibe of Clash Royale, where the base gets continually upgraded to yield better and better rewards, but the game felt like it somehow transcended that. The game felt alive somehow, with the idea that units can be injured going out and could face that threat of permanent death, with an option to mercifully kill them. Even the idea of a mercy killing could upend hours of work on that particular survivor.
Fewer community-oriented games come to mind less than Pokémon GO. Noting some similarities between that particular Niantic IP and March to War, I asked the team if there were any inspirations between the two franchises. The spokesperson replied, stating that the game had been in development before Pokémon GO had been, although Disruptor Beam did have some ideas about utilizing geotracking which ultimately did not make it into the final game as it had not agreed with the direction that March to War was going towards.
Based on the Skybound comic book’s 19th volume, titled March to War (how about that!), the similarities in art style are resounding. The comic books had a sense of grittiness, a black and white shading to them. The environments of the March to War video game matched closely, with subdued colors and similar art styles.
Overall, March to War left me fairly impressed with what Disruptor Beam had to offer, and it’s great to see that it’s coming out later this summer for iOS and Android. Stay tuned for more details here at Gamer Professionals.