STAFF REVIEW of Endzone - A World Apart: Survivor Edition (Xbox Series X)

Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
by Peggy Doyle

Endzone - A World Apart: Survivor Edition Box art In 2021, terrorists blew up nuclear power plants around the world and plunged the world into chaos. A few people were able to escape into underground facilities called “Endzones”. Now, 150 years later, humans return to the surface and you’re in charge of the population. An extremely hostile environment surrounds you, full of radioactivity, contaminated rain, extreme climate change, dust storms and more. Your people are wanting a better life. Time to prove you can be a leader. Time to help your community survive and thrive. This is the plot of the game Endzone: A World Apart Survivor Edition. Developed by Gentlymad Studios and published by Assemble Entertainment, it was released on PC last year, and now finally comes out of its bunker and onto console.

The console version includes the base game, all DLC and had some additional tweaks to help it play better with a controller. Outside of the standard survival mode seen in this style of game, you also are given several ‘scenarios’ to play through, each with their own story to follow, adapt and conquer. Each scenario is also tied to an achievement in the game. The game also has some of the most impressive and comprehensive difficulty sliders and settings I have seen. You can tweak almost anything you can think of. Turning on or off things like weather, radiation, drought, sandstorms, raids etc. Being able to tailor almost every aspect of the game should make this more approachable for a variety of gamers and play styles.

Even though advertised as a primarily RTS (real time strategy) game, Endzone: A World Apart plays more similarly to a SimCity style game with some RTS components. Instead of building and fortifying and planning attacks on enemies, your primary objective is to simply survive and keep your people happy. I’d say it’s more of a management sim. There will be a few fights with Raiders when playing on default settings, but they are really a small component of the game.

Playing through the tutorial mode gives you a solid foundation for how to play the game, even if you’re not familiar with this genre. This is anything but a simple tutorial though and playing it can take you an entire evening to complete. You may think that it’s too much time to spend on a tutorial, but it’s just a tiny glimpse as to what is to come in Endzone, and the fact that I wanted to complete the whole tutorial speaks volumes of my experience with the game.

You start with a bare bones settlement. Literally a RV/van in the middle of an open space. You’re reminded of what is most important for survival. First is water. You build a jetty on a nearby body of water and assign water gathers. Then you build a cistern to hold water. You must also assign people to be builders to gather the items required to build your structures such as wood, scrap metal etc. Eventually you’ll have water and resources coming in. Assign people to fish, hunt, farm, gather herbs and more. You’ll build and create places to refine materials to other resources, like electronics, cloth and plastic, each of which require people to work there. You’ll build homes for you community, large caps or homes for individual families (children only happen if you have some private family homes, for ‘privacy’). Farming requires you to monitor the land for moisture and radiation levels. You can remove radiation or irrigate if needed. You need to decide the best food to grow, weighing the seasons required to mature and the payout from the crops available to you at that time. Seasons may seem like a long amount of time to wait for thing in game, but you can speed time up and events will happen much quicker.

There are over 90 building types in the game for you to build if you have the right materials and knowledge. Knowledge comes from exploring and researching, another pretty big part of the game. You can’t create many power producing options without first figuring out how to build them. Expeditions are like doing side quests, as you don’t technically have to do them, but they open up new locations and give you access to additional and different resources. You can also explore the same location multiple times as there may have been loot left behind or seeds not collected. People you send on the expeditions have a variety of skills and sometimes they will find different things.

Managing expeditions and research on top of your increasing community takes time management skills. Once your community gets to a certain size they’ll also have requests. These are accessed once you build the Forum. You can also pass ordinances here, whether it be a short-term family planning ordinance to stop your population growing for three seasons and temporarily stop your population from growing too quickly. You can also choose what I consider extremely heartless ordinances for your town like exiling all of your elderly people. Everything you do has an effect on the game and how others perceive your leadership.

For the requests you receive from the townspeople, they are mostly simple asks. It could be for a different food type or more variety. Maybe they want coffee or beer, stew or cake. Maybe they want to increase their defences or branch out and discover new places. It’s up to you which community concerns you tackle. Each comes with costs and benefits. You can grow your basic settlement to a town and eventually a city over time if you have the patience and management skills.

Management Sims and RTS games ported to console from PC don’t always go well, but it seems like the Endzone developers have taken their time and made some adjustments so that it feels a bit smoother than others I have played. While still not the most precise in its movements using a controller, it’s not as clunky as many others. Even with some technical bumps, I really enjoyed my time in the post-apocalyptic world.

One thing I did find a bit annoying with Endzone was that buildings didn’t have a quick way of identifying them without directly interacting with them. In the beginning it wasn’t a big issue, but as I got up to over 1000 people living in my city, and with a fairly vast footprint, trying to quickly find the building I was looking for to upgrade or change its function became a bit more arduous process than it should have been. Another issue was that if your population declined, the game decided what jobs would be abandoned but didn’t tell you. So with the first and second issues combined, I found I had to constantly check buildings and personnel assigned when I noticed that I was becoming low on a particular building item. For example, at one point I was out of plastic for building, and then I found that of all my recycler buildings, the two with plastic being produced, had no staff. It was a bit frustrating and means you have to micromanage a bit more than I would have liked. It also doesn’t auto reassign people to jobs when the population rebounds.

On paper, Endzone: A World Apart may seem like any other management sim, but I thought it was well balanced. You can adjust all the difficulty options and slow/speed up time, so you shouldn’t really feel overwhelmed. With lots of scenarios to explore and overcome, as well as a massive survival mode, it kept me engaged for more hours than I intended to play it each time I sat down and picked up the controller. Even with the normal management sim ‘issues’ when using a controller, I really enjoyed my time with Endzone - A World Apart: Survivor Edition. It has a massive amount of content available and if you enjoy this type of city builder/management game, I encourage you to check it out.

*Endzone - A World Apart: Survivor Edition was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X*

Overall: 7.2 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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