Reality isn’t that Great


Reality isn’t that Great
by R.C. Murphy

There’s endless possibilities in Las Vegas, Nevada. Heck, the place was pretty much built to satisfy whatever outlandish urge pops into one’s mind. Want to spend an entire paycheck in an hour? Vegas. Itching to watch stellar acrobats? Vegas. Have a hankering to try literally every kind of food imaginable crammed into one large room? Yup, Vegas has you covered. It’s not all gambling and eating. The playful side of Vegas has expanded exponentially over the last couple decades. The grandiose hotels found that diversity in attractions drew in more customers. (Duh?) Now we’ve got things like rooftop roller coasters, live shows to rival some Broadway productions, not to mention countless museums and indoor malls.

The MGM Grand is adding yet another attraction to draw in customers who aren’t into games of chance.

On September 8th, MGM Grand opened a 2,000 square foot Virtual Reality playground. Located inside their adults-only, high-tech gaming lounge, Level Up, visitors will have the opportunity to play through one of three virtual scenarios—including one set in the zombie apocalypse. The game lasts thirty minutes, costs $50, and teams may be comprised of up to eight members. Each team member will wear a wireless VR headset. The VR weapons are likewise wireless to give players a truly immersive, teatherless experience. Players are encouraged to really explore the vast gaming arena while working through the intense co-op VR games.

The VR experience is sponsored by Zero Latency, a company with several VR arenas globally. The Vegas location is the first in the western United States. Below are the game descriptions from Zero Latency’s website.

Zombie Survival

Compete against your friends and protect your fort from hordes of killer zombies!

Caught in the middle of a zombie outbreak, your team is bunkered in a fort. A rescue team is on its way and you must stay alive until they make contact. Work together to build barriers and fight off the undead hordes until help arrives!

Singularity

How will you fair against killer robots and drones?

You and your team are sent to investigate a secret military space station that has gone dark. Fight your way through killer robots, rogue drones and merciless gun turrets to reclaim the high-tech military black-site. How will you fair against AI?

Engineerium

Be prepared to have your reality turned upside down in Engineerium!

You are transformed into an ethereal, ancient alien, who must work with your clan to ascend through a mind-bending, mystical world to be reunited with your tribe. Be prepared to have your reality turned upside down!


Playing Alongside Old Friends

Playing Alongside Old Friends
by R.C. Murphy

The Walking Dead franchise draws big business for everyone involved. It only makes sense that game developers would scramble to snatch a piece of that pie. There’s a few TWD games already out in the world, namely the tension-ridden series from Telltale Games and it’s spin-offs, A New Frontier and Michonne. Telltale teamed up with Zen Studios to produce The Walking Dead Pinball, which allows players to play pinball on location maps from Telltale’s main TWD game, including the addition of player choice to determine the ongoing story. Scopely released its addition to the franchise in 2015 with The Walking Dead: Road to Survival—a game recently plagued with glitches which inspired spending freezes from dedicated players and several intense press releases from the developer promising to do better for the game’s devoted fan base.

Two more developers have stepped in to bring more undead fun to the masses this year. First up is Disruptor Beam’s The Walking Dead: March to War. While not set in the television universe and taking most of its cues from the comics, it still has events inspired by the show. In this strategy game, players develop alliances with each other in order to not only survive the walkers wandering through Washington D.C., but also the humans they encounter while building a secure home base. Players have a twenty mile map to work in, encompassing all the iconic buildings and monuments in the nation’s capital. If they’re having a hard time figuring out what to do, players have the opportunity to bring Rick and Negan onto their advisory council. Help is always needed, according to the developers. Getting by on one’s own in the game is apparently pretty difficult. March to War is free for iOS and Android devices. But you get what you pay for, and this is a new game. Expect some glitches while the developers roll out updates. The graphics aren’t stellar. There’s also been several complaints about monetary purchases failing.

The newest addition to the TWD franchise will be The Walking Dead: Our World from developer Next Games. Whereas all the other TWD-based games focus on player vs player fighting or dive deep into what’s basically a pick-your-own-adventure game format, Our World is vastly different. The game is, essentially, Pokémon Go but with walkers instead of brightly colored creatures. Augmented reality games were all the rage last year and Our World feels like it may have missed the boat by, oh, six months or so—that’s being generous since there’s no actual release date yet. That delay may be in their favor though, giving developers more time to work out the quirks which made other AR games difficult to play, or downright ridiculous due to the programs inability to read the distance to the ground accurately. Game play for Our World shows grounded characters, so there will be little chance of watching Michonne or any of the other television characters floating four feet in the air as they slay the undead. When it does finally release, the game will be available for iOS and Android systems.


Left in the Dark

Left in the Dark
by R.C. Murphy

Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.

I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.

Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.

Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.

For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.

Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.


Ashy Slashy’s Taking Over Universal Studios

Ashy Slashy’s Taking Over Universal Studios
by R.C. Murphy

Just when you thought it was safe to enter a theme park alone, Universal Studios announced that this fall, Ash vs Evil Dead will join the ranks of great horror franchises the park has adapted for their Halloween Horror Nights event in Hollywood and Orlando. Starting September 15th, horror fans will have the chance to walk through not only the AvED haunted maze, but also the long-standing The Walking Dead maze, as well as haunts for The Shining, American Horror Story, and Jabbawockeez. Tickets are available online now.

Below is the official description for the maze. Hopefully they’ll fully utilize the franchise, instead of picking one or two setups and repeating them in two dozen rooms, as they have in the past with mazes like A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The Ash vs Evil Dead maze will transport guests into the town of Elk Grove, Mich., where they will encounter Deadites – people or objects possessed by evil demons – that have been unwittingly unleashed by Ash Williams – again.  Throughout the maze, guests will come face-to-face with disturbing characters and iconic comedic and gory scenes from seasons 1 and 2 as they desperately try to escape all things evil…before it’s too late.

The STARZ Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead is a follow-up to the original The Evil Dead movie, which has long been regarded as a cult classic since its debut in 1981. Starring Bruce Campbell, who reprises his role as Ash Williams, the series has amassed a huge fan base and was renewed for a third season by STARZ. Catch up on the STARZ APP.

Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 20 years, guests from around the world have visited Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood and Orlando to become victims of their own horror film. The streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing scare-actors lunge from every darkened corner. Multiple movie-quality haunted houses are erected throughout the event, based on everything from iconic slasher films to hit horror television series to haunting original stories.

Additional details about Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights will be revealed soon. For more information about Halloween Horror Nights at either Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Orlando Resort, visit Halloween Horror Nights’ official site.

So, who’s planning a road trip to get their pants scared off?


Dead-Diego Comic-Con

Dead-Diego Comic-Con
by R.C. Murphy

This year the San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Walking Dead was a vast departure from the way the show’s run things for the last seven years. Yes, the cast was there in force. Yes, the series’ showrunner and producers were on stage to guide the conversation away from spoilers. But Hardwick was nowhere to be seen. There were no prepared questions or discussion, and they jumped straight to audience questions. There weren’t even name tags on the table. The mood on stage was about eight notches down from past years. They’ve had a seriously rough summer, and given everything it’s surprising they still came at all instead of sending a smaller delegation with the trailer. No one would have blamed them for cancelling.

Scott Gimple opened this year’s panel with a touching statement about John Bernecker, an accomplished stuntman who tragically lost his life after an on-set accident a couple weeks ago. Prompted by a fan’s question later in the discussion, Robert Kirkman and Greg Nicotero also took a moment to remember late director George Romero, the man who created the zombie genre as we now know it.

The cast and crew were excited to announce that episode 801 is actually the show’s 100th episode. Danai Gurira misspoke at one point, saying, “100 years,” instead of episodes, to which Lincoln claimed it felt like it. To celebrate the occasion, AMC has a few things up their sleeves for social media and the likes come October. The producers also brought a retrospective video to show the panel audience to kick off the celebration. I’m not sure what clips they used, but Reedus was especially touched by the video and took the chance to gush about his time on the show toward the panel’s end.

The panel had about 30 minutes of fan questions after the retrospective. We didn’t get much about the new season outside the 5-minute trailer. Kirkman did put his foot down about possible future story lines—there will be no immune characters or another search for a cure, ever. They also teased new characters, but intentionally left the answer so vague, I’m just going to assume an alien invasion is a go until proven otherwise. Gimple joked that as part of the 100th episode, Judith will get her first zombie kill. “Three’s old enough,” Gimple said as everyone laughed. Kirkman promised that season 8 will be, “action-packed and fast-paced.” Chandler Riggs and Jeffrey Dean Morgan stated they hope the show story line falls in line with the comics, as both would love to delve into that particular Carl/Negan dynamic. When asked about Glenn’s legacy living on in the baby, Lauren Cohan hoped the writers give Maggie the chance to instill his strengths in the child as it grows, as well as passing on tales of Hershel, Beth, and the extended family they’ve left behind.

The rest of the fan questions prompted some levity in the group, but not much. On a few occasions, Gimple acted as moderator, urging actors who weren’t answering fan questions to talk about, well, anything. To wrap things up, they showed that baffling trailer again.

No, I don’t think they’re pulling a Dallas, guys. Calm yourselves. But the end does raise a whole truckload of questions.

 


iZombie Discusses New Seattle at SDCC

iZombie Discusses New Seattle at SDCC
by R.C. Murphy

When season three of iZombie ended, the gang was left in a chaotic world where humans just discovered zombies are actually a thing, and they’ve been living amongst them for quite some time. The characters didn’t move into this new world unscathed. Most, if not all, were in tough positions when we last saw them. Luckily we won’t have to wait until next year to check in with the team. At San Diego Comic-Con, the cast, along with Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, dropped a video for the panel audience and delved into how things will change in season four now that Discovery Day has come and gone.

Thomas joked, “We almost immediately regretted that decision. So season three was a dream. We’re going right back.”

In all seriousness, Ruggiero said Discovery Day was always coming. Thomas laid the groundwork for it in the first season and considered season four the prime time to jump into the post-discovery world. He did say he thought he’d have more episodes per year to help smooth the transition, but they’re still plowing ahead with the plan anyway. Ruggiero said season four will be a, “whole new world.”

That world means quick adaptation from all the characters. Major found his place before season three ended, and Robert Buckley confirmed that Major is very much a company man from here on out. He believes in what Fillmore-Graves can do for zombiekind. This is also Major’s only chance to finally find a community who won’t drag him through the mud for the Chaos Killer thing. Not to mention, working on the frontlines in the new zombie city is distracting enough to keep his mind off Natalie’s demise. While Rose McIver feels that Liv will find some freedom post-discovery, she said Liv will very much need her friends and community in order to feel comfortable being “out” as a zombie. Clive’s plan? Malcolm Goodwin admitted it’s still going to take Clive some time to adapt, despite being on Team Zombie, but he will be all-in to help Dale. At last Peyton has some power in town. Aly Michalka dished on what’s in store for her character, who’s one of few humans who didn’t flee Seattle. Most notably, we’ll get more time with Peyton doing her actual job, in a courthouse—color me surprised.

Blaine may be the only character represented on the panel who’s going into this New Seattle with one hell of a game plan. First, David Anders confirmed Blaine will be his delightfully nefarious self still. Then he dropped the bombshell that Robert Knepper will become a fixture on the show. Lastly, we learned that Shady Plots got a renovation. The funeral home will become Romero’s, a high class restaurant for discerning, wealthy zombies.

Season four will not return to the early-season formats of one big bad tormenting Team Zombie. Instead, Thomas says the characters we love will fight battles on just about every front imaginable. We have Angus’ return. There’s also a new human terrorist group to replace the Truthers. Thomas gave two possible names for the group, Up With People or Dead Enders—I think the latter is the final name, the former the working name during planning stages. Not to mention, Fillmore-Graves will still be in town, and they’re pretty much running things in a military manner, much to Team Zombie’s dismay. Another big change is that Liv won’t be the only zombie working with a detective. Every detective has a zombie partner in New Seattle.

Surprising no one, Thomas announced Liv will have a new love interest . . . and then said nothing else about him, except that the guy was named to create a specific ‘ship name down the line. Because what Liv needs in her life is another writer-forced gimmick.

The show will attempt to tackle some serious topics this season. One story line in particular focuses on health care refugees who swarm New Seattle in order to turn zombie so they don’t die. With that comes the typical problems of housing and food supply. At all turns, when it comes to how zombies run the city, Liv’s people and Fillmore-Graves will butt heads. So, I’m assuming there won’t be another random attempt to get Major and Liv together again anytime soon.

We have no dates yet for the new season, but it’s safe to say they’ll follow the usual time frame and come in during the spring.


Catching Up with Fear the Walking Dead

Catching Up with Fear the Walking Dead
by R. C. Murphy

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (8970351m)
Mercedes Mason and Michael Greyeyes
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ TV show panel, Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA – 21 Jul 2017

The main cast each got a little time to talk about where their character has come since the season started, and how the actors feel about where they’ll go in the upcoming episodes. Kim Dickens was quite impressed with how the show’s writers went back to ground Madison’s seemingly unrealistic decision process in severe childhood abuse. She said the reveal was a “beautiful moment where a parent becomes human to their child.” Colman Domingo relished in the chance to rebuild Strand after the yacht joined the other deceased FtWD characters in the great beyond. Frank Dillane wasn’t too clear on what’s pushing Nick now, but showrunner Dave Erickson was there to give the panel’s audience a glimpse into what the production thinks about Nick’s amazing ability to adapt thanks to his troubled past. Alicia was on the outside looking in for family bonding time, according to actress Alycia Debnam-Carey, and has no plans to rely on Madison or Nick to get ahead in their new circumstances at the ranch. She, along with co-star Sam Underwood, defended Alicia’s undefined romantic relationship with Underwood’s character Jake. They were adamant that the relationship will never become that horrible codependent trap all young women on TV fall into at some point, and pointed out how the show has never shied from take-charge women who don’t need men to survive. Daniel Sharman took a minute to quell rumblings that Troy was being taken advantage of or unwittingly influenced by Madison. Their tension isn’t what some assume, but a well-calculated game of manipulation chess. Dayton Callie was on hand to say farewell to the FtWD chaos in his own particular way. Mercedes Mason offered some insight into the changes we’ll see from Ofelia. She’s finally accepted that she’s her father’s daughter, became a total badass in order to survive, but will be very much herself, still. Newcomer Michael Greyeyes gushed about being a fan of the franchise before accepting the role as Qaletqa Walker. What drew him to the character? The fact that Walker was written as an intellectual, a former lawyer. He enjoyed the chance to bring that kind of representation to the small screen.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 21: (L-R) Actors Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey and Sam Underwood speak onstage at the “Fear The Walking Dead” panel during Comic-Con International 2017 at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

There were a few fan questions at the end. Most were rehashes of every comic-con panel question ever, so I’ll spare you. Erickson did drop one small tidbit—we’ll never see deadTravis on-screen due to scheduling conflicts and story direction.

I wish we’d gotten more from this panel. It was somewhat lackluster, and downright insulting during one portion where it devolved into a free-for-all about certain actors’ accents. Maybe the footage they showed made up for the shortened discussion time with the actors.


Gearing Up for More Z Nation

Gearing Up for More Z Nation
by R.C. Murphy

First of all, we will not have to wait until October to visit with our zombie-slaying pals. The show will begin in September, possibly near the beginning of the month. However, Syfy has not announced a firm date yet, so keep your eyes out for an official announcement from them sometime soon.

Season four will have thirteen episodes. Episode four has a surprise guest director. Well, not much of a surprise because Keith Allan was still pretty wound up from his time in the director’s chair. Allan said of the acting/directing combo, “It was profound and exhausting.” Unfortunately, there’s no downtime in the end days and the gang was headed straight back to Spokane for work on episode five after the convention. The script for an upcoming episode scandalized Russel Hodgkinson, he admitted during one interview. Guess Doc talking to Elvis and sharing Z-weed with a zombie won’t be the craziest thing we see from everyone’s favorite character. D.J. Qualls was in attendance, much to fans’ relief. Citizen Z will return for the new season, and he’s got a huge weight on his shoulders. Family changes a guy, after all. Qualls said his character’s main focus is to make the world safe for their child. And maybe a change in wardrobe. Warren’s forthcoming story line should be interesting. Kellita Smith said, “This journey Warren is on this season scares and excites me.” If Smith is scared, we’re in for one heck of a ride.

So what’s going on? The cast were pretty tight-lipped about specifics. We did learn that season four takes place two years after the season three finale. Why? The production team wanted the chance to hit the reset button for everyone—from the main crew, to the group in Zona, and beyond. They’re not going to ignore that timeframe; all the story gaps will eventually be filled in. The only thing we’ll be completely clueless about is Roberta’s new mission. While it will dominate the plot, the gang says nothing is actually revealed until episode thirteen. Not sure how they’ll keep the audience out of the loop that long, but color me intrigued.

After the cast spoke at their panel, the production announced the new guys brought in for season four—Henry Rollins, Tara Holt, Grace Phipps, and Michael Berryman. We also learned that Lucy will be a significant part of the season. And no, things are not any better between father and daughter. Murphy still has a lot to learn when it comes to fatherhood. Luckily he’s got the team by his side again to help with that.


A New/Old Undead Threat

A New/Old Undead Threat
by R.C. Murphy

The world has gone nuts. There’s no denying it. We at the ZSC pride ourselves on being equipped for any dangers, from natural disasters, to zombies, to whatever unfolds as a result of the bow string tight tension in the political sphere. Shamefully, despite years spent preparing, we may have overlooked something deadly lurking in the shadows.

Vampires.

Hear me out, folks. Yes, vampire myths are ancient and diverse, with just about every culture out there developing their own version of the undead menace since who knows when. Vampires have been in and out of vogue in popular culture so often, the concept itself is vampiric, resting for years like Anne Rice’s Lestat, only to rise again years later with a renewed sense of purpose, stalking television and film screens.

Several vampire inspired or vampire-centric shows bid farewell in recent years, signaling the end of one undead cycle—True Blood, Hemlock Grove, Penny Dreadful, and the most recent departures The Strain and The Vampire Diaries. TVD’s spin-off series, The Originals will also end after its fifth season next year, that’s the left hook in CW’s current plan to scrap vamp-centered shows from their schedule. It won’t last for long. Vampires have been ever-present in media across the Pacific. Here in the US, they go through phases. Just when the bloodsuckers crawl back in their coffins, a few rethink the retreat and new shows haunt pilot season, waiting for some unsuspecting network to invite them inside.

There are a handful of vampire shows still on-air or currently in deep pre-production—Van Helsing, Castlevania, Preacher, Let the Right One In, The Passage, Vampire Chronicles, and Midnight, Texas. On top of those, there’s another Supernatural spin-off in the works. The original show had several vampire-heavy episodes before, so it’s not hard to imagine them pulling a known predator from the hat sometime during the show . . . assuming this new spin-off makes it further than the last attempt. There have also been rumors of a TVD/Originals spin-off in the works. The big news, though, is Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series, which will focus on Lestat de Lioncourt. With the film rights back in the creator’s hands, she’s opted to take the vampires many grew to love on the page and put them on the small screen—after two questionable films, it’s refreshing to know the master leads her creatures down their new path with a tight leash. But there’s already rumors that the series, which is in early pre-production, may develop spin-offs to focus on the other ancient vampires who may not get a lot of love on the show.

Basically, vampires are everywhere and won’t stop coming back no matter how hard anyone tries or how many shows they cancel. Several cultures still hold rituals to protect villages from the undead, ranging from as simple as planting a certain flower around the suspected vamp’s grave, to the disturbing act of disentombing a corpse to remove vital organs before roasting them and feeding the remnants to those affected by the vampire via nightmares and/or mysterious illness.

We’re not recommending cannibalism, rest easy. However, there are certain methods to taking care of vampires which differ from zombie-slaying techniques. The easiest method would be, honestly, to find the vampire’s lair, wait until sunrise, and whoops, one wall in their bedroom wall just happens to get a hole in it. Sun-fried vampire is the least hands-on you can get, assuming they’re not holed up underground or in a casket. Decapitation works with vampires, unlike their zombie counterparts who tend to remain animated and bitey even when their head is in the dirt. There’s also the classic stake through the heart technique. Problem is, it takes quite a bit of effort to drive a large, mostly blunt object through the chest muscles, ribs, and finally the heart itself. You aren’t Buffy. Staking a vamp isn’t the wisest choice for non-Chosen Ones. I’d suggest reevaluating your weapon of choice and repacking your go bags with tools which would take care of not only our zombie foes, but also this ancient threat making another round across our television screens.

Oh and don’t forget to pack the garlic!


Call of Duty Delivers an Undead Package

Call of Duty Delivers an Undead Package at SDCC
by R.C. Murphy

Developers sat down for a panel at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss what pushed them to venture into the WWII era for the next zombie game tied to the popular series. Their main focus? Michael Condrey, co-studio head for Sledgehammer, had a burning desire to terrify gamers in ways we’ve only really felt from gold-standard horror films—save perhaps one or two game titles, one of which Condrey himself directed. They really dug into their research to ground the game in reality, which developers feel will add to the scares once the undead hit the screen.

The animation shown during the trailer is all cut scenes, but still beautifully detailed. If you can call burned, armless zombies beautiful, that is. There’s blood and gore everywhere in the short clip. Several kinds of undead are featured, with more variations to come as promised by the development team. What cinches the creep factor in the trailer is Udo Kitter’s voiceover as uber creep Dr. Peter Straub.

We only get a small taste of the full story through the trailer. It’s just your standard mad German scientist premise, really. Things don’t get interesting until the playable characters are brought into the plot. The development team didn’t want a bunch of super confident soldiers at the helm, that’s overdone and tired. Instead they reached into history and plucked out the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program to find the game’s everyday-Joe heroes. There’s four playable characters—Olivia Durant (Elodie Young), Marie Fischer (Katheryn Winnick), Drostan Hynd (David Tennant), and Jeff Potts (Ving Rhames). All are members in the program sent in to recover works of art stolen by the Nazis in their attempt to claim literally everything for the fatherland. Winnick’s character brings another layer to the story, which fans can catch up on via the viral advertising campaign for the game. While the MFAA team is looking for art and fighting the undead, Marie has a more pressing mission to find her brother. It adds welcomed depth to what could be “just another zombie game.”

The voiceover cast was in attendance during the panel, except Rhames. He sent in a special video for fans to introduce them to his character. And then he was maybe, probably, eaten by zombies off-screen. Much to the audience’s delight. Udo was, well, Udo during his first visit to SDCC and proceeded to creep out everyone by reciting parts of Straub’s speech from the trailer. Young and Winnick elaborated on how involved they were in the character-creating process. Winnick also took a moment at the end of the panel to celebrate the women gamers in the audience. Tennant gave some insight on how character dialog evolved for this project, namely it involved him channeling a non-existent drunk Scottish uncle to get the appropriate level of profanity. Did I mention this will not be a kid’s game? Yeah, no.

Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Zombies is slated for wide release on November 3rd. However, if fans pre-order the game now, they get beta access starting August 25th on Playstation 4—dates for beta on other devices were not available as of the SDCC panel.

Here’s the trailer. I don’t suggest snacking while watching.