Before PAX South weekend, Moving Hazard was pretty high up on my list of games to cover. The competitive military FPS genre is fairly stale, with Rainbow Six Siege being the most refreshing experience to be had if you can get over the lack of value. Moving Hazard’s tease of 4v4 combat plus zombies was immediately intriguing and I got my hands on an early build while speaking with Game Director Rocco Scandizzo and Lead Writer Christian Cantamessa (former writer and lead designer for Red Dead Redemption) of Psyop Games.
Rocco set the stage early describing the game as “faction vs faction and the zombies are a third faction, messing with everybody,” he says. “[Zombies] aren’t your real enemy, the real enemy is the other humans. What we really wanted to recreate is the feeling from that prison episode in Walking Dead where Rick’s faction is battling the Governor’s faction. We wanted the zombies to be the wild card that make a mess of everything.” Psyop has certainly delivered on recreating that chaotic and infamous scene. As soon as you drop into a map there’s no wait time as zombies come into the fray; the area is already quite populated with the brainless brutes.
The story that sets up these competitive engagements takes place 50 years into a future where many nations have fallen. Moving Hazard doesn’t lean on some mysterious outbreak to explain their zombies, though. These creatures were created by the military, using a solution of viruses and parasites called Compound Z, while they also created tools to manipulate the zombies for their own gain. Unfortunately, the zombie outbreak wasn’t as easy to manage as they hoped and, when you pick up your controller, you’re controlling one of three factions vying for control of the scarce resources in the Southwest US.
As far as weaponizing the zombie hordes, you manipulate those affected by Compound Z which will “respond to different agents and pheromones to do the bidding of the military,” says Christian. In this build, I could toss pheromone grenades to spur zombies into hunting the enemy team. In the HUD, those particular zombies take on a green hue so you don’t mow them down by mistake. I played a Control type mode where the teams try to guard moving point zones. I pointed out that those areas are out in the open and was introduced to another tool that you drop at your feet. It attracts a “meat wall” of zombies that can protect you from gunfire while you shoot at the enemy, but I also learned to pay attention to how long the ability lasts. After a short time, the horde turned on me and I had nowhere to run.
The game is still in its early stages, but there’s plenty in the works for the final game. There will be your usual level up system, but things take a turn with the Hideout system. Like masteries in League of Legends, you can tweak the stats of the light, medium, and heavy builds to your liking. With a game not offering a single player campaign, adding depth with things like the Hideout system will go a long way when people drop their final verdict on the game. Even without single player, though, the narrative doesn’t take a complete back seat in the experience. “[The Hideout] will be populated by characters that will, as you play the game, join your camp and will tell you stories of what happened to them,” Christian explains. “If you’re interested in the story you’ll be able to ask questions and hear what other people have experienced.”
The shooting mechanics felt really tight in this early build and the matches were always intense as the zombies provide a constant threat while trying to outplay the other team. Moving Hazard is doing enough to stand out from the crowd early on and, if they manage to produce a polished final product, we could end up with a “multi-player only” hit. Look for more information on this PC title in the future.