“This sequel is too much like the original” statements drive me absolutely mad when I see them in reviews. It just doesn’t make sense, on so many levels.
First, we are talking about a sequel to a game, right? The only time a game gets a sequel to begin with is because the original did well enough to earn one. Bad games (as defined by sales) don’t get sequels, so you basically never have the situation of a ‘bad’ game getting a second title, that is just more of that badness. Successful games get sequels, so at the most basic level, ‘more of the same’ is more of a ‘good’ game (again, mostly defined by sales, not your personal definition of what a good game is). Now perhaps people who liked the original are tired of that formula, but the history of all sequels to anything (movies, books, tv) strongly suggests people do, in fact, enjoy more of the same thing they liked before.
Second, think of the opposite position here. Would more people enjoy sequels overall if they were radically different from the original? “Oh you liked this deep TBS title? Here is its fast-paced FPS ‘sequel’, enjoy!”. Remember when Fallout 3 came out, and people raged about the switch to first person, even though Fallout 3 was still basically the same Fallout game just from a different perspective (more of the same, from a different view)? Now imagine if instead of just the view switch, Fallout 3 also did away with the lore, questing, and strong focus on story, and then tossed forced multiplayer in (Hi Fallout76, good luck). Would you rather most sequels go that route, or the more traditional ‘more of the same’ route?
I bring this up because a lot of the reviews for State of Decay 2 complain about it being too similar to the first. One review in particular was also critical because now that the studio was owned by Microsoft, they expected the game to be more ‘AAA’. What does that even mean in this context? The original State of Decay was great because it was pretty open-ended, and somewhat of a sandbox survival game. Pouring more money into the game to make it more linear, to have more ‘AAA’ set-pieces wouldn’t have resulted in a better game, just something very different.
I’ll get to whether the game itself is good in a later post, but I’ll just say today that compared to Steam, the Microsoft store is an abomination in so, so many ways, so thank you Microsoft for making me endure that just to play your game.