Okay, so I'd be one of the first gamers to tell you that I do not buy early access games, even if i really want to play it, i dont want to ruin the finished product for myself. Well this game changed that for me. Specifically, it was reading reviews from people hailing how awesome the game was with over 500 hours logged into this game - an early access game with that many hours clocked in by one person really grabbed my attention.
So, going out on a limb i decided to get this game - figuring hey, I'll at least get access to the full version when it comes out, and probably cheaper than if i waited.
A good choice, I think. Now I only just started playing the game, but holy crap is it addicting as all hell!
So, to start, the main gameplay of this game is a turn based RPG, much like Fallout 1 and 2 (hell even the UI is layed out the same for the most part), except you have a party of 4 that you take out on ventures with you. But the game is so much more than that.
The travelling around and fighting is actually a small part of this game. The core of the game is that you're basically the leader of a Zombie apocalypse team that found themselves barricaded in a School. The school is your base, and you can upgrade the base with tons of different things, like a better fence, a workshop, a garage for fixing and building cars, and so much more.
So how it works, is the game day starts at 8 am, and you got free roam of your school. You can go around talking to your team members, ask them about their attitude and certain things they'd like you to grab them from the field such as soap, or chocolate or what have you (getting these items for them will increase their morale, which plays a huge part in this game, but I'll get to that).
You have a white board in the cafeteria, where you can allocate your members to go do certain jobs during the day, each job takes varying hours (and will decrease if you get another member to help them with it), mechanical jobs will go much faster if you have someone with a high mechanical skill doing those jobs.
Each member has their own set of skills (as well as the PC that he chooses at the beginning of the game, and can increase as you 'level up') and you decide what jobs they do depending on their skills.
While the rest of your team is doing jobs (you can have the PC do some of these various jobs, but you cant do anything while that happens), you can pick a team of up to 4 members as your raiding party. With these guys you can leave your base and get to travel the map (which is literally a map of texas, with all the interstates and towns and cities and all that). Travelling the map takes time, and is slower or faster depending on your travel method. At the start, you can only travel by foot, but later on you can get horses and even cars to speed up the process.
As the time goes by during the day, your members back at base will be doing their tasks you assigned them, while you are finding random super markets, hospitals, neighbourhoods, and so on and looting any materials you can find, weapons, food, luxuries, parts and tools and so on.
However, you MUST be back at your shelter by 3 am, otherwise you get a game over (im pretty sure, i never let myself be out that long yet), so obviously you cant travel too far from base without some sort of transportation.
While going to various locations, you must avoid or kill zombies, who are not only hostile but if they get a bite on your allies while their health is low, they infect them. Your allies, if infected will go up to 3 days without treatment before they will kill themselves or turn into zombies and attack you. There are antibiotics you can find that as long as you have them in stock, your allies will take them staving off the infection (but not curing it), so you can keep infected allies indefinitely, you just need to have a supply of antibiotics.
You can also find other people, looters who are hostile and you must kill to survive, to even other survivors you can recruit to join your cause. However, watch out when firing guns off liberally in a battlefield, as it attracts zombies, and getting guys infected is the last thing you need.
On top of all this, the most important part of the game is your shelter Morale. You have a morale level that goes up and down depending on recent events and moods of allies. Every ally has their own morale level that can be increased by giving them special items, keeping a stock of luxury items on hand, and even having other allies do jobs such as cooking for the crew to bring morale up for everyone. Morale is affected by everything, ranging from having broken generators (or no gas to run them) to the amount of food on hand, to having a secure base or what have you.
If morale with people get too low, they may find that they are better off out in the wasteland and leave your crew, to even if morale is so bad for everyone you can have a mutiny and your crew will outcast you from your own base.
This game is so damn addicting, I wish i had more time to play it haha. I would recommend this game to any RPG fan out there, specifically if you like survival horror. A solid game, and worth the money for sure. I would even go as far to say that this one could be nominated as Game of the Year, especially if im only playing an unfinished product so far.