State Of Decay 2 dev apologises for confusion surrounding the game's Nazi-punching trait

State of decay 2
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

State Of Decay 2 developer Undead Labs has apologised to Steam Marines 2 developer James Seow, after an automated blocking system tried to silence their concerns over a questionable in-game trait.

For the past month, Seow has been exhaustively live-tweeting his playthrough of State Of Decay 2—and while there'd been a few missteps along the way, he seemed to be having a grand old time. At least, until this week, when he discovered that one of his survivors had the trait "punched Nazis", which despite adding a damage bonus, made them irritable towards other characters.

The idea, apparently, is that strongly held beliefs make characters more combative as they express their beliefs. But as the traits system was evolved and streamlined, the system began erasing much of the nuance. Arguments of all forms were tied together under one negative banner, penalising any kind of strongly-held belief.

Asking both the Undead Labs and State Of Decay Twitter accounts why the game had "Nazi shit" in it, Seow was greeted by a block by both—an act that, in context, made it appear that the developer was doubling down or otherwise silencing complains.

Since that post, Undead Labs has come out with an explanation and an apology directed at Seow (which reportedly echoes what he was told hours prior via DMs). Apparently, the block was applied by an automated system, set up by the developer to hide offensive language during Black History Month. The trait itself also predates State Of Decay 2 by some time, and was never meant to be anything other than positive.

"We created the rare 'Punched Nazis' trait long before SoD2’s release," Undead Labs writes. "One designer actually told us firsthand stories about punching Nazis in the underground music scene. We loved it and boom, the trait was born.

"It was designed as an overall positive trait with a skill bonus — it grants four stars of Fighting experience, and also made the character more likely to argue passionately for their beliefs (we figured someone punching Nazis in a mosh pit is going to have some strong feelings)."

It's a sad end to one fan's playthrough, and a frustrating reminder of how even simple mechanics can find themselves politicised through context. I've reached out to Seow for comment, but going by his thread, it seems Undead Labs' apology is too little, too late.

"I woulda accepted the design explanation and 'we'll fix this' 8 days ago, sounds very corporate damage control to me now. Glad it only took a week of me and other people yelling."

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.