The perfect, simple, microtransaction-free throwback to CoD Zombies has finally launched in early access, and it's $9

 Normal Human holding gun on front row standing in front of zombie dudes rising behind her on bright blue sunburst.
Normal Human holding gun on front row standing in front of zombie dudes rising behind her on bright blue sunburst.

CoD Zombies-inspired wave survival shooter Hellbreach: Vegas is finally out in early access after a ton of previews and playtests, and the co-op shooter is a fantastic get for its $9 launch promotional price⁠—it's also a nice throwback in its business model too, with all cosmetics and unlockables in the game gated entirely by gameplay unlocks, with no paid skins or battle pass in sight.

The latest Call of Duty has a zombies mode, but it's not quite the CoD Zombies I played on a busted CRT from a sweaty couch in my dorm rec room, ya dig? The new, Warzone-adjacent MWZ looks cool, but the CoD Zombies I fell in love with had bounded, claustrophobic maps with simple, arcadey wave survival gameplay⁠—it's the sort of hyper niche genre ripe for its own indie take, perfect for formerly-hardcore, now casual geriatric millennials like myself to kill some time and catch up with their friends over.

And that's where Hellbreach: Vegas comes in, with an almost boomer shooter style answer to the classic CoD Zombies-shaped hole in the market. I've really enjoyed my time with its playtests⁠—it perfectly replicates the cramped, frantic wave shooter gameplay I remember, but with its own arsenal and an aesthetic fusing Norse demon enemies with a gaudy Las Vegas setting, the latter dovetailing quite nicely with the game's mechanics for gambling on guns and perks.

My favorite twist is definitely Hellbreach: Vegas' take on a kind of PvEvP gun game mode. The original Counter-Strike/CoD staple saw you killing other players to climb a ladder of set weapons, with the first to the end being the winner. Hellbreach has you killing 10 zombies per weapon, making for a sort of competitive co-op spin on one of my favorite FPS multiplayer modes ever.

And at a $10 price tag, Hellbreach is already great value in early access, with the promise of more maps, modes, and guns on the way. It'll be a buck off as a launch promotion until March 22, so it's a great time to hop into a 2011 FPS time capsule, ideally with some friends along for the ride. You can check out Hellbreach: Vegas for yourself over on Steam.