Dropping you into a proper city, Lifeline immediately grants all the weapons, ammunition and supplies that you'd usually spend an entire SoD playthrough hoping to acquire. Stumbling upon Maya in the original game, I was wildly impressed that she was bringing a hunting rifle to my group. A quick nosey through the supply locker in this DLC offers more assault rifles, SMGs, LMGs and other initialisms than you'll know what to do with. Hell, there's a grenade launcher waiting for you from the start. It's a very different game.
Whereas the vanilla campaign has you prioritising base-building or worrying about your survivors and their 'feelings', you're now leading a group of soldiers with a mission to accomplish, making almost everything else a distraction. You're given timed objectives on a daily basis (the vast majority being fetch quests), before fending off an undead siege come nightfall. It's more repetitive than I was hoping, but the constant pressure to locate targets before they get killed off, while also ensuring that you're back in time to defend your home, creates a constant sense of panic. Despite owning all the guns in this (post-apocalyptic) world, Lifeline offered some of the most difficult and stressful moments I've experienced in almost a year of playing State of Decay.
The new playground, Danforth City, does a great job of reminding you that the world is totally fucked, with far fewer moments of respite and only your base feeling safe (even then it's temporary). Lifeline feels like a real expansion of the core game, maintaining all the key elements that made it one of the best open-world survival games of last year, while also offering a significantly different flavour to the whole thing. I was disappointed by the lack of mission variety, and the endgame is primarily about wave survival before you either choose to give in and request extraction, or you know... die. That being said, it's a fine reason to return to State of Decay. If you're okay with that rhythm, it's a lot of fun to play soldiers at the end of the world.
Version Tested: PC. Played for 8 hours.