The Walking Dead: Our World is Pokémon Go with AR zombies


Shortly after work yesterday I strolled out of my office and found a bunch of zombies loitering around the San Francisco Ferry Building. This being San Francisco, I was tempted to live and let, well, unlive.

I had obligations, though, so I fired a pistol on the lot of them. Blam, a headshot there. Boom, another in the back. I even tossed in a grenade for good measure. And right as I prepared to shoot the final one, I gasped as a real-world teenager skated into the line of fire.

He’s fine, of course. This isn’t the real world, or at least not really: It’s The Walking Dead: Our World: Next Games’ new free-to-play augmented reality game in the vein of Pokémon Go.

the walking dead our world 2nd streetLeif Johnson

Fair warning: It doesn’t always look this good.

Nor is it some shameless copycat. Rather, Our World reminds us that Pokémon Go shows us only a hint of what augmented reality games can deliver. It gives us better gameplay without slipping into convolution. It lets you rub virtual shoulders with series favorites like Carl Grimes and Michonne. It provides ways for rural and suburban players to share in the fun of their urban counterparts straight out of the gate. Heck, it’s already got social features like a chatroom for friends.

And as I learned from the kid on the skateboard, it reminds us that augmented reality feels a lot different when you’re firing virtual bullets into crowds of real people rather than lobbing fishing bobbers at pastel-colored critters. But anyway.

If it sometimes shocks, it’s because it uses Apple’s ARKit technology so well. It’s impressive, and not unlike donning the sunglasses from They Live.

I’ll aim the camera at the sidewalk for a second and look up to see a world where the undead mingle with the guy asking for Greenpeace donations. Carl’s over there in the spot where I normally call for a Lyft, and the AR works so well that I can worry I’ll poke my eye with the brim of his hat if I move too close. Like all augmented reality, it’s often sometimes rough, but it’s almost lifelike when all the pieces fall in place perfectly. When ARKit 2 rolls around, you’ll even see zombies ambling behind telephone poles and the like, enhancing the realism further.

the walking dead our world bad arLeif Johnson/IDG

Sometimes the AR works really well. At other times…not so much.

You’re limited in how much you can walk about with the AR mode on, but it’s for the best. It’s partly to ensure the tech works right; it’s also to keep you from getting killed. A couple of weeks back I tried out Our World in the alley behind our offices, and the PR guy gasped a little as I moved toward Michonne while a car raced through. Our world—the real world—is a dangerous place as well.



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