The game that became ZombiU was originally announced at E3 2011 as Killer Freaks from Outer Space, and according to ZombiU's developers at Ubisoft in an interview with El33tonline, the previous title resembled a twitchy first-person shooter much more than the game that will launch with the Wii U this fall.
Killer Freaks was "very fast-paced and action-based," with a cooperative and competitive experience that "worked but was not very satisfying," said associate producer Nicolas Robin. According to lead content designer Mounir Radi, the setup gave players individual goals to compete on, as well as a common objective to collaborate on. Radi added that the developers discovered during the prototyping process that people playing a fast-paced FPS simply didn't bother to look at both the TV and the Wii U GamePad; instead, they focused solely on the tablet controller in their hands.
The developers had ZombiU's London setting from the start in Killer Freaks, although the enemies were "creepy creatures" rather than zombies per se, according to Robin. So they "slowed down the pace," he said, changing the setting to feature shambling zombies that would give players time to look at the TV and the GamePad.
As for Killer Freaks, Robin and Radi said they changed the game because they were "not comfortable" with the "holes in [its] design experience."It was more difficult to keep the player engaged and make him surprised every time," said Robin. However, Ubisoft Montpellier did keep for ZombiU the asymmetric multiplayer mode they had developed in Killer Freaks, in which one player spawns zombies while the other tries to fend them off.
ZombiU launches with the Wii U on Nov. 18.