Players will have the opportunity to control one of many randomly generated characters who are currently trying to survive London's zombie apocalypse, they are aided by the voice of a man over the radio who is only referred to as 'the prepper'.
During their next run the player may encounter their previous (now infected) character as a zombie. A unique feature relating to this type of gameplay is that the player will then be able to loot their old characters corpse once defeated for any useful items, weapons or quest based objects for later use.
There has been no release of information relating to how many zombified survivors can be in the game at one time. Its possible this is only limited to your last character and any previous zombified survivors that have not been put down and looted may disappear from the environment.
Players will earn skills over time as they progress through the story, however these skills will be lost upon death and so a new skill set will have to be started.
"You will not inherit 'his' skills, there's no reason for that" - ZombiU Developer.
Confirmed Skills: Lock picking
Players will have access to a variety of weapons, including Guns, Crossbows and melee.
All weapons can be used to shove enemies backwards, however this only has a limited effect before the zombie will attempt wrestle with you, the wrestling function has been shown to utilize the WiiU Gamepads tilt/accelerometer function. Should you fail to wrestle your way free from a zombie's grasp you will be able to use a hypodermic needle (should you have one in your inventory) to take down that particular zombie.
"Its like a shield, its not a one up but will give you one chance to stay alive" - ZombiU Developer
Players can execute zombies that have fallen to the ground, however floored zombies can still crawl and attack if not dealt with.
There are no checkpoints in the game as the general idea is to survive for as long as possible, given that only one bite will kill/infect a survivor the developers are hoping to create a sense of value with regards to a characters life. This should result in players being far less willing to charge in to risky situations with a run and gun attitude.
It has not been confirmed if dying will send a player back to the very start of the game or if they will be able to resume from the start of a level. However it has been confirmed that any impact on the environment will remain between lives, an example includes the unlocking of doors and scripted damage to environments.
When the player dies, they will be able to see the total time their survivor was alive for and the number of zombies they killed. An interesting side note relating to this was that ZombiU is supposed to utilise some functions of the Miiverse, while there is no direct online multiplayer a players zombified corpse could find its way into a friends game. This would potentially allow your friend to kill the zombie and take their loot for themselves, alternatively it could also result in your zombie killing your friends character. There has been mention of a statistic screen that will show how many people have fallen to your zombified character(s) and how many have been put out of their misery.
Another online feature associated with the Miiverse will be the ability to leave messages on walls for your friends to find through the use of their dark light. Unfortunately due to the potential for messages to be offensive in nature the developers have limited this function to preset icons that the player will be able to select such as an image of stairs and a stop sign to indicate that the staircase is a dangerous route.