Dead Island: Riptide Multiplayer Preview: Curbstomping Zombies is Back

Everybody likes killing zombies, right? Deep Silver certainly hopes so. Dead Island has sold over five million copies so far, and now Deep Silver is about to release the follow-up they announced during E3 last year, Dead Island: Riptide.

While we’ve talked about Riptide before (see our preview), PAX East last weekend was our first chance to go hands on with the title. We didn’t get to see any of the game’s campaign, but we did get to spend about 15 minutes with multiplayer.

The mode I played was cooperative, pitting the players against zombies in a mode not completely unlike Call of Duty’s zombie offering. Players can put up defensive fences to help hold back the zombies, and they must work together to keep the hordes at bay. Riptide takes the formula farther, in that it allows crafting of new weapons, repairing of damaged weapons, and even includes quest-like objectives.

You’ll be able to choose from a group of five characters to play, each of which has a different specialty and favored weapon. As far as I could tell, you can use whatever you find, just some characters are better with certain weapons. Unfortunately, I chose a character who specialized in firearms. I say unfortunately, because for the duration of my multiplayer demo, I never found a firearm, despite looking all over the place. I was reduced to running about, wildly swinging my homemade knife at the rotted flesh of my foes. At some point I happened upon a machete, which at least upgraded my slashing experience. Once I discovered that you could kick zombies while they were down, that became my default attack. Simply knock the zombie to the ground, and then curbstomp until dead. There’s something strangely satisfying about stomping the last vestiges of life out of one of the living dead.

Between waves of zombies, you could pick up quests, craft or repair weapons, explore a bit, or just prep for the next assault. A handy minimap show the locations of the undead as red skulls, making it easy to track down any stray shambling corpses. One of the big changes coming in Riptide is due to player feedback. It seems that Deep Silver noticed that players tended to hoard their most powerful items in the original game, and like gamers everywhere, never actually use them. To make this less prevalent, they’ve built in ways to replenish and / or reacquire these items, meaning there’s no reason not to go all out on the zombies in front of you.

Dead Island: Riptide definitely has some of the original’s DNA, but if the multiplayer I played is any indication, it’s evolved considerably. We’ll have to wait and see how the campaign turns out, but for now I’m cautiously optimistic about the multiplayer in Riptide. It has a nice feel to it, and with a good cooperative group of players, the zombie killing could be great fun.

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