Dead Island Riptide Preview: A Cleansing Bloodbath
Deep Silver’s original Dead Island from 2011 wasn’t exactly a refined experience. Glitches galore, messy inventories, and a lack of an interesting story prevented the novel concept from becoming a true masterpiece. Even so, the myriad of ways in which we could squash, skewer, dismember, and explode zombies provided unabashed, dumb fun. And, given that four million copies were sold, we weren’t the only ones who thought so. Thankfully, after a 15-minute hands-off demo, we came away impressed by just how much Dead Island Riptide seems to have improved upon its predecessor and become the game we originally wanted Dead Island to be.
Dead Island Riptide
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release date: TBD 2013
Oh right, we should probably mention some details… Riptide is a direct sequel to Dead Island, due out in 2013. The same four characters from the first game are returning (unfortunately, their escape attempt went awry and they’re now wrecked on another zombie infested island) and will be joined by a fifth: a military man who was not named.
Players can start from scratch or import their characters from Dead Island: a definite relief, given how much time many spent leveling and acquiring skills. Even fully powered builds from the first game have a chance to grow even further, as new abilities and higher levels will be available. And unlike the first Dead Island, firearms will be made available from the start, removing one of the most highly-contentious aspects of the original game.
We were shown a new type of mission called “defense mode.” The objective was to escape through an tunnel located underneath a ruined church. However, since the island on which the game takes place is flooded in many spots thanks to a monsoon, sustained use of water pumps was necessary. Loud water pumps. The kind that attract zombies.
As the pumps were working, it was up to the co-op team playing to defend the ruined church from hordes of incoming zombies – which included a couple of new breeds. In addition to the normal Dead Island arsenal, the characters utilized minigun turrets, movable fences/barricades, and mines in an effort to protect the entrenched area. Of course, the zombies eventually overwhelmed the position, and things got hairy pretty quickly.
At that point, the developers emphasized how they’ve reworked the system so that it’s OK to use your best equipment in such desperate situations. They noticed that players of the first Dead Island had a tendency to create awesome custom weapons and rarely use them, usually saving the powerful items for later (read: never). The details weren’t made crystal clear, but in Dead Island Riptide, you’ll have the opportunity to restock and reacquire items such as these so that you aren’t inhibited from giving everything you’ve got to help out your friends during moments such as the end of defense mode.
Granted, the demo we were shown was completely hands-off, so we couldn’t feel the engine and physics improvements Deep Silver was boasting about for ourselves, but the action appeared more fluid, hit detection seemed much improved, and gunplay looked tighter than before. What we saw was notably prettier, too. Well, as pretty as a compound fracture and a severed head can be.
We walked away from the demo thoroughly excited about Riptide. It appeared to be what any decent sequel should be: bigger, better, and shinier. We’ll definitely be keeping our eye on this one as next year rolls around.
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