PAX Prime 2012: Dead Island: Riptide Brings More Dead, More Islands and Fixes
By Joseph Christ on September 4th, 2012 (3 comments)
Techland's Dead Island turned out to be a divisive title here at 4Player with Nick and I enjoying the game quite a bit while the others...well...not so much. Granted the first game did have some problems, but Techland seems determined to fix those issues, give us more of what we loved from the first game and continue to expand upon it.
Same Characters, Different Island
Riptide continues the story of the original four characters who, after escaping from a vacation gone to hell, flew off in a helicopter to what they thought would be a life of safety, cold drinks and good sex. Not so much. An as of yet unknown disaster strikes causing the four to crash-land on another island filled with the living dead. It is called Dead Island after all.
The demo we saw took place in a lush rain forest, more detailed than the jungle areas found in the first game and much more wet as well. Monsoon's will roll in and out of the world as you progress, wetting down the terrain and making a new addition, boats, a necessary introduction to the series. Boats can be piloted around the levels with other players riding in passenger positions with the job of keeping the zombies away. Left to their own devices, they'll grab the player and pull them off the boat in an attempt to make the streams into a soupy survivor mess.
Though we were just shown a jungle area, Techland promises that the new island will be just as varied as the old one with cities and differing areas for the player to explore as well.
Tower Defence and a Minecraftian Model
You can easily see the reverence for old horror movies like Lucio Fulci's Zombie in the Dead Island series, and that sense of pop-culture history continues here with the survivors having to protect their home base from hordes of attacking zombies a'la Night of the Living Dead by building up their defenses with things they find out in the world. The demo at PAX showed two survivors retrieving two heavy machine guns from a downed helicopter and setting them up in base. They then placed mines around the perimeter and put up fencing around the base in preparation for a zombie attack. Techland didn't go too much farther in detail as to exactly what other materials you'll be able to find in the world but the implication was that Riptide would focus even more on materials and building this time around.
Shooting the Sh*t
It's no secret that the original Dead Island left a lot to be desired in the shooting department. For one, the character that was supposed to focus on guns didn't get any guns till later in the game. The mechanics of shooting also felt fairly rough around the edges meaning that many players just opted for melee instead. Techland states that they are fixing those problems meaning that you'll be getting firearms earlier and they'll also feel better when you use them.
An IMPORTant Part of the Puzzle
Let's say you have a high level character in Dead Island and you're not looking forward to starting all over again. Well in Riptide you'll be able to import your Dead Island character and start where you left off. It's a double edged sword, to be honest. Though it is a great addition, it also supports the argument that Riptide is more of an expansion to the first game than a complete sequel...and you can be sure that people will be trying to make this argument.
On its face, Riptide just looks the same. The menu's, the characters, the icons for opening containers or performing actions within the world. All of it is taken directly from the first game, but there is certainly a lot more here that might garner another full priced entrance fee. Beyond the aforementioned updates, Riptide also has a completely updated physics engine running behind everything which makes zombies react better to your bashes and shots, and making sure that their interactions with the world is also run on the same system.
It's a system that can lead to some truly funny moments, like that time in the PAX demo when a zombie lost his balance, fell over a log and then broke his leg when he fell. All of it entirely random and run by the physics engine running in-game.
With all the improvements, Dead Island: Riptide has the possibility to pull in those people who didn't find the first to their liking and greatly improve the experience for those who did. But in a gaming environment filled to the brim with the living dead, Techland will have to cover some expansive territory to stand out.
Joseph Christ is the Reviews Editor and a Podcast Personality at 4Player. Specializing in reviews, editorials, drinking, and saying inappropriate things about gaming franchises that are beloved by millions, his satirical and sometimes edgy style offsets a more serious and penetrating substance lurking below the surface. He is also the host of the Cocktail Time Podcast. You'll follow his Twitter if you know what's good for you.
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