Published on March 23rd, 2013 | by Darik Kirschman4
Getting to the guts of Dead Island: Riptide
The original Dead Island was a fun, if flawed, title. Great for a bit of co-op fun, but entirely different from most people’s expectations due to its absolutely chilling announcement trailer. It was a perennial favorite at the AWESOMEoutof10 office — until the final few missions, anyway.
So color me excited to see the original having fared well enough to receive a sequel. By all rights, Deep Silver should be able to fix a lot of the niggling problems of the first game, resulting in a more polished, refined and overall fun game. So far, it seems like they’re on the right track with Dead Island: Riptide.
The demo that was available on the show floor was showcasing some of Riptide‘s new multiplayer features — something like a horde mode going by the innocuous title of Hub Defense. Players band together and defend villages or bases from the walking dead intent on eating the innocent survivors within. Cooperation and time management are key in making it through these missions. As is typical in a mode such as this, players can fortify wherever their hopefully-not-last-stand is happening, be it with fences or other random elements strewn around the area. This style of gameplay isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination, but its well suited to a zombie apocalypse and for me it evoked memories of classic zombie flicks — just located in the bizarre, destroyed shell of a tropical paradise instead of a creepy old house or shopping mall.
Combat is largely the same as the original, with a plethora of melee weapons which hack and thump, though Deep Silver has added a new playable character to the roster: a man focused on punching anything that stands in his way (and, one assumes, has never stopped to realize what a terrible idea that is). Weapons degrade with use just as they did in the original, leaving me in a bit of a bind at one point and hacking away at two enemies, doing about 10 damage per hit. This does ramp up the tension considerably, though it sometimes leans on the side of frustrating.
Unfortunately, in our demo time my team failed rather spectacularly — at one point one of my teammates accidentally set fire to everybody inside a hut, mistaking us for the undead. Regardless, the demo was a fun peek at a game that will hopefully improve on the shaky-but-engaging foundation Dead Island laid down. Speaking with a Deep Silver attendee afterwards, she mentioned the ability to drive boats will be available in the final game, as Riptide’s action is spread across several smaller islands. Hopefully this leads to the mass-vehicular-homicide of some type of fishman zombie.
Dead Island: Riptide could easily have been a groan-inducing cash grab rather than a sequel in its own right, but from my limited time it feels as though the developers at Deep Silver have taken to heart a lot of the former title’s criticisms. That alone inspires confidence. I might end up hitting the zombie-infested beaches once again.