The Dead Rising series has had some highs and lows within each of the game’s previous three installments. But with every entry, Capcom Vancouver has sanded down more of the rough edges, refining what makes the series stand out among zombie games. This time out, original anti-hero Frank West is back and smoother than ever, while showing true grit in the face of danger.
Despite some significant changes, Dead Rising 4 retains its sense of humor. The series always goes out of its way for a laugh, even as players are tearing through hordes of the undead.
We’ve put together a list of everything you need to know, with brand new information from Gamescom.
1. The timer is gone in single-player. In previous Dead Rising games, you’ve been up against a strict timer, forcing players to make hard decisions about who to save and where to be. This time out, you can feel free to explore without the ticking clock. According to studio head Joe Nickolls, removing it from the single-player is likely to bring more fans to the table.
2. Diehard Dead Rising fans can still enjoy timed gameplay. Dead Rising 4 features four-player cooperative multiplayer. The online mode is separate from the campaign, with missions designed to take advantage of multiple zombie hunters.
3. Frank upgraded his camera. This time out, Frank isn’t just using his camera to take pictures of the zombie horde. He can use two filters to enhance his investigations. Night vision allows you to see things hidden in shadow and darkness. The spectral analyzer is crucial for uncovering clues and highlighting important objects in the environment.
4. Embrace the post-apocalyptic selfie. Frank can now turn the camera on himself, snapping a classic Willamette vacation pic with thousands of his new friends. You can change Frank’s expression for maximum effect. Capcom Vancouver is working with Microsoft to figure out the best way to share your best selfies on social media.
5. Grab a quick pic with the undead. If you happen to sneak up on a zombie, you can snap a “stealthy.” Throw your arm around your new zombie buddy, take a picture, and then put him out of his misery. At least you have the photo to preserve your memories of Bob? Chad? What was his name? Oh well. Doesn’t matter.
6. The weapon system has been overhauled. Instead of tabbing through your entire inventory to switch between weapons, you’ll always have direct access to three different types: thrown, melee, and ranged. You can change what’s mapped to the relevant buttons with a radial menu, so you can always have your best gear at your disposal.
7. The health system has been revamped. Nickolls tells us that Dead Rising 4 will take a page from Diablo III’s playbook. Your health will constantly regenerate, but if you get into trouble, you’ll be able to quaff an alcoholic “potion” for an instant recovery burst.
8. Every weapon has a gory “visceral kill.” As you build up your zombie killing combo, you’ll earn the ability to trigger a brutal kill animation. This can be as mundane as chainsawing a zombie in half, or as wild as calling upon the power of electricity to fry nearby zombies. You can also use a visceral kill when punching zombies, to knee them in the face, or rip their heads off.
9. Frank does an Iron Man impression. Scattered around the world are exo-suits that give Frank a huge strength advantage. You’ll be able to turn zombies into pulp, fling cars into crowds of the undead, and rip shamblers in half. You’ll also be able to combo the exo-suit with other items. In the demo, a Slurpee machine gave Frank the power to shoot sno-cones and freeze zombies with a Slurpee tornado. You can also pair the suit with an arcade machine, military hardware, and more.
10. The Willamette Mall is the center of the small town. The zombie outbreak on Black Friday has left Willamette decimated again. The newly rebuilt mall, a symbol of the town’s recovery from the outbreak 16 years prior is once again infested. The shopping Mecca is bigger than in the original game with two massive floors and an underground area. It’s the center of the town and you can pass through as a shortcut to other game areas.
11. Stealing from the undead is just smart. Many of the buildings in Willamette can be entered. It won’t be all of them, but expect you won’t have to go more than two or three houses between explorable indoor environments. Each of the homes housed a family with its own personality. A family of sports fans will be more likely to have hockey sticks and baseball bats. A hunting family will probably have guns on hand.
12. Rifle through other people’s belongings. Searchable items have been scattered throughout the town. There’s often a risk/reward for stopping and searching, with zombies crowding you. You never know what you mind find by digging through a dead guy’s duffle bag.
13. You shall not pass. The Gandelf is one of the hilarious weapons added to Dead Rising 4. This wizard staff shoots exploding garden gnomes. Alternatively, Frank can slam it into the ground to dispatch a horde of marching gnomes that detonate upon reaching a target.
14. Vehicles are customizable, with some off-the-wall combinations. You won’t need to drive long distances to get around Willamette, which makes vehicles more about zombie slaughter than anything else. One of the new combinations is called the Slingrod, giving you explosive ways to deal with the undead. The vehicle scoops zombies in and loads them into a coffin you can then launch in a crowd. If you spin your tires, the friction will light the coffin on fire for a toasty surprise when you fire it.
15. Beware the freshly undead. In addition to regular shambling zombies, you’re going to content with two new types. The newly infected are faster and more aggresive. Worse, if a survivor gets bitten, you might soon have to deal with them turning.
16. Zombies now evolve into intelligent killers. About halfway through the game, you’ll run into monstes called “Evos.” These enhanced zombies glow green, move quickly, and take a lot to kill. Worse, they call in reinforcements, making for a challenging fight.
17. Dead Rising 4 is not a “Play Anywhere” game. Microsoft is kicking off a cross-buy program for Xbox One and PC called Play Anywhere. Unfortunately, Dead Rising 4 was too far into development to implement it. Capcom Vancouver isn’t opposed to the idea, but it’s not in the cards this time out.
18. Cosplay returns in Dead Rising 4. During our demo, Frank had the chance to dress up like Street Fighter’s Blanka. The costume brings with it claws for slashing with an added electrical punch. Expect more goofy dress-up options.
19. Expect emergent gameplay. In addition to survivors in need of your assistance, you’ll run into people reveling in the chaos. Evil survivors will get in your way. You’ll also run into bigger battles between people and zombies, which you can choose to intervene in (or not). There are also random supply drops, but you’ll need to fight through soldiers in order to retrieve the gear.
20. Dead Rising 4 retains its sense of humor. Dead Rising 4 has always had a grim wit. That goofiness isn’t lost in the latest entry. “If it sounds stupid, we’re going to put it in the game,” Nickolls says. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Frank’s arsenal is stupid in the best way.
We’ll be able to return to Willamette on December 6 for Xbox One and PC.