Next-gen open world zombiesplosions ahoy-hoy.
Dead Rising 3, releasing exclusively alongside the Xbox One on November 22nd, is more than just a sequel to fans of the series. Rather than simply taking the sandbox zombie deconstruction gameplay of the earlier titles and iterating on it, Capcom are moving the entire experience into an open world for the first time, dramatically extending the title's scope in ways that players seem very excited about indeed.
But what kind of game is it? Have they changed the core of Dead Rising to suit player expectations as we move into a new console generation? Just how similar is it to what's come before, and how does it push the genre forward? To find out, we sat down with the game's senior producer, Mike Jones, and picked his brains (without smashing his head open first, obviously - it's best to leave that sort of thing for when you're playing Dead Rising itself.)
"What we've tried to embrace is just this idea of player freedom," Mike explained when I asked him about Dead Rising 3's design direction. "We wanted people to be able to play the game how they wanted, so if they wanted to play it 100% horror / serious survival game, they could. If you wanna play 100% goofball, photobomb the game, and just use ridiculous weapons and vehicles and stuff, you can do that as well."
"That's what lead us down this path; we wanted to make a game that, at the heart of it, is player choice and player freedom. If you want to take it seriously, there's a world that looks realistic with higher visual fidelity than we've ever been able to make now that we're on Xbox One." The game is, of course, exclusive to Microsoft's new console - just as the previous versions were only available on Xbox 360 (it's even published by Microsoft Studios.)
"We've got gruesome zombies where we've actually modeled the bones, guts, and organs," Jones explained, using more detail than was possibly necessary but also… setting the scene rather aptly, perhaps, "so when you chop them up you get that satisfying nastiness that all of our character artists made. But if you just want to put on a bikini and run around like a goofball, you can do that too, so it's hard to say 'it's this much survival horror, and this much comedy' because we've really left that up to you and made it part of the sandbox; this huge toy box of stuff to play with and it's up to you to decide how serious or goofy you want to be."
Fan reaction to the title, much like the news releases about the game, has come in waves. Dead Rising, as a franchise, is like an onion; no, not in that it makes you cry (although it might - we're not judging), but in that Shrek way - it's got layers. There's zombies and survival, but there's also zany elements and that unique aesthetic that really hasn't been riffed particularly effectively by any other game. It is, in other words, its own special mix, and fans have become pretty protective of what's at the core of the franchise.
"Very early on," Jones explained, "when we made our E3 announcement, it was pretty straight forward - a down the middle, action zombie game. We didn't put any comedy in there. That was a deliberate choice, we wanted to remind people that we're a zombie game. We're an action game. We're an open world game. We're not just a comedy game. That's for you to make your own jokes and create your own gameplay experiences."
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