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Dead Island Riptide Hands-on Preview

by on03/23/2013
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As a fan of the Dead Island series, I was excited to hear that Deep Silver would visit PAX. I was a huge fan of the first game and was interested to see what the company would work on to improve the sequel, Dead Island Riptide. The time allowed on the four-player co-op demo I got to play with my friends was fifteen minutes, but in an island full of zombies with countless weapons, fifteen minutes can be plenty.

The demo started you at a higher character level so you could have some skills unlocked. The characters my friends and I chose were Logan (the football player with a specialty of throwing), Purna (the skilled gunslinger), and a new character named John (whose specialty lies in just his bare handed melee, he also has the ability to dropkick). The part of the story we were in had us in a small village on a mountain trail. The first part of our mission was to rescue the townspeople from the zombie horde attacking them. With a few well-placed kicks and some handy knife work from our team the zombies were easily disposed of. After the minor battle I repaired my equipment at a workbench which operates in essentially the same way as the first Dead Island.

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Then in a segment where we had to defend the town we got to pick up barbed-wire fence to place in strategic locations to keep unwanted zombie guests out. After a quick defense segment in which the AI performed defense fairly well and gave us a flare gun upon completion we were informed of a new quest where we could find a boat. The quest acceptance is the same as the first game with just a quick read through of the instructions and an acceptance of the task. The dock was 400 meters away so after a quick vehicle theft from a nearby gas station we were on our way to a boat. One of the more noticeable things immediately was the power of the vehicle. It was no longer a necessity to repeatedly run over the undead in order to dispose of them.

On the way to our main quest line we passed a side-quest which involved a man who was stuck on top of his trailer with some hungry flesh-eaters lingering below. I exited the vehicle and encouraged the team to move on ahead while I helped rescue the man, named Mugambe. In exchange I received some quick cash and a skill point. I used my level-up as a chance to look at the skill tree. The skill tree closely resembles the skill tree from the first game, except for John’s which will be new to all players. After hijacking another vehicle I was quickly back on the trail of my friends who had already started cleaning up the swamp dock before my arrival. I followed right in line jump-kicking zombies to the ground and cutting their heads off with my knife. The demo was cut off shortly after we found the boat at the dock.

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We were on the cusp of breaking into the garage to get an engine for the boat when we ran out of time.

The demo showed that Dead Island Riptide will stay true to the original with a few key changes. These changes include much more ammo, a better damage-modeling system and a new character in John. Dead Island Riptide didn’t change much from the original and, in my opinion, “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” fits this new installment fairly well.