If faced with the dire prospect of a zombie apocalypse, I would bet that it wouldn’t take much motivation to transform yourself from a normal member of modern society into an unstoppable destructive force capable of horrific things in the name of survival, and thanks to the egging on of Dead Rising 3 producer Mike Jones, I had all the inspiration I needed to shoot, explode, crush, obliterate and Dragon Punch hundreds of shambling dead during my hands-on demo of the game.
Capcom Vancouver wasn’t focussing too much on the story of Dead Rising 3 at gamescom (you can catch up with protagonist Nick Ramos and his motivations with our E3 2013 preview), and because the SmartGlass setup was temporarily unavailable the second screen capabilities of Dead Rising 3 weren’t playable, but feel safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to use your tablet device as a map, a means to find items and weapons, and if you have the right codes, you can call in air strikes into the game world, too.
This meant, however, that I was given a much greater chance of playing Dead Rising 3 and exploring the open-world zombie sandbox that Capcom Vancouver has created, which Jones says, despite the world’s immense size, is just as detailed and littered with objects as any previous Dead Rising game, and benefits from a content streaming system which means no load screens while moving from one place to another.
Set a little later in the story of Dead Rising 3 and with tougher zombies to contend with, Jones directed me through an alleyway which just so happened to be packed wall-to-wall with zombies ready to feast on my flesh. A few light and heavy attacks later and I was able to sprint out of danger… but not without getting knocked down and entering a short button mashing Quick Time Event to break free. “That’s your punishment for getting too frisky with the zombies!” Jones laughed.
Get Your (Animation) Priorities Straight!
Without guns, there’s quite a wind up when you’re slugging it out with fists and melee weapons, which got me to thinking about the role of ‘animation priority’ in Dead Rising (and Japanese-develeoped games in general, like Monster Hunter), which is where the game enters into a short character animation after a player hits the action button before the full weight of that action (like swinging a sword) affects an enemy.
In theory, prioritising animations over actions leads to a greater level of satisfaction when your attack lands and also leads to more strategic use of an ability – you don’t want to be caught half-way through your animation by an enemy so you need to time it just right. In modern-day games, however, this kind of gameplay is less and less common, so I asked Jones about the role of animation priority in Dead Rising 3 and the Japanese game design influence:
“I would say that there’s probably less animation priority than there has been in the past in Dead Rising,” Jones explained. “We really want the combat to feel more fluid and more fun. What we tried to take for inspiration was something like Assassin’s Creed, where we’re looking at the animation blending and the different kinds of things that they did, where you’re not just bound by animation so much. So I would say that there’s less priority over combat than in previous iterations.
“The game is made in Capcom Vancouver, and we have a really good collaborative environment with the Japanese developers. I actually lived in Osaka for five years working at Capcom Japan, so I’ve been working on Dead Rising since Dead Rising 2, and it’s been really, really great working together with Vancouver and Osaka, putting our knowledge together and getting more than the sum of its parts out of it.”
Like its predecessors, Dead Rising 3’s progression is powered by the collection of Prestige Points, or PP, which levels up your character to unlock new abilities. PP is earned by finding hidden items (like a collectible ‘Frank’ statue I found as a tribute to the series’ previous protagonist) and, of course, destroying zombies in many and varied ways. Like using a sword to slice limbs off of the creatures. Or split them clean in half. “Pieces and parts flying everywhere!” Jones exclaimed with glee.
Basic attack combos are available with different light and heavy attack inputs, and as you take down zombies you’ll build up your kill counter, which in turn feeds the Skill Move system. Get ten kills, and you can carry out a brutal kill for more PP. The higher your kill count, the more extravagant the move.
Weapon blueprints are also back for Dead Rising 3, and during my time with the game I cobbled together a Split Shot (a rifle that rapidly ejects a spread of hot lead into zombie crowds), amongst others. This time, however, and once you’ve found a blueprint, you can easily build a new weapon where ever you are (as opposed to finding special benches to carry out your dark work), simply by bringing up the inventory screen and selecting two weapons and combining them. Beware, though, because weapons will wear down and break with use, so be sure to keep yourself topped up.
Dead Rising 3 – gamescom 2013 Screenshots
There was also a blueprint for a Laser Sword to find which let me combine gems and an amplifier together to form a weapon more effective than any regular blade you might find. “I want to point out that the Laser Sword is completely different, technologically, from a Lightsaber (T M). Just so you know!” Jones was having a great time demoing Dead Rising 3, and his excitement was infectious as he cheered me on and got me to perform the Laser Sword’s unique and vicious Skill Move. “Brutal!” Jones applauded.
“Are you a fan of Street Fighter?” Jones asked. “Yeah, of course!” I nodded my approval. “Then let’s take a look over here…” said Jones, before directing me to a corner with a pair of boxing gloves and an engine. After a second spent combining the items I had my very own special gloves that let me perform Ryu’s Dragon Punch as a Skill Move. I was mightily impressed by the carnage that Street Fighter’s iconic character might have unleashed in Dead Rising 3 had he been wearing those gloves.
It’s not just weapons that you can combine, but vehicles, too. When two different vehicles are close enough together, you can sit yourself between them and craft something like the Turret Rig, an armoured monstrosity with a turret on the top and giant blades that can flick out from the sides to carve zombies down to size. Or how about creating the Roller Hog out of a motorcycle and a steam roller? Apart, these two vehicles are good for crushing zombies and escaping them, respectively, but together they’re a speedy way to flatten enemies and throw jets of flame into hordes, too.
We also took a quick detour to check out one of the ‘Safe Zones’ in Dead Rising 3, which is where you’ll be able to take a breather while browsing through your Clothes Locker (to see, wear and mix and match the outfits you’ve found in the game), the Weapons Locker (which similarly lets you equip any weapon you’ve found or crafted) and the Bulletin Board. Here, you can call in characters that you’ve helped in special side missions to act as back up. Giving them a regular melee weapon from your stash will help them survive during your escapades.
Jones had saved the best for last, however, and told me how zombies will be attracted to light and sound in the world. Driving around in a police car earlier in the demo and turning on the siren got the attention of hundreds of zombes who clung to the vehicle as I ploughed through their brethren ahead, and a flare gun will also be able to drum up a crowd of enemies very quickly when shot.
With that in mind, and with a fresh red-orange flare ejected and streaming clouds of smoke in the street, I placed the ‘Massive Bomb’ near the undulating mass of zombies that had gathered to investigate the radiance. After a few seconds (and with some distance between myself and the crowd), the bomb erupted killing everything around it and evaporating Nick’s clothes in a split-second.
“488 kills? Not too bad!” quipped Jones.
And that, I think, is what Dead Rising 3 is all about: Killing hundreds upon hundreds of zombies in as many creative ways as possible.
Sure, there will be a story, but from my time playing it was clear that Capcom Vancouver’s focus has been on creating a game that truly lets players live out their fantasy of annihilating brainless creatures using “everything and anything” lying around, following a mysterious world event (an ‘apocalypse,’ you could say) that has forced the population to become blood thirsty maniacs capable of horrific things.
In the name of survival? Sure, why not.
Dead Rising 3 is an Xbox One exclusive and will be available on launch day, November 22nd, in select territories around the world. Keep up with the game’s development and features with more screenshots, videos and information included in El33tonline’s continued coverage.