Electronic Theatre Preview: Dead Island: Riptide

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Launching late last year, the original Dead Island was met with significant critical acclaim. Despite being littered with bugs and glitches, both visual and mechanical, Dead Island proved that it wasn’t just Bethesda Softworks who could create imaginative worlds of fear and chaos played from a first-person perspective; Dead Island delivered just as engrossing an experience as any modern Fallout or The Elder Scrolls title. Fresh off the back of that success, Deep Silver and Techland are back to prove that this success wasn’t just a one-off, with Dead Island: Riptide intending to push the co-operative zombie survival gameplay even further.

Continuing immediately from where the first title left off, Dead Island: Riptide takes place on a new island. This new location emphasises the water aspect of the videogame, providing players with puzzles and gameplay based entirely around the idea that water is a fundamental part of the experience. The inclusion of boats in this sequel is worthy of note, delivered with all new mechanics as opposed to simply placing the rules of cars on water, and the ability to use pumps to drain water from an area seems to have a significant impact on certain missions.

Indeed, in this earliest of demonstrations it was the latter mechanic that proved integral to the Dead Island: Riptide gameplay. Arriving at a dilapidated church populated with survivors, the player has to defend the area against hordes of zombies as a number of pumps remove the water blocking the path ahead. Of course, doing so is not a quiet matter, and as the mission continues more and more zombies appear on the scene.

This provided Deep Silver with the opportunity to demonstrate a few of the new mechanics and weapons available in Dead Island: Riptide, from movable mounted weapons and blockades to proximity mines, which when placed creatively can cause significant damage to large numbers of enemies in one big, bloody explosion. This is supported by the fact that the area of effect for explosive items has been increased significantly, warranting more elective use of grenades than was the case in the original Dead Island videogame.

Other new details revealed include that of the non-player characters abilities to engage in combat, in this case assisting the player in defending the church, and some of the new monsters that will make an appearance. Names and finer details of the new enemies are yet to be confirmed, but Techland noted that they are making significant adjustments to the spawning system to prevent the feeling that enemies are generated in accordance to location and your current level; an issue that was prevalent in the first title.

Hand-in-hand with the water-centric design, Dead Island: Riptide will feature a new weather system intended to affect not only the visual quality of the videogame – and thusly, when at its most extreme, the player’s sense of direction – but also the combat. Traipsing the a water ravaged jungle may be difficult, but taking to the city streets as the rain thunders down upon the pavement is only ever likely to blunt your perception as to enemy movement. Exactly what lengths the weather system will stretch to in order to throw the player off-balance remains to be seen, but the prospects of fierce winds and punishing torrential rain are certainly nothing less than intriguing.

Many gamers felt dismayed at the quality of the original title, suggesting that the glitches outweighed the competency of the scale and delivery. While Electronic Theatre strongly disagrees with this opinion, there’s nothing yet to suggest that Dead Island: Riptide won’t fall foul to the same over ambitious development. If Techland can refine the mechanics and visual quality of the videogame to the point where it’s not necessarily groundbreaking, but just so that it doesn’t break the suspension of disbelief, they’ll undoubtedly have a winning formula on their hands. If they can work with Deep Silver to create as engaging an experience for a second time around, Dead Island: Riptide has the potential to become one of the highlights of the 2013 release schedule.

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