In the months since the official announcement of the forthcoming Dead Island: Riptide Electronic Theatre has been lucky enough to witness the videogame at a number of outings. That the content which Deep Silver has chosen to showcase each time has been exactly the same is not the dampener you may expect, as with each outing new uses for weaponry, new moments of co-operative harmony and new instances of praiseworthy emergent gameplay have been presented. In just the repeated fifteen minutes of gameplay seen, there’s enough evidence to warrant a return to the world of DeadIsland.
Taking place during ‘Chapter 6: Breaching the Tunnels,’ the staged event is obviously designed for experienced players with characters that have already earned some of the new skills set to be available in Dead Island: Riptide. The defence mission begins with players organising their equipment and planning their strategies, setting up portable barricades and laying down mines; two of the new items made available in Dead Island: Riptide.
The context of the mission is the need to gain access to underground tunnels that are currently submerged, so a pump must be powered on to remove the water. This is both a long a noisy procedure, and so the preparation is essential. The barricades are instantly erected upon being thrown into a suitable gap (and predictably, to keep things tense, there are more gaps than barricades) but the limitations of their usefulness – how much damage they can take before being torn down – is not yet known. The mines on the other hand, have been shown working to full effect.
When planted, the mines act as a proximity device, exploding upon detecting movement in the local proximity. Electronic Theatre has previously reported on the fact that the area of effect with explosive weapons has been increased in Dead Island: Riptide (though the damage dealt to players has been lowered) and as such it’s a reasonably easy feat to take out half-a-dozen zombies with a single proximity mine. Needless to say, using them as a last stand line of defence surrounding the area you are trying to defend makes for a good strategy.
In addition to the mines and barricades players have access to mounted weapons; heavy automatic cannons that fire lots of ammunition at high velocity for significant damage. However, given the bulky nature of these weapons they cannot be used without placing them atop a suitable mount, of which there are only a few scattered around the building. What’s more, there are more mounts than weapons, so players will have to carefully time the movement from one to the next in order to maximise their usefulness whilst still ensuring they are not left vulnerable for too long.
Working hand-in-hand with this emphasis on covering all you bases is the improved artificial intelligence (AI) of non-player characters. Now able to fight alongside the players (though still noticeably weaker in all respects) AI character may well provide you with ammunition when you run low or covering fire as you move mounted weapons or barricades. Of course, relying on them is not the wisest decision, but knowing that the zombie approaching from the left will likely be stalled – if not defeated – as you rush past is good enough to warrant mention.
The visual quality in Dead Island: Riptide may appear very similar to that of the original, and on the surface it surely is. However, it’s in the finer details – the water effects and the animation – that Dead Island: Riptide shows its true colours. And with that comes the only new reveal during this latest preview of the videogame: a new type of thug, very slow, short reach, but very heavy damage. Additionally it should be noted that the zombie stamina bar has been revamped, with enemies now easier to knock down and stupid enough to hurt themselves by stumbling.
With Deep Silver having already stated that Dead Island: Riptide is not intended to be the sequel to Dead Island but rather an elaborate expansion, it’s easy to forgive a few recurring blemishes on the face of the videogame. Even more so when you consider the new layers of gameplay that are being added atop that already solid base. The original Dead Island was equally parts innovation and hamstrung convention, and despite being a second instalment Dead Island: Riptide looks set to repeat this formula bringing almost assured success. Electronic Theatre wouldn’t have it any other way.