Microsoft had private screenings of a Dead Rising 3 demo for the Xbox One at their E3 media room, and I was able to get in on one of the intimate sessions (full voice recording of session can be found after the break). For never completing a Dead Rising game, or really being a fan of the series, I was instantly blown away by the strides made in Dead Rising 3.
The demo featured an early part of the now open world zombie slasher, and it mainly showed off Nick’s (new protagonist) prowess in killing the undead. The game world itself looked amazing running on the Xbox One, and the carnage featured is brought to life with insane detail. For example, Nick split one zombie in half from head to toe, and as the two halves of flesh fell away from each other individual ribs, guts, and other internal organs could be made out perfectly. The detail of the animation is similar to something you’d see in an anatomy class during human cadaver week. For a game that’s focused on over-the-top action and violence, this new level of artistic clarity is a major plus, and the resulting kill animations will surely make gamers ooh and ahh with adoration for these morbid actions.
To accomplish these gory kill shots Nick can still piece together in-game items he scavenges to make hybrid killing devices. The weapon he used to cut a zombie in half was a sledgehammer bonded to a huge saw blade. Each part of the weapon worked fine for killing the undead on their own, but when combined into the Saw-Hammer (made that up, couldn’t remember the exact name) the two parts became one badass slaughtering tool. The developer playing the demo also showed off a fire blade, which is a combination of a sword and gasoline, as well as a homemade grenade launcher. Both were just as efficient as the Saw-Hammer when it came to making mincemeat out of some zombie flesh.
Building the weapons seemed like fun, and there will be easier ways to make them in Dead Rising 3 (Ways to make items without the use of exact materials i.e. if the recipe calls for a broadsword there will be a way to use another sharp object if you don’t have the sword. This is a skill that needs to be unlocked.), but the best part about the demo was watching these weapons in action. Nick is definitely an able bodied human when it comes to hacking through waves of flesh-eating bad guys. The combat alone was enough to get me excited about this franchise, and its exclusive debut on the Xbox One. It just seemed like gamers could spend hours at a time creatively killing zombies without getting slightly bored whatsoever, and the resulting kill animations make every minute spent doing so a worthy one.
The other noteworthy feature of Dead Rising 3 is the transition to open world gameplay. This genre definitely sets up Dead Rising 3 to be a sandbox of creative zombie elimination tactics. It also enables the use of vehicles as the main mode of transportation to help get around the much larger game world, which by the way won’t have any load times as promised by the developer.
This new feature was put on display during the demo presentation, and it looked like a blast to roll through hordes of zombies in a vehicle. Don’t think being in a car is safe though, because the zombie horde will do their damnedest to either make you crash the car by hanging onto it and changing its physics (making one side feel weighted down causing steering to be erratic), or they can literally reach into the cab and rip you out of it. These are two small driving features that really haven’t been put on display in other open world games that feature vehicles, so they’ll give Dead Rising 3′s driving mode a new twist.
The last major change to the Dead Rising formula is the inclusion of Xbox SmartGlass into the game. When paired with your Xbox One the SmartGlass app essentially becomes Nick’s smartphone. Waypoints can be added in-game using the app, or air strikes can be called in for devastating area of effect attacks (host of other features as well). Using the app actually offers unique missions in Dead Rising 3 that wouldn’t otherwise show unless the app is paired to your current gameplay sessions. This gives gamers a reason to use the SmartGlass technology while playing DR3, but at the same time it doesn’t make the app a mandatory component to beat the game, so you won’t be forced into using SmartGlass if you don’t want to use it.
Dead Rising 3 is without a doubt a next-gen experience, which is not only clear in its graphical abilities, but also in the use of SmartGlass. The best part about it is that the new technology doesn’t have to be used to play the game. The open world nature of DR3 is truly open, and it doesn’t force you to use gimmicks if you don’t want to. The E3 demo for it is hands down one of the top 5 things I witnessed at last week’s show, and it definitely turned this non-Dead Rising fan into a believer.
A release date hasn’t been given yet, but I can say with confidence that Dead Rising 3 won’t be a Xbox One launch title. It will be in the launch window though, so expect a 2014 release at some point. After further review Dead Rising 3 is set for a holiday 2013 launch. Thanks to a few readers for pointing this error out, I had my notes wrong from the show.
If you want to hear more about the demo feel free to check out the audio from the meeting after the break.