At the Microsoft after-party on Monday night before E3 2013 began, we had the chance to sit down and speak with the developers with a hands-off demo of Dead Rising 3. The demo was the same as the one presented during Microsoft's press briefing, but this time, it was clearly running in real time, and we got to pry a bit deeper into what made the game tick. Quite a few things have changed with the series' formula, keeping the overall gameplay the same and yet smoothing over a lot of the rougher edges of the previous games.
You play as Nick Ramos, a mechanic in the California city of Los Perdidos. The game takes place 10 years after the events of Dead Rising 2 and shows that this city has been completely overrun with the undead. The game has a more open-world aspect, with no load times as you traverse the city. To that end, exploration is to be rewarded, with nice stashes of supplies in areas that are slightly off the beaten path.
The undead are truly the enemy this time around, rather than the ever-present stress of racing against the clock. The game has eschewed the time-based nature of the previous games, and it comes across as quite a welcome change. The zombies are significantly more aggressive – and numerous – in this title. Ripping them apart is just about as easy, and they now feature location-specific damage so zombies can lose limbs or other parts before keeling over for good.
It wouldn't be a game in the series without the ability to scavenge parts and cobble together improvised weaponry What is new is the ability to do so at any time as long as you have the parts. If you find a pistol and a flashlight, it's a simple task to combine the two on the fly to make a tactical pistol. Many things can be created simply by trying different item combinations, though some of the better ones require you to find a blueprint before you can make them.
Vehicles can be used to get around the city, though they are not entirely safe. Zombies have their own mass, and plowing through a crowd of them slows down your vehicle. The slower it goes, the more likely zombies can latch on, and at that point, they'll either continue to slow down your vehicle or try to pull you from the vehicle. The cars aren't exactly forgiving; our presenter accidentally rolled the vehicle and had to run on foot to find a new one to reach the train yard that capped the demonstration earlier in the day.
There were some other snippets of information we took away from the presentation. The health system will have an actual health bar, which was not shown in the current build. Also not shown were the ability to improve Nick's attributes and much of the game's integration with SmartGlass. As shown in the Microsoft press briefing, the demonstration ends with the player calling in an artillery strike using a SmartGlass tablet, but nothing like that could really be shown at the event. Finally, when asked about the potential for cooperative play, the answer was that they were not allowed to talk about it. Fingers crossed on that one.
Dead Rising 3 has a lot going for it. The removal of the ever-present clock will undoubtedly let the player experience things at his or her own pace. This is great, considering how open the city of Los Perdidos is, and how clambering around on rooftops and out-of-the-way places may yield some nice supplies. The presentation cratched the surface of the game, but its overall direction seems like it will take the series forward.
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