Dead Island: Riptide Hands-On Preview: Wasting Away in Zombieville

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Dead Island: Riptide is a sequel to Dead Island, which was released to middling reviews and disappointment after a strong advertising campaign in 2011. Deep Silver’s marketing for the sequel has already stirred up controversy with their plan to include a “bloody torso” statue in the UK special edition. The game itself will be out this month, and was playable on the show floor at PAX East. The developers were showing off a cooperative mode, allowing you to work together with other players to fortify an area and keep the zombies out. But between collision issues, terrible graphics, and hysterical ragdoll phyics, the game was a jumbled mess.

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (Version Played)
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Techland
Genre: First Person… Zombies!
Release Date: April 23, 2013
ESRB Rating: Mature

The four players in the demo had to meet up at an encampment with some NPCs and, after fighting off some zombies, they had to grab some lengths of fencing and hang them up in strategic locations around the camp. The mini-map in the corner detailed where the fencing was and where it needed to go. Everything was clear, detailed, and very helpful. Unfortunately, that was the only part of the demo that was.

Once the fences were set up, the zombies began to attack. I stood on the safe side of the fence as a zombie mauled it, and I made an attempt to stab it through the openings in the fence. That makes sense, right? If I’ve learned anything from this season of The Walking Dead, it’s that sharp things can kill zombies through fences. Apparently, Deep Silver has clearly not been watching AMC.

After the zombie had torn a giant rent in the fence, I thought I could certainly stab it through that. But my knife still plunged into what should have been undead flesh with no results at all, and the zombie kept tearing at my fence. Finally, once it got through, I was able to stab it to death, and once I did, it flew 15 feet away from me, landing at the bottom of the steps with its arms hilariously akimbo. I stabbed it pretty hard, but it definitely wasn’t hard enough to throw it across the beach. Also, if you pressed the wrong button in your attempts at zombie stabbing, you could accidentally pull the fence down yourself. I’m sure that pulling down the fence is something you want to do at certain points, but it just seems disastrous to have that option in this situation.

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My teammates had already killed most of the other zombies, but a few more were still straggling in, so we took care of those and then went back to the NPC to get our next assignment. We had to blow up the bridge to prevent the zombies from getting to us. That sounds easy enough, right? All we needed to do was pour out some gasoline and then shoot it with our flare guns. The only problem is that flare guns don’t really do much to zombies, so you really need to get that bridge blown up as quickly as possible, because the flare gun replaces your useful weapon.

Of note is the addition of a weapon crafting system. Bashing zombies to death (or back to death, I guess you could say) takes its toll on your weapons, which take damage over time. As you maneuver your way around, there are plenty of pickups, which you can later use to fix your weapon at crafting tables. In the demo we played, the table was located inside the encampment, so it was easy to run up and use it if you had the proper supplies. From what I could tell, all that happened was you used money to fix your weapons, so you were basically paying the unmanned table to fix your weapons. Oh my god, was it a zombie table?

While Dead Island: Riptide was laughably bad, what’s not amusing is that this is a game that’s slated to come out this month. Will the game be more playable in three weeks than it was last weekend? I doubt the graphics, which were subpar for a zombie game of this generation, will be much better. Dead Island: Riptide was a disappointing experience on the show floor – an exasperatingly bad demo with no real redeeming qualities. While I’m sure it’ll sell well when it comes out, all it did was prove to me that my decision to skip the first game was probably the right one.

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Nicole Kline is Warp Zoned's Senior Editor. She first began preparing for the job by climbing a milk crate to play Centipede in an arcade. You can find her on PSN under the name toitle or you can email her at nicole AT warpzoned DOT com.

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