With the coming of the eighth generation of consoles, game developers promised bigger, prettier, and more immersive experiences. Of course, the same promises are made with every new console generation. Fortunately, given the exponential increase in power offered by the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One compared to their predecessors, such claims quickly proved to be quite accurate. Needless to say, developers were eager to make a good first impression with the eighth gen launch day games, delivering some of the most beautiful titles that people had ever seen up to that point. One such game was Dead Rising 3, an Xbox One exclusive that let players wreak havoc in a city that was entirely infested with zombies.
For the first time, there was an open world game that was not only capable of handling hundreds of characters on screen at the same time, but also capable of making sure that each of those characters looked at least somewhat visually distinct from each other. That there wasn’t any particularly noticeable draw distance and no loading time when travelling in the city was an added benefit. Granted, zombies aren’t exactly known for their complex decision making skills so it’s not like each and every zombie had some amazing AI behaviors, but it was still an impressive feat nonetheless.
Throw in some very amusing weapons, a dash of mystery, and the usual absurdity that one can expect from a Dead Rising game, and you have a solid game to entice people to buy a new console. Few games at the time could compete with the experience of creating your own Franken-vehicle to plow through swarms of zombies either. Unfortunately, the game could get a little grindy and a bit repetitive, although whether or not you would notice it depends on your playstyle.
Admittedly, Dead Rising 3 itself was somewhat average when it came to pushing the rest of the boundaries of gaming. The story certainly wasn’t anything out of the ordinary when it came to zombie games. In fact, the game was generally considered to be above average at best by most major reviewers. Not that that’s all that surprising given the nature of the zombie genre. Compared to a more modern game like Red Dead Redemption 2, Dead Rising isn’t particularly special at all. Still, the game passed the ever important fun test, especially at launch. Average it may be, but if you could tolerate the comparatively large file size for the time, there are worse ways to pass the time than by eviscerating hordes of zombies.
As the years progressed, it became evident that not every game needed to fill the screen with zombies and flying limbs like Dead Rising 3 did. In spite of this, the game easily conveyed the potential of the eighth generation consoles. Over time, every game genre saw some kind of increase in scope thanks to the power that was at the hands of developers. Whether it be through drastically more detailed character models, textures, and so forth or ever expanding playable areas, games transformed from relatively simple five hour long on the rails-ish affairs to being an escape from reality that was mostly hindered by one’s imagination.
Ultimately, though Dead Rising 3 may end up being pushed to the margins of history, it did serve as a sign of things to come. From a technical standpoint, it was a demonstration of what was possible with the new generation. But perhaps more importantly, it was one of the first Xbox One games to migrate from being a console exclusive to also being playable on PCs. Within a year of the game’s initial release on consoles, PC players could also enjoy some open world zombie killing. Eventually, no small number of Xbox One exclusives would also end up on the PC, somewhat diminishing the meaning of the word “exclusive”. Microsoft’s seemingly odd strategy nonetheless persists to this day, with some games, like Sea of Thieves, even supporting cross platform play.
There is little doubt that in the coming years, open world games will far outpace what Dead Rising 3 offered, especially with the success of Red Dead Redemption 2. Yet, though this may be the case, Dead Rising 3 offered a glimpse of what was possible, lightly setting the bar for eighth generation games. That the game itself wasn’t exceptionally bland (looking at you, Ryse: Son of Rome) was an added benefit for all, doubly so when the game was featured as a part of Microsoft’s new Game Pass subscription service years later. As far as launch day exclusives are concerned, that is certainly not a bad record.