Right off the bat, it's important to mention that I wasn't a huge fan of Dead Rising 4 upon release. The game's combo weapon chaos was held back by a plethora of issues that had me frustrated beyond belief when I reviewed the game last year. The story's non-ending that was later finished in DLC, the haphazard focus on gunplay and stealth that took away from the franchise's familiar combat, the open world that felt like a chore to navigate. I could go on, but you probably get the picture. Capcom Vancouver has grafted a few interesting modes and trinkets to their game since release, and all those updates are coming to the PS4 this week in Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package. The highlight of this new release, and what I really want to dig into, is the Capcom Heroes mode, which addresses some of what I found flawed about the original while also shifting it to a different style of game.
Capcom Heroes is a completely new way to play through Dead Rising 4, coming to the other versions of the game alongside the release of Frank's Big Package via a free update. The main feature of this playthrough is a suite of nostalgic costumes that transform Frank into other Capcom characters. You can become Devil May Cry's Dante and slash through the undead with a giant sword. You can fit into the familiar red jumpsuit of Viewtiful Joe and slow down the action to fit in more kicks. You can even embody Morrigan from Darkstalkers, complete with a joke about cosplayers in the ensemble's description.
After a brief abilitease, you'll be thrust into the familiar narrative of the existing game. This is the same campaign to start with, but you'll immediately notice the huge difference between regular play and this nostalgia trip. Namely, Capcom Heroes trades in the entire weapon/inventory system for its new costumes. This means that Frank West isn't able to pick up specific weapons in the world, and that combo weapons are only used as part of preset combos. When you're fighting as the photographer, hitting the attack button will produce sledgehammers and guitars out of thin air, but it's in the vein of Marvel vs. Capcom rather than Dead Rising.
At first glance, this is a confounding change. To take a game that felt simplified to death and take out even more of its depth seems baffling to say the least. The weapon combat was one of the only things about Dead Rising 4 that worked well, and changing it to pure button mashing only cements the game's movement in the opposite direction of its prequels. However, playing around with it a bit does reveal that Dead Rising 4 almost works as a Musou-type game. Without worrying about weapon durability or scavenging for parts, the game is solely focused on combating the hordes of zombies via button mashing. It's certainly not Dead Rising, but it might be worth a look for those folks who can't get enough Dynasty Warriors in their lives.
Even if you do like the gameplay, you'll still be playing through the same Dead Rising 4 campaign, which doesn't really lend itself to repeat playthroughs. The most disappointing part of this new mode is that it feels like a half-step towards a different genre rather than a truly new way to play. Costumes function similarly to the Exo Suit, which means that they are initially limited in their use and locked into a strict timer. There are also challenges for each costume that unlock finishing moves, and you'll need to gather a bunch of collectibles to unlock them all. Even if you wanted to ignore the game's lacking side content and plow through the game in an arcade fashion, you'll still be spending a lot of time wandering around the game's empty open world looking for the fun.
What's especially strange about Capcom Heroes being a layer of weirdness on top of the existing campaign is that they already produced a better version of this concept for Dead Rising 3. The wonderfully named Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX + α was a 4 player co-op experience with bite-sized levels, quick objectives, and custom boss battles that were tailored specifically for this style of gameplay. Capcom Heroes feels like a step backward since its single-player arcade experience doesn't jive with the levels and cutscenes they're sharing space with.
If you're a Sony gamer interested in mindlessly killing some zombies, Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package will serve that purpose. The game runs well on its new platform and including all the DLC from the jump means that you get a complete narrative alongside side modes that are a novelty at best. I still don't like Dead Rising 4 all that much, but the Capcom Heroes mode does offer a glimpse into a future where Dead Rising could be fun again. If they're not going to go back to timers and psychopaths, they could do a lot worse than bringing on the hack and slash from the get-go and amping up the series' goofy tendencies to the maximum.
Dead Rising 4: Frank's Big Package was played on PS4 with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Xbox One and PC via Steam and Windows 10.