I will always remember the first time I tried out Dead Rising. The Xbox 360 had an amazing string of unique franchises debut close to its launch, and Dead Rising was among the strongest. The sheer number of zombies on screen was mesmerizing, and the goofy combat and movement options only added to the game's charm. I played the demo for the game over and over, and I eventually fell in love with the series completely after the release of Off the Record removed the limiting time restriction from the equation. Dead Rising 4 was on the show floor at E3, and I'm pleased to report that Frank West hasn't missed a beat.
The biggest change to the game's combat is that Frank is now able to equip three different weapons simultaneously, which allows you to switch effortlessly between chopping away with an electrified axe and launching fireworks into a zombie's torso. This is great since Dead Rising 4 continues to increase the number of zombies on-screen at once, which gives you more targets and more chances to unleash your weapon's super moves. I did notice that only melee weapons seemed to have super moves now, which is just as well since unleashing a stream of electricity is probably preferable to whatever buffed bullets a gun's super move would spit out.
The game's graphics have gotten an upgrade, especially if you skipped over Dead Rising 3 due to its Xbox One launch title status or its buggy launch on PC. Frank has never looked better, and he's never been more cynical about still killing zombies after all these years. The streets of Willamette are dark, lit up only by the explosions of a Blambow and flickering street lamps. It's a long way away from the iconic mall jingles that Frank murdered his way through the first time, but the Christmas lights everywhere provides that same juxtaposition.
Of course, this isn't the original Dead Rising, and Frank has learned a few things from the zombie slayers that proceeded him. Combo weapons are still here, and you're still able to craft them out in the field. If Frank West's on point Twitter feed is anything to go by, Frank has also learned how to create ridiculous combo vehicles as well. I spoke with one of the developers from Capcom Vancouver briefly while I was in line, and he exposited that he wanted to be able to play Dead Rising after a long day and not worry too much about time limits or weapon restrictions. This is a laid back experience, about exploring what can be combined and testing out every feature of every weapon.
At the tail end of my demo, Frank jumped into a mech suit and grabbed a minigun, and I ran down the street carving a path out of a sea of opponents. Later, I grabbed a parking meter out of the ground and used the solid block of concrete that it was attached to as a hammer. This all excites me greatly, and I feel like a solid launch will allow Dead Rising 4 to achieve that Saints Row level of over the top action. Even if it doesn't completely hit the mark, it will most likely be a hell of a good time.
Dead Rising 4 is releasing on Xbox One and Windows 10 this holiday season. Check out our E3 2016 Coverage Hub for everything E3!