Deep Silver made the trip to PAX East this weekend, and brought along Techland’s second installment in the Dead Island series: Dead Island: Riptide. It takes place directly after the original’s conclusion, and sees the entire cast crashing back onto the island of Banoi when the survivors’ helicopter fails to navigate a terrible storm.
Your character’s awakened by a woman who relates the crash information. With mascara running and sweat forming on her brow, she tasks you with discovering if some other survivors need help with their stronghold. After traveling inland a bit and gathering familiar weapons featured in the original Dead Island, you encounter the stronghold as it’s being attacked by zombies.
Riptide‘s combat mechanics are very similar to Dead Island‘s; you swing, slice, and toss weapons with the right trigger, and shove snarling undead bodies with the LT/RT quick time event. You’re assigned to patch up the breaches in the stronghold’s defenses while saving NPCs from certain death. It’s here that the new mechanic — a targeting system — is realized. Using the D-Pad, you highlight which object or zombie that your team members should focus on during combat. It comes in very handy while in the fray. After my teammates and I completed the objective, we raided a decimated area where survivors once occupied. But our looting was cut short by Deep Silver telling us that our time was up.
While the 15-minute demo was fun — it involves killing swarms of the undead in Dead Island fashion — nothing really sets Riptide apart from its predecessor besides the new highlighting system. Riptide feels very much like an expansion pack moreso than a standalone game — at least in the demo. That said, the environments are gorgeous and the character models are much improved over the original.
As I walked away from the Deep Silver booth, I wondered if the developers had practiced the voodoo of the Kuruni natives, coded themselves in the game and brought upon a storm to crash their characters back down to the island so that they could get a second chance at creating the game they should have made in the first place.