Dead Island: Riptide
Banner by Ramon3110
Publisher: Deep Silver
North American Release Date: April 23, 2013
European Release Date: April 26, 2012
Trophies: 1 | 4 | 11 | 20
Dead Island: Riptide is the sequel to Techland's surprise breakout hit of 2011, Dead Island. Returning with the same survival horror gameplay with an action role playing twist, our unlikely protagonists must find their way off, yet another island infested with zombies. Does the addition of a new character, some new enemies, and a new island to escape from add up to a worthwhile purchase, or is this a title that should be left deserted with a scenario that is becoming more common with each passing year? Here's my bite on this sequel.
For the millions of people who picked up Dead Island, you will discover very little changes in the gameplay department from its predecessor. Returning is your melee centered combat, as you pick up blades and blunt weapons that you find quite commonly, and use to bash (or slice) the brains of the nearest zombie in until it falls to the ground, reaping the experience points to attempt to level up. With leveling up comes additional hit points, stamina points, and a skill point to branch out one of your three skill trees.
The skill trees are divided up into Fury, Combat and Survival. Fury is focused on your special ability called a Fury (obviously), that depending on your character allows you to throw infinite weapons, charge into enemies and punch them to the high-heavens, slice things up at ninja speeds, or shoot infinite ammo for a short time. The Combat tree is used to enhance your natural proficiency in your weapon category, allow addition effects to your weapons, or increase their natural durability. For somebody like Sam B, these might help his ability to tank if using blunt weapons, or with Xian Mei, may help increase her ability to cause bleeding effects and damage with blades. The final skill tree is Survival, and is where you find abilities that make surviving easier and death less painful. Whether it's increasing the effectiveness of your med kits, adding inventory slots, or lessening the amount of money lost for dying, Survival is where you find most of your passive upgrades. The look and feel of skill trees will be second nature for anybody who's played a recent Diablo or an MMO title.
Obviously, the original haz-mat unit failed at stopping the infection.
Weapon degradation and upgrades make their return as well, and you will need to be on the constant lookout for workbenches to keep your weapons in their peak condition, as with continual usage you are going to find your weapons breaking down and eventually be near useless. Mods also make their comeback as well, as you are able to upgrade your weapons and change into deadlier variations with parts that you find around the island. As with its predecessor, modded weapons are normally a bit more costly to repair, and often degrade slightly quicker than unmodded weapons, but that is the trade off of having an item with fire, shocking, or poison properties.
One of only a handful of additions from the original title is each of the four weapon types - blunt, blade, hand-to-hand and firearms - having a leveling system in your proficiency in order to do more damage with them. For example, at level 1 blades you will have a 10% reduction in stamina cost, at level 2 a 20% increase in blade weapon durability, all the way up to level 10 in which you get a 35% damage increase to your blade weapons. These allow for a bit more flexibility, as you can now make a Purna a bit better at blunt weapons, or Logan better with firearms if you use them over their skills suggested weapons. The flexibility is nice to have, but more often than not you'll find yourself sticking with your characters natural weapon choices as the bonuses from your combat skill tree with the level ups in your natural type will make those weapons significantly better than the alternatives.
Another new addition this time are the inclusions of zombie infested areas called "Dead Zones." Dead Zones are buildings that are filled with dozens of zombies, and a boss type character called a champion. These fourteen zones are probably the most fun areas in the game, as they give you the challenge that the game is sorely lacking throughout most of its journey. The champions are extremely tough and yield amazing experience rewards and having to fight through enemies in close quarters, and often being surrounded make them quite rewarding. Along with experience awards, it is in these Dead Zones that you discover some of the game's rarest items, to make the best weapons out there. It's strongly suggested that if you find a building marked a Dead Zone, you should make the extra effort because Dead Zone is zombie speak for Fun Zone.
Added to the fray this time around are base defense quests, that enable you, your co-op partners if present, and a group of NPCs defending a base against waves of oncoming zombies. These "sieges" (for lack of a better term) require a bit of planning, in setting up defenses (in the form of fences, derp!). Sieges are where the game's heavy emphasis on cooperation is most crucial as you need to react to each choke point as allies scream for help. With dozens of enemies and NPCs on the screen battling it out with weapons and what not, it is these quests that offer some of the best tension and suspense.
A major new addition is a new "Survivor" bumping up the number of playable characters from four to five. The new character, John Morgan, is a melee-specialist who has a natural affinity to level up weapons faster than the other characters. For the most part, John is a very average character who plays like Sam B (more than others) without his specialization in being able to have more health and stamina. It also doesn't help that melee weapons this time around are about as rare to find as firearms were in the first title, so they make John Morgan a bit more of a novelty than anything else.
The final major additions to Dead Island: Riptide are a few new enemy types. These new mobs come in the form of grenadiers (former scientists who throw their poisoned flesh as a weapon), wrestlers (melee centered enemies that take very little damage, but can kill quite quickly), drowners (enemies that play opossum in water until you come close enough for them to spring to life) and the screamer (an enemy that has the ability to stun you into a migraine from hell if you are close enough when they scream). Sadly, aside from the drowners, most of these enemies are extremely rare and you're not likely to meet more than 75 of them in the entire a game, which is a shame, because they actually were quite cool when you got to fight them, but were absent for the first half of the game.
No, that's not Mickey Rourke, that is a mob called "The Wrestler", but the resemblance is uncanny.
For those of you who are scared to have to start all over again at level one, abandoning your maxed out super spec'ed character from the original game, no need to fret, you are able to import your character over to Dead Island: Riptide and keep all of your amazing levels and skills. Sadly, it appears that your magical weapon holder (seriously where do they keep all those sharp pointy things?) seem to have been left on the other island, so you'll have to rebuild your arsenal all over again. Luckily, it appears that weapons are slightly more plentiful this time around and you'll probably be full of semi-useful weapons of almost every variety by the end of the prologue.
Speaking of which, the game kicks off right where the ending of the last game left off (spoiler to one of the lamest endings of all time, so if you feel like not reading, skip this paragraph at your own discretion) with the protagonists landing their escape chopper from the last island on an Australian Defense Force carrier only to be taken into custody, drugged up, and awaken to a (surprise!) zombie outbreak on the ship. From there on out you're going to be searching for a possible cure, the reason the outbreak started, and a way to get the heck off of the island of Palanoi without being zombie fodder.
The story is about as generic as you would expect from a zombie game, and with a cast of NPCs that have every accent in the spectrum of Australian to French, you're going to meet an eclectic mixture of characters who all have their own objectives that you will want to accomplish (or ignore, you self-serving jerk!) as you maim and incapacitate countless respawning zombies. I found the story to drag even more than the previous installment, and by the end was eager to hear Sam B's second single (when the heck did he have time to record a second single?) as the credits roll.
If you expected Techland to learn from thier mistakes of the extremely bad matchmaking and mysterious dropouts that happen as inexplicably as a zombie outbreak on a touristy island, you're going to be in for a world of hurt. I had major issues joining games at times, and having others join me, and often would have to attempt to try dozens of times before finally getting the fickle servers to let me get my undead street sweeping team together.
When you do finally get a team together, expect more of the same as the last game. Sam B does an amazing job tanking, Xian Mei on medic duty and back attacking is as lethal as ever, Purna still gives the best passives, and whoever plays as Logan is likely to be screaming to hold up as he searches for that rare thrown weapon that he just can't find. The new character, John, on the other hand, is as useless as a postcard in a team effort, and mainly built as a solo character with no passives whatsoever. It's strange that Techland would add a character to a co-op game that is focused on solo play, as opposed to a healer type class which would have been a welcome addition. Oh well, nobody likes John anyways.
Hi, I'm John Morgan. Australian Wolverine fan, and useless addition to the game!
As a game that is meant to be played with friends, a multiplayer experience is highly suggested as the way to go. This is a game that is just exponentially more fun with a bud or three with you. You will get the best out of almost any character if you play with others, so it's highly recommended as the way to go. Techland even went as far as to add a trophy requiring you to do all of the main missions with a friend, so if you're one of those people who doesn't want to play with others, this probably isn't the game for you. There isn't much of a competitive aspect, and with the drops now being shared, so that everybody gets their own loot pool, there's no reason not to have other people with you as much as you can.
If you were expecting a graphical upgrade, a sound overall, tightened controls, or pretty much anything that makes this game feel more than a gory-fied add-on, you're going to be left wanting. Along with the server issues and random dropouts, a lot of the minor bugs still exist as well. You'll occasionally toss a weapon only to find it disappear entirely, and although this problem is far less common than it was in the first game, it's still fairly annoying. You'll have major clipping at some points, particularly in the city areas, that can be quite annoying as a building just randomly disappears from view as your character walks near them. The hit detection is extremely bad, particularly with some weapons like the chainsaw which seems to be as terrified of the zombies as the tourists are.
For what it's worth, Dead Island: Riptide is definitely playable and fun when you do get going. Having the enemies now scale to your level means the developers eliminated the grinding issues that caused players hours of forced replay the same missions again. You're going to have minor hiccups every now and again, but with an overhaul to the pricing of repairs issues, the cost of items, and overall flow of the game, you'll find Dead Island: Riptide to be a better streamlined experience than the original. Most of the improvements feel like something you would get from a patch, rather than something from a new game, though.
Definitely a technical step in the right direction in almost every department except the sound, which I feel sounds like something from a 30-year old B-horror movie, but that is probably by design. But then again, with the original being one of the sloppiest technical messes this side of a zombie buffet, the game only had one direction to go and that is up.
Dead Island: Riptide is a fairly straight forward trophy list. Wanting you to kill with every weapon type is fairly expected, and having to drive over enemies while boosting in a speedboat isn't as difficult as it sounds. Having to do all the sidequests and Dead Zones is also something you will be doing in your grind to hit level 70. The only trophies that will probably give people fits are the one for completing all the missions with another person, having to have 100 enemies you mark killed by a teammate, oh and the collectibles! There are only 60 collectibles, and a few of them are easy to find, but most people will find this to be the deal breakers on the road to a platinum. With a guide the collectibles shouldn't be too much trouble, but is as big of a hurdle as infinitely respawning zombies are going to be against most people's 100%.
Anybody who enjoyed the original Dead Island will find this game as a continuation of the original, with new scenery and a few minor improvements. Those who were expecting Dead Island: Riptide to overhaul the issues that contaminated the original, are going to see very little cures for the problems that plagued the original. It feels a lot more like a really long expansion, than it does a sequel, but for anybody who enjoyed the hack-a-thon that the original delivered, you're going to find more of the same action as the original, just not a lot in the innovation department.
The new enemies, character, maps, are expected, but nothing that blows you away. The addition of proficiency in every weapon type allows for more flexibility, but aside from the bonus for guns, is likely to be unused by most. Many of the positives that made the original game great is still here, so if you're a fan of the original, this will deliver some extra hours into your favorite zombie slayer's journey.
Dead Island: Riptide's story might actually be worse than it was before. The side characters are uninteresting, but they did add John "I'm useless to a group" Morgan for the people who are antisocial. You can always journey out alone, but I highly recommend that you find you some buddies to make the journey a more enjoyable one.
Dead Island was one of the more enjoyable co-op games of this generation, and although it had matchmaking issues, it was a blast with friends. Riptide carries on that example, both good and bad, and offers a few minor bonuses for the journey. I highly recommend that if you do play this game, do it with a friend. Besides, you're going to need to play with others to get that platinum anyways!
A few minor issues with matchmaking, clipping, tearing, and weird spontaneous acting zombies all make their much wanted return. They did fix a lot of the minor issues with the interface, shopping, repairing and made picking up money to be a far less tedious and frustrating experience. This game is never going to be a technical marvel in the sound, writing, or voice acting department either, but it doesn't stop it from being a boatload of fun.