Frank West returns though a bit older this time around indulging in late night photography teaching. One night a student of his named Vick invites him out for Minigolf and instead takes him to an apparent testing facility. This facility is just outside of Willamette which was the location of the first outbreak and the original Dead Rising. Things take a turn for the worse as the entire town eventually ends up in the swarm of a new outbreak and Frank West gets dragged right back into it. Split off into simpler large cases this is a much more streamlined version of the series. Frank has been completely revamped for this title and it works well as he comes across a bit more charming though quite an ass as everyone says.
Despite featuring an open world environment that's seamless without loading screens it really does guide you along. They removed certain key elements from the series such as the time pressure on missions, psychopaths and saving people you come across (side missions). This led to me just running through the game and not really caring about anything else or even noticing much of the world. After doing a couple save a random person event that has you just clear zombies around them and take on a mini stronger "maniac" boss there was just no appeal. The random aspect does keep things fresh, but it completely erases the charm of having crafted side stories to take part in.
That being said the story was enjoyable having some interesting missions that took you all over, yet it felt slightly repetitive. It was very focused on running somewhere far, talking with people and then killing a boss. There was something special about taking the time to venture around the world and manage your time, it feels empty without it. It's not to say I didn't enjoy playing through the story, I just found it left important elements behind and took away the care to explore. The campaign also drops cooperative play which was a great addition in past titles and doesn't offer a sandbox mode. Sandbox was one of the best aspects they introduced in the series and it's a real shame that it isn't present here.
The cooperative multiplayer allows four players to group together online by matchmaking or with friends to compete. This is a friendly competition for points as you tackle a series of random events within day structured episodes. These competitions range from killing zombies with certain weapons, to clearing places and collecting objects. Each episode is about an hour in length though you'll need to replay each episode as the next episode unlocks through in-episode mission completion. This was fun though it does get quite repetitive since it all takes place within the mall and just cycles around it. At the end of the days within episodes you'll also face off against a boss which are slight variations on maniacs from the story and all of which take place within the same small circular area which feels lazy.
This is actually the strongest element of the game as the menu has been greatly streamlined for a smoother time. The tedious item sorting from the last games is gone and replaced by a quick use option. Your items are now easily separated by throwables; melee, distance weapons and health items. All of these can be accessed using the D-Pad to easily select them instead of cycling through a long list. There's also a full skill tree for various aspects of play from inventory to health and points are earned just by playing. The points unlock often and leveling in general is rather fast creating little challenge within the world as you quickly become a tank. Your general progression carries over between single player and multiplayer though the skill trees are separate.
The environment is damn beautiful and definitely what the full realization was from the original game as there's just a ton of things to play with. The stores and buildings are littered with objects to grab to kill zombies with or even combine for better weapons. The level of detail is also fantastic with no blur on any of the objects and it's crazy to see such a well done draw distance. This is further amplified by having no loading screens as you just smoothly travel the city. It's also filled to the brim with zombies that can be dismembered or killed in a variety of ways and the gore is gorgous.
Dead Rising 4 is a great game, it brings an intriguing campaign in a fully realized world filled with places to explore. For whatever reason they've removed the elements of gameplay that makes it fun to check those out as the campaign just strings you along. The removal of proper psychopaths was a massive mistake as those encounters were always my favorite memories from the older games and the lack of actually saving survivors removes all side elements. I'm also fairly certain that fans of the other games will be a bit disappointed by the direction of the story as the ending was unsatisfying (as a fan).
The multiplayer is a great addition in that it provides solid replay options for friends, but it's repetitive. It also lacks focus having you just tackle a bunch of random missions instead of doing something with purpose. I still had fun playing it, but I hope they open it up more as the mall doesn't have enough variety in itself to make the multiplayer fresh each time. This is especially true with the boss fights all taking place in the same spot as the map is large enough that there could be other options. The removal of coop campaign play is a travesty, having no sandbox mode is just a terrible choice and this game feels like a step back for the series.
Review Done on Dead Rising 4 for Xbox One
Review Code Provided by Microsoft