Published on December 4th, 2013 | by Dembonez190
Review: Dead Island: Riptide
Publisher: Deep Silver
Systems: 360, PS3, PSN, PC
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Welcome to Palanai! Our heroes from the original Dead Island are back again and have found themselves right back in the hell that they believed they left behind in Banoi. This time, however, there is a little extra help tagging along.
Dead Island: Riptide is more of an extension of the original than an actual sequel since a lot of the graphics and gameplay mechanics stayed the same. It also continues the story where the game left off in Dead Island, so if you wish to learn the story of Dead Island before playing or watching someone play the game, it would be a good idea to get the full story here. Riptide answers a number of questions that were left up in the air at the end of the first game, but Riptide still has unanswered questions of its own that may or may not ever be resolved. If you choose to begin playing Riptide immediately without playing the precursor, Purna will bring you up to speed as best she can before the game begins.
With a lot of the gameplay remaining the same, the developers had the opportunity to fix some of the issues they had originally with bugs, glitches, and connectivity. While glitches still occur within the game, the freezes are far less frequent, and other bugs that interrupted the experience previously are fewer. Connectivity has also greatly improved. While playing with four players living a good distance away from each other does strain the connection at certain points, it is possible to play with one or two other people from across oceans with very few problems while the original Dead Island had many people freezing upon entry or unable to connect altogether. This boost makes the game much more enjoyable and allowed for more friends to play at once without worrying about dropping.
While five players cannot play cooperatively, a fifth character has been added to the group of heroes: John Morgan. This man was a former soldier of the Australian Defense Force (ADF). While the government, the police, and the military are probably at the bottom of everyone’s most trustworthy list in this game, he is just like the other heroes in that he is immune to the infection. His specialty is hand-to-hand combat which is convenient once your weapons begin to disintegrate. He’s a great addition and adds much more to the story than his physical presence as you will find out once you begin to play and start picking up collectibles.
Some of the other added features to Riptide include really intense hub defense sequences, boats, Dead Zones, and brand new zombies among new weapons and areas to explore. Hub defense is a high adrenaline race to save yourself and your friends from a swarm of zombies. One cool thing about this experience is that the main heroes are not the only characters that participate. The NPCs play a much larger role in Riptide than they did in the first Dead Island. They add a lot to the story because many of them travel with you and are not forgotten about later on like some of the earlier NPCs in the original. Many of the quests they send you on have you traveling alone, but they are much more beneficial to the main heroes now than acting as mere quest-givers. There are fewer people to rescue in this game, but the fact that the NPCs that exist play a larger role in the story makes up for that.
Boats may or may not be a favorite addition to Riptide players. The steering is a little off, and it’s somewhat difficult to understand and follow the map of the river while simultaneously taking control of the boat. Drowners are new zombies introduced in Riptide, and there are plenty of them. Unlike being somewhat protected by a truck’s or jeep’s walls, drowners have the capability of pulling players out of the boat meaning that while online, those viewing the map are at a higher risk of being pulled into the water and killed before reaching their destinations. On one hand, this is one thing that causes players to stay close and work together. On the other hand, the massive amount of drowners that appear and chase the boat could cause some unneeded frustration to players still finding their way around.
Dead Zones are fun new additions to Riptide that satisfy those who enjoy grinding and leveling up. Leveling up in general is much easier this time around with the number of quest givers who ask for specific items. Since some of the items requested can be bought with the help of vendors, Dead Zones are not totally necessary to level up. However, with the experience boost, they also provide an extra challenge, introduce new zombie types, and also may or may not contain a boss zombie that needs to be defeated. Collectors will find the Dead Zones interesting because each new encounter with a zombie adds an entry to Dr. Kessler’s casebook in the game. This book gives full descriptions of the zombies, their weak points, how big of a threat they are, and any other extra information that the player may need to know. Because there are so many different types of infected in the game, it’s worth it to explore every nook and cranny early on to get as much information as possible to take with you later on.
The main interface has more or less remained the same in terms of how to open it and flip through to check skills, find nearby players, etc. There have been additional skills added to the skill tree that were not in the previous game that enhance the characters’ abilities, but it isn’t a drastic change. The map continues to show fast travel points within safe zones and is generally easy to follow when not in a boat. The navigation on the map has gotten a bit trickier however. Before, the path leading to specific locations to complete tasks appeared on the map all the time. In Riptide, these paths do not appear unless the player is close to the quest’s destination. This makes navigation somewhat difficult in areas that are blocked off or in the river since physically opening the map and making way points is almost a must. It almost makes the paths appearing on the map useless since the player is almost where they need to be anyway. That was one change that didn’t need to happen. If the paths were confusing before, a smarter system could have been implemented to allow the paths to create the most logical path for the player.
Those who enjoyed playing as one character in Dead Island have the ability to import that character into Riptide along with his or her skill tree sets and, of course, his or her level upon the last time Dead Island was played. Weapons however will not import over due to story reasons. Still, having a high-leveled character with skills already set could make getting into Riptide a little more seamless especially since Riptide is more of a continuation than a sequel to the original game.
Compared to the original, Riptide’s main plot is much shorter. There are enough sidequests to keep you busy, but even those do not add much time to the game compared to the last one. This is great in that the game never seems to drag on. Even with only three maps to explore, there is enough to see and do to keep yourself entertained. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like there is much to see, but there are a handful of areas that are indoors to navigate within each map meaning that there is far more to do than meets the eye.
If you are looking for an exciting co-op experience with lots of looting and exploration potential, then Dead Rising: Riptide is a lot of fun. Those who enjoyed the first game a great amount should also find this to be a lot of fun. Those who are just starting may have a hard time getting into the story initially, but Palanai luckily has its own extended plot that allows new players to jump in and enjoy it. The visuals continue to look excellent, the music is as intense as ever, and there is enough blood and gore to last awhile!
+ Improved online connectivity
+ NPCs are more involved
+ Well-implemented new features
– Map paths are flawed, especially with boats
– Playing alone could be overwhelming at some places
Final score: 4 out of 5