I’ve played a lot of games recently but I wanted to stop and think about the shortcomings of Dead Rising 4 (single player campaign without DLC) and what might fix it. (played on Windows 10)
It’s way too easy
I think the biggest misstep here is the difficulty level. Dead Rising 1 & 2 were extremely hard.
You would fight and die in a limited area over and over – there was a sense of urgency due to the quest timers. You would fail the first few games, but you could restart the game while keeping your level/upgrades.
In the previous outing, Dead Rising 3 was missing that, but at least forced you to find save points.
But in Dead Rising 4, it auto saves constantly, not that you’ll need it. I only died once – near the end of the game, and only on a final boss. There is zero worry or tension to “make it back to the save point” in this game.
Saving survivors is generic
Ok, I know, everybody hates escort quests, but if each survivor had unique dialog and not TOO far to escort, it would have been more meaningful than the simple “kill all zombies within 5 meters and insta-win” for every single survivor interaction. Cheap.
Emergency shelters are entirely unnecessary
There are upgradable shelters where you can buy things. Survivors will show up in these, upgrading them. I don’t think I visited a single one more than once, and ordered a car only a single time. They are completely interchangeable and meaningless in the grand scheme of things. A real waste, why even have them if you’re gonna do that.
It was over so quick
It’s a very short campaign. There is this gorgeous huge mall area but I only ran through it like once, figuring I’d need to come back. I didn’t. The game ended suddenly, and that was it. I only got to kill a couple “Maniacs”, as I incorrectly figured I’d be required to kill some later but never was. Poor writing, small amount of mission/story content.
Loot was overpowered
There was never any real reason to need new blueprints or carefully make/hoard good weapons or health items. Everything is everywhere in great quantities.
How I would fix it
- MAKE IT HARD! It should actually be possible to be surrounded by zombies and die. This would add an element of strategy so you might have to find roof to roof routes instead of how it is now, which is just go anywhere and jump a lot while laughing and being zany. See Dying Light for an example
- Cut health in half and kill or dramatically nerf the health regen. Put the best weapons and health items in logical stores. If you really have to ruin the game, at least add it as an “Easy mode” and default to normal
- Ditch the generic “shelters” and instead wrap the narrative around a specific group at one shelter for a while
- Need an actual story. What is here is REALLY bland and squanders the dramatic opportunity a zombie apocalypse can offer
- Tie maniac killing into the main story line “We need this gasoline stand cleaned out for the generator, so you’ll have to kill the maniac there” type stuff. Or even a dumb “Kill 2 more maniacs to advance the story” if you have to, anything to control the pacing better
- For the love of all that is holy, remove auto save and force the player to locate and use save points, which will then show up on the map
- Tune difficulty so you’ll stay in each area for much longer doing quests for your “group”. Also have a group. Control game flow to introduce new areas at a steady rate and learn the maps
- Ramp up item powers/blueprints slowly, you shouldn’t be able to get the best stuff right away. After gaining power, modify the rules to keep the early areas difficult again to throw the player off balance. (Remember those bee things from the first one?)
- The comedy of putting on crazy clothes is ok, but having the main character randomly give mostly dumb zingers constantly didn’t really work. I guess I’m asking for better writing, something a bit more subtle with the humor
- The engine, visuals, and weapon mechanics were all fine, I’d keep those
- I’m not exactly sure about this one, but I would bring back “restart game with acquired levels/skills” and quest/rescue timers. It’s a bit controversial but let’s face it, that’s why we’ll never forget the earlier titles in the series
Ok, sorry for the rant but at least I feel better now. Maybe this just didn’t have the budget or time to do a proper campaign but even with with just balance tweaks and the save point improvements this could have been a much better game.