What We Want From Dead Island: Riptide

I loved the idea behind Dead Island, but the game was marred by myriad technical issues, a sub-par story and an overlong trip to the sewers.  However, fun melee combat and intense cooperative play really set the game apart from the dozens of other zombie games out there.  With the upcoming Dead Island: Riptide, developer Deep Silver has a chance to create something special.  Here are five problems we hope they fix.

A Unified Setting:  The only cool part of Dead Island was the island part.  That may seem obvious, but you didn’t actually spend a lot of time in the resort area.  Just when things started to get interesting, Deep Silver yanks you out of the beautiful resort into a favela that wouldn’t look out of place in a Call of Duty game.  Even worse, you travel from there into a very prominent sewer level that drags on for far too long.  Riptide needs to drop the crap (literally), and stick with a unified open world.  I would love to see a return to the island resort, but as long as they keep it interesting this time, I’ll hopefully have little reason to complain.  I know the game starts on the military boat, but after that I suppose its anybody’s guest.

At least they rejected the initial title “Deader Island”

No Degrading Weapons:  Seriously, a degrading weapon mechanic hasn’t been fun since…well, ever.  I appreciate how the game forced you to make serious choices with your weapons, but the cost of maintaining an impressive array of knives and broom handles started to become outrageous.  I imagine a system where you can still upgrade and mod your favorite weapons, but degradation is removed, or at the very least scaled back considerably.  Nobody likes spending their hard cash repairing the same machete over and over again.  Instead, I would like to see some expanded options to make our weapons even more personal.  Maybe a naming function?

More Diverse Skills:  I enjoyed the RPG-lite elements of Dead Island, but I think they need to beef them up considerably for the sequel.  The original featured only three skill trees per character, but even that was deceptive, as most of the skills were throw away filler content.  +2% critical chance may be practical, but it is hella boring.  Riptide needs more game changing abilities, and more skills that differentiate the four characters.  I would like to see a system more like Borderlands, featuring a large variety of skills that really change the way you play.  More so, I’d like Riptide to do a better job of adapting to your particular play style.  Perhaps a Skyrim-like level-as-you-use-them system could be implemented, or they could come out of left field with something.  Either way, this phase of the game needs major upgrading.

I’ll hold these three off with my baseball bat. You point the gun in that direction for no reason.

Flesh The Characters Out:  Personally, I was hoping they would scratch the old characters, because that group had the combined charisma of a tree stump.  However, if Deep Silver wants people to care about these guys, they have some major work to do.  Seriously, I didn’t even realize that all four characters were apparently together, until a cut scene half-way into the game informed that yes, I was indeed traveling with a group.  I’d like to see some motive for caring about these people, besides an affinity for sharp weapons over blunt ones.  The voice acting and animation work wasn’t exactly state-of-the-art in Dead Island, and the static quest system was a little tiresome.   Barring a major overhaul, this is probably the area I’m worried most about.

Expanded Enemy Types:  Killing zombies was a true treat in Dead Island, but the lack of variety in the enemy design quickly turned the combat more tedious than it should have been.  I enjoyed fighting the Brutes, and even appreciated how the Exploders made me change my tactics up…and that’s about it.  Riptide needs to shake the formula up with more enemies.  Much like Left 4 Dead, I would like to see different enemies that force you to adapt your tactics on the fly.  The chaos of a zombie attack was captured beautifully in Dead Island, and I would like to see the combat take similar strides.  The melee combat was actually really fun, and I like to get a chance to stretch my legs with it.