Why Dead Rising 4's Campaign Ditches the Series' Most Divisive Mechanic
The original Dead Rising was memorable for many reasons, including its inane costumes, insane bosses, and hundreds upon hundreds of zombies. By far its most infamous aspect, however, was its unforgiving deadline, which granted players just 72 in-game hours to complete the main campaign. Dead Rising 2 foisted the same restriction upon its players, and even Dead Rising 3 upheld the tradition by allowing players to opt into "Nightmare Mode."
But the latest installment of the long-running open world beat-em-up series, Dead Rising 4, does not currently contain an option to impose a time limit on the story campaign. When asked why, Capcom Vancouver studio head Joe Nickolls responded, "We did a ton of user research on it, and the majority of the people said they didn't really love the timer--they wanted to explore. There's so much hidden side content that when we did it with a timer, people were just getting pissed off because they couldn't finish half of what they wanted to finish."
Nickolls continued, explaining that Dead Rising 4's focus on exploration means even an optional time limit might not make sense. "The world has been designed with multiple levels of exploration," he said. "It's so dense this time. There are stores, there are apartments above the stores, there are hidden areas and rooms." He further reasoned that eliminating the campaign's deadline prevents players from having to replay the same content each and every time they restart the game.
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In addition, Nickolls mentioned the game contains fewer "street burgers" than previous Dead Rising games, meaning you're not going to find as many helpful items in random places that don't make sense. You're going to have to play smart. "We want people to start thinking about, 'Okay, if I was in a zombie apocalypse and I needed to get some food, I should probably go to the grocery store.' Or, 'I need clothes, so I'm going to go to the laundromat.' We tried to give it a bit more strategic stuff," said Nickolls.
Despite his many objections to including a deadline in the campaign, the game's online multiplayer does offer players a chance to relive that classic challenge. "We put a timer in the online mode because we wanted people to have that kind of experience with their friends," said Nickolls. "It's four-player co-op online with distinct, specific missions and stuff to do in that mode."
While some fans may balk at the exclusion of Dead Rising's signature deadline mechanic, Nickolls seems confident in his team's direction. "If we keep making the same Dead Rising over and over, the people that just want the very same thing are going to get what they want," said Nickolls. "But people want to see growth, they want to see us adapting as we go." Nickolls also noted, "You're going to piss someone off no matter what you do, right?"
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