Game Review: Dead Rising 4 + DLC (Xbox One)

The Dead Rising series is a bit of a favourite here at GBHBL. We’ve reviewed many of the games so far as well as crossovers such as comics & movies. You can read the full list below:

Xbox 360 – Dead Rising
Xbox One – Dead Rising 3
Mobile – Dead Rising
Xbox One – Dead Rising 3 – Season Pass
Xbox One – Dead Rising: Triple Pack

Dead Rising: Watchtower (2015)
Dead Rising: Endgame (2016)

Comic – Dead Rising: Road to Fortune

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Dead Rising 4 sees the return of series favourite, Frank West (he’s covered wars, you know?) but more excitingly, a return to Willamette, the site of the first outbreak in the original game. Taking the core gameplay of the series but removing many of the elements that made it challenging, Dead Rising 4 is a fun & chaotic experience marred by numerous bugs & glitches.

Set in 2022, one year after the events of Dead Rising 3, Frank West is now a college professor teaching photography. One of his students, Vicky (Vick) comes to him having heard about secret governmental research taking place at a military compound on the outskirts of Willamette. She convinces Frank to come with her to investigate where they discover new zombie experiments are taking place.

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These new zombies are fast & extremely violent. Frank & Vick are discovered but manage to escape leaving Frank a fugitive.

Months later, Frank is tracked down by Brad Park, an agent for the ZDC who wants him to come to Willamette. There has been a zombie outbreak, a massive one occurring during the Black Friday sales & Brad wants Frank to investigate it.

Frank only agrees once he gets exclusive rights to the story, however Vick is already there doing her own investigation. After Brad & Frank’s helicopter is shot down it’s up to the sarcastic reporter to discover the truth. Just who are Obscuris & what do they want? What caused the outbreak and who or what is Calder?

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Gameplay will be familiar to most regular Dead Rising players. You control Frank from a 3rd person perspective with Willamette being an open world to explore. Whereas before just the mall was accessible, now the surrounding town is open.

One of the major series components removed from Dead Rising 4 is the timer. Players are free to complete missions & explore Willamette at their leisure. This is extremely disappointing as this core element is what added difficulty & tension to the story. It’s not the only thing to have been removed though. Survivors no longer come in mission forms. Instead there are 4 safe houses spread throughout the major areas of Willamette.

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As Frank makes his way around town seemingly random events will occur such as having to rescue a survivor from a group of zombies, having to rescue a survivor from Obscuris soldiers or destroy some equipment. These events play out exactly the same every single time & are incredibly repetitive. Simply leaving an area, returning 5 minutes later will see the exact same event happen again.

When rescued the survivor doesn’t need escorting, they will make their own way back to the safehouse in their area. The more survivors you rescue, the higher the level the safe house becomes. This allows access to more collectable maps, weapons, vehicles & food shops within (max level is 3 – 15 survivors).

Psychopaths also got an overhaul, with a lot more human enemies on the streets. As well as the occasional optional mission to investigate a particular event.

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The removal of all of these classic Dead Rising 4 elements suggest a dumbing down of the series to appeal to a more causal audience. It makes the game far easier to pick up & play but lacks excitement or replay value.

Player progression points (PP) makes a return, as does camera elements with a new investigative twist during certain story-line moments. This is a welcome addition. Levelling up unlocks skill points that can improve Frank greatly & many collectables give actual upgrades rather than being boring extras.

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Being set around the Christmas period meant the developers could have some fun with the combo weapons & finding all the blueprints to unlock them all is a fun, extra challenge. Zombie slaying is as fun as it always is Dead Rising 4 with the absolute mass of undead on screen at one time. Throw in the new zombie type (as well as an even deadlier one later in the game) & they actually have threat. Getting stuck amongst a big group of them can be challenging especially on the harder difficulties.

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As frustrating as all the gameplay changes are, Dead Rising 4 is still a blast to play. However, it is a seriously buggy & glitched experience months after release.

For example, the game turned every single sound & camera control option off or to the lowest setting on first install. You shouldn’t have to spend 15 minutes adjusting everything when you first load into the game.

During a chase mission, the person being chased stopped running & stood still forcing a reload of an earlier checkpoint. Later that same person ran into a wall & got stuck resulting in another reload of an earlier checkpoint.

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Cut-scenes load with most of their textures missing & the in-game counters for zombies, combo weapons & much more are incorrect. Items will drop through the floor, Frank will get stuck in place while zombies attack & even the end boss sometimes won’t go into his fight animation meaning you have to start it all over again.

Shockingly poor stuff especially when so much content has been pulled out of the game. Stuffing the game full of collectables doesn’t extend what is a pretty short & repetitive story. It’s really doesn’t have as much impact as it could have been being back in Willamette & the villain of the piece is uninteresting.

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It’s far too easy & can be completed (story-wise) in a handful of hours. There is no co-op play anymore, instead it’s been replaced with a separate multiplayer mode that sees up to 4 players working together to complete missions & survive days.

Surprisingly fun & in-depth, its use of separate characters, levelling up & attributes makes it feel like a completely separate game. I also found it to be less buggy then the main game! However, its problem lies in the obvious…no-one is playing it. Getting a full team of 4 is not easy task & should you manage someone will inevitably get disconnected or drop out.

The multi-player segment can be played alone but tackling bosses alone is near impossible. It’s a pity as it is fun & feels more like classic Dead Rising with timers & varied missions to complete.

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Since its initial release Dead Rising 4 has seen two paid for DLCs. The first a minor addition called Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini-Golf. It is exactly as it sounds, over the top & surprisingly fun to play, having Frank & a zombie on commentary adds some extra chuckles to the experience. It’s not going to hold your attention for too long even if there are lots of different items to unlock but it’s still worth a ‘putt’.

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The second & more important DLC is story based & continues on from the ending of the main game. Essentially an epilogue, it offers some new gameplay elements, collectables & brings back the timer. Going into the story would reveal massive spoilers however it is disappointing to see the developers not commit to the ending they gave in the main game. It’s even more disappointing to see this quite important story development locked behind a paywall effectively telling those who can’t afford it or don’t want to buy it that their story ending is not the true one.

Is it worth the money? Not really. It’s very short & really just amounts to a number of fetch missions dressed up in slightly different gameplay. As the DLC goes on that gameplay actually starts to feel really restrictive too as all your movement has to be done on foot.

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The return of Frank West & Willamette is ultimately a let-down with far too much core gameplay elements cut out & replaced with nothing. The story is lacking & far too short & the town as whole is just not that much fun to explore. However, zombie slaying, combo-weapon making etc. still proves to be as much fun as it always was. Even the changes made to Frank himself doesn’t dent his often-hilarious quips.

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  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Dead Rising 4 + DLC
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