I reviewed the original Dead Island almost two years ago. I thought it was a fun game, a few flaws held it back from absolute greatness, but ultimately a ton of fun. I had just purchased a PC version of the game when I heard the announcement about the spinoff/sequel Dead Island Riptide. I had reasonable hopes for the game, after all the first game was buggy but I am sure there was a lot to do in another game.
I want to explain early that there are some glaring areas of improvement in Dead Island Riptide. The absolute worst issue I encountered is a glitch I was able to continually cause. Whenever I decapitated a limb or head from a zombie when they were in water, the game flows down to about .5 frame a second. It’s pretty bad because they game itself doesn’t actually slow down, this means that if you get the massive slowdown glitch, you are a sitting duck for the undead hordes for a few seconds. It isn’t a 100% sure thing when you kill zombies in the water, but when it happens, it is real bad. The other issue I really had was that there are oddly placed spawn points that seem to get stuck in a constant reset. In chapter 3 there was a spawn point for 3 infected that was pretty much on an infinite loop, if you killed them they would come right back. Needless to say, they made it incredibly difficult to get anything done in the immediate area. Finally, when you use the instant kill attack that can be used when you are above a zombie, you will sometimes miss and end up floating vulnerable for a few seconds. Other than that, I encountered a few audio glitches and enemies getting stuck in walls or underground. Outside of the water issue, nothing else was really infuriating. The interesting thing here was that texture issues from the first game have been completely remedied and the characters look a little better than they did in the first game.
I played this game alone and I played this game with friends, the game plays almost completely different in both situations. In single player, it feels more like a survival horror game than anything else. The music is intense, the zombies and enemies show up without any notice and fighting without a plan will lead to an easy death. I had my share of moments where I jumped when I would get a surprise boat visitor or a zombie grabbed me when I least expected it. I was able to notice the improved AI and difficulty more in this mode as I didn’t have anyone to watch my back. The fact that you encounter the different types of zombies much earlier means that you have to stay on your toes constantly, I got ambushed my butchers far too many horrific times.
When I played in co-op, we had tons of fun. Everything aside, we had some amazing moments where we would pull off amazing saves or killer combos when fighting enemies. The strategy in multiplayer made things way more enjoyable as well. Often times we would add mods to certain weapons to work well with each others gear. We did learn that thrown weapons like deo-bombs and molotovs do have a horrible habit of hitting teammates. In fact, I died a few handful of times to explosives that my friend had thrown. Laughs ensued.
I felt that the game was way more difficult, which was nice because Dead Island got way too easy once things got moving. The crafting seemed to take more work as well, I needed to actually seek out certain items that I didn’t immediately have access to. I really liked all the extra areas and special ‘named’ zombies that you can encounter as well as the many island residents that will always be around to ask for help.
Is Dead Island Riptide a perfect release? No, not at all, although I really wish it was? Is it better than the first game? Yeah, by all accounts I have to say it is. The story may be quite a bit more stale than the first game but the actual exploration in Riptide feels so much more worthwhile. The game provides a great looking backdrop to the carnage and the sense of despair and hopelessness almost is palpable while playing. Single player is a challenging experience that actually has a few scary opportunities while multiplayer is an amazing experience if you can get a few people together. When playing with more people, the game is all about teamwork and watching each other’s backs. It’s what a zombie game should be.
Is Dead Island Riptide the best zombie game ever? Mmmm, nah it probably isn’t. Is it the best multiplayer zombie game that is out for $50? Hell yeah it is. If I hadn’t been sent a review copy of this game, I would still purchase it. Ultimately, here are still some major issues that are in Dead Island Riptide, but the amount of enjoyment I have gotten out of the game itself far outweighs the cons.
How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!