I am going to play the shit out of Dead Island: Riptide

Friday, 5th April 2013 12:20 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Dead Island: Riptide is the most fun Brenna has had all year, which probably means she needs to get out more.

First person melee in 2013 is mashing the buttons, vaguely aiming, and hoping for the best. If there is more than one enemy on screen, you can’t see a thing. If there is an ally on screen, you can’t see a thing. If TechLand turned friendly fire on, everyone would die while you’re still waiting for one of your mates to plug his headset in. It’s laughably cumbersome.

When the local PR representative for Dead Island: Riptide asked me to come play games one afternoon instead of doing any actual work, I didn’t even bother to look at the calendar. Do you know what they have at preview events? They have couches. Do you know what I don’t own at the moment? A couch. I don’t give a rat’s left buttcheek what game is being shown; if I can leave the house, speak to humans, and sit on something comfortable while holding a control pad, I am all over it.

At the time, Dead Island: Riptide was not high on my priorities list. When I sauntered across to King’s Cross to take a look at it I was just starting to get really, really excited about some other releases, including a couple of indies so deeply wanky they’ve been blind since before birth. The thought of playing what is – let’s face it – one of the stupidest game ideas ever conceived of did not pull on my heartstrings very much. I was there for the couch.

Let’s just pause for a moment so I can quantify my likely uncontested claim that Dead Island’s formula is one of the most wretchedly dumb the industry has ever produced. First person melee just does not work. Maybe it will, one day, but that day is not today; first person melee in 2013 is mashing the buttons, vaguely aiming, and hoping for the best. If there is more than one enemy on screen, you can’t see a thing. If there is an ally on screen, you can’t see a thing. If TechLand turned friendly fire on, everyone would die while you’re still waiting for one of your mates to plug his headset in. It’s laughably cumbersome.

You can sort of see how it came about, fiddling around with a mod, taking the guns out of a shooter, playing the hilarious awful result with some friends – and suddenly wondering if anybody would pay money for the experience. It’s an appalling mess. But just like that wince-worthy college significant other you pretend never happened, it’s somehow such incredible fun that you forgive it all its faults. Really, the only difference is, Dead Island does not deny you custody of your children, shag your best friend, and run off with your credit cards after giving one of your aunts a heart attack, leaving you filled with regret and a painful itch when you pee.

I really liked Dead Island: Riptide. Like Jack said, sometimes you just love things, genital warts and all.

I played the one with the knife. My friend played the one with the dodgy Australian accent. My other friend also played the one with the knife. We spent a lot of time talking about running in high heels on jetties and fly-kicking in short skirts that somehow always cover your panties.

In this gameplay video, a lot of fairly stupid
things happen, and everyone shouts
“hooray” and opens another beer.

Dead Island: Riptide does not get any less stupid no matter how long you play it. You can get kind of good at it, but only up to a point. After that, there just isn’t any more skill to attain. After about an hour, I’m pretty sure I became one of the best Dead Island players in the world. Every time I targeted a limb, that limb was hit. I used the flying-kick-head-stomp combo to such devastating effect that someone yelled “hack” even though we were all playing on PR-owned consoles connected via LAN. I power-gamed my way through the available story content so fast that my crew of three finished the demo with half an hour to spare while another team of four – guided by the PR reps, no less – were still wittering away at the first hub when they booted us out. Somehow, my mastery of the gameplay on offer did not lead to boredom.

Bigger and nastier enemies came, in increasing numbers. I mowed them down with my amazing shovel, the demo build’s ultimate bladed weapon, which I had upgraded with a venom effect and used incongruously with a backstab skill I’d stacked all my points in. One of my squad mates kept setting us all on fire, but we did not care; we just fly-kicked the flames out of existence. We drove a boat along a river filled with over-powered baddies, laughing hysterically every time one hit the hull with a “thunk” and was torn to shreds. We also laughed pretty hysterically when one of us was dragged from the boat and left to walk the whole way back, exposed to the afore-mentioned baddies. We laughed hysterically when we died, and we laughed hysterically when we won. I am not 100% sure PR was not pumping nitrous oxide into the room.

About the only thing that might have improved this experience was if I had been rascally drunk, but VG247 is staffed by consummate professionals and anyway I ran out of time to go to the bottleo first.

I’m going to buy Dead Island: Riptide, unless it turns up in the mail as so many things seem to do since I became famous enough to get a vague mention on a t-shirt. It’s ridiculously stupid. It’s pretty broken, too – the number of times we got caught on the geometry was astounding. The crafting is still a bit of a nightmare to understand and the skill trees still seem a bit unbalanced. The “plot” is still fetch quest after fetch quest after fetch quest after puzzled staring at the map to figure out which god damned objective you’re up to after fetch quest. The environments still look like someone’s just discovered the copy paste shortcut at age 45 and by god is going to make up for lost time.

But as long as I can fire it up on launch day and have online multiplayer actually work – something the original faffed up – I genuinely don’t care. It may be the multiplayer game I turn to most often this year. I am going to play the shit out of it.

Dead Island: Riptide is due on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in late April.



  1. frostquake

    I call this, My Guilty Little Pleasure!

    #1 2 years ago
  2. silkvg247

    I dunno, I think I have missed the boat on these muiltiplayer coop games. I like the idea, of having friends (or strangers) to play with in Borderlands, L4D and Dead Island. But I never coop. The main reason being I want to absorb the game and explore and loot and take my time. In the meantime everyone else is running off like headless chickens progressing the story and making me feel I have to rush. I hate being rushed.

    Then there’s level/progression disparities.

    The first time I tried Dead Island coop with my friend he couldn’t understand why I just wanted to quit right at the start because he’d picked an existing high level character with guns, and because he’d already skipped the intro which I’d never seen.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. The_Red

    I hear you but out of the top 3, I’d suggest trying L4D. Specially on the harder difficulties, everyone will have to explore, loot and move as slowly as they can.

    Good call on the skipping intro and general disparity in these games. I experienced it via Call of Juarez The Cartel. Regarding Dead Island though, you didn’t miss anything. Seriously, there was nothing like that sweet CG demo in the whole game :(

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Deacon

    @ Silk – I have exactly the same issues with these games.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. deathm00n

    @2 And this is why I take an singleplayer game anytime over a coop with strangers. Borderlands I finished by myself, after the first playtrough I entered online and it was a mess, people who steals all the loot and don’t give a fuck about sharing it, people skipping side-quests and so many other things. It’s like we are back to the time where people played only for playing, not for experiencing the story of the game.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. freedoms_stain

    @2, I see your point with Borderlands and Dead Island, I’m the same, I tend not to co-op, at least on the first playthrough because I actually want to see the game. L4D is different though, it’s not really an exploring game, if you dick around in L4D the Director will just send more zombies at you, and with limited ammo and supplies you’ll just decrease your chance of survival. Push forward or die is kind of the gist of the game.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Clupula

    I never played the first Dead Island, pretty much because I found the characters so incredibly unappealing. These were not the people I wanted to survive a zombie apocalypse. So, it could have been the most fun game ever, but to play as some rapper guy with his pants around his thighs? Or an ex-NFL player? I just couldn’t do it.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. DSB

    I was expecting another drunken Pat Garratt rant.

    Am disappoint.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Djoenz

    Dead Island was a great and fun game. I cant wait to play this as well. I played the majority of Dead Island solo, but the co op is immense tbh.

    It was just a hassle to make parties in DI cause you have to be at the same chapter in order to co op. Its a hassle to party with my online buddies. With strangers it could be a great co op experience, but yeah most are douchebags or cant understand english. Or they dont have mics/not mics equipped.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. BraveArse

    2/ surely that’s an inconsiderate friend issue rather than a design one?

    I had a hoot in co-op with my ( considerate ) friends. We had characters for our co-op sessions and solo ones. We do this for all our co-op games and MMOs.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Clupula

    @2 – A friend who’d skip the cutscenes during co-op is not much of a friend at all, imo.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. BrahManDude

    im not sure wont the bugs and all that get in the way of enjoying the game i wish they took more time to flesh it out more

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Ristas

    I hated the 30 minutes i spent playing Riptide.

    They don’t even TRY to make it seem like this is a proper 50$-sequel.

    Instead, they give you exactly the same game, including it’s non-existent ai, broken meelee combat (press RT. Also, press RT some more), insultingly boring and uninspired quests in exactly the same scenario, push it out the door in about a year and tell you:

    “Hey, look. You liked our game because it was broken and you kind of laughed at it? We made another one, again without polishing it in any kind of way! That’s what you love right? 50 bucks please :)”

    Games like these are the worst kind of games. The developers don’t give a shit because they know the players don’t give a shit as long as they get coop and can repeadetly press the RT-Button while watching limps flying through the air. Nobody gives a shit and that seems to resonate with a lot of people.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. YoungZer0

    @2: Yep, same here. Loved playing SCC in coop, was ruined by my buddy who didn’t focus on the story at all. Fucking moron was talking during the dialogs. Same thing with Dead Island 1. People just rushing to finish it.

    Now I just play Magicka, because I have the option to punish them for being dicks.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Gekidami

    It isnt a 50$ sequel, its priced lower than your average new release.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. ps4some

    “including a couple of indies so deeply wanky they’ve been blind since before birth.” :D

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Ristas


    #17 2 years ago
  18. Gekidami

    ^ Isnt the average US price of a game $60 though? So its still cheaper than an average release.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. karma

    “First person melee just does not work.”

    Really? Worked pretty well in the Condemned games and the original Dead Island I thought.

    In fact I found the first person melee quite visceral and tension filled in DI. Targeting the specific appendages to lop them off for a quick kill, a lot of fancy footwork sidestepping out of the way of lunges zombies etc. Sure it differs drastically from your standard button mashing fighting game. But it was hella strategic when it came to dealing with multiple opponents at the same time. It wasn’t about combos and rapid mashing of buttons to make something cool happen, it was about precise timing and aiming for the critical areas on the opponents body.

    As for the skill level, I played the first one and my skill gradually improved over the entire duration of the game, I was certainly a lot better at it by end compared to how I was at the beginning. So again those comments don’t really register as the truth, at least from my experience with the original. Cant speak for Riptide because I havent played it yet, but combat wise, it looks a lot like the first one, so dunno. Different strokes for different folks?

    Anyway guess it doesn’t matter if you still enjoyed it. But believe me, I played DI to death and there is a great deal of depth under the surface.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. ApplePieChart

    Good god, woman. Tell us how you really feel, why dont you? Am I the only person who can say they enjoyed the gameplay of Dead Island without qualifications?

    You can really get a feel for how peoples writing changes when they consider the game a darling.

    When they like the game:
    “The graphics could use some work.”

    When they dont:
    “The environments still look like someone’s just discovered the copy paste shortcut at age 45 and by god is going to make up for lost time.”

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Henry

    Does this article mean: “The game is bad, but I need to write positive preview”?

    #21 2 years ago
  22. salarta

    Comment #21 (Henry) does hit on something I’ve been wondering about. I’m not trying to accuse anyone of anything heinous, but have there been any previews at VG247 where the person doing the preview actually disliked or hated what they saw? All the previews I’ve seen so far, the person comes away loving the game, even the games they say they went in loathing to the core. I’m genuinely curious to find out what previews have been written up where the person who did it had a negative opinion of the game when they were done.

    #22 2 years ago

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