People moaning and shuffling around a shopping centre in December would normally be called “Christmas shopping”.
However, the figures walking around Bloomsbury in London on Monday night looked like they had been digging through earth rather than bargain bins.
Xbox officially launched Dead Rising 4, one of the most popular zombie game franchises of all time, with a special event that included undead actors and a choir, festive lights and a chance to play the highly anticipated game.
Dead Rising 4, developed by Capcom and published in partnership with Microsoft, takes place 16 years after the original game and tells the story of photojournalist Frank West. West has returned to Willamette, in Colorado, to investigate a new zombie outbreak and soon realises that this latest incident is linked to a government conspiracy and a military operation.
“We wanted to tell the story of where Frank was and what he’s been doing, because it’s the 10th anniversary since the first Dead Rising came out,” said Joe Nickolls, Studio Director of Capcom Vancouver. “He is teaching journalism and is goaded out of retirement by one of his students. He thinks he’s going to play mini-golf and she takes him to the zombie apocalypse.”
Fans of the series took to social media and interacted with a cryptic Facebook Live stream of a zombie hand suspended above a button at the Brunswick Centre on Monday. Xbox followers could move the hand downward to press the red button – and then all hell broke loose.
An undead choir emerged to entertain the crowd, while zombies roamed the area and nine panels of Christmas lights lit up in sequence to reveal a short story about surviving a “Walking Dead”-style apocalypse – the first time a videogame trailer had been created in this way.
Adrian Simons, Director of Global Windows and Devices at Microsoft, said: “Most Christmas lights are switched on by celebrities, but in this case the honour went to Xbox’s global fanbase. They brought to life a new form of game trailer, which we believe is a world’s first.”
Meanwhile, a short demo of the game allowed players to take on the role of West in the streets of Willamette and fight of hordes of zombies using an electric axe, a crossbow that fired fireworks and street signs – all while wearing a bionic suit.
“The hardest part is coming up with weapons we haven’t done before,” Nicholls added. “We work backwards; we look at what we want to happen to a zombie and then we back it up. So, for example, we thought: ‘OK, we want to blow that zombie up; so do we blow him up with dynamite or a rocket or a grenade? OK, how do we want to use that grenade? Do we want to throw it, launch it, attach it to something? Let’s attach it to a sledgehammer, because that’s a totally safe thing to happen…’
“We figure out what are the funniest things we can do to zombies and we work backwards from there; and we try not to recreate any of the hundreds of weapons we have already done.”
The creators have also removed the controversial timer for this latest instalment’s main campaign, giving players much more freedom to explore the vast maps.
“The reason we got rid of the timer was because this is a much deeper game than we have made before,” Nicholls said. “There are a lot more places to explore, a lot more story to uncover, a lot more of the mystery to solve. There’s so much side content, so much stuff to do, that if we kept the timer in it you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the whole product, you wouldn’t be able to solve the mystery. So we took it out of the main game and put it in at the end where you have some very time-specific things to do.”
Dead Rising 4 standard edition is available to buy now on Xbox One at MS Store. A Digital Deluxe Edition – available from MS Store – includes a copy of the game and the Dead Rising 4 Season Pass, including exclusive bonus content. The Season Pass grants players access to new ways to play in Willamette, including the Stocking Stuffer Holiday Pack, Super Ultra Dead Rising 4 Mini Golf, and Dead Rising 4: Frank Rising content packs.
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