Capcom Vancouver’s Dead Rising 3 unleashes zombies on Xbox One

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If a zombie game is only as good as its zombies, then Dead Rising 3 is the best zombie game ever. Certainly no other game has as many zombies on the screen at any given time; in DR3 they pack the streets as far as the eye can see. And thanks to the processing power in the Xbox One—the made-in-Vancouver game is an exclusive—the living dead in DR3 also look like the real thing. If zombies existed.

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They certainly seemed genuine on Halloween, when on the corner of Nelson and Seymour streets Xbox Canada launched a national promotional campaign for its new home entertainment console by staging a zombie outbreak. Later that evening, senior producer Jason Leigh explained that Capcom Vancouver had contemplated an open world for 2010’s Dead Rising 2. “If we had gone that direction on that breed of hardware, we would have had to sacrifice the density that Dead Rising is known for,” he told the Georgia Straight.

After all, that’s why Capcom selected Leigh’s company, formerly known as Blue Castle Games, to take over the franchise. Capcom Japan worked closely with the Vancouver studio during the development on DR2 and early on with DR3, but Leigh said that the confidence at Capcom Vancouver steadily grew. “Slowly we needed less and less of their involvement, and then at the end, creatively, all the decisions have been ours,” said Leigh.

Something they had to figure out was what would be expected of a game for new platforms. “It’s easy to say, ‘More of everything,’ ” said lead gameplay designer Roy McCombe. “But you can’t go to your team and say that.”

While the first Dead Rising and its sequel created a sense of dread by limiting players—games could only be saved in bathrooms and combined weapons could only be created in workshops—DR3 is about empowering gamers to play the game however they want. “This game is about player choice,” said Leigh.

That includes the full, open-world experience with side missions and collectibles, no load screens, and role-playing elements that give players control over how to improve their own version of protagonist Nick Ramos. It’s also why players can save and combine food, vehicles, and weapons anywhere. “We don’t want players to be frustrated,” McCombe explained. Keeping players engaged is one reason why fighting off the overwhelming numbers of zombies is more arcade-style than before. “We embraced combat with the horde,” McCombe added.

If veteran Dead Rising players want to make things more difficult, they can play the game in “nightmare” mode, which restricts saves and adds a time limit for completion. They will also enjoy a story that “ties up” the trilogy. “There are questions that were posed in the first game that I don’t think we touched on in the second game, partly because we didn’t have the experience yet with the franchise,” said Leigh. In addition to answers, he said characters from the first two games also appear. “They have interesting connections to the story.”

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