The weapons and melee definitely make up the combat system's core and when you combine it with the stamina system combat becomes a bit more strategic. It's divide and conquer most times, that is, you'll want to knock down groups of zombies and then deal with them one at a time. Of course the monkey wrench is when the game throws exploding, spitting, or otherwise generally nastier zombies at you. As satisfying as the melee combat is, the gun combat is very floaty and weak. And just like the previous game there comes a point where you aren't fighting *just* zombies and you'll be shot back at - meaning guns almost become a requirement.
The new Island of Palanoi is a bit different than the original game's resort island, for the most part though the surroundings are pretty similar. What's odd is I found a lot of cookie cutter huts and areas, down to the placement of the objects in them. It sort of broke the immersion at times and also made navigation a little bit more difficult. Luckily there are some pretty unique areas that break up the bright beaches and huts, like the underground tunnels which require the player to throw flares to light up his or her path.
The biggest disappointment I have with Dead Island: Riptide are the missions themselves. And perhaps this is a greater problem indicative of open world type games - but every single damn quest was a fetch mission. Go here and gather X items and bring them to me. It's time we design better things to do in these style of games. Thankfully Riptide does mix it up slightly with "Defense Missions." During these horde mode-style scenarios you'll have to defend a certain camp or building from a set number of zombies. There's some light defense elements like gun emplacements, fences, and mines you can set up to build a greater defense, but for the most part it's kill or be killed. Vehicles also return with the new addition being boats which get you through the flooded jungles, but using either cars or boats doesn't seem as necessary as before.
Not for the squemish
Every one of the game's core characters as well as plenty of the supporting characters have these optional side quests that can boost both camp's defenses or yield you rewards. Completing all of these can definitely take some time, but there's only so many fetch quests I can do. Luckily co-op helps make these less of a burden and less of a requirement to actually complete.
Once again Techland has done a superb job of making this game extremely approachable for any co-op player. If there's someone "in your area" while playing you can quickly press a button to join their world. Level disparity is a non-issue as the game scales the game automagically to each player. While every character has their specialities, you can play a game with any number or combination of characters and players can easily fill in roles akin to something like an MMO. You can tank, aggro, and deal damage with the best co-op group and the zombies don't stand a chance. There's also a new group rampage option which really gets things frantic.
The game's engine has clearly been upgraded a bit - the game is gorgeous.
Just like Dead Island, Riptide is all about co-op. It changes the pace of the game from a slow trudge to a chaotic, almost humorous ride. The game is clearly designed around the mode of play and in a way, is almost unbalanced in both directions. Single player folks will find themselves dying too often while co-op players might find things a bit too easy. Luckily the death penalty is small - just burn some cash - so even if you die you'll be back in the action quickly.
Dead Island: Riptide isn't so much of a sequel as it is an expansion - though a very large one. The core of the game remains the same and there's very little improvement on existing systems. That said you'll find more areas, more zombies, more weapons and mods, and a new character to play with. We did run into a few technical issues, but a day one patch seems to have ironed those out. Fans of the original game who want more Dead Island will enjoy what Riptide has to offer and new players should find some enjoyment here as well, though the story is a bit on the weak side. But who plays zombie games for the story?
The Co-Optimus review of Dead Island: Riptide is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
The Co-Op Experience: The co-op experience is identical to the original Dead Island. Four players can drop in and out of each others games and missions. Enemies and loot scale to the individual players.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.