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Why the Dead Rising 3 DLC was DOA

by on March 31, 2014

Dead Rising 3 was undoubtedly one of the most highly-anticipated launch titles on Xbox One, and was in fact one of the few platform-exclusive launch games on either of the next-generation consoles. The series had never managed to become a triple-A game or to set the sales charts alight, but it seemed like a game that would be able to showcase the power of the new machine – with thousands and thousands of Zombies roaming a new, larger open world.

The main title may not have been as revolutionary as many gamers may have hoped, and little it did seemed truly next-gen. Despite that however, Dead Rising 3 still attained a relatively good critical reception and the Xbox fans who did pick up the game when it was released seemed happy to re-enter the slightly crazy, Zombie-infested world that is offered to them. Its mix of arcade action, exploration and dark humour is well-loved by fans of the franchise, and you would imagine that any opportunity to extend the experience would be one to relish.

When The Untold Stories of Los Perdidos was announced, we were rightly intrigued. Rather than simply being an extension to the campaign of main protagonist Nick Ramos, these four DLC episodes would each focus on a minor character who players would have met in the campaign and show how the Zombie outbreak affected them. This promised to offer four distinct new viewpoints on the story, many new missions and locations to explore and a whole host of weapons and vehicle combos to build. We were unsurprisingly excited. Unfortunately we should have been prepared to have been rather let-down.

What Capcom ended up giving us was four short stories, each consisting of several basic fetch quests or rescue missions, wrapped around some very brief expositional cut-scenes. Rather than really building up layers of the Los Perdidos story, each new character was presented as a pretty two-dimensional horror film stereotype. It would have been nice to learn more about each of these minor characters from the main game, but we never really learned much that couldn’t have been discerned from the brief time they featured in Nick’s story.

Their tales may have had interesting hooks to begin with, but the episodes were neither long enough, nor was the story developed enough to actually give these additional tales any real meaning. Even episode four, The Last Agent, was meant to reveal new plot twists about the ZDC, but ultimately fell flat as it was delivered so poorly. Ok, no-one wants a game that is full of cut-scenes, but Dead Rising just isn’t the type of game where very much plot development can be delivered through the gameplay.

New weapons and vehicles were delivered as promised, and both these and all experience points earned in the DLC could been carried over into the core game. Even though there was already a plethora of weapons to choose from without the downloadable episodes, Capcom did manage to cram in some new classics, such as the Rail Gun and the shotgun/grenade launcher combo – which are even more fun when deployed in a playthrough with Nick. It is just a crying shame that none of the episodes provide suitable missions to make the most of your new arsenal. None of the quests offer much of a challenge, so these new, over-powered firearms and melee items make it easy to breeze through the whole experience.

Neither do they offer any real variety from the missions that you would have already played in any other Dead Rising title. The same fetch quests, survivor rescues and Zombie clearance missions are repeated over and over, and none of the quests are really character-specific enough to give the DLC protagonists their own identity. Even in the biker-centric Chaos Rising episode, where there is a slightly different bike collection side-quest, it amounts to nothing more than driving back and forth between two points, then delivering bikes over and over again. Having four distinct new heroes to play as, the developers had the opportunity to create some distinct play styles and to allow for gameplay experiences that the main game didn’t. Each protagonist is a very unique individual – so their play style should have felt similarly unique.

The Untold Stories of Los Perdidos promised gamers a chance to experience the Zombie horror through four new pairs of eyes, with four new perspectives on the events. Sadly each episode feels like almost a carbon-copy of the last one, providing little new content to discover. What new missions there are (however short they may be) are just re-treading old ground. It is undoubtedly fun just to explore Los Perdidos and carve your way through the Zombie hordes in whatever way you please, so getting four more chances to do the same was surely welcome? If that was the case, Capcom might as well have given us some new Nick missions to complete. All four new episodes sadly fall flat and feel like they were made too quickly and cheaply, and just don’t offer gamers anything different.

For Dead Rising fans who signed up to the season pass in advance on the promise of a series of DLC episodes that would expand the universe of the game, this whole experience is likely to leave a sour taste in the mouth. That is sad, because done right, season pass content should keep players engaged with a title long after the original release, and offer different ideas that perhaps wouldn’t have fit within the confines of the main game. Take Saints Row for instance, where the DLC included a Christmas specific story, one based on a previously canned concept, and plenty of new ideas and content. These allowed gamers to re-enter a game world that they already loved, but give them something exciting to try. Season passes mustn’t become a quick cash-in, whereby fans are given the short end of the deal, simply for trying to save a little cash and buy in advance. That sort of experience will only alienate players and lose loyal fans – which, in this world of high-cost games and studio closures, is a risk that game companies can’t afford to take.