The zombies of Dead Rising 3 aren't to be toyed with. They're deadlier, smarty, nastier versions of the creeping undead of the last two games, Josh Bridge, executive producer at Capcom Vancouver told Polygon.
Where the zombies of the original Dead Rising and its sequel were a sort of interactive, flesh-eating toy, designed to be deadly en masse but mostly harmless on their own, the undead of this latest Dead Rising aren't to be trifled with, even individually.
"They're much more aggressive," Bridge said. "They hear and see you and they can make sound to tell each other when they see you."
Bridge described this call of the zombie as a loud moan.
"When you slice them it's pretty nasty"
This ability for zombies to communicate on some basic level, to notice you, plays an important role in the game, Bridge said. It allows the game's protagonist, Nick Ramos, to cause distractions that draw the massive hordes of zombies away from him.
The Xbox One exclusive will also include a Kinect feature that allows players to shout to draw a zombie's attention. Bridge said the team is tinkering with how loud a shout has to be to cause a disturbance. They don't, he said, want to have regular couch conversation draw zombies to a player in the game. The Kinect will also be used to track the controller resting in a player's hands. If a zombie grabs Nick, a player can shake the controller to knock the undead away.
Other zombie changes include adding guts and more bones in each walking corpse to ensure that kills are more anatomically gruesome.
"We wanted to make it as detailed as possible," he said. "When you slice them, it's pretty nasty."
Zombies are now designed to be more aggressive and deadly on their own but that doesn't mean that Nick won't run into zombie hordes. This game has the ability to show three times the number of zombies on screen at a time as Dead Rising 2, Bridge said.
The bench is gone, customize weapons anywhere
Other changes coming to the franchise include the ability to earn attribute points and customize your character to some extent as you level him up. The game also now features autosave, a potentially controversial feature that hardcore fans of the series may not be happy about.
Bridge said the team designed a special nightmare mode for the game that might need to be unlocked by completing the game, which features no autosaves and far less time to escape the town.
In the open-world game, Nick has six hours to get out of town. In Nightmare mode, he has three.
The ability to customize weapons returns in Dead Rising 3 as well, though now players won't have to find a workbench to construct a special weapon. Instead they can do so anywhere, on the fly.
"We found that when we would go make that combo weapon, we would think it was cool and awesome, but once it broke we didn't want to have to go back and rebuild it," Bridge said.
Dead Rising 3 also brings with it some pretty robust SmartGlass support. In the game, Nick finds a military field phone that allows him to call in for support. The app, running on a tablet or smartphone, is one of the ways he uses that function.
Bridge said players can just sit their device by their side on the couch or have a friend take command of the app, using it to do things like drop an indicator into the game to show where a weapon is or call in an airstrike.
Co-op play returns to Dead Rising in this sequel, but now you can play through the entire campaign with a friend and both players can save their story progress.
While Dead Rising 3 brings some new gameplay elements and an open world to the series, the story may sound a bit familiar. Nick is trying to escape the zombie-infected town of Los Perdidos, California before the quarantined town is vaporized by the military. It's a similar story told with a slight tonal shift meant to make the game a bit darker.
I asked Bridge if the game's less comical approach was driven by the influx of serious zombie fiction like The Walking Dead and World War Z.
Bridge said it wasn't.
"We were at a critical mass of trying to be funny, but it was not funny," he said. "So we wanted to juxtapose a more gritty, serious tone with all of the stuff you have always been able to do in the game.
"You can still dress in ridiculous outfits, make ridiculous weapons. You'll find your own comedy in it."