The world of Dead Rising 3 is not partitioned into loading zones, it is a fully open-world taking advantage of the Xbox One's next-generation hardware filled with physics objects, player locations, hundreds of combinable weapons and vehicles. Along with thousands of region-specific procedurally generated zombies, there are different enemy archetypes and zombie behaviors.
"We can sort of control the state of the zombie horde at large, and then on top of that we have these marquee zombies that get peppered in there and change up the monotony as well," the game's producer Mike Jones told Polygon. "And then on top of that we have mutation zombies that come out for story reasons and we also have human enemies — we have military, bikers, psychos, bosses — we have a whole lot of enemy variations, more so than just the generic zombie horde."
"We procedurally generate all of our zombies — their hairstyles their clothing, the patterns on their clothes — and their goring; missing jaws, missing eyes things like that," he said. "So you'll see like business men in around down town;
you'll see like patients and nurses around the hospital; you'll see bikini zombies around the beach; you'll see Paris Hilton looking zombies in Sunset Hills doing shopping. You'l see a lot of visual distinction as you go through the world, it is not going to be a bunch of generic zombies just repeated over and over and over again, you'll probably never see the same zombie twice."
The zombie horde itself actually has a range of settings that designers can tweak based on missions, the world state, location and player state.
"Designers can say there are this many shamblers, there are this many aggressive zombies that are that have heightened sensibilities and this number of dumb zombies that just don't pay attention to anything," Jones said. "So at nighttime, crank it up and do heightened awareness and they all super aggressive. Whereas in earlier missions and in the daylight, we can crank it down and maybe they are just shambling around and maybe there is just one guy who will alert everybody — alerters, yeller type zombies."
Dead Rising 3 features marquee zombies which are visually distinct and specific kind of behaviours, such as the police zombies who are equipped with gun or a shotgun.
"It breaks up the zombie horde, so it is not just a bunch of generic zombies," Jones said. "They do different things so they require different approaches and techniques. They do the last muscle memory thing they remember doing. So for you to be aware of 'Oh shit, football player zombie might charge me and tackle me!,' foreman zombie is swinging his axe, the cop zombie is popping off gunshots.
"The fireman zombie still has his firefighting gear on so he doesn't take as much damage to fire attacks," said producer John Airhart.
Based on the seven deadly sins, psychos are character story bosses who are people who have lost the their mind during the zombie outbreak doing whatever they want, whenever they want. With more expected to be revealed over the next month, the first psycho revealed was Greed, an opportunist who harvests peoples organs and sells them on the black market. The second is based on the sin of Sloth, who was difficult to design a boss battle about.
"He is a like a lazy dude in his house with these remote controls for everything and he has these traps and stuff," explained Jones. "We just couldn't figure out what to do with him at first."
"Well, with the others they are coming at you and attacking you, this guy wouldn't do that, he just lazy," Airhart said. "And then we figure, well, he is just going to send this automated stuff against you."
Psychos and human enemies can be convinced to join the players side.
"There is actually a handful of like story branch decisions points where — there are multiple — there are kind of like faction decisions where some characters will join you and be your ally," Jones said.
Previously, Dead Rising players could only combine two items to make a combo weapon, with the series' latest iteration they can now combine up to five items to make "crazier and crazier" weaponry.
According to Jones, Dead Rising 2 had approximately 192 total weapons where Dead Rising 3 has more than double with combo weapons, super combos and combo vehicles.
"If you see these golden components, they represent a base level super combo that you can continue to upgrade," he said, combining a tracker pylon and a speaker. Add a battery to it, add some electrical damage to stun the zombies, blow them back, and you you can add a stereo to to increase the range and power."
Combo weapons can take damage, but players can spec in and upgrade durability attributes. For instance, with the mechanic ability, players can combine weapons faster and weapons will last longer. The mechanic ability also applies to upgrading vehicles.
"You can add weapon parts in any order," he said. "Some of them are linear progressions while some of them have offshoot variations. Each one kind of works a bit differently."
Coming up with super combo weapons is a crazy experience, according to Jones.
"Everyone is the room and there are all these ideas," he said. "But it all comes down to what can make, how much time do we have, what money do we have and what systems do we have. As well as thinking about animation data, streaming, syncing and do we have enough variation? Are there too many fire weapons? Too many guns? So we all just fist fight until the list is done and in the master excel matrix spreadsheet."
In order to build combos, players have to discover the weapon and vehicle blueprints and source various component pieces from the environment.
In the demo, Dead Rising 2's weapon-equipped Freedom Bear, which could be set down as a turret, can be turned into a super combo weapon.
"So we can combine a cart item in this case a wheelchair with at the bear, so now you can sort of take him on the go with you push him around kill zombies for you," he explained. "You can put a stereo on him, which is going to blast annoying music and attract zombies. And then we'll add some explosives and make him deadlier."
In a level five super combo weapon example, Jones called up a super massive bomb, which is "like all explosives in the game all jammed together, it is like this ridiculous device."
"We'll set up this zombie killing trap here," he said placing the bomb in the middle of the street. "We are going to call up the SmartGlass and call up a military grade flares and this will attract zombies from all over the place, and they'll be distracted by all of the bright lights, and we'll stick the bomb right in the middle of them."
The bomb detonates amidst a horde of zombies and a number flashes up of how may zombies were killed: 368. A figure that didn't impress much the devs. "It blew our clothes right off, apparently," he said of the characters now standing in their underwear in the street.
Every weapon has different kill move, so players can build up a kill counter and then have the opportunity to do skill moves. Skill moves are quite beautiful in their execution and gory result, for instance if a zombie is sledged in the head, half of his head would shear away or a zombies head could be pulled right off.
"We modelled all of the guts and insides so we want to show it off, show off all of the nastiness," Jones said . "So you'll see missing pieces of chest missing arms jaws, missing eyes, open heads. It is all dynamically generated. That's what we did with all of our Xbox One memory we model the guts and bones. it is all anatomically correct."
"You can cut a zombies arm off and he'll try to attack but he can't grab you," said Airhart. "You can decapitate zombies but you can actually take half of their head off." For example, Capcom Vancouver's vehicle designer was known to drive around in a forklift with its blades halfway up, cruising around and popping zombies crowns off.
According to Jones, there were no issues with Capcom Vancouver's development team creating the gore as the studio's character designers are "sick puppies."
"Every now and then I'll stumble into a reference folder at work and I'm like 'Oh god! Aghh!," Jones said.
"We are still cramming as much stuff as we can into the game," Jones said. "Driving is a bigger part of the experience now because it is a big open world. The zombies attack you while you are driving and they effect the physics of the car. You hit a pile of them they will slow you down, which make combo vehicles a little more valuable."
An SUV and a construction digger were put together to create a basic zombie tank called a turretator, which was adorned with a turret on top and blades on the side "for keeping the zombies off or griefing your coop buddy." Each combo vehicles have a co-op functionality, so in the turretator's case, the co-op player uses the turret that is on the top while the other player drives. With the steam roller and motorcycle combination called the rollerhog, the co-op partner can jump on the back and throw explosives.
When partners join each others games, any blueprints and collectables found are shared and there is no tethering between players.
"So you can go to opposite sides of the world, we don't force you to stay together," Jones said, explaining that when a co-op partner respawns a little bit of XP is lost with that player. "Whenever you die so there is a bit of penalty but it is not like game over for both characters because you don't want a random dude coming in your game and dying right so across the world while you are trying to do a mission."
"We got some cool match making stuff matchmaking filters for people who want to play hardcore completionist," he said. "People who just want to play casual. Just match you up with people who would play your style."
Capcom scaled down team friendly fire so players can still goof around with their mates but players can't jump intosomebody's game and kill them immediately.
"Players can still kill each other, we just scaled it so you can play around and griefing but not have to worry too much about the repercussions," explained Jones, saying that players can boot others if they grief too much. "If you are the host and it is your game, you can initiate missions and teleport them or boot them or whatever. It is totally your game."
Xbox One Kinect integration allows zombies to respond to loud noises, bright lights and motion in the real world, along with the ability to grapple zombies and fling them off by shaking the controller.
"We are also doing survivor commands where you point at the screen and tell survivor where to go and scavenge and range attacks and stuff like that," he said. "And taunts. If you find out things about bosses and psychos, things that they are sensitive about, you can yell out insults at your TV and the bosses will be distracted in the boss battles."
Using the Xbox One SmartGlass companion application, smartphone devices turn into in-game military PDA's, which need to be found in-game, allowing players to get calls on their devices.
"You'll hear the guy talking on you phone and you can actually listen to the phone call from the story character, " he said "You can accept the story mission and get the waypoint. These are all additional missions to the main missions and side missions, totally free and exclusive to SmartGlass. If you complete those missions and you invest in that story, you unlock weapons, survivors and even military grade support applications like a airstrike gun and military flares."