Dead Island: Riptide doesn't look like it will add the AAA polish and sheen that the original Dead Island's detractors found missing; however, it does add a nail gun.
Philosophically, that jibes with the spirit of the sequel to Techland and Deep Silver's co-operative, zombie-filled title. Fans of the first game were more than willing to overlook its technical faults — its jagged corners, graphical glitches, collision impossibilities — to bask in the violence of its four-player multiplayer offering. Based on a 20-minute PAX East demo, it seems like that violence is back in large measure, and its multiplayer experience refined.
Case in point: Players can now paint targets with a simple press of the D-pad, showing their teammates exactly what to interact with, or which zombie to dogpile on. Though mission objectives in the first Dead Island were rarely complex, it helps navigate the herd — the three players in my demo got killed a lot until we started putting the game's teamwork-enriching mechanisms to good use.
One new type of mission my team embarked on tasked us with reinforcing one of the island's home bases, where survivors — who can easily perish if overwhelmed by a zombie horde — take up residence. We had to run around, collecting fencing and putting it up over vulnerable areas, but as the zombies broke through, it helped a lot to paint the weak spot so our fellow players know where to go to start fighting.
There's a lot more of Riptide that we didn't get to see during the PAX demo (we stopped shortly before encountering one of the sequel's newfound floods), but what was there was frantic, albeit slightly unpolished, fun. Check out our video preview above.