Frank is back! For the tenth anniversary of the Dead Rising franchise and the fourth full numbered edition, Frank West has returned as the main character, bringing his unique brand of everyman ingenuity and couldn't-give-two-sh*ts humor along with him. The return was a combination of fan requests and developer desire, to "go back to our roots" and find out "what Frank's been doing for the last 16 years," Bryce Cochrane, executive producer on the game told Comicbook.com at E3 2016.
"We like to call him the unlikely hero. He's everyman, right? We all think we could be Frank West. One of the best things about Frank West is he's not afraid to try something, or jump off a cliff, but he'll never stick the landing," he said of the character's uniqueness.
Indeed, his fearlessness was on full display during a hands-on demo, where Frank just constantly runs head-on into ever-larger swarms of zombies, the most they've ever had in one of these games.
"We knew we could push our engine even further than we did in Dead Rising 3. We wanted to push the [number of] zombies even further. We also wanted to add some new challenges to it, but get back to our roots a bit from Dead Rising 1," Cochrane explained. For example, the Psychopaths will return, as real people with real situations, not crazy, over-the-top characters. "We really wanted to play up the idea that everyone has a problem in the zombie apocalypse, and it's everyone for themselves."
With deeper human enemies, and much larger herds of zombies, Frank does have some new tools at his disposal. Cochrane's favorite is the Exo-Suit, a suit of armor that throughout the game can be found at drop points, upgraded, and allows Frank to become faster, stronger, and carry even larger (and more powerful) weapons.
"The Exo-Suit is something we're really just teasing right now, it's starting out as the base and how you can interact with it in the world. Coming up in the next little while, we'll show how you can upgrade it with the Combo-Me feature, which is being able to combo yourself in the Exo-Suit with the things around you, to be more destructive in the world," he teased.
That builds off of the weapon combining that has been a staple of the game, of course, and that has some significant upgrades of its own. For example, you can now combo vehicles (the electric shocking go-kart was especially cool in the demo), and weapon combos are easier than ever.
"The first thing we looked at with combo-ing weapons was that we wanted to make it easier and more accessible to the player," Cochrane said. "We got rid of the work bench, so you can now combo on the fly, and even quick-combo in the game. So you have a choice, when you have the proper components in your inventory - if you have one of the weapons and you're next to another and you can combo them? It'll tell you right on screen, and you can just hit A. It's just really making it more accessible."
That's not the only added accessibility as they try to open Dead Rising up to new gamers and make it more fun for existing fans. There are now dedicated buttons on the controller for melee, thrown, and range weapons "so you can seamlessly switch between those." They also have their own inventories, making it easier to identify your various collections.
Capcom is also getting away from the timed levels that were prevalent in Dead Rising 3, hoping to make it more of an "immersive world" and allow fans to "sandbox" more.
"When you have a timer counting down, you don't generally run into every store and check every nook and cranny," he acknowledged, saying it was really limiting players' experiences in the last version.
Of course, with all this talk of changes, Cochrane also talked about (and we saw) the utter ridiculousness of the Dead Rising world, one of his favorite parts of working for Capcom.
"It's a fun world. They like being a little different - I love being at a company that allows us to do stuff that other companies might say, 'eh, I don't know if that's a good idea,'" he said. That means Frank can take selfies with zombies pinned to the wall, and other irreverent moments. "Capcom really embraces the humor, and embraces the fun."
Ultimately, whether you're looking for a deeper character experience, newer and crazier weapons (the god-like weaponry of the axe in the clip above for example), or simply more zombies, chances are you'll find what you're looking for here.
"We have the horde, which is what you're seeing in this demo, but we have two new classes of zombies in this world. We've really looked at the infection, and realized that at this point, this would be a brand new infection. There is no Zombrex to save anyone. That means it's affecting people a bit differently," Cochrane teased. That means two new types of zombies as the infection continues to mutate. "The newly-infected are called the 'Fresh.' They're fast, really aggressive, the new standard movie zombies. We've also introduced the 'Evos,' where the zombie infection bonded with the human host, meaning they have intelligence, they work in groups, and they control the other zombies around them. So they'll evaluate a situation and go, 'Frank has too much firepower right now, I'm not going in there!' and instead enrage a bunch of horde zombies to go after you."
Dead Rising 4 hits the Xbox One Holiday 2016.