The Proper Difficulty For A Dead Rising Game

The Proper Difficulty For A Dead Rising Game

Dead Rising games have always been difficult, but gamers haven’t always been happy about that. What’s a fair way to make a game tough, and what isn’t? With each new Dead Rising release, the game creators at Capcom have been tweaking their answer and reconsidering what players want.

With Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, a remake of the last Dead Rising game sporting a new lead character, they’re tweaking their series’ difficulty again.

“The game definitely is a demanding game,” Jason Leigh, executive producer of Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off The Record studio Capcom Vancouver told me after unveiling the game last week in Miami.

He promises a game that features “a tougher Frank West and a deadlier Fortune City”, a faux Las Vegas filled with more aggressive zombies than those featured in the same city in Dead Rising 2.

“People expect an experience, whereas in the past they expected challenge.”

Leigh’s team and their colleagues at Capcom in Japan aren’t simply intensifying the difficulty in an already-tricky series. They’re having mercy on players in other areas, allowing gamers to use multiple save slots – a feature from Dead Rising 2 that wasn’t included in Dead Rising 1 – and by finally check-pointing the player’s progress after loading a new area or right before the start of a new boss battle. Compare the tension from the first Dead Rising vs. that of this Off The Record re-make: in the former, you’d walk through the game world perpetually worried that if you died, you’d be bounced back to the last save point in the game; in the new one you can rely on checkpoints to catch you. In the original, if you didn’t like where you’d gotten your character stuck, you couldn’t load an older save file. You’d have to bring your hero back to the beginning of the game (though he’d be more powerful, mercifully.) Even aggravations of the second game, like having to re-play the parts before a boss battle, will be gone in Off The Record.

Leigh knows that many players today aren’t looking for murderously difficult games, so these features may please them. “People expect an experience, whereas in the past they expected challenge,” he told me. “I think one of the reasons a lot of modern games do well is that they deliver an incredibly well-executed experience and put you in [a]setting. Because of that, perhaps, players are more forgiving about difficulty and, even if they sail through, they’ll go, ‘Well, it wasn’t that hard, but did I ever enjoy the ride along the way!’

“In the past, it was more hardcore: ‘Did I ever get challenged?’ And now it’s more of a: ‘Did you impress me with the visuals, the voice-acting and the story? Did I feel like I lived a cool experience along the way?'”

When I heard Leigh put it that way, I took him for a man who is building his house against the wind. He hears the howls for easier games or at least detects the breezy acceptance of painless pleasures. Yet here he is helping to lead the development of another Dead Rising. The series may not be as sadistic in difficulty as a Super Meat Boy, but it’s more of a hair-puller than most. The easier systems in Off The Record may meet modern gamers’ expectations, but I pointed out to Leigh that his team is in a prime position to push gamers to toughen up, if they want to.

“One of the great things about the sandbox with the zombies,” he said, referring to the open world, go-anywhere design of Dead Rising games, “is you can choose to barrel through [the zombies]or you can choose to skirt them. You still have to fight them eventually. There’s no one path where you can’t fight them, but it almost a choose-your-own-difficulty kind of game, depending on how you play it.”

Choose your own difficulty, Dead Rising gamers. What’ll it be?


  • Will there be an option to turn off the checkpoints for the people looking for a challenege?
    or will they be alienating the existing fan-base??

  • The problem I have with Dead rising is that killing zombies is fun, killing real live people isn’t. I hate that they put psycopaths everywhere in the way of your good clean zombie-splattering fun.

  • I cracked the shits with Dead Rising 1 and stopped playing forever. It was the boss battle vs the chick on the motorcycle, the timer said I had to fight her by midnight. I made it there with about 5 minutes to spare, but it hit midnight during the middle of the boss battle, so she left and it was game over for me. IT DIDN’T SAY I HAD TO BEAT HER BY MIDNIGHT FFS RAAAAAAAAGE QUIT NEVER WANT TO PLAY AGAIN HATE SO MUCH.

    So yeah, haven’t played the series since. I know people say “you’re meant to play it over and over to level up” but that’s pretty much the EXACT OPPOSITE of games I like- I pretty much only ever play a game through once, so I want the experience to be perfect the first time…

  • I liked the difficulty scaling in DR2 – commit to a couple of early failures and start a proper playthrough at level 10 to give a bit of an edge, kinda like a well-scaled narrative-driven RPG with the option to grind extra if you’re not too good at the game on its own terms. My gripe however was lack of bathroom save points – not only were they too far apart, but it also broke the immersion a little considering that a real shopping/casino strip would have probably at least two bathrooms in every sector to adequately service the staff and customers. (ie. a couple of half finished construction areas are okay, but having an entire casino floor with no bathroom access is very poor building design!)

  • Why can we not have challenge AND an experience?

    I have no problem with a tough boss battle that you have to restart from the start each time… just don’t make me run for three minutes through the same crowd of zombies, constructing the same preferred set of weapons along the way, every time in order to get back there. That bit of DR2 was in no way a “challenge” – just a massive PITA.

  • I dont think you can get away with a game that doesn’t have some sort of checkpoint/auto-save system in Open World style games today..

    I really need them, because if I get sucked into a game I can just run around for hours doing stuff and then stumble on something a bit more difficult than my character can take and then BAM I’m dead….and if there isn’t an Auto-Save/Checkpoint then I may have just lost those few hours progress and put myself off playing it for a few days/weeks.

    And if you want to appease the Hardcore crowd who will inevitably bitch that you’ve softened the game for us weaklings, then just give them the option to turn it off.

    Its what I like about Forza 3….you can set your own difficulty settings and have the features you want on, not just generic settings the dev has given you and you cant tweak.

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