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Looking back at 5 years of… Dead Island: Riptide

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We’re back once more to take a look back into the history of Xbox to unearth games that released many years ago, allowing us to celebrate their anniversary. This time around the game we’re looking at is Dead Island: Riptide.

April 2013 was a rather quiet time in the gaming calendar, however there was one title that made an appearance, and whilst it may not have had the best promotional advertising – with a mutilated torso promotion causing a ton of controversy – it was still one that many gamers were excited for. It was of course Dead Island: Riptide, the direct successor, but not quite sequel, to 2011’s Dead Island.

Dead Island: Riptide was an odd arrival for many reasons. It wasn’t quite billed as a direct sequel to the original Dead Island, but it wasn’t quite a spin-off either. Instead, Riptide was announced as a continuation of the story and to be honest that’s exactly what it was; no more and no less.

The game takes place immediately after the ending of the original, with the four immune survivors – ex-American football player Logan Carter, rapper Sam B, undercover Chinese spy Xian Mei, and ex-police officer Purna – all back in for the journey, along with international terrorist Charon and island native Yerema. After landing on a military ship, having not long escaped the prison island, the group are immediately detained by the Australian Defence Force. Waking up, it soon becomes apparent that the zombie outbreak isn’t tied down to the island of Banoi after all, and with the ship quickly overrun and on a crash course into the island of Palanai, slightly further down the archipelago, the group are once more pitted into a fight for their lives against the flesh eating zombie hordes upon an exotic getaway island.

For many the original Dead Island was a fantastic experience and whilst it may not have delivered everything it promised within the initial trailers – something that has become common practice over the years – the overall experience was certainly a memorable one. The thought of carrying on that same adventure from where we left off was definitely one that many were excited about.

Unfortunately, though, that’s all Dead Island: Riptide was designed to do. Sure, it had some praiseworthy features, with one in particular seeing players able to carry on with their levelled character data from the original, meaning all upgrades and effort put in wasn’t lost and enemies would be more difficult, but that wasn’t enough to hide the fact that Dead Island: Riptide was simply the same game in a different location.

With no new content to speak of, besides a couple of extra characters, the new locale and some minimal additions such as boats to drive, Riptide was seen as a game that would have been better released as a sizeable DLC expansion rather than an entirely new experience.

What made things worse was the fact that despite releasing two years after the original, many of the bugs and issues that were present in the original all returned with Dead Island: Riptide with almost no changes made whatsoever. Of course, it didn’t take long for many to come to the assumption that developer Techland had simply created a copy and paste of the original for Dead Island: Riptide, rather than put in any real effort towards creating a decent sequel.

If you’re someone who enjoyed the original though and simply wanted more of the same gameplay then Riptide was definitely the way to go, with some rather stunning visuals – for the time – and plenty of hours of content to get stuck in to should you wish to finish off every last quest, there were many who persevered with the issues.

5 years on though and things are a bit different. If you were to head back to the Xbox 360 version of Dead Island: Riptide nowadays, you’d certainly be disappointed. The visuals haven’t aged well, the issues that were present from launch were never fixed properly, and the few online players left are those with modified data and unrealistic weapons that take away from the experience.

That said, if you’re one of those who missed out first time around and feel like a journey to the island of Palanai is something you’d be interested in, the 2016 remaster Dead Island: Riptide Definitive Edition is certainly no bad way to go. Sure, there are still some issues – oddly all of which are completely different to those found in the 2013 release – but none are quite so obvious this time around. With no modified weapons to be worrying about, it’s certainly the best way to experience the game.

If you want to experience a main entry to the Dead Island series, it’s also still the latest game in the series, provided you push all of those questionable spin-offs to the side. With Dead Island 2 still yet to release – even after that utterly brilliant tease a few years back – and no recent updates provided, chances are it’ll be the entry into the series that gamers should have to worry about for some time.

Was Dead Island: Riptide a bad game though? No, of course not, but with 5 years to look back on everything it failed to do, it’s not hard to see why many were quick to raise criticism with the open-world adventure.

Maybe Dead Island 2 can bring some excitement back to the series… should it ever make an arrival. Gives us an excuse to watch the trailer again though eh?

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