In the fall of 2011, Dead Island merged zombie survival and first person RPG into a solid and fun experience despite some bugs in addition to glitches. The combat was satisfying, each character can be specialized several ways, plus the patches fixed some of the biggest technical problems while adding new custom weapon blueprints. I have put more hours into Dead Island than I prefer to share. In fact, I have all four characters at level 60.
I’m sure other fans of Dead Island have been looking forward to Techland’s Ryder White Campaign DLC for Dead Island which will hit Xbox Live, Playstation Network and PC for 800 Microsoft points or $10 on February 1, 2012. Let’s take a look at what is HOT and what is NOT with Dead Island’s Ryder White Campaign.
Ryder White’s story is by a wide margin the best part of this downloadable content. The story follows a man who, thanks to the main campaign, we know will become the final obstacle for the main survivors. Knowing this, I found myself in a strange predicament when I actually started caring about this character. Upon first taking control of Ryder, I did not want to like him. When I completed the story, I could not help but pity him because Ryder White’s road to hell through Moresby and the Banoi Prison was paved with good intentions. This campaign answered almost all of my questions about the main story and changed my opinion of at least one character from the original story.
Most of Dead Island’s gameplay remains intact for Ryder White’s ordeal; however, some RPG elements have been removed in favor of a heavier emphasis on action. Ryder starts the game at level 15 and stays there. The skill tree has been removed completely. Ryder has the slower stomp ability that kills downed zombies and a Fury attack. Players who favored guns in the main story will feel very comfortable with Ryder because his path is littered with firearms, ammunition, and explosives. In addition, his Fury slows down the game world and gives him a powerful pistol with unlimited ammo. Ryder will even find the Stun Gun blueprint which knocks down any non-Ram enemy with a single shot without consuming ammo. The action in much of this content is frantic like in Moresby’s quarantine zone. Players will often find themselves suddenly fighting a horde of the running Infected. At one point, Ryder will find himself overrun by Infected while he attempts to secure a gas station alone. Playing this sequence was almost like playing Left 4 Dead’s Survival mode. It was intense, it was difficult and it was quite fun. Be sure to check all corners before proceeding through an area. Infected have a tendency to come from the opposite direction of your objective.
Lack of core features from the original content
One of Dead Island’s biggest draws is its seamless drop in/drop out cooperative play. Unfortunately, Ryder White has no traveling companions, so players can no longer bring their friends along for the zombie ride.
Other missing features include RPG elements and the openness of Banoi. Ryder spends the entire game at level 15 and the skill tree is completely absent. Weapon strength does not vary much from pistol to pistol or rifle to rifle. There are no shops and very few blueprints are accessible to Ryder. The level of exploration has been cut down dramatically too. Some locations reused from the main story are inexplicably barricaded for Ryder to keep players focused on the story and to keep Ryder’s path as linear as possible.
The glitches remain
The glitches that ruined Dead Island’s main campaign also hamper the Ryder White experience. Enemies still get stuck in the environment. During the course of the story, I’ve had zombies get stuck in the ground, a dumpster, a bed and of course doors. The Infected can still clip through a door leading to easy kills or taking unexpected hits. Items can still be lost or clip through the environment into oblivion, as well. Luckily, there isn’t much opportunity for these glitches to hinder your advance through the story because it is so short.
Game Length and Replayability
The Ryder White Campaign is not meant to be a standalone title, nor did I expect it to take nearly as long as the main campaign did my first time through; however, I was hoping it would take a bit longer. I explored a bit, had to retry a few sections more than once, and I clocked in at just over three hours after completion. With only one character and no leveling system, there is little incentive to play the campaign again.
The Ryder White Campaign answers many story related questions and shows us what Ryder was doing while Purna, Logan, Sam B and Xian Mei were running around helping the people of Banoi. It is fun, difficult at times, but short and limited. It was enjoyable while it lasted, but did not last long enough. Additionally, I do not think I will be playing it again.
[Editor’s Note: Dead Island: The Ryder White DLC was reviewed on the Xbox 360 hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Dead Island: The Ryder White DLC Review,