Video Games Interview: Joe Nickolls talks Dead Rising 4

With Xbox FanFest and EB Expo both kicking off over the weekend, we had a chance to chat with Joe Nickolls, studio director of Capcom Vancouver, currently developing Dead Rising 4. We pelted him with questions about the upcoming invent-your-own-mayhem zombie adventure title.

The Iris: The Dead Rising series is known for its willingness to let players experiment and invent. What are some of the new ways players can create havoc in Dead Rising 4? Do you have a favourite?

Joe Nickolls: One of the reasons we removed the timer in the first game is we wanted to let players have time to screw around and just have fun – the combo weapons and vehicles have always been there, but now you can combo YOURSELF with the new EXO Suit as well.

My personal favourite is when you combine the EXO Suit and a slushie machine, which allows you to shoot tornadoes out of your hands to shoot enemies up into the air, and slam the ground to create icicle spikes out of the ground.

TI: Can you talk a little about the return of Frank West and why the team decided to bring him back?

JN: Frank has been a fan favourite was was the original hero of the series – we have a lot of unfinished business with Frank and wanted to continue his story.

It’s also the tenth anniversary of the franchise, and the game is set later as well, so we get to see what Frank has been up to!

If we wanted to go back to Willamette, the setting of the first game, it made the most sense to bring Frank back for that.

TI: Can you talk about the decision to remove the timer system from the game? What affect did this have on the design process?

JN: There’s so much extra content in the game that we wanted people to just explore and have fun. If we put a timer in, it would mean people missed so much hidden stuff. The extra time also allows you to experiment more and create crazy customizations.

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TI: In what other ways do you feel the series has evolved with regard to this new installment? What has the team been able to implement in this title that you’re especially proud of?

JN: A better story for one! Better interaction between characters too. Performance-wise, the game LOOKS better, and we can have THOUSANDS of zombies on screen, more than ever before. It’s certainly more graphic, too. We really focused on improving the ‘three C’s’ as well – camera, combat, control. The weapons are also more varied, with more options for combinations, plus you can combo YOURSELF now!

We’ve also got 3 types of zombies now – the horde, the freshly infected and the EVOs.

TI: Dead Rising 3 featured a popular multiplayer component. Whats on the cards for multiplayer in Dead Rising 4?

JN: Multiplayer is now FOUR player co-op (up from 2 in the last game), featuring a series of specially designed exclusively-online missions.

TI: Obviously, launch must be first and foremost in your mind at present but are there any post-launch plans for DLC at this stage?

JN: Yes – we have a complete DLC plan, but unfortunately we can’t give out any details just yet!

There will be new missions, content packs and a game mode which nobody will see coming!

I’m always curious about the voice casts in games these days, what can you tell us about the cast of Dead Rising 4?

JN: For Dead Rising 4, we decided to go with live performance capture with our actors, as opposed to just recording them in a booth. That way we can motion capture them and get a full performance out of them at the same time, which we feel gave us great results. You can really see the chemistry between the actors that were acting everything out too. As an example of the benefits, recording someone’s voice when they’re ACTUALLY getting pushed over a table is hard to replicate in a voice studio!

TI: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us Joe! We really appreciate it, we hope you enjoy your time in Aus and wish you and the team all the very best for the last few months of hard work prior to launch! 🙂

JN: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us! We love Australia – it reminds us of a warmer Vancouver.

Our thanks to Joe for taking the time to chat! Dead Rising 4 launches December 6 on Xbox One and Windows PC via Xbox Play Anywhere. You can follow him on Twitter at @nickolls.