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Dead Rising 4: Capcom Vancouver on Frank West, the new Exo suit and more

Stevivor was recently given the opportunity to sit down at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss Dead Rising 4 with Bryce Cochrane, Executive Producer at Capcom Vancouver.

We used the time to discuss not only the game’s new Exo suit and related mechanics, but the reintroduction of franchise legend Frank West and the iconic city of Willamette. Cochrane was also able to share some great concept art from the game’s development cycle.

Without further adieu, here’s Bryce on all things Dead Rising 4.

deadrising4frankwest

Steve Wright, Stevivor: To start off, we’re back with Frank West and Willamette. Can we quickly discuss the reasoning to head back to the franchise’s original protagonist and setting rather than follow up with Chuck Greene or Nick Ramos?

Bryce Cochrane, Capcom Vancouver: There are many reasons we decided to bring Frank back for Dead Rising 4, but I’ll give you my favorite two.

First, we always listen to our fans and they have been asking for the return of their favourite Dead Rising hero Frank West, so we’re excited to bring him back and show how he’s grown since his appearance in the first game. Also, this year marks the 10th anniversary of this franchise and to get back to roots of the game we had to bring back the iconic Frank.

Stevivor: There’s no doubt that the change from a kill counter to a hit counter is a massive game-changer. What does it mean for gameplay?

Cochrane: The switch to the hit counter will definitely change how advanced players approach fighting the game’s tougher enemies. Now, when Frank fights his way through a horde, he can just kick them out of his way and knock them back without being forced to get kills to build up the hit counter. As he approaches any of the game’s more powerful enemies, Frank can use his powerful skill move available to increase his chances of living to fight another day.

Stevivor: The Exo suit and corresponding heavy weaponry also spice up gameplay. Looking at one, you can’t help but think of Fallout’s Power Armor. Is that a fair comparison? Why or why not?

Cochrane: In Dead Rising 4, we focused on how we could enhance Frank’s strength and stamina to give him the ability to wield a larger array of weapons and introduce new gameplay mechanics that we’ve always wanted to bring to the series.

The very first time we talked about the concept, there were so many creative and exciting ideas – like giving players the ability to punch cars and wield new improved weapons – and we didn’t want to hold Frank back in any way. We focused on making the suit enhance gameplay with crazy, over-the-top abilities and less it being protective armour.

deadrising4exosuitcase

Stevivor: Staying along those lines, Frank doesn’t seem to lose any speed or manoeuvrability whilst in the suit. How fundamental was that to the suit’s design and functionality?

Cochrane: Agility while in the Exo suit was a key fundamental we focused on when we designed it. When we began conceptualizing how the suit would behave, we focused on the idea of “how can we do more with the combo system in the game?”

That’s where the proposal for “combo me” came from. The goal was to make the player feel like a super hero, but in true Dead Rising fashion, the base suit wasn’t enough, so we added the ability to combo it with other items and really take Frank’s abilities to the next level.

Stevivor: From what I’ve seen, the Exo suit is rather vanilla – clean, white lines with glowing orbs that denote remaining power. It’s a stark contrast to the ridiculous costumes (and vehicles) seen throughout the franchise. Will players have a chance to modify the armour or change up its look?

Cochrane: The base Exo suit comes from the military force that is occupying Willamette, so it was designed to be clean and efficient. Once Frank equips the Exo suit, there are several power-ups he can add and combo onto his suit. These are much more in line with the style of our combo weapons – improvised and homemade. There are also improvised weapons that Frank can use once he has the strength of the Exo suit, such as parking meters ripped right out of the ground.

deadrising4exosuitsuplex

Stevivor: Mini-boss Lieutenants also sport the Exo suits. How does this affect gameplay? Will Frank need to be suited up to take a Lieutenant on?

Cochrane: There are several enemy soldier types that wear the Exo Suit, not just the flamethrower-wielding ones we have shown so far.  They are bigger, stronger, armored, and more dangerous.  If Frank is in an Exo Suit with an Exo-sized weapon, his chances against these enemies are pretty good.  If Frank does not have the suit in these encounters, he will have to be smarter, keep his distance and pick his attacks far more carefully.

Stevivor: A great thing about Dead Rising is that you can play it so many different ways. Has the introduction of the Exo suit and its heavy weaponry meant you’ve had to rebalance the game? Will players be able to have a successful and enjoyable playthrough without ever donning it?

Cochrane: We absolutely still want to support letting people play the way they want to play. From watching fans play the other games in the series, we have seen everything – from players slowly making their way through the world picking off zombies from a distance, to filling their inventory with melee weapons and diving, head first, into the horde. The Exo Suit adds another layer to this.

We know some players will constantly seek out the Exo suit and spend as much time in it as possible, and for good reason because it’s awesome, but we still want people to be able to play using the many other strategies at their disposal.

Stevivor: Thanks so much for your time.

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Dead Rising 4 heads to both Windows 10 and Xbox One for this year’s holiday season.



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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.