So far in Dead Rising 3 I have: cobbled together an insane metal cat, which promptly threw itself into a crowd of zombies and exploded; created a machinegun that fires three directions at once; used a dinky forklift truck to flip over a lorry; dressed up as cow; set a whole street on fire and driven a car out of a second floor window. All this is barely scratching the surface, so it's both interesting and intimidating to discover that Capcom Vancouver is already thinking about where Dead Rising 4 might take us, as Xbox One's meatiest launch game moves onto the home stretch.
A key addition could be a raised player headcount. The subject cropped up during a chat earlier this week with producer Mike Jones, who confessed that Capcom Vancouver would have liked to add support for more than two players, but was unable to bridge the associated technical abyss in time for release.
"We played around with different ideas," he began. "The main challenge that we set out on was the scale of the world, making this massive world with more density than ever before, more weapons than ever before, more stuff than ever before, and getting all that working on the Xbox One with a visual fidelity upgrade. And then being able to network all that reliably with no tethering - that was a huge accomplishment for us, right?
"Obviously we'd like to have three players, four players, more players, and we did some rough tests, and the networking fidelity started to break down," Jones continued. Moreover, Capcom Vancouver wanted to make sure that the second player had a "meaningful" experience, rather than just cut-and-pasting the lead character. "In Dead Rising 2, it was just a clone of the hero, and all you could do was grind experience - it wasn't part of the story. So this time we thought let's make the co-op player part of the story.
"He's his own character, he can do all the stuff Nick can, you can change your clothes, make combo weapons, anything you earn in the game or put in the game you can bring back to your game - and let's figure out how to use the cloud to asynchronously save story progress so that if you're the client you get mission progress as well.
"If you unlock a chapter or side missions or whatever, you can go back to your game and skip those or replay those, if the host makes a story decision you don't like, you can go back and change the direction of the game," Jones explained. "We put a lot of emphasis on making a two player co-op game and making it more meaningful, and for the next game we'll set loftier goals - now that we have our open world, now that we have our networking tech."
Co-op players can roam freely in Dead Rising 3's world - there's no artificial "tethering" to stop the game having to load up too many different sets of objects and textures at once. This is no small feat, given the sheer number of zombies, the comparative sophistication of their AI and the game's physics, and the procedural tailor-making of individual zombies for a more diverse, plausible throng.
"It's not just how many zombies you can render on screen at any one time, it's having to update things like the zombie AI all the time," mused Jones. "Like, hey send 100 zombies after this guy, 100 zombies after this guy. If you multiply that by having four or five players in the game, it's like now you're having to send thousands of active zombies in completely different areas of the world after people. It becomes this crazy, exponentially more complicated problem.