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The Rise And Fall Of Dead Rising

The Dead Rising series has seen its considerable share of ebbs and flows, first riding a successful wave in 2006 with the original Dead Rising on the Xbox 360, then hitting a depressing lull in 2016 with Dead Rising 4. However, the series' fall isn't quite a linear tale. Rather, it's one that involves declining sales figures and waning quality from a series once thought of as a genre-defining zombie franchise.


When Dead Rising hit the Xbox 360 in 2006, it was met with immediate praise (despite featuring infuriatingly tiny font). With an aggregate score of 86 on Metacritic, the first game was given positive marks for its chaotic gameplay, charming light-heartedness, and often comical script. While the following series entries would up the ante and make tweaks to the fun, zombie-slaughtering gameplay, they would also cause the series to experience an identity crisis, especially with the poorly reviewed release of Dead Rising 4.

Dead Rising's evolving gameplay

The Dead Rising series began with a pretty simple premise: Use anything to kill hordes of zombies. From weights to baseball bats to televisions, the freedom given to the player was enormous and allowed for some hilarity along the way.


Dead Rising 2 took things to a new level. With improved A.I. for survivors (which were given horrendous AI in the first Dead Rising), as well as the use of Combo Weapons (the combination of two different weapons/objects found in the open world), Dead Rising 2 was easily a step up from the previous iteration. 

Dead Rising 3, which racked up a 78 on Metacritic, was one of the first killer apps for Xbox One. With the new console generation came better graphics, a larger world, and an enormous volume of zombies. The game also included the impressive ability to command vehicles that could also mow down legions of zombies. Dead Rising 4 attempted to expand on the third game's formula, but ultimately let down a massive chunk of its audience with annoying bugs and repetition.


Dead sales?

All in all, the Dead Rising series' sales show at least moderate success. With 14 million copies moved across the series as of December 30, 2021, the franchise hit an early peak at Dead Rising 2 with 3.1 million units sold. Dead Rising 3 just missed the mark at 2.9 million units sold, which exceeds the first Dead Rising's 1.8 million units on Xbox 360.


Dead Rising 4 is dead-last, with 1.1 million units sold across Xbox One and PC. In addition to being outsold by all prior series entries, Dead Rising 4 ultimately failed to meet Capcom's sales expectations. It was expected to reach 2 million copies sold by March 2017, yet Capcom attributed the disappointment to missing the mark with fans who had been expecting staples like campaign co-op. Of course, it probably didn't help much that the reviews for Dead Rising 4 ended up being so decidely mixed.

Can Dead Rising rise once more?

For the time being, it seems as though the Dead Rising series is waving the white flag to signal a timeout. Capcom ended the development of Dead Rising 5 in 2018 due to an amateur development team and licensing issues regarding the use of Unreal Engine 4. Further, Capcom Vancouver, which developed previous Dead Rising iterations, shut down around the same time, So, for right now, it seems Dead Rising 5 has been laid to rest.


In the meantime, the similar but more long-running Resident Evil franchise still roars with life. With Resident Evil Village and a possible Resident Evil 4 remake on the way, at least one of Capcom's zombie franchises remains alive. Maybe the Dead Rising franchise will make a comeback of some kind, further down the road. For those who haven't experienced its grotesque hilarity, the first few installments of the Dead Rising series are available in remastered format on PS4 and Xbox One.