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Dead Rising 4 is the fourth game in the main Dead Rising series. Announced at E3 2016, it's set almost a year after Dead Rising 3, and a full 16 years after the events of the original Dead Rising.

A 52-year-old Frank West makes his return as the game's protagonist. Frank, now a college photography professor, returns to Willamette, Colorado, to investigate a lead from one of his students, Vick. As they uncover some unethical experiments, Frank and Vick are separated, and Vick takes off without him. Frank is identified and labelled as a terrorist for attacking a government facility.

Four months later, just after Christmas, ZDC commander Brad Park tracks down Frank, currently in hiding, and delivers some troubling news. An unknown agency struck on Black Friday, turning the holiday shoppers in Willamette into zombies. A full-scale outbreak has been underway for over a month, with the U.S. government conspiring to cover it up and quarantine the area. Brad wants to find out why, and to recruit Frank towards that end, tells him that Vick has been spotted in the outbreak zone.

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Frank and Brad set off for Willamette, only for their chopper to be shot down over the Willamette Memorial Megaplex Mall, an even larger replacement for the original. Frank splits up from Brad to find Vick, but soon ends up on the same trail she's on: finding out what caused the outbreak, and why a private military company by the name of Obscuris is being allowed to run rampant in the town's ruins.

The game features an investigative element, where Frank can use his camera to search for and record clues. It even comes equipped with a spectrum analyzer, which lets him find blood trails and other clues, and a night vision filter, to help him see in dark areas. The game has also moved away from the timer-based gameplay of the previous installments; there's no longer a time limit, giving players as much time as they need to complete the game.

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As in the past two games, Frank can also assemble miscellaneous debris to create new and over-the-top weapons, and the combo vehicles from DR3 return here as well. Most crucially, Frank and co. can find and salvage "Exo suits" from military stockpiles. The Exo suit only lasts a short time before shattering, but enhances Frank's strength, letting him use heavy machine guns or rip parking meters out of the ground as improvised bludgeons.

The game has a timed release schedule: the Xbox One and Windows 10 Store versions were released in December 2016, with the Steam version coming out 90 days afterward. One year later, a "game of the year edition" called ''Frank's Big Package" is scheduled to come out for the PlayStation 4.


The game features examples of:

  • Aesop Amnesia: Played with as Frank West becoming a huge star only to blow it all and become a shadow of his former self is the plot of the non-canon Off the Record. Technically, these events didn't occur so it's a case of Canon Immigration. However, for fans of the series it makes him look like Frank forgot all the lessons he learned in Off the Record only to need to learn them again.
  • Alliterative Name: The Willamette Memorial Megaplex Mall.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Semi-Subverted: The outbreak started on Black Friday, but Frank and Brad don't go to Willamette until six weeks later. Despite the Christmas decorations and music, the game takes place sometime in January 2022. That being said, the Christmas theme is nonetheless still prevalent throughout the game, so therefore the more accurate term to describe this would be "An Ass-Kicking Belated Christmas".
  • An Axe to Grind: One of the new combos is an electric battleaxe.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The "Frank Rising" DLC has Frank turning into a zombie himself. He gets better.
  • A Taste of Power: The game opens with Frank having a nightmare, in which he is heavily armed with powerful combo weapons. You don't get the blueprints for these weapons for some time.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The multiplayer characters all appear at various points in the story mode, with Connor playing the largest role.
    • Brad was the protagonist of one of the DLC side-stores in the third game. Now, he plays a more central role, serving as one of Frank's allies during the outbreak.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Brad went from a lowly ZDC Agent to its highest-ranking member after his actions during the Los Perdidos outbreak.
  • Badass Grandpa: Frank is 52 as of this game in the series and is still capable of mowing down zombies.
  • Bad Santa: Sadistic Claus, and his army of evil elves.
  • Bag of Spilling: Frank once again starts the game at Level 1. Then again, he's getting older and has been out of the game for a decade so this is a Justified trope.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Vick arguably becomes part of this group, due largely to her actions and the consequences they have, with Commander Fontana and Calder forming the main purposely-antagonistic threat through the course of the story.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Frank falls from the ZDC helicopter, and is last seen being dog-piled by a horde of fresh zombies, with more on the way. Whether he somehow survived or not has yet to be seen. Subverted by the events of Frank Rising, as it results in a Surprisingly Happy Ending. This is, noticeably, a very common element of the series, with Overtime Mode occurring in both the original and second games.
  • Bonus Boss: The Maniacs. Like Sean, they each command an army of insane followers that range from deranged football players to people in shark costumes. Unlike the psychopaths of previous games, you'll have to do a little digging to find and fight the leaders themselves.
  • Broken Ace: After what happened to Isabella and the government's cover-up of the Willamette incident, Frank has fallen hard. He's now a cynical, unpleasant, and selfish photography professor. It takes some convincing from Brad Park to even get him involved in the plot.
  • Call-Back:
    • Frank hears the voices of Carlito and his younger self during the opening nightmare.
    • At the end of the prologue, Frank fights his Dead Rising 2 counterpart.
    • Slappy returns, along with his girlfriend, as part of a holiday decoration in the mall. Of course, it's been damaged at some point, and both dolls are now much, much creepier.
    • The newspaper collectibles include a lot of incidental shout-outs to past characters. Stacey Forsythe is now a regular on the lecture circuit and has written a well-regarded book.
    • You can put on a yellow raincoat, matching hat, and cultist mask, thus wearing Sean's cultists' outfit from the first game.
    • The metal song playing on the jukebox in the pool hall is Chuck's boss theme, "Firewater," from Off the Record.
  • Cliffhanger: Frank suffers a sudden and abrupt Uncertain Doom at the very end of the game in the base game. You'll only see what happens afterwards if you have the "Frank Rising" DLC.
  • Coop Multiplayer: Unlike previous games, the main campaign can only be played solo. However, there is a separate campaign that can be played with up to 4 players.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While the combo weapons may get all the attention, this is still Dead Rising, and if you can pick it up, you can swing it at a zombie's head. This includes cash registers, squeaky toy hammers, chunks of rebar, meat hooks, and volleyballs.
  • The Conspiracy: It wouldn't be a Dead Rising game if there wasn't one. In this case, the US government has hired Obscuris to perfect Doctor Barnaby's research, not to create immortality as Barnaby attempted to do after Santa Cabeza, but to create mindless slaves which will do the drudge labor for corporations. Unfortunately, one of their own becomes an intelligent zombie and helps cause an outbreak that needs to be covered up.
  • Creator Cameo: Bryce Cochran, the game's director, appears in the cutscene introducing Fresh zombies, in which he is mercilessly beaten and killed by said zombie.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Played with. Frank's snarky remarks come off as cold to the other characters, and his apathy is likely a result of his Trauma Conga Line.
    • Also qualifies as a persistent case of Dude, Not Funny!, which has been a problem of Frank West's since the original Dead Rising.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: The Frank Rising DLC. If Frank catches all the "princess wasps" — which are basically timed skill trials — he gets the good ending; having all those wasps on his person when he is cured creates an uber-Smart Bomb effect akin to smashing Queens, instantly killing every zombie within at least a hundred meters, saving the remaining survivors of Willamette. The catch is that as difficult as some of those trials can be, Zombie!Frank's skill progression is dependent on them. It is nearly impossible to even approach the final area without fully-leveled skills, let alone survive the arena where Frank can be cured, so getting the bad ending — where only Frank and Blackburne survive, the others getting killed by the zombie horde trying to secure their escape — is exponentially harder than getting the good one.
    • Notably, this is an Earn Your Happy Ending for the entire franchise, as Frank successfully brings the conspirators who caused Santa Cabesa's destruction as well as continued zombie research indefinitely to justice.
  • Elite Mooks: Maniacs are mostly just slightly tougher versions of regular hostile humans.
    • Obscuris troops, scattered throughout the world, use squad tactics, lob grenades, and sometimes even fire RPGs.
  • Elite Zombie: The "Evolved" zombies are fast, agile, and tough enemies that dash, leap, and dodge around instead of merely shambling about. They're zombies that have evolved enough to regain near-human level intelligence, seemingly being almost as smart as cavemen.
  • Expy: Some of the evolved zombies have a resemblance to the Cannibals from F.E.A.R. 3. You could probably also point to the Infected from Dead Island and Dying Light.
  • Feelies: A DR4-themed snowglobe was given out to those who pre-ordered the game from GameStop.
  • Fan Fiction: An In-universe "Chuck Greene X TK" fanfic can be found on phones hidden around Old Town.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the first level, Frank's nightmare, be sure to check out the billboards and the names of the stores. Nothing calls your attention to them, you'll likely have your hands full, and you can't repeat the nightmare level without starting a new save file.
  • Guide Dang It!: Finishing off Frank's dossier on Persons of Interest requires you to take a second picture of the picture of Russell Barnaby that you have to photograph during a story mission, in a house that you can't reenter after you leave.
  • Hero of Another Story: Frank's ally Brad Park spends most of the story pursuing his own investigation and organizing evacuation for survivors before reuniting with Frank in time for the final battle.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: While trying to expose an unethical scientific experiment, Frank is caught, and the United States government labels Frank a terrorist and begins a nationwide manhunt for him.
  • It Can Think: Despite Calder turning into a zombie, he ends up keeping almost all of his intelligence after exposing himself to an imperfect cure, although turning him dangerously Ax-Crazy.
  • Lighter and Softer: After the much grittier tone of Dead Rising 3, this game has some color back in its eyes, and its overall tone is on par with Off the Record. While the game does have its serious moments here and there and a pretty unexpected Downer Ending unless you buy the DLC, it's mostly just a jolly romp through the zombie outbreak.
  • MacGyvering: The combo weapons and vehicles return from previous installments, and the Exo-Suit can be modified in a similar fashion.
  • Mission Control:
    • In story mode, most of it is done by Brad, with side missions given out by Paula.
    • In multiplayer, Hammond briefs the players on each mission.
  • Monster Lord: Calder serves as the father of the Evolved Zombies as well as a leader of those zombies who maintain some intelligence.
  • Moral Myopia: A theme throughout the game, as Vick becomes The Quisling for Obscuris out of a belief she has to get the story out while blaming Frank for being more interested in a payday than exposing the truth (missing that Frank is perfectly capable of doing both). Obscuris believes what they're doing is for the American public, despite how much damage zombie-ism has done to America. Tom believes he's protecting the survivors of Willamette, but he's really there so he can live out his survivalist fantasies.
  • Mythology Gag
    • One of the outfits that Frank can wear is a mechanic's jumpsuit, which looks almost exactly like the one Nick wore. Its nametag reads "Dick", a reference to Dick Baker, a character in the previous game.
    • Frank's war coverage comes up again. When asked about which war he covered, he quickly changes the subject.
  • Older Than They Look: Frank is a suspiciously young-looking 52.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Brad tells Frank early on that they're dealing with a different strain of the virus than what they're used to, and this one won't respond to Zombrex. It's the older strain that was used in Santa Cabeza, back before the original game. Also, unlike the other strains, those who are freshly turned are fast zombies.
  • Patient Zero: Turns out the new outbreak was started by an Obscuris officer named Calder, who was accidentally infected while exploring Dr. Barnaby's abandoned lab and subjected himself to an imperfect cure being developed by Barnaby. He ends up retaining his human intelligence, but turns insane and goes on a rampage. And an intelligent zombie equipped with a military exo-suit is a really dangerous thing to have running around.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: While on the run, Frank uses the alias Hank East. It doesn't take long for Brad to deduct where he is.
  • Point of No Return: Frank finds this location down in the sewers, just outside of the door leading to Calder's lair. Once he goes in there, Frank is on a fast-track for the ending with no more chances to explore Willamette.
    • It happens again in Frank Rising, as he will lose the ability to look for more queens if he goes to Doctor Barnaby's lab.
  • Powered Armor: The Exo-Suits found all around, which temporarily give Frank Super Strength and lets him equip special Combo Weapons.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Obscuris Commander is smart enough to realize that summarily executing civilians in front of a journalist probably isn't the best idea. Played with, as Vick is also acting as The Quisling at this time as well, explaining why they don't execute her as well.
  • Private Military Contractors: The main human opposition in the game are a well-equipped PMC called "Obscuris" that are running unethical experiments on zombies as well as enforcing a totalitarian martial law in the infected zone. Not surprisingly, they turn out to be working for the U.S. Government, essentially serving the same role as the U.S. military, only with more plausible deniability.
  • Retcon: Dead Rising 4 retcons Dr. Barnaby's experiments from originally increasing the world's beef production to making people immortal by turning them into smart zombies. Also, that it happened in Willamette and not Santa Cabeza.
    • Not so much a retcon as a case of filling in the backstory and explaining what happened between the Santa Cabeza and Willamette outbreaks from the first game. During the cutscene where Calder is infected, Dr. Barnaby's voice recording reveals that the government wanted him to use zombies to unlock immortality after the livestock research program failed to pan out.
    • Santa Cabeza is mentioned by Brad Park as the source of the old zombie strain, and Barnaby's recording mentions him being summoned to the Willamette mall by an unknown party, whom he suspects may be a survivor of Santa Cabeza, which is meant as a nod to Carlito's actions from the first game, preserving the continuity while explaining what Barnaby did after the livestock program was shut down, as well as why Carlito chose to unleashed the zombies in a nowhere place like Willamette.
  • Revisiting the Roots: As much as the series is capable of, with the return of Frank West, who's back in Williamette, CO, and the Dawn of the Dead-inspired mall setting. The only critical difference is it's not the same mall.
  • Series Continuity Error: Frank mentions at one point in the game that he survived three outbreaks. Even with counting Dead Rising 2: Case West as an outbreak, this only makes two outbreaks that he took a part in, as he didn't appear in Dead Rising 3 (at least, canonically). The only way this could go to three is by counting Off The Record as well, but OTR is just a re-telling of DR 2 and has already been declared non-canon by Capcom themselves.
    • Most likely, Frank is referring to the events of Case West, wherein he arrives in Fortune City while the outbreak is still going on (albeit nearing its end), where he saves Chuck Green from a zombified TK, thus making it the second outbreak he survived. The third outbreak he is referring to is clearly the Phenotrans base where the majority of Case West takes place.
  • Sir Swears Alot: Frank has picked up quite the potty mouth between Case West and Dead Rising 4.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Your reward for completing the story is a Zero exo-suit mod.
    • While in hiding, Frank uses the pseudonym Hank East.
    • If you play as Jessa in multiplayer, one of her lines is audibly complaining about how the outbreak interrupted her run through a video game where she was romancing "the blue alien babe with the huge jugs."
    • There are a lot of Capcom shout-outs strewn throughout the game, including cosplay outfits for Frank for Mike Haggar, Vega, Akuma, Captain Commando, Morrigan, Zero, and Bass. There are a couple of arcades and comic book shops inside and outside the mall which are entirely devoted to Capcom-themed merchandise.
    • The Roaring Thunder combo weapon now equips you with clawed gloves and a mask, with a special attack that mimics Blanka's electricity field.
    • The achievement for creating 5 unique exo-suit powerups is "We Are Cancelling The Apocalypse".
    • One achievement is named "C-C-Combo!". It's earned by chaining 200 attacks and then finishing it off with a Y+B attack.
    • Spending your first Skill Point earns the "A Whole New World" achievement.
    • The Cultist Sword weapon bears a resemblance to the design of the Levin Sword.
    • When upgrading an Exo suit, Frank may say "Now we're playing with power!"
    • One of the costumes is an orange ski suit. Its description says that if you die wearing it, you may hear someone shout "They killed Franky!"
    • One of Frank's lines after creating a combo weapon is "Thank you Macgyver!"
    • Before evacuating the mall at the end of the game, Vick asks Frank if his heart grew three sizes this year.
    • The spiked bat weapon is almost identical to Negan's bat.
    • The final section of the basic game is straight out of the film adaptation of World War Z — the hordes stop meandering about and start full-on Zerg Rushing the heroes in army-ant-style waves. They deliberately fling themselves into the blades of the first helicopter to crash it, and when the second takes off, they actually create human pyramids to grapple it.
    • Frank can wear either a cream-blue or orange tuxedo topped with matching top hats. The descriptions read, "I'm with stupid" and "I'm with Stupider".
    • One of the maniacs Frank can fight is the Scare King, a guy dressed like a scarecrow and wearing a pumpkin mask. As Frank gets close to defeating him, the Scare King will say "I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for you meddling reporters!"
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Classic Christmas and holiday tunes (Such as Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Jingle Bell Rock, O Christmas Tree, etc.) play on the pause menu, car radios, and throughout the mall. All while you slaughter hordes of zombies.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The involvement of maniacs revolves around insane or overall psychotic survivors who will attack Frank in a group and Frank will have to kill the leader to defeat the maniacs. There's no real difference between psychopaths and maniacs other than the fact that they don't have cutscenes or theme music unless the maniac served as a boss fight.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Unlike previous installments, players have an unlimited amount of time to complete the game.

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