Dead Space 3 first look preview - Colder, deader hands

The Dead Space series has been making derelict spacecrafts scarier than anyone could have imagined since 2008. Chronicling the trials and tribulations of the once mild-mannered Isaac Clarke, each new frontier is filled with hideously deformed creatures known as Necromorphs and humans driven mad by ancient artifacts known as Markers. Now, after two adventures lost in space, Isaac is fighting those enemies on solid ground alongside new friends in Dead Space 3 (provided he doesn’t freeze to death first).

The reveal demo takes place mere months after Dead Space 2, with Isaac waking up alone in a busted ship, calling out for “Ellie,” Clarke’s female companion from DS2. The frozen planet’s icy winds blast both Clarke and the aged buildings in the environment, almost overwhelming him in his desperate search. Instead of the quiet of an airless void, roaring winds fill your ears and the darkness of space is replaced with a shock of white.

This frozen planet is Tau Volantis, and it's where much of Dead Space 3 will take place. The outpost’s aged mining equipment and buildings distinguish the setting as more vintage than the clean futuristic structures of previous DS games. The constructs allow for a mix of outdoor areas and tight corridors, making a more open, less linear world than before (which will propably lead to a less linear experience). We doubt you'll spend all your time on Tau, as it wouldn't be Dead Space if you weren’t in space occasionally, but this new approach to the game world is enticing to say the least.

As Clarke explores the terrain we're quickly reintroduced to the weapons and ammo systems of the third person shooter, though there's a more militaristic bent to it. The Plasma Cutter is still there, but not everything Isaac picks up has a practical use, some are just straight weapons. There's also an excitingly cinematic moment as Isaac nearly falls to his death in a derelict vehicle, barely surviving in a scene that tells us the filmic  action brought to Dead Space 2 is back for the sequel.

After all this Clarke eventually finds his bearings and approaches the base where he locates his new ally, John Carver. After seeing Carver in the distance, Isaac’s attempt to follow him is cut short by a hulking, insectoid Necromorph. Before Isaac can battle the beast alone, the devs activated one of DS3’s primary additions: co-op. The scene restarts with Carver right next to Isaac as they approach the entrance. They work together to restart an elevator, exchange tense dialogue, then battle that same snow beast side-by-side, chasing it into the stronghold manned by the fanatical Church of Unitology, a force which seems to be more openly malevolent this time around.

This addition of co-op is quiet a departure from the original's incredibly solitary experience. Isaac has long had more enemies than friends, but DS3 is the first time he’s had a real partner. Little was revealed about Carver's background, but based on his demeanor and telltale facial scar, he’s clearly a no nonsense military type focused on the mission at hand, which will surely set him apart from Isaac. Wearing a similar space suit to Clarke’s, Carver’s helmet has bright red eyes that seem to imply his more violent nature.

He seems interesting, but as long time fans of the series, we have to admit we're a little concerned about the addition of a possible space marine to the newest Dead Space. Fortunately, the developers frame Carver's involvement as more optional than it seems at first. The solo and co-op plots seem to be almost totally different. Co-op scenes shift tonally from co-op solo play, with an emphasis on action and teamwork while solo still appears to focus on scares and isolation. We hope developer Visceral can have its cake and eat it too when it comes to co-op. 

Soon the duo are facing off against old and new enemies together. We saw a number of fresh monsters in DS3, including the skeletal, mummified corpses known as the Feed and the human looking Fodder whose torsos fall away to reveal three massive (and deadly) tendrils. There are more fresh Necromorphs to come, as well as returning monsters that have altered physically by the frozen conditions, but that's not the end. Dead Space 3 is also the first time Isaac has ever truly faced human enemies.

Battling their human combatants for the first time, Isaac and Carver have to approach it differently, as the trained mercenaries are far more tactical than Necromorphs. It's a good thing then that Isaac’s seems trained as well, showing off his new moves by smoothly dodging in multiple directions and shooting from cover. After working their way through humans and abominations alike (and one huge, malfunctioning drill) our brief time with Clarke and Carver’s adventure reached its end with the appearance of perhaps the biggest enemy in series history. The Godzilla-sized beast shrugged off standard attacks and the segment abruptly ended before we found out if this new duo had fight or flight in mind. But we couldn't help but notice some machines in the background that we could swear look like mechs.

What's certain is that Dead Space may have a new setting, but it aims to be just as frightening and deadly as ever. In time we'll see how the co-op works itself out in a practical sense, plus we'll hopefully learn if the second game's multiplayer will return. Dead Space 3 will be out February 2013.


Dead Space E3 EA

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  • FlagrantPilgrim - June 9, 2012 5:27 a.m.

    Am I the only one that thought "Lost Planet" after watching the trailer?
  • Shanetexas - June 4, 2012 6:07 p.m.

    Issac: Oh Godddd it's coming right for me! Hopefully my marine dude buddy is not just another of one hallucinations! Carver: Blam! Issac: Oh wait my buddy took care of it. Take care of those others, I'm going to just chill here. Carver: Seriously, who invited me? What about that cop who lost his arm from "Extraction"? Issac: The developers wanted Ice-T in this game. Carver: Awwwwwwww yeah. ... Marine Dude: Oh help me please I don't want to die! Issac: Sorry, can't afford to waste ammo. Marine Dude: Sorry you'll have to help me cuz if I die then we'll both have to restart. Issac: From the checkpoint? Marine Dude: From the start of the level. Issac: FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
  • Lopsidedown - June 4, 2012 5:57 p.m.

    I remember all the hate and doubt that came when Dead Space 2 was announced and previewed. Then it blew me away. So I'm going to go ahead and trust them to know what they're doing. Since they've proven that they do. I've no doubt this will be just as good as the first two.
  • Longnuts - June 4, 2012 5:34 p.m.

  • bhaywardio - June 4, 2012 5:33 p.m.

    I also forgot to adress the change from practical tools to more weapons. We had one military rifle and that was enough. I enjoy seeing how an industrial tool can be re-purposed into a necromorph killing machine.
  • IceBlueKirby - June 4, 2012 5:12 p.m.

    Looks like Dead Space is going full-on action shooter...not that I'm that surprised. I hope they mean what they say about the solo experience being more akin to the first two games. As others have already said, I would absolutely hate having to work alongside an AI through the entire game. Even without that, there's still the thing about fighting humans and cover systems...but cover systems and enemies that shoot back are apparently a requirement in every game with guns now. I'm still going to give this a shot, but I've already got severely lowered expectations.
  • GaryTheGuidoHunter - June 4, 2012 2:51 p.m.

    This is looking like an Army Of Two / Lost Planet cross breed... Hope it proves me wrong.
  • bhaywardio - June 4, 2012 2:22 p.m.

    You mention looking for him in solo gameplay, and then completely breaking that with the drop-in-drop-out co-op. I agree with Imgema, so long as you aren't forced to have this AI companion the whole game, I could care less. If they were to continue with the Dead Space 2 ally way, have Carver act as a friend behind the scenes, changing things and providing new objectives. Dead Space is the last bastion of survival horror, nothing is more tense than the last acts of Dead Space 1 and 2 respectively on zealot mode with only a little ammo left, being forced to use your enemies limbs against them and running to survive. Survive being the key word. This game should give the impression that Isaac (and Clarke, but hopefully thats not the case for singleplayer) is out to SURVIVE, as opposed to being a gun-toting space marine out to kill all aliens. Dead Space quickly became my favorite franchise, and I hope they don't deviate too much from the formula. As long as my solo core experience is untouched, add 16 player co-op for all I care. Make them 2 standalone stories. I don't know how I feel about Isaac having some cool definately makes more sense than his stale movements of past titles, but that stale movement added a level of challenge. It will be cool to fight human enemies as well, but I hope they maintain the necromorphs as the main enemy, instead of switching them over to some annoying flood concept. tl;dr version- don't mess with my dead space, keep your co-op off my Isaac!
  • metroid2099400 - June 4, 2012 5:31 p.m.

    I'm right there with you. Love the Dead Space games, and I'd hate to see them do a complete tonal shift. That said, I did hear a rumor which quells, if not dispels, my fears: CO-Op partner Carver is a hallucination created by Issac's twisted mind. The character exists in the real world, but if they are working this in it would completely explain the drop-in/out nature of the Co-Op, for me at least.
  • Imgema - June 4, 2012 2:10 p.m.

    Co-op is unnecessary for this particular game. Just because other action games have it doesn't mean this should have it... I just hope you won't have to deal with a computer AI partner during solo play, ala RE5. It will destroy the atmosphere completely.