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Red Dead Redemption – Undead Nightmare hands-on

Before we start in, let’s just silence any misconceptions right off the bat: despite any appearances to the contrary, the Undead Nightmare DLC for Red Dead Redemption is not a “just add zombies” mod for the hit Western game. A huge, open landscape overrun with the walking dead is the central draw, sure, but Undead Nightmare’s changes run a lot deeper than that. Everything, from the music and color palette to the weather patterns and towns, has undergone drastic changes that give the Old West a much more unsettling, apocalyptic feel. There are ridiculous new weapons to unleash on the cannibal hordes, and things you took for granted, like camping to save or fast travel, are now too dangerous even to consider.

And zombies, while a constant threat, are far from the worst things you’ll find lurking in the newly corrupted wilderness. 


Above: This isn't the worst thing either, although it's close

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. At the center of Undead Nightmare is a new story campaign, which we’re told will take about five or six hours to complete, and which, like the DLC episodes for GTA IV, will be accessible from the main menu at any time. Taking place somewhere during the game’s “home” sequence (after John Marston returns to Beecher’s Hope, but before the finale), the story predictably tasks Marston with discovering the reasons behind a sudden undead plague, and with putting it down.

One possible theory is that it’s all Seth’s fault. Our demo began with Marston confronting the emaciated grave robber in a cutscene at the Old Bacchus Place, where he was unsuccessfully playing cards with his former partner Moses, now zombified and oddly docile. Seth didn’t seem the least bit surprised by the dead walking the earth; in fact, he said, this wasn’t even the first time it had happened. When Marston said that folks in Blackwater thought the plague might have been stirred by a magic eye Seth stole from a grave, though, Seth flew into a rage and ordered Moses to attack Marston – which he didn’t. Eventually, Seth calmed down enough to tell us what to do: travel to every graveyard on the map and clear out every last flesh-eater.

The first one the game pointed us at was the little cemetery by Coot’s Chapel, but what happened on the way was actually more interesting, and came with a surprise. After saddling up a convenient zombie horse (which was more or less like any other horse, apart from continually wanting to veer in random directions and looking roughly 500 percent more disgusting), a blip on our radar appeared to let us know that a “mythical creature” was in the vicinity. This was one of the big reveals during our session: in addition to zombies, Undead Nightmare adds assorted monsters and mythical beasts that Marston can hunt or capture.

After chasing down the blip (which turned into a large, blue searchable area when we got close), we spotted a big, black horse with flaming hooves. This, we found out, was the horse of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – and, yes, Pestilence, Famine and Death are lurking in the DLC, too.

The good news is that War’s horse was friendly… once we’d chased, lassoed and broken him like we would any other wild horse, that is. The better news is that, once he’s your horse, you can gallop through zombie herds and set them on fire, assuming you don’t get yanked out of the saddle in the process. Meanwhile, we’re told Famine and Pestilence will both have infinite stamina (meaning you can gallop nonstop), and Death’s horse can explode zombie heads, presumably by touching them.

As we rode on to Coot’s Chapel (which included a detour through a boarded-up version of the MacFarlane Ranch dotted with flaming wreckage), we were attacked by a few crowds of zombies, which wander the landscape like wild animals (but with much greater frequency). As it turns out, these bastards fall into four categories: the Undead, your garden-variety shambling corpses; Bolters, who scamper around low to the ground and are incredibly difficult to hit; Bruisers, who are big, slow and tougher to kill than most; and Retchers, who glow green, spit bile and explode when killed.

It took a while to get used to them as enemies; taking them down with bullets means shooting them in the head, something their erratic, flailing movements made it difficult to pull off. If you plan to stand and fight instead of running away, get ready to use Deadeye a lot. Or, alternately, to let them get close enough to use a close-quarters finisher – although that’s risky.

Topics

Rockstar

39 comments

  • cronomonkey - November 6, 2010 4:20 a.m.

    oh and the Zombieland profile picture is coincidental
  • cronomonkey - November 6, 2010 4:18 a.m.

    Recently got "The zombie Survival Guide" (which is an actual book)maybe it will come in handy when playing this. (
  • feeblemind - October 22, 2010 6:41 p.m.

    Whoa dude, talk about a spoilerific review. I appreciate the info but maybe in the future you could leave some of the storyline bits for us to discover on our own, yeah? I am psyched for this DLC! Thanks for covering it anyhow.
  • scvgd - October 18, 2010 6:56 p.m.

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  • BurntToShreds - October 18, 2010 3:29 p.m.

    When you guys said "mythical creatures, I of course thought about a unicorn. Rockstar, if you don't put one in there, I will be disappointed.
  • urwifemykids - October 18, 2010 3:19 a.m.

    every thing is better with zombies
  • kytano_skorpius - October 17, 2010 10:36 p.m.

    Ten bucks? Really? Just ten bucks? Thank you Rockstar!
  • c1nd3rcell - October 17, 2010 6:39 p.m.

    I think they should throw Doc Holiday in there somewhere. That would be frikin' awesome!
  • nickhh96 - October 17, 2010 3:48 a.m.

    retchers=glowing ones
  • Spybreak8 - October 16, 2010 11:21 p.m.

    saaawweet, I thought this game had everything and now it will! It's good to hear they just didn't add zombies because hey everyone likes zombies right!?
  • Ninja-Monkey-91 - October 16, 2010 3:56 p.m.

    Looks like the best DLC i've ever seen money:content ratio is unbelievable! Also why has no one done a zombie western before this point? It makes perfect sense!
  • Gilgamesh567 - October 15, 2010 11:32 p.m.

    Oh god im gonna hate this anything i cant take down in a couple shots is a problem with me plus had very bad experience with a fake zombie at a amusment park when i was 5
  • sleepy92ismypsn - October 15, 2010 11:04 p.m.

    I can't wait. I was dissapointed with the other 2 paid DLC for RDR but this looks well worth my $10. At least I can use the explosive rifle in Undead Nightmare. The new survivor co-op mode sounds fun too.
  • Zatunks - October 15, 2010 2:57 p.m.

    I hate (absolutely HATE) zombies and how it seems that there's an unwritten law that they must be in almost every single game these days, but I really like Red Dead Redemption, and somehow I'm almost completely sold on this DLC. The inclusion of the horses of the apocalypse certainly didn't hurt.
  • EdDeRs1 - October 15, 2010 2:54 p.m.

    wonder if u will have to fight the four horsemen themselves, or if they team up with u to stop the outbreak. i hope this has an alternate ending to the story, one with marston living.
  • CitizenWolfie - October 15, 2010 9:10 a.m.

    ah crap! So it's coming out 4 days after Fallout: New Vegas and about a week before Black Ops? I'm going to have to leave my job and my girlfriend.
  • alexthewhite - October 15, 2010 5:04 a.m.

    You know, 10 bucks is a really good deal once I think about it. I thought the two DLCs for GTA 4 were excellent, so Rockstar has earned my trust in their ability to put out quality DLC. It's not exactly what I'd expect for a game like Red Dead, but hey, if we get some awful yet badass zombie jokes from Marston, I'm happy.
  • shadowreaper72 - October 15, 2010 3:56 a.m.

    Im getting this the day it comes out. Its gonna be sweet!
  • AxiamWolfe - October 15, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    Retcher = Spitter + Boomer - Girl? Why the hell is this not on PC!!!!!! ReCAPTCHA: [upside]for[/down] woreezed Inverted words? Well I never...
  • JuliePeesgood - October 15, 2010 12:44 a.m.

    Not trying to be immature (or a pervert) but what is that little red thing on the cougar's belly (near the back legs)? Just curious.

Showing 1-20 of 39 comments

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