We’re live at PAX Prime with a first look at Dead Island Riptide, Deep Silver’s follow-up to last year’s successful first-person survival horror game.  You’re back in a tropical setting as you battle with the undead once more, but this time you’re using a few defensive tricks of the trade, along with the ability to lop off a few heads to score points.

Though Deep Silver reps didn’t divulge too much of the plot, the game once again follows the four survivors who made it out alive by the end of the first game, as well as a new fifth combatant who brings a few necessary combat skills to the party.  When last we saw these guys, they were on a helicopter, getting the heck out of Benoi.  However, one monsoon and a small infection later, and the zombie horde makes a return, promising to make lunch out of you unless you fight back with whatever makeshift weapons you can get your hands on.

During the 10-minute demo that the company showed us, they explained how the gameplay has changed for the better.  As we mentioned, combat is still a particular part of the game, as, in the opening, you’re wielding an electrified blade (one that was obviously put together on the weapon modification table), zapping zombies with a well-deserved slice before they can get up.

As the demo continued, your team must enter a boat, with one player steering it while the others aim at zombies that come charging at it.  However, just because you’re stuck with driving duty doesn’t mean you don’t get to have any fun.  You can actually pick up the boat’s acceleration and steer it directly at some zombies, splattering their blood all over the hull.  This looked like one of the more satisfying moments in the game, to be honest.

From there, we reached a defensive perimeter – what looked to be the remains of a church – and prepared ourselves for another mission, with more a defensive set-up.  You’ll have a few moments in which you need to set up barricades and traps for incoming zombies, including wire fencing that sets up instantly, explosive mines that you can scatter on both land and water, and, most importantly, gun turrets, so you can take them out from a higher viewpoint before they can become a threat.

Once you have these defense settings in place, it’s entertaining to watch mayhem unfold on the incoming zombies, whether they blast into fleshy chunks from hitting a mine or bow to the power of your mighty turret bullets.  This is bound to be even more fun in online co-op, which is once again making a return.  Why not?  It worked so well the first time around.

For Riptide, Deep Silver and the developers at Techland (who worked on the original) are adding some new décor.  It’s still quite tropical with trees and other foliage that make you feel like you’re in the middle of an island, but it’s a slight bit grittier this time around, as you aren’t exactly working your way across the beach.  It kind of resembles New Orleans backwaters, more like.  Oh, and the blood effects?  Fantastic.  When we chopped someone’s head completely off, the carnage certainly didn’t come up short.

Dead Island Riptide is scheduled for a firm 2013 release, with no date given yet.  We’ll have more details in the months ahead, including an interview and hands-on, so be sure to check back for more zombie madness.

Meanwhile…we could use a vacation.  Just not like this one, y’know?