Last week I took a stroll through the single-player campaign of Red Dead Redemption's upcoming Hallowe'en-themed DLC pack, Undead Nightmare. It's a rather funky, flesh-eating take on John Marston's world, but that's not the end of the story. This expansion also contains some new ways to play multiplayer online, with two additional modes – Undead Overrun, and Land Grab.
I'll focus on Undead Overrun first, because it was the mode that I spent quite a lot of time on, and it's hellishly addictive. Carrying over the zombie theme of the single-player story, this is a co-operative mode where you and up to three friends have to survive waves of undead enemies. The action takes place on one of several new multiplayer areas, each featuring a creepy graveyard to hold yourself down in.
Before you start an Overrun game, your crew has the opportunity to select a specific weapons loadout tailored to different styles of play. Between the Ravager, Long Shot, Overkill and Mauler loadouts, you get a variety of shotguns, pistols, rifles and throwing weapons. Now, it's important to ensure that you find the one that's best for you, and for your friends to use different ones too, because you're going to need to support each other's drawbacks in artillery to succeed in this mode.
The Ravager loadout is great for close-range combat thanks to the Mauser Pistol, Sawed-off Shotgun and Dynamite, but is pants for long-range – which is obviously where Long Shot comes in with its Double-Barrelled Shotgun, High Power Pistol and Bolt Action Rifle. Overkill gives you a bunch of meaty weapons, like the Pump-action Shotgun and Double-action Revolver, but are slow at times so you will need the help of someone with a Mauler loadout – Semi-auto Shotgun, Henry Repeater and LeMat Revolver.
Once you've gone and settled on a selection of weapons, the fun really starts. A sweeping camera passes through the graveyard of your imminent death, along with a Vincent Price-esque voiceover that tells you with an eery cackle that you won't survive for very long. Thanks a lot for the vote of confidence, pal. You don't have a lot of time to complain about that though, as you get about five seconds to form a defensive strategy with your friends before enemies start crawling out of the ground, Thriller-style.
There are two factors to consider in an Undead Overrun game. Survival (obviously) and time. Your team is given a certain amount of time to fight back the undead, and if that runs out, you enter Sudden Death, where you won't be able to revive your fallen friends and most attacks from the zombie horde will send you on your knees.
Besides that, you just have to ensure you have each other's backs, which is a lot harder than it sounds as greater numbers of the undead will come with each wave, and with all kinds of different variations too. I mentioned in my single-player preview
that there are four kinds of zombie to fight in Undead Nightmare
– Bolters, Retchers and Bruisers all start appearing to kick your fleshy butt if you're silly enough to even think about venturing beyond Wave 5.
Taking a strategy to camp in a single spot for the entire match won't work – primarily because zombies work in such mysterious ways, that you'll see a shuffling flesh-eating chap scurry in front of you one moment, disappear as your attention shifts focused to a fat vomit-belching man to your left (always a higher priority I find) and then come back at you from behind when you're not looking. Communication is vital, but so is the one element of Overrun that works as your saviour – coffins.