Yesterday, Microsoft announced that the next installment of the Dead Rising saga was coming to Xbox One. Even though the news leaked like a speared zombie, I was excited to learn more about Dead Rising 4. Today I got to play a quick demo, where I snapped a few pictures, ripped off a few dozen heads, and pummeled some zombies with Christmas-present boxing gloves.

Like the trailer’s soundtrack implied, the game is set in Willamette, Colorado, right around Christmas time. As such, Frank can incorporate a variety of holiday-themed weapons into his zombie slaying. One of the big changes to the game is that Frank can hold weapons into different quick-access inventory slots, letting him quickly swap from a ranged to a melee weapon. For instance, I cleared the nighttime streets with explosive arrows, and could instantly pull out my electrified battle axe to take care of any stragglers.

The kill meter has been changed to a hit meter, which in turn speeds up the rate with which it fills. What that means is that you’re able to pull off your special super moves at a faster pace – something that I’m definitely not going to complain about. These can be relatively mundane (but effective) melee moves such as grabbing a zombie’s head and yanking it off, hoisting a zombie overhead and throwing it into a crowd, or doing a crowd-smashing whirlwind attack. My favorite move was the battle axe’s: Frank hoists it over his head, and it zaps a large area like Thor’s hammer. 

Only one mission was available in the demo, which had me navigating to the nearby fire station. When I got there, it was overrun with zombies. After clearing house, I made a gruesome discovery: Several hanging soldiers. I took a picture of it to keep the story going. Well, several pictures, actually. After snapping the one required for the mission, I took a few more, including a couple of selfies. You can change Frank’s expression with the thumbstick, too, including a disgusted grimace that sums up the loveable oaf nicely.

I grab a military exosuit on my way out, which enables me to equip some heavy weapons. First, I jam my fists into a couple of Christmas presents, wielding the oversized boxes like boxing gloves. As I pummel the undead, presents shower out of the boxes – items such as Servebot toys, which can be used as on-the-fly crafting components. I don’t have time for that, and I grab a flamethrower. It roasts the zombies, who claw at their burning skin and collapse to the streets.

The exosuit is pretty nifty, but you have to keep an eye on its battery life. A series of lights on its back provide an indicator of its strength, as well as a meter below Frank’s health. When it ticks completely down, Frank has to exit the skeleton, reverting to his chewier form. You can replenish your battery by visiting other suits, however, and there seemed to be enough around to stay in for a while. Whether that was just for the demo remains to be seen.

I eventually meet up with my objective, a hardass with a flamethrower. It seems that his crew of survivors is responsible for the hanging soldiers. There wasn’t a cutscene introducing me to the character, but, again, that could be because it was a demo. He didn’t seem to care all that much about me, but his opinion shifted when I began blasting him with fire. Even though he was wearing a protective suit, my relentless blasts wore him down. He fell to the ground, exhausted, and I took the opportunity to sabotage his tank. He stood and began to freak out, while hissing jets of fire leapt from the apparatus. He then flew skyward like a rocket, eventually exploding. It was a perfect time for a photo, though my effort earned me middling artistic marks. Maybe next time.

With that guy out of the way, I spent my remaining moments testing out an umbrella-based weapon, which shot a weird, arcing power beam at zombies, and a cool little buggy. The buggy had a minigun-like cannon on top, and when I hit the fire button it whirled around and blasted everything apart in an impressive fusillade. 

Downtown Willamette was a fun place to explore, even though the streets were absolutely clogged with zombies. I did find out that players will be able to visit the Willamette Mall, too, though it’s been rebuilt since the events of the first game. Frank’s first adventure left a bit of a mess, and it probably made more sense to start fresh. The story isn’t starting fresh, however. That “4” is in there for a reason – it’s a continuation of the story, and not a reboot. The person helping with the demo wouldn’t confirm that Chuck Greene would be making an appearance in Dead Rising 4, but his squirming certainly didn’t help rule out such a possibility. 

Look for Dead Rising 4 on Xbox One this holiday season.