It’s an undead wonderland in Dead Rising 4, the newest game in Capcom’s open-world zombie survival series. Veteran war photojournalist Frank West, who has definitely covered wars, is back in Willamette, Colorado — roped in by one of his headstrong students, Vick — to investigate a paramilitary occupation during yet another outbreak. A few things have changed since the last time the walking dead shopped until they dropped, so here’s everything a would-be survivalist needs to know to last that first, crucial hour back in Willamette.

Dead Rising 4
Comfort and joy!

When in the Mall, Experiment Like There’s No Tomorrow

Shortly after the opening prologue, Frank West returns to the Willamette Mall six weeks into the new outbreak. After teaming with a soldier, Brad Park, Frank will have the entire mall to wreak havoc. This is more than just a playground: It’s also a training ground.

With the removal of the time limit, a signature of Dead Rising, players now actually have all the time in the world to goof off. Because of the mall’s diversity of weapons, projectiles, and scattered blueprints to craft items (more on those later), this is a prime opportunity for veterans and newbies alike to experiment: What’s the difference between metal and wooden baseball bats? How useful are MMA gloves? Are gardening tools actually handy? When shit gets real, there’s little time to decide if a machete — which is shockingly weak — is worth dropping for an ax. So in the mall, run around and try anything.

dead rising 4

Level Up Inventory Attributes First

As in all open-world survival games, Dead Rising 4 has a familiar skill tree leveling system. The game’s first hour gives a surprisingly generous amount of currency to upgrade certain skills, but some are worth upgrading first.

Of most importance are the Inventory slots, listed under the Survival branch. With only two food/healing slots and three weapons to carry per type (projectile, melee, and firearms) in the beginning, upgrade inventories ASAP. You won’t need overly strong stats when you can just pick up a ton of weapons and food to heal on the go.

Dead Rising 4
Frank is back in 'Dead Rising 4.'

Level Up Vehicle Stamina, Too

You don’t need to max out the Vehicles tree (in Brawling) right away, but it is helpful to at least donate some level-up currency because you will drive a ton of vehicles when you leave the mall. This will be helpful when the game needs you to travel long distances with hordes of zombies blocking you.

Dead Rising 4 Blambow
The Blambow is one of the best crafted weapons in the game. Save it. You'll be glad you did.

Save Crafted Weapons for Bosses

Players get to craft hybrid weapons rather soon in the game. As fun as it is to shoot out firecracker arrows from a crossbow — the Blambow — you won’t be able to conveniently reload or remake these weapons right away.

So save the ammo and/or its integrity; in the mall, you’ll soon encounter maniacs — hostile, militant survivors — who have loaded up on body armor and sick medieval weapons. The hybrid weapons pack a meaner punch than standard melee tools and firearms, and having a fully-loaded hybrid to use against them will save you lots of headaches in the early going.

Dead Rising 4 is now available on Xbox One and PC.

Photos via Xbox

Eric is a film and journalism graduate of Rutgers University. Specializing in the nerdy side of pop culture, he has also written for Geekscape and TheDishh. He’s still hoping to be bitten by a radioactive spider.

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