Well hello there, fellow denizens of the awesomepocalypse. Looking forward to firing up Sunset Overdrive on your Xbox One in the near future? As I noted in my review: this can be a really great game, but appreciating it requires some extra legwork. Here are some tips to help you get there.
Sunset Overdrive's default punk rock dude character is kinda...dull, at least in comparison to the other, insane characters you can play as. The character creator is one of the best parts of this game, so putting in a few minutes at the outset will help you find your place in the colorful world of Sunset City. As you can tell from the picture of the beefcake above, the game has some very silly outfits to choose from. My personal favorites to play around with are the hair and eye colors—minor details on one level, but just the sort that help make the game feel truly personal.
Think those all-white eyes you picked out are a little creepy? Or the bright pink fauxhawk is a bit much? Or maybe you'd just rather play as a hulk-sized man (again, see above) for a little bit instead of the svelte female character you originally selected? Sunset Overdrive lets you swap out every single thing you put into your character at any point in the game; all you have to do is approach the merchant Callista and start customizing yourself. Like the weapons merchant Two Hat Jack, Callista has a ton of different locations peppered across the game's map.
Unlike my colleague Nathan Grayson, I am not the kind of man who usually plays video games as a woman. For whatever reason, I tried playing Sunset Overdrive with a female character and was pleasantly surprised by how much more fun it made the whole experience. This is more an aesthetic choice than anything: I just think the female voice actor is a lot better than the male one in the game, because she delivers the game's many intentionally humorous lines with a such charmingly silly tone. Obviously I'm not telling you that you should choose one gender over another. But since the game defaults to a dude, you might not realize there's another option available.
Kirk Hamilton and I have both found Sunset Overdrive's garage-rock-fueled soundtrack incredibly bland and irritating. Like some other unseemly aspects of the game's tone and style, this unfortunately makes the whole experience of playing an otherwise fun game much less enjoyable than it should be. If you feel the same way, consider turning the game's music all the way down in the game's options menu and playing some of your own instead. As with your in-game gender preference, this is ultimately a matter of personal choice.
Sunset Overdrive isn't an RPG or anything, but it does have a levelling system in its colorful weaponry. Pretty much every time you use a weapon (to kill something, at least), you acquire experience for that particular boomstick. This isn't just an arbitrary bar to fill up, either: higher-level weapons are much more powerful. So if you're having trouble at any point in the game, try taking your favorite guns out for a joyride through Sunset City to level them up a bit.
Given the wealth of weaponry in the game, its very easy to fall into a habit of leaning too heavily on one or two of your favorites. Resist this urge. Firefights in this game are so big and intense that you need to have more than a few high-level weapons at your disposal. You don't want to end up in a position where your shotgun and revolver are the only guns you've levelled up at all, and both are suddenly out of ammo.
You continue to unlock different "amps" (i.e., damage and attack modifiers) for your weapons throughout the game. Amps can go a long way in turning an already deadly weapon into a bonafide zombie-killing machine. Two of the best I've found, for instance, are pairing the shotgun with an amp that occasionally spawns explosive teddy bears when you kill someone, and outfitting the boomerang-type gun with an electrical amp that shocks and stuns bad guys. There are so many different modifiers, and so many different weapons, that the only way to find your ideal gun-and-amp pairing is to keep experimenting. Luckily, there are always plenty of infected to help you out in that regard.
As I pointed out in my review: "If you try to play the game as if it was a more standard third-person shooter like Uncharted or Gears of War, you'll be dead in a matter of seconds." This is not the kind of game where you stroll through the streets and take cover behind wrecked cars. Once you see bad guys, try to get to higher ground. All you have to do, usually, is jump.
Sunset Overdrive is not a cover shooter. Standing in one place for more than a few seconds is another surefire way to end up dead. Moving is the best (and only, really) way to avoid both ranged and melee attacks: by jumping and bouncing over them, or grinding on the corners of buildings and zip-lines to circle around enemies. This movement sets almost all of Sunset Overdrive at a frenetic pace that can be difficult to adjust to, so make sure to practice the different grinding and jumping movements until you feel like you've got the hang of them. And if it feels too fast-paced during a firefight, remember: this is still a shooter! You can always hold down the left trigger to aim, which slows things down a bit.
The game doesn't explain this until you get to one specific mission for some reason, but one of the core traversal abilities you have from the outset is a ninja-esque wall run. This is an essential tool for navigating Sunset City—especially during combat. Similar to grinding, tapping the top right shoulder button will speed you up. And if you press "x" again right before hitting a corner, you'll jump around the corner and keep running.
This might seem unintuitive at first. But remember: Sunset Overdrive is the kind of video game that has no loyalty to the natural laws of physics.
If you're not in a rush, I'd recommend taking your time to dig into the sidequests (i.e., anything marked with a blue sticker on the map), because they're a lot of fun and help flesh out the world. That being said, there are a few different abilities and items you can only unlock when completing the main story missions—the ones marked with yellow stickers. There are three upgrades to your traversal abilities that make moving around a lot easier, and a special weapon you acquire once you complete the mission called "Awesomesmithing." After you get to that point, you can take your sweet time getting around to completing the main quest.
Sunset Overdrive is a game that really, really loves its loot. And with good reason! Lots of the stuff you can collect around Sunset City feeds back into the game's amp system in one way or another, which means it has a direct impact on how you modify your weapons, which means it has a direct impact on how much fun you'll have blowing things up.
You know what they say: "Not all loot was created equal." They don't say that? Ok, fine. In either case, you can buy a bunch of maps that highlight the locations of all the different collectibles in Sunset Overdrive. Here are the ones you should focus on if you want to upgrade your arsenal:
- Toilet paper
- Security cameras
- Fizzie balloons (the guy in the top right of the screenshot above)
You unlock new stuff and acquire in-game currency very, very often when playing Sunset Overdrive, so remember to keep checking back in with Two Hat Jack and Callista! They might just have the silly hat or sex-joke-inspired firearm you've been waiting for.
As the game goes on, you'll start to see a lot of on-screen alerts telling you that you've earned a "badge" for doing one thing or another: killing OD, grinding, bouncing...pretty much anything you can do, you can earn a badge for. Unless you're really into badges and collectibles, you don't need to worry about these. They are a form of currency required to unlock special "overdrive" abilities, which are sort of like the amps except they modify your character's abilities (grinding, bouncing, etc.) instead of individual weapons. Given that, some people might want to collect all of them. But in my experience, the game's difficulty and the rapid pace at which badges are dispensed don't make doing this a necessity. The point of the badges is to reward you for doing the stuff you'd normally do in the game, not push you to one hundred-percenting something.
A few readers sent me this video earlier in the week, suggesting like the creator does that it's a Destiny-type loot cave in Sunset Overdrive. I wouldn't go that far, because I don't believe the difficulty or leveling system is complex enough to even warrant a proper loot cave. But what the YouTuber has uncovered is a particular spot during a particular mission that makes it very easy to accrue lots of resources. This scene takes place during a story mission called "Getting The Band Back Together." Basically, the situation is you have to bounce on a number of drums to kill lots of infected. You only complete the mission when you bounce on all the drums in a particular sequence, however. So if you just bounce on a single drum over and over again, the game will keep generating waves of OD for you to kill and thus gather resources from.
Once you unlock this mission, you can keep replaying it, so this is an effective way to get lots of in-game currency quickly if, say, you want to buy one of the high-level weapons towards the end of the game.
As always with tips posts, I'm going to keep updating this as more gamers get their hands on the thing. So please chime in with your own recommendations and additions, and we'll take it from there!