In a warm, dark room somewhere above the hubbub of the E3 showfloor, Yami and I were sat down and shown a preview of the upcoming Dead Island 2. The first game, and its sequel Dead Island Riptide, were ambitious but weren’t particularly fun to play. With Yager Development, the developers of Twinfinite’s much beloved Spec Ops: The Line, behind the helm, we had great hopes for the future of the game going into the presentation.
Instead of the dark and dreary Banoi peninsula from the first few games, this sequel takes place in sunny California. That’s right, the entire state. Every single locale, from San Fransisco, to the beaches of Southern California, to the Hollywood Hills is accessible to players. The tagline that kept being repeated was “When Paradise meets Hell,” and that wasn’t more evident than during the gameplay footage that takes place in the suburbs of San Fransisco, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. Everything was well-lit and sunny, belying the fact that it was the apocalypse.
The presentation, which was a prototype from 2013 and not even made in the same engine, started by showing off the new cast of characters to choose from. The four classes are Berserker, Bishop, Speedster, and Hunter. Like in previous games, the different classes seem to focus on a specific kind of weapon. These characters, like their predecessors in previous games, are immune to the zombie plague and instead of finding themselves trapped in the quarantined-off area, they are there by choice. The NPC that seems to travel with you and drives the story forward is Max, who is not immune to the plague and takes off whenever shit hits the fan.
The demo had the Berserker trying to meet up with another survivor. After fighting through a small group of zombies and talking to him, an NPC group known as the Raiders attacks. Instead of attacking them head-on, however, the Berserker uses noise to attract a zombie herd to deal with them. Using noise as a distraction looks to be like an integral part of the open-world dynamic.
One of the strengths of the series has been the buttload of weapons throughout the environment and Dead Island 2 is no different. The game will feature “thousands” of weapons, including motorized weapons that are extremely powerful but consume valuable fuel and make a lot of noise that attracts zombies. Players will even be able to dual-wield weapons such as a shotgun and a baseball bat.
It’s hard to decide how good or bad the game will be since the demo wasn’t indicative of the final product and the in-engine screens we were shown looked like drawings and not actual gameplay footage. The actual engine is supposed to customize every single zombie to make them each unique, which will fix a major problem with the first games. There will be a playable version of the game at Gamescom and PAX Prime, so I have to reserve judgement until a build closer to the final product is available.
Dead Island 2 will release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC sometime during Spring 2015.