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E3 2014: Dead Island 2 – New Dev, Same Mayhem
The original Dead Island debuted with a famously tragic trailer that suggested the cooperative title would take a more emotional approach to the red-shirt of modern video gaming, zombies. The final product was anything but: It was an open-world action-RPG romp which while serviceable for the most part, took more or less the same angle as everyone else when it came to depicting the living dead.
Dead Island 2 has only just been announced but it’s already shaping up to be something altogether different and something that sounds like it lives up to the humorous tone of its trailer.
I often described the first game as Borderlands with less zany humor and more zombies – Dead Island 2 looks like it’s going to remedy that. Rather than go for the same old shallow survival horror take on zombies, it looks like Dead Island 2 is going for a much more over-the-top vibe. If the trailer is any indication, it’ll be a lot closer to Sunset Overdrive and Dead Rising than it will be to Techland’s own follow up, Dying Light.
While the sequel is set in the same universe as the previous ones, it is set to move the action from the tropical Banoi to sunny San Francisco. The game was revealed during Sony’s E3 press conference and according to Deep Silver, “Now a restricted zone, California has become a bloody paradise for those who refuse to leave their homes and an action-packed playground for renegades who seek adventure, glory and a fresh start.”
“Combining the classic Dead Island elements of immersive close combat, action and role-playing, Dead Island 2 features crazy, never-before-seen handcrafted weapons and over-the-top characters in taking players from the iconic Golden Gate to the celebrated beachfront boardwalk of southern California’s Venice Beach.”
Curiously, the sequel isn’t being developed by series veterans, Techland, but rather by Yager Development – best known for their subversive Spec Ops: The Line. Although any real gameplay footage has yet to surface, it’ll be interesting to see them if they improve on the engine used in previous games or whether they rebuilt the engine from the ground up.
The shift in tone that the trailer showcases could be seen as indicative of the aspects of Dead Island that they want to expand upon and which ones they’ll likely strip out. It’ll be interesting to see how crazy they take the weapon-customization and crafting system of the original – there were some pretty over the top weapons in that game though nothing was as outlandish as this initial trailer. Additionally, we don’t yet know if the world is structured around a big open city or hub-linked zones like the original.
There’s no word on whether there will be mod support for PC players but given their willingness to give PS4 players exclusive content, it’s nice to hold out hope.
Abandoning the somewhat-serious (albeit generic) tone of the first game is an interesting move on Yager’s part and I’ll be curious to see if the final product angles towards a hilariously over-the-top zombie-slasher or – knowing Yager’s previous exploits – a more satirical take on the genre. The first game was quite light on story and while it’s quite possible that Yager could mimic this approach, I’d be more interested to hear if they plan to shake things up in this regard. Every zombie game seems to play out the same and I’d love to see if Yager could bring a breath of fresh air to the genre in the way that they did military shooters.
Either way, Dead Island 2 sounds like it could be something that fans disappointed with Dead Island: Riptide will be able to sink their teeth into when it releases in Spring 2015.