Dead Island 2 Preview
Tired of zombies yet? No? Then you’re in luck, because developer Yager and publisher Deep Silver are prepping another Dead Island effort and this time, the zombie quotient will be ramped up to ridiculous levels. We’re not only talking about the sheer number of ravaging undead you’ll have to face; we’re also talking about impressive next-gen detail and design. The interesting part is that while Techland created previous Dead Island entries, the Spec Ops: The Line developer has taken the reins for the upcoming sequel. How will they fare?
The anticipated follow-up is set in California and the zombies are running amok. They can be seen shambling along the picturesque seaside sidewalks, shuffling about in residential homes, and lolling by park benches. Locations will include San Francisco, Venice Beach, Hollywood, Santa Monica, and parts of Los Angeles, and there’s an entirely different area they haven’t yet revealed. In short, this should be the most expansive Dead Island adventure yet, which means more variety and a more dynamic, customizable presentation. We’re hearing evidence that the overall world map is really big…
Okay, so zombies are zombies. They’ve been a staple of the video game industry for decades, so gamers have kinda seen it all. The good news is that Dead Island 2 will boast a variety of different zombie foes, ranging from the standard Walkers (which are really only dangerous if they gang up on you) to the more challenging Runners. Members of the latter group haven’t completely changed just yet, so they can still act and react very much like humans. Then there are the Suiciders, which are disgusting-looking creatures that explode when they get close enough, and the Thugs, which are immensely powerful and aggressive.
You’ll be able to use your environment to your advantage, provided you’re observant and clever. You may encounter very large swarms of zombies, which are probably best to avoid, while unavoidable battles might require some creativity on your part. It will also depend on which of the four playable characters you choose; each has his or her own distinct play style. For example, Ryan is a tank who is powerful albeit slow, while Dani relies on her speed and agility to survive. Pick the character that best reflects your normal strategy, and don’t forget all the great crafting mods! Those who make the best use of their imaginations will be justly rewarded.
One of the new combat features is the Kick, which lets you clear some space when necessary. If the zombies are pressing too close, or you need time to reload or charge up a more powerful attack, use the Kick to give yourself some breathing room. You can also kick a zombie in the legs to knock them off their feet; this inevitably gives you the edge, as you can stab ‘em when they’re on the ground. Another option will be to charge right at the enemy because there are specific running attacks, which only trigger if you sprint toward your target. These should be appreciated upgrades to the standard combat mechanic.
It’s unlikely that Dead Island 2 will be deemed revolutionary. But at the same time, it should be a definite step in the right direction. We’ll have a much bigger environment, a more diverse combat system, and more customization and crafting mods for a deeper, more immersive experience. The game should be ready to go in the spring, so be on the lookout for more info and media.
9/10/2014 Ben Dutka