It feels like a small miracle that Dead Island 2 is playable and coming out at all. I remember being in the room at E3 when they announced it. A very fun trailer that saw LA being torn apart by a spreading zombie disease. There all with a sheen of fun and whimsy.
It was about as tonally opposite as you could get from the now legendary ‘reverse’ trailer. For the original outing of the franchise, which was a remarkable piece of marketing back when it landed in 2011.
That announcement was back in 2014 and it’s been nearly 10 years since then. I even played an early version later that year.
Dead Island 2 has changed hands several times since then. So, what I got to play 5 hours of is almost definitely not what they originally envisioned.
It is strange to be in a position of thinking about how much has changed in the world. Since a game was announced to be in the final stretch of its release, it’s a sentiment that’s hard to get away from when playing.
How much of Yager’s original vision remains in the project?
David Stenton: To be honest Dead Island 2 has almost been a completely fresh start. Homefront was on CryEngine and this is on UE4. We spent a lot of time on Dead Island to develop our gore tech and a lot of the tools are completely new to Dead Island. We’ve been able to keep personnel and staff and talent, but in terms of techniques, it’s a fresh start.
The stars of the show
Dead Island 2’s big gambit is its character system. There’s no one character you play as, and instead, you get the choice between six. They’re all distinct with a focus on both personalities as well as stats.
There is Amy, a Paralympian who is all about speed and slicing through the undead. Or Bruno, a hustler who used to rip off scammers and has a special proficiency with knives. I spent the majority of my time with Dani. A brash Irish rockabilly who loves to get up in the faces of shamblers and tear them limb from limb.
A dismember to remember
Now, of course, all of this would be moot if tangling with Dead Island 2’s zombies was a bore. Thankfully, this is the area where Dead Island 2 shines. Perhaps the overriding sentiment from my time with Dead Island 2 was, “boy, it sure is fun to dismember zombies in this game”. That comes down to the genuinely impressive tech used to build them.
The undead feels like a lot of separate components held together loosely by failing ligaments. That is exactly what you want from a zombie game. You can target certain limbs, which can be pulled off bit by bit. You can hit zombies hard enough with a hammer that their jaw begins to fall off. Or You can see them shamble through acid and watch their skin begin to melt from the bone.
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