In a stunning resurrection at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2022, Dead Island 2 got here again from the lifeless. Despite having been in growth for a decade, the model of the zombie motion recreation coming in February has a lot more energizing blood than what was teased in 2014. That’s as a result of in 2018, growth handed to a Deep Silver Dambuster Studios workforce that was content material to start out from scratch to create their very own imaginative and prescient of the sport.
“We thought it had loads of potential for characterful locations,” inventive director James Worrall advised me throughout an interview at Gamescom. “But when it came to the actual gameplay engine, what we really wanted to laser focus on was the up close and personal melee combat. There are guns in the game – gunsies are for funsies! – but it’s all about the melee combat … and to do that, we had to start from scratch.”
Dead Island 2 – Gamescom Reveal Trailer [4K Official]
It was very obvious that this was a completely new beast after I went hands-on with a 20-minute demo of the sport at Gamescom. Rather than feeling like a 2014 recreation trapped in a 2022 physique, Dead Island 2 is a contemporary motion RPG that joyfully dishes out essentially the most grotesque physique horror it might probably consider.
Dead Island 2 takes gamers to a zombie-infested model of Los Angeles that’s three weeks into quarantine. Players select one in every of six characters after which journey via the apocalyptic tackle town. The characters right here aren’t precisely scared survivors hiding from monsters; in truth, they nearly appear to be having fun with it just a little an excessive amount of.
This is sort of like an origin story for a form of superhero.
Tonally, it feels a bit like Sunset Overdrive, one other apocalyptic zombie recreation that trades in tense horror for sandbox violence. Characters really feel overpowered in comparison with zombies, clearing them out as in the event that they have been taking down a pack of rats. In one a part of my demo, I lured a couple of towards an uncovered electrical wire in a moist room simply to look at them fry. I might have reduce them down simply as simply, however I simply wished to mess with them. If you noticed its Gamescom trailer starring a hero lazily slicing up the undead on their method to the grocery retailer, that’s precisely what the sport appears like in motion.
“I think that any game that has that level of violence, particularly in a contemporary setting, you need to balance that with a strong moral framework,” Worrall says. “We’re only ever fighting zombies. We’re never fighting other humans. But also, you need that relief … One minute you’ll be slaying zombies and the next you’ll have a little bit of schadenfreude as you glimpse the remains of the human mind in that zombie as they try and stagger or fall off something comically.”
Worrall compares the sport’s method to its heroes to films like Die Hard. He desires gamers to really feel like highly effective Hollywood stars that take down lots of of enemies with a smirk to maintain the deal with dismemberment.
“In many ways, this is almost like an origin story for a kind of superhero,” Worrall says. “We’re doing a lot of laying the ground in Dead Island 2 for future releases. There’s lots of zombie games and movie properties out there that are about surviving. The zombies kind of become this background wallpaper against which the interhuman dramas play out. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to get players running into the fray headlong.”
One notable element shared throughout Gamescom is that the sport has six playable characters. Worrall clarified that gamers don’t management all of them through the story. They’ll choose one to observe via the story and largely undergo the identical beats with distinct dialogue. Though there received’t be branching paths to discover on playthroughs, Worrall notes that these dialogue modifications will recontextualize components of Dead Island 2 a bit relying on the character.
All concerning the melee
Dambuster Studios notes that the sport is about “thriving, not surviving,” and the motion definitely matches that mantra. This is a first-person recreation, however weapons aren’t the main target. Instead, melee weapons are the star of the present. During my 20-minute demo, I attempted out a complete buffet of lethal instruments that have been sickly satisfying in their very own approach.
Dead Island 2 – Reveal Gameplay Trailer [4K Official]
My demo started with me strolling on a darkish seaside towardsa lit-up boardwalk. Katana in hand, I began slashing zombies aimlessly wandering out on the sand, generally splitting them in half in a waterfall of gore. At first, I puzzled if melee-focused first-person fight would get previous quick. Then I had a revelation.
During one wave-like set piece, I outfitted a pitchfork I had discovered. As a zombie ran towards me, I occurred to hit its leg within the scramble. It exploded, knocking it to the bottom. A button immediate would let me step on its head after, popping it like a grape. After that, my playstyle modified drastically, as I switched between weapons like electrified claws and rocket-powered axes to carve up enemies like semi-human turkeys.
That’s all made attainable due to the sport’s flesh system, which Worrall broke down with childlike glee.
“It’s completely procedural,” Worall says. “Other systems have pulled bodies apart beforehand. Here, if you shoot someone in the ankle or the shin or the knee, then the leg will come off at the ankle or the shin or the knee or anywhere in between! I think the most spectacular effect we’ve got is that if you damage someone with a caustic ax, they’ll stagger towards you and the flesh will literally drip off the body until there’s a skeleton and it just falls down.”
That system isn’t only for sadistic laughs. It makes for some nice visible literacy too. “There are options to turn off the HUD elements. If you do that early, you will learn the game quicker. You don’t need the HUD elements. All the reactions are there in the game for you to see and hear.”
I solely began to get a way of the fight by the point my 20 minutes have been up, however I can really feel the extent of depth. In one notably intense encounter exterior of a Ferris wheel, I had to make use of each instrument in my arsenal to outlive. I swapped between every melee weapon in my stock to focus on particular physique components, switched to a gun after I wished to shoot an explosive barrel from a protected distance, knocked zombies over with a floor pound after I was getting overwhelmed, tossed blood bait to distract some stragglers, and (most significantly) carried out first-person strafe dodges. All of that comes earlier than entering into the sport’s card system, which provides a layer of character-building perks on high of the whole lot. It’s not simply brainless hacking and slashing.
After spending a lot time in growth hell, the prognosis is wholesome for Dead Island 2. The slice I performed confirmed off a cultured motion RPG with fastidiously thought-about melee fight and a playful tone. Even for those who’re sick of zombies at this level in your life, Dambuster Studios discovered a brand new method to slice the style up with a gleefully grotesque method to physique horror.
Dead Island 2 launches on February 3 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.