Dead Island 2: developer and even the island are gone. - Games Weekly

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Dead Island 2: developer and even the island are gone.

Even this early in development I played a pre alpha Dead Island 2 is a spectacle. High-contrast primary colors jostle for space on the screen, from the kind of blue skies that 1990s Sega would have been proud of to billowing action movie fires.

Stepping indoors shifts the palette into moody darkness, picked out by blazing neon signs in diners, or the sole working fluorescent bulb in a supermarket. It’s less a world than a postcard which seems very much the point.


Besides a location transplant to California (settings across the gargantu state serve as separate open world locations), the outlook begins much the same as in the first game. First pick a character, which are now separated by classes: Berserker, Speeder, Huntress and Bishop (a unexpectedly clerical take on support). Once you've spawned, loot is absolutely everything, as you pick up and craft new weapons and dispatch zombies in more and more alarmingly violent ways.

It’s in that final step that the new game starts to differentiate itself. I quickly earned a baseball bat with a bowling ball strapped to the top, a shotgun that fired buckshot sparking with electricity, and even got a chance to dual-wield for the first time. Using a freezing wrench to trap one enemy next to some carelessly deposited explosives, I fired a pistol slug wisping with zombie pheromones (the less you think about the implications of that, the better) into the groaning ice sculpture, and immolated the resultant crowd.
Bladed weapons still hack off limbs, while blunt ones break the bones within
Building on the original's commitment to gross-out injury, bladed weapons still hack off limbs while blunt ones break the necrotized bones within but the switch to Unreal Engine 4, and Yager’s work on custom built runtime generation, makes for a far more reactive feel. Clothing and looks are altered on the fly, spawned zombies are chosen from a massive palette of visual features, and even house layouts will be different every time you play. 

It’s clearly a game that’s being built to generate moments rather than tell a story not least in multiplayer, which has expanded to support eight players and puts far more of a premium on getting you to work together creatively.

In the level I played one player found an electricity generator under attack. This triggered an alert for everyone else scattered across the area, at which point we all legged it up a hill and battled through an ersatz Horde mode, then said our goodbyes and split up again.

Dead Island always struggled to offer enough to keep us interested for more than a few hours, and whether the sequel will manage that is debatable at this point. But it’s got that elusive feel right. Now let’s see if it can get the rest to work as well.

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