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With no artwork, screenshots or gameplay to check to form our own impressions of Yager's Dead Island sequel, we're left with E3's previews of the title to learn what's new and what stayed the same, so I tried to round up all those I could find for your convenience.
From sending zombies flying into the air via well-aimed sledgehammer strikes to crushing these walkers beneath a busted chandelier, Dead Island 2 is purely focused on the joys of wanton gore. If you stumble across a lawn full of zombies, you could waste precious moments dispatching each one, or you could simply shoot a propane tank, igniting the lawn, while you sit back and watch the flames gradually consume the grass and its undead occupants.
No one expects zombies to be smart, but those found in Dead Island 2 are a few grade levels above those found in its predecessor. Set off a car alarm and the nearby horde will swarm the noise. Turn on a stereo and you can lead the mindless walkers from room to room. Like most features in Dead Island 2, this serves as a precursor to more violence. Those cars will inevitably explode if you pump them full of enough rounds, and guiding zombies into particularly vulnerable sections of a home allow you to drop decrepit fixtures onto their unwitting heads.
Mechanically, it borrows a lot from its predecessors. You can craft cool items (anywhere, even without an upgrade station) and play with up to eight players online. There are some changes, though--you're able to dual-wield two items, and fire spreads in the grass realistically. It all works together to make a game with a better sense of what it's trying to be, and I'm hopeful that--come Spring 2015--we'll all be able to enjoy slaying the undead horde together.
Right now, however, it's all speculative. The initial signs are promising: the subtle improvements to the combat are welcome but not revolutionary, and the way humans and zombies can be played off against each other is a really nice touch. But the demo itself looked rough, and understandably so Yager admitted the demo is from 2013, so by the time the game comes out what I saw today will be over 18 months old. The video claiming to show what the game will look like when it's released looked impressive, bursting with detail and, ironically, life. But we won't really know if Dead Island 2 delivers on its promise until August, when it'll be playable first at Gamescom, then at PAX. Until then, I recommend approaching with cautious anticipation.
Besides zombies, our characters won't be the only humans in the quarantine zone. The game will also focus on the human factions gaining power in the zone such as the raiders, escaped prisoners and even deserting military forces. These forces will challenge the player in new ways, often outfitted with powerful weapons and vehicles.
On top of introducing all these new classes, factions and characters, we'll also be getting new '˜motorised' weapons like hedge trimmers and hand saws. While this new type of weapon will be very powerful, they will all be powered by fuel, a resource you'll have to collect, and will make a lot of noise, attracting nearby zombies. These are probably best saved for when you have no choice to fight loud and fast against the horde, unless of course you enjoy being swarmed by the undead! The developers also noted you will be able to dual wield in Dead Island 2, rushing in to fight off zombies with a sawn off shotgun and machete at the same time.
We'll also see a whole host of new zombie bosses and types, and the developer, Yager, claims to have a new system implemented into the final build that will ensure no two zombies look exactly alike, adding to the immersion of the game. It will be very interesting to see just how different the variety in zombie design will be.
At one point in the demo the main character goes toe to toe with a Thug zombie and is able to kick him to the point where he could run around behind him and kick in his skull with a fireman axe. Pure zombie-killing perfection! The Thugs have been completely re-imagined in Dead Island 2 as more than just huge zombies that amble about aimlessly and charge at you if you get too close. The one in the gameplay demo had a very rotund figure, bald head, and was very mobile. Seeing such a fresh version of a signature enemy seen in the past two games makes me curious to see what they've done with the other staple enemies in the franchise
While searching around the map you encounter a random survivor who begins relating his personal life story before they are interrupted by the arrival of bandits. Human enemies are still as present a threat as they have always been in the series, only this time you have opportunities to turn the tide in battle by using zombies to your advantage. For instance, if you see a horde of zombies behind a gate directly behind a couple guys who have you pinned down by gunfire, you can find a way to unlock that gate from a distance so they can bear down on your enemies, allowing you to take out both groups of foes at the same time.
The biggest change in Dead Island 2 is the world. No longer is the setting dark and gritty. Death is now bright, and all around you. The scenery change is indeed different, but was instantly refreshing and something crucial to help tell a more personal story, according to Deep Silver Senior brand manager Rupert Ochsner.
(We said, '˜No, no. We have to put it right in the center of civilization, so lets go to California.' Because when zombies appear in California, you cannot ignore it you need to do something,) Ochsner said.
Indeed, you cannot ignore the zombies in Dead Island 2. They're everywhere. Dead Island 2 includes more zombies than ever each flesh-eating foe unique from one another. To complement the player, the game gives you more ammo than ever before to battle the undead with.
This was evident early on in our demo during a sequence where raiders tried to get the jump on us. Their presence alone was enough to keep us locked in and focused on, but the noise of the enemies' shots lured in several hordes of biters looking for any fresh flesh around. Thankfully, we were able to use the environment to cut off paths to attack, giving us a nice sightline to waste several clips on the enemies. The gameplay was frantic, but never out of control.
There are four dedicated classes that you get to choose from, offering a different experience from one player to the next. The four classes that are immune to the zombie virus (and are therefore eager to run towards the crowd of zombies) are:
Each one has their own unique skills and abilities to bring to the table in order to survive the new (everyday norm) they may face.
It focuses on (seamless) zombie fun with co-op, where you can have up to 8 players joining in and out of your game.
The presentation, which was a prototype from 2013 and not even made in the same engine, started by showing off the new cast of characters to choose from. The four classes are Berserker, Bishop, Speedster, and Hunter. Like in previous games, the different classes seem to focus on a specific kind of weapon. These characters, like their predecessors in previous games, are immune to the zombie plague and instead of finding themselves trapped in the quarantined-off area, they are there by choice. The NPC that seems to travel with you and drives the story forward is Max, who is not immune to the plague and takes off whenever shit hits the fan.
The demo had the Berserker trying to meet up with another survivor. After fighting through a small group of zombies and talking to him, an NPC group known as the Raiders attacks. Instead of attacking them head-on, however, the Berserker uses noise to attract a zombie herd to deal with them. Using noise as a distraction looks to be like an integral part of the open-world dynamic.
Four different characters, each with their own individual classes and skills, were shown in loading screens, but only one was used in this demonstration. It also wasn't made clear as to who it was, although that might've been intentional. Being that this was such an early build, we were told to expect placeholders and repetitive zombie types. In fact, a non-immune bus driver who acts as an ally in the game, along with his mo-capped cat (yes, you read that right), wasn't even a part of what we saw. A placeholder NPC was there instead.
The playthrough was surprisingly lengthy, and gave us a good taste of what to expect, that being a much improved take on the Dead Island series' addictive first-person RPG action, wherein players are never safe. Zombies can now break down doors if given enough time, and come in different varieties, ranging from the recently deceased (complete with working muscles) to former long-term cemetery residents. Their AI is better, too, as they react to sounds and can be lured into traps as a result.