E3 2014: Dead Island 2 First Impressions

This year, Deep Silver and the developers at Yager treated me to a special, behind-closed-doors first look preview of the upcoming latest installment in the Dead Island franchise, Dead Island 2. Due out next Spring, Dead Island 2 promises to deliver more zombie terror in a first-person shooter setting. While Dead Island was set on a tropical island, the new sequel brings the zombie apocalypse to the mainland. Dead Island 2 is set in beautiful, sunny California. While California may not be a literal island, the government has quarantined the area, making it a virtual “Dead Island.” Dead Island 2 promises treks in the suburbs of the Hollywood Hills, the San Francisco pier, and more.

The hands-off gameplay session included the game’s new playable characters, the new setting of California, and some sample gameplay video. According to the developers, the gameplay shown will not reflect the final look of the game because it is still being built. The E3 presentation was designed to give an early look at how the overall game will play out. Two new characters for the game are Max and his cat, Rick Furry. A real cat was actually motion captured for the performance of Rick Furry for the game. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time a live cat was ever mo-capped for a video game. Max, in his Winnebago, drives you around California to raid for supplies, weapons and ammunition. The playable characters in the game are all immune to the zombie virus, but Max is not. As a result, Max hangs back from the actual fighting.

The playable character starts searching a home for weapons. Human bandits are waiting outside. A battle sequence begins where the player attracts the zombies into the driveway to kill the bandits for you. The developers noted that you can set fire to the homes or grass, which in turn can spread to surrounding areas and zombies that are close by. Some of the new melee combat was shown. One new attack in the game involves the ability to kick a zombie to its knees and then impale the zombie before killing it.

Another section of the demo has the player head to a luxurious home where some civilians decided to host a wedding. Well, zombies have already taken over the ceremony. The player goes through the backyard and kills some zombies hiding in the grass using a slick, custom crossbow. The scene grows more unsettling as the player travels through the home and sees the wedding ruined by zombie death. The player eventually reaches the second floor and encounters a new, enlarged zombie brute to fight. The brute is killed eventually before the demo ends. Since the video did not represent the final look and design style of the game, the developers shared a quick montage video of some in-game environments and locations that more accurately reflect the final look. The design style for these locations includes a vivid and dynamic color palate.

I really enjoy the wicked sense of humor of the Dead Island games, and Dead Island 2 looks like it will be no exception. The game looks like it will also be filled with pop music that happens to punctuates a lot of the gameplay. Dead Island 2 is set for a Spring 2015 release for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.

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