Dead Island 2, which Dambuster Studios are now working on, has been in development for about ten years. The highly awaited sequels to Dead Island from 2011 have been put through the wringer, switching between production companies often since 2014 before falling dark until being re-announced at GamesCom, in 2022. So far, the game is excellent.
About the Game:
The environment of Dead Island 2 is a stunning recreation of Los Angeles, California, which the game’s creators tend to refer to as “Hell-A.” Here, movie sets, mansions, and fancy cars litter the streets; unfortunately, what was once a place of luxury and larger-than-life personalities has been entirely destroyed by the zombie outbreak. The original Dead Island’s vacation-gone-awry plot, which mixed the living dead with palm trees and sandy shores in an era when zombie games were content with grey colour palettes and gruff protagonists, was one of the reasons that made it so attractive. Dead Island 2 is delighted to splatter blood and bones across a once-beautiful tourist site, continuing the tradition of its original.
Gamers are tasked with using Dead Island 2’s amazing scenery to cause havoc on the living dead. In this game, people that are bright are properly rewarded for their creativity and planning. If players look for it, breaking a hydrant and sending a few walkers into its water stream only to have them get hit in the face with a vehicle battery and then fry to a crisp is all in good fun. Gamers must, however, truly look for it.
Dead Island 2 didn’t appear to be making a convincing case in this preview for why players should use the environment to kill zombies instead of the tried-and-true method of simply bashing their brains in with a baseball bat. That is unless players get pushed into a position, where blowing up a barrel to kill a horde is the obvious solution or if they genuinely want to see a zombie Rube Goldberg device. Although players are continually pushed to exploit their surrounds, this never feels as pleasingly natural or emergent as it should, in part because killing zombies an old-fashioned manner is so satisfying. Possibly, the game will make a greater case for its environmental hazards as it continues.
The FLESH System:
Dead Island 2’s unique horror system, though, is what really binds the game’s combat together. In a good way, it’s really brutal. As players hit zombies in Dead Island 2, a procedural gore engine called the FLESH system dynamically bloodies and destroys the zombies’ character models. Depending on where players hit, skin is cut and bleeds realistically, and bones are shown. Trying to punch a zombie in the face and seeing the once-face turn into a hole, or hammering a corpse in the leg and seeing the bone break in two, are both incredibly intense sensations.
The cast of odd characters from Dead Island 2 was the focus of our preview. All six of the game’s main characters were available in this demo, but we chose to take on the role of Carla, a faster warrior who can survive in the face of thousands of undead. We also went through some time as Jacob, a more composed fighter who specializes in dealing with actual harm. Both of the characters had different personalities and dialogue that felt more complex than simple character reskins, which made us want to revisit story scenes as each of them. These characters started to vary in terms of gameplay.
In Dead Island 2, character development and development are conducted by arranging skill cards inside modular “Card Skill” decks. Along with the basic “Abilities” deck, which contains abilities like dodging and blocking, there are additional decks called “Survival,” “Slayer,” and the elusive “Numen”. Gamers can freely swap characters in and out of their decks as they discover new cards, and each character has special abilities that fit into these decks. Players can replace the ability with a stat-boosting War Cry if they believe that dodging isn’t very useful for them. Players must carefully consider which skills are appropriate for the character they are developing because there are more cards than spaces in each deck.
Graphics & Design of the Game:
Dead Island 2 has fantastic graphics. Very well-designed and aesthetically accomplished across every area of Los Angeles that can be seen in this preview, the lighting looks fantastic. The rooms on display in Dambuster’s Dead Island 2 looked remarkably realistic even without the use of any ray tracing technology. When developers are skilled with their development tools, end-of-service games like this one show just how far Unreal Engine 4 and last-gen systems can be driven.
Overall, Dead Island 2 was entertaining, but there were some tired zombie stereotypes that it appeared to be keeping to. The constant flow of loot, weapons, crafting supplies, and other “things” makes it difficult to fully engage yourself in the world and its carefully created landscapes. Some of it is immediately useful, while other parts make players feel like they are taking on zombie apocalypse caregiver duties. All of it, however, serves to keep the player focused on the game and constantly hitting the grab button, ruining the game’s flow. Moreover, Dead Island 2 includes a workshop and weapon upgrade system with weapon levels and stat increases, which are typical for the genre, although the game doesn’t seem to take these features very seriously.
Dead Island 2 is already proving to be a very entertaining, visually stunning, and attractive game. The character-building aspects of the FLESH system, in particular, are a genuine highlight of the overall experience. The game must still show its capacity to take its core ideas and convert them into something unique and entertaining. It simply needs to expand on the framework that already exists to create something that can stand out among the decade’s worth of zombie hack-and-slash games that have been published in Dead Island’s absence.