Ah, Dead Island… What can I say about Dead Island?
One of the most emotionally affecting and visually stunning trailers we had ever seen sold us a game couldn’t have been further, tonally, from its own marketing campaign. We saw a family torn apart while holidaying on the island of Banoi, watched a little girl bitten and transformed before ripping into her father’s throat as her mother was dragged screaming under a pile of ravenous zombies. The haunting music and utterly genius idea to play the whole thing in reverse guaranteed that we were hooked immediately, every one of us. This was a game that had to be played.
Boy, were we suckered.
What we actually got was a janky, buggy, tongue-in-cheek survival horror replete with bad stereotypes, crass humour and ridiculous, hobby-crafted weapons (electrified paddle oar, anyone?). Admittedly, it was oddly playable – and the drop in, drop out co-operative gameplay was an absolute riot. It just didn’t come anywhere close to matching that initial trailer’s promise of a thought-provoking, emotion-savaging nightmare.
Thankfully, it looks like new developers Yager (taking the reins from Techland who are currently working on rival zombie survival horror, Dying Light) are aiming to have more fun this time around right from the off – and they’re not afraid to show it. It’s ironic that a studio so well known for the infamously hard-hitting Spec Ops: The Line should be the boys and girls to take control of Dead Island 2, but it’s an intriguing choice nonetheless.
The trailer, unveiled during Sony’s E3 2014 conference, begins with a blond-haired dudebro jogging along an idyllic California seafront, biceps out and music turned up. In fact, his music is so loud that he doesn’t notice the carnage taking place around him, as a young woman is set upon by the undead right behind him, a guy runs out of a store shooting zombies with a shotgun and an out-of-control limo smashes up the street and almost wipes him out.
We see him cover up a fairly fresh bite mark with his sweat band, obviously thinking nothing of it – but it soon becomes infected, spreading through his body and corrupting him in seconds, all to the snappy, summery beat of “The Bomb” by Pigeon John.
The truck that shows up at the end to annhilate the undead jogger looks like a hellish version of Scooby-Do’s Mystery-Mobile, and the driver bothers to stop and steal the dead guy’s shoes. Obviously, vehicles will be a given, but is it possible that Yager have included some form of loot beside the usual cash and crafting parts? Perhaps stat-boosting gear? Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but it would be nice if the new devs added a little more depth to the established formula.
Deep Silver have stated that there are “classes” like berserker and hunter, and that characters will be cutomisable and upgradeable, so the possibility of changeable gear isn’t really that pie-in-the-sky when you think about it.
Either way, the Dead Island 2 trailer seems more honest, not attempting to hide its true intentions behind what amounts to emotional propaganda and misleading marketing. Instead, the trailer is balls-out and over the top – and that can only signal good things for the eventual release.
Dead Island 2 will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2015.