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Monday, March 11, 2019

What Could Have Been: Dead Island 2

California is a place known for Hollywood, sunshine, beaches, celebrities, and the Zodiac Killer. All in all, it's the ideal place to take a vacation if you can afford it.

In the eyes of Deep Silver, however, California is the perfect place to unleash hordes of zombies. Perhaps it's a metaphor for the ritzy folks living in Los Angeles and Hollywood in general. Perhaps zombies and cities go together. Regardless, in 2014 at Sony's E3 conference, Dead Island 2 was revealed and then died like any of the hundreds or thousands of zombies the player would have subsequently massacred over the course of the game.

Despite what Pigeon John may try to tell you, Dead Island 2 is not the bomb that's about to blow up.

Dead Island was revealed with a CGI trailer that was a stark tonal contrast to the first game's somber one, showcasing a sunny, beachside area and a muscular jogger, the trailer centered on the man progressively becoming more zombified until he turns into one of the members of the flesh eating horde. Around him, the world goes to hell until a van careens into the man, and one of the characters inside of it steals the man’s shoe—his foot and ankle still attached.

Much like the first, the trailer was met positively, with many praising it for its livelier and comedic tone. In spite of that, there were those who remained skeptical after the first game and how it turned out after its own impressive trailer. Still, the stage was set for Dead Island 2 to rock the boat once captained by Dead Island. A release date was announced for the second quarter of 2015.

At Gamescom 2014, an early version of the game was showcased. True to what was shown in the E3 trailer, the game was significantly more vibrant and lively. Like the first game, the player could pick between one of four characters, though only two were shown. In spite of that, the game was said to have eight player co-op. Also shown were a few of the new weapon modifications and zombies. Locations shown off included Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood, and areas in San Francisco.

It was after that demo that news on the game went silent—dead silent even. The second quarter of 2015 came and went without any news on the game, or the game itself. It wasn’t until July of 2015 that some news came out, and it wasn’t good. Developer Yager Studios left the project, citing “differing visions” between them and publisher Deep Silver. With no developer attached, the prospect of Dead Island 2 ever being released was looking grim.

Eight months of radio silence later and Dead Island fans finally got a bit of news. Unlike last time, it was good news. In March of 2016, Deep Silver announced that Sumo Digital would be taking over development of the game.

And that’s where news about Dead Island 2 ends.

Aside from two brief statements in August of 2017 and July of 2018, both of which simply stated that “Dead Island 2 is still in development”, nothing in the way of a trailer or screenshot has been shared. As far as anyone is concerned, Dead Island 2 is vaporware; the new Half-Life 3 in the eyes of some.

As for what was shown or formally announced, the story would’ve taken place a few months after the events of the first game in California. The United States military quarantines the state as a new zombie outbreak has begun to ravage it—likely due to the hurricane that struck Banoi in the first game.

Like the first game, Dead Island 2 would’ve featured an RPG system, wherein players would gain experience points for killing zombies and completing side quests. If the game were to be anything like the first one, these side quests would've been nearly everywhere and would've inflated the game's length like a parade balloon.

In the way of gameplay, Dead Island 2 was described as having new mechanics, along with old ones, like the rage and crafting systems. The former would enhance the players melee attacks, while the latter allowed the player to combine two other ways nondescript weapons into something significantly better.

One of the few known major changes to combat was that firearms were given an enormous buff. In the original game, they lacked any real sense of impact, often feeling like you were shooting with a water pistol from the dollar store. As a result, melee weapons were almost always more viable, not the least because of their ability to break bones. With Dead Island, a bug in the coding caused firearms to send zombies flying back. Rather than fix said bug, the developers opted to keep it in for the comedic value. The added bonus was that firearms no longer sucked.

The unfortunate events that have plagued the development of Dead Island 2 are a perfect example of how game can fall apart. Whether or not Dead Island 2 will ever be released remains to be seen. As it stands though, with the deafening radio silence from Deep Silver and Sumo Digital, that feels incredibly unlikely. 

1 comment:

  1. Tyler "Bio" RodriguezMarch 19, 2019 at 8:01 PM

    A pity. Yager isnt well known in the gaming world outside of Spec Ops The Line. Lets just say that games tone was about as far a 180 as this one as humanly possible.