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Published on September 30th, 2014 | by Joseph Saulnier

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Dead Island 2 and Escape From Dead Island Preview

The future of Dead Island…

 

With the release of Dead Island Epidemic and both Dead Island 2 and Escape Dead Island on the horizon, it looks like the next few months are shaping up to be all about the franchise.  With some huge issues placating the release of the first game, and an underwhelming release of a standalone expansion in Dead Island Riptide, can a new developer (Yager for DI2 and Fatshark for Escape) and engine bring the franchise back from the dead (as it were)?

 

Without any certainty, I am hoping it will.  At PAX Prime, I got hands on with both DI2 and Escape.  Both games were significantly different from each other, but each had its strengths – and weaknesses.  As it seems to be a trend among developers right now, we will be seeing the titles split across the consoles, having one developed for the next gen consoles, and the other developed for last gen.

 

Dead Island 2

 

The PAX Prime demo of Dead Island 2, perhaps more aptly titled Dead Island: Suburb Edition, was rather limited and only covered a very small area.  However, in this small glimpse, I still got to see the lush beauty of the surroundings the game, and of course I got to kill some zombies.    As I navigated the hordes and jumped on vehicles, I found myself enjoying the game more than I thought I would.

 

The title is set in California, and the zombie outbreak has spread and made its way to main land.  So while not on an island anymore, the game still continues with its unique weapon system that has been copied by others.  You can combine things you find with weapons to make them more powerful.  In the demo, I got to add batteries to a machete, making it electric and that much cooler.  And crafting has become much easier as you no longer need to access a crafting bench, but can be done right inside the inventory system, and that improvement may be a sign of good things to come.

 

Set in California, you find the objective of the game slightly different than its predecessors.  Instead of just simply trying to survive and get off the island, you find yourself controlling one of a few characters who loves the zombie apocalypse.  A stuntwoman, a retired fireman and an ex-priest are just 3 of the characters you will get to choose from, all there for different reasons.

 

Undoubtedly what makes the series is the scenery and the combat, which seem to be on track.  I enjoyed my time on the demo immensely, but I’d still like to see more of the game before I make a final recommendation.  I’m very interested to see how dialogue and cut scenes will be handled, especially given the first game’s legacy of not having lived up to the hype of its trailers.
Dead Island 2 is coming to PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in spring 2015.

 

Escape Dead Island

 

The last words I expected to hear describing a Dead Island game were “third-person stealth/action psychological horror”.  But it’s true.  Fatshark’s spinoff to the zombie slaughter simulator has you controlling Cliff, a college student rich-kid a-hole that decides to make a name for himself by uncovering the government cover-up of the events of the original Dead Island.  Funded by his father, he travels to an island in the chain affected by the zombie outbreak to try and find the truth.

 

Obviously, everything goes horribly awry – why have the game if not for this – and Cliff is separated from his friends.  Now he’s hearing the patronizing voice of one friend in his head, and desperately seeking his other companion who has simply disappeared altogether.

 

My demo of Escape began with Cliff waking up to a blood red ocean on floating debris, with a very Frank Miller-esque feel to the visuals.  Walking forward caused more debris to rise out of the sea, creating a path of sorts for you to continue.  Progressing forward resulted in more taunting voices in Cliff’s head, and after a little time had passed, we began seeing zombies climbing out of the water to attack.  Fighting off a couple waves of the undead and making my way to the end brought me to find the corpse of Cliff’s friend, Devin.

 

Then Cliff wakes up.  For a second time.  The world is now in color – presented beautifully in cell-shaded tropics – and we were confused.  Horribly confused as to what had just happened, and what was going on in the game.  In conversation with a Deep Silver employee, I found that this is exactly as I should be feeling. Moving along, I find myself making my way through a warehouse, taking down a couple of zombies with stealth, and eventually coming to the beach.  Just then, Cliff glances up to see shipping containers falling from an empty sky.  From here, it only gets weirder.

 

Shipping containers began slamming into the beach as I scurried along, desperately trying to find safety.  Zombies in bikinis start crashing out the doors, but rather than confront the large group, I bob and weave through them to get to my objective: the helipad.  It is here that I meet Cliff’s dad in hopes of getting off the island… Nope!  His dad jumped out at me with mutant claws, revealing himself as one of the infectees.  After doing him in – which took a couple tries for me – the demo ends and I learn a little more about what to expect from Escape Dead Island.

 

First, not everything that happens in the game is actually happening.  It’s up to you, the player, to separate fiction from reality in the world.  Cliff’s not the most mentally stable person out there, so hallucinations are definitely a big part of Escape.

 

Second, it’s not a sequel, but more of an inter-quel (?) as it takes place between Dead Island and the upcoming Dead Island 2.  This is not a huge deal to most, but Escape Dead Island does branch the two games.

 

Lastly, expect Escape Dead Island to launch on November 18, 2014 for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.


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