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With Dead Island 2, the folks at Deep Silver and Yager are once again trying to reinvent the way you play a zombie game. While the first Dead Island sported an abundance of trauma and grit, you can basically think of Dead Island 2 as a celebration of the genre, allowing players to soak up quite a bit more glee as they mow down the shambling masses.
When some folks hear the words Dead Island, their minds race back to the original game’s iconic trailer. The trailer depicted the death of a family at the hands of an army of undead, but shown in reverse as a piano hauntingly scored the tale. It was dark, gothic and even a little heart-breaking, which is a tone that the original game managed to match well despite all of that hacking, slashing and shooting.
According to Deep Silver Senior Brand Manager, Rupert Ochsner, Dead Island 2 is taking the franchise in a different direction, which is also perfectly illustrated by this new title’s debut trailer. The trailer, revealed during the Sony press conference, featured a goofy jogger who is oblivious to the end of the world occurring in the background. The undead wreaked havoc as he winks at beach babes and grins like a buffoon.
“Welcome to zombie California,” explained Rupert Ochsner in a closed-door session during E3 2014. “We are not dark and depressing. We are cool and we kick ass.”
Ochsner went on to explain the link between Dead Island and this sequel, saying that the original virus has begun to spread, reaching the U.S. shore.
“But not everywhere has been affected by the virus yet,” he continued. “As a result, California has been quarantined in order to contain the virus. Nobody is allowed in and nobody is allowed out.”
And that is exactly where the player comes in. It turns out that a select few people are actually immune to the zombie virus and, fed up with the world they used to live in, discover that they are a perfect match for this world-gone-mad that used to be home to surfers, sunshine and celebrities aplenty.
“This is the zombie apocalypse of your dreams,” Ochsner said. “You don’t want to leave. You finally have a place where you can thrive.”
On your adventure, Max and his cat, Rick Furry, will serve as your spiritual and literal guide. Max will cart you around the city in his pimped out van to complete various tasks and progress the story. While Max isn’t immune to the virus, he too has found a true calling as the leader of a zombie-slaying task force.
On your journey, you’ll visit loads of famous California landmarks in order to lay waste to more zombies than ever before. Not only are the undead more numerous this time around, but they also come in a wider variety of, um, flavors, offering different types of obstacles to overcome and strategies to defeat. There’s also a rotten human element in this new undead world, boasting escaped convicts and raiders who simply want to make your life more difficult.
While the series’ trusty melee weapons are present and accounted for, having California as a setting also means that weapons and ammo will be more plentiful. That’s especially helpful because, again, there are loads more zombies this time around. You’ll also have access to more motorized weapons, like a nailgun bolted to a buzzsaw, but they’ll require you to dip into a limited fuel reserve and, yep, they’re pretty loud.
While the single player campaign is still available, Dead Island 2 will also afford players the chance to take advantage of a seamless eight-player multiplayer experience. You’ll all be sharing the same map, so it’s up to you if you want to help each other out, make trouble for one another or simply go your own ways.
The Dead Island 2 preview was capped off with a combat demonstration that, according to Rupert Ochsner, comes from a build of the game that’s already a year old. The team is hard at work finalizing a playable demo on the current build of the game, but things still looked like a lot of fun, even on such an old build.
Ochsner showed off some of the more strategic gameplay elements, shooting the lock off a fence holding back zombies to allow the creatures to swarm a group of attacking bandits. He also lured zombies in by triggering a car alarm, then blew them all sky high by putting a bullet in a conveniently placed tank of gas. Also at the player’s disposal are fires that actually spread, traps and new “Fury Attacks” which can devastate a dazed zombie.
Dead Island 2 is slated for a spring 2015 launch on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
“Heaven meets hell,” Ochsner concluded. “And you are the matchmaker.”