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E3 2014: Dead Island 2

Posted on June 12, 2014 AT 11:30am

Publisher Deep Silver
Developer Yager Development
Platform XB1, PS4, PC
Release Date Q2.2015
You can read the rest of our Opinionated Guide to E3 2014 or head to our E3 hub for even more coverage.

The Rundown

After the disappointing Riptide, Dead Island finally gets a proper sequel that looks to expand the franchise’s open-world, zombie-slaughtering mayhem in a major way. With Spec Ops: The Line developer Yager now at the helm, the action has left the South Pacific behind to explore a different paradise: California. And it looks like we’ll be getting to traverse the whole state, too, since Deep Silver has shown off locations that span pretty vast distances, including Venice Beach, San Francisco’s iconic Pier 39, and Yosemite National Park.

The Verdict

The first Dead Island was unabashedly rough around the edges, but there was something undeniably fun about bashing in undead skull after undead skull. If anything, it always felt like Techland’s ability to polish was holding back a solid concept. That’s why I’m delighted to see Yager in the driver’s seat and a new, somewhat more lighthearted creative direction.

What I got to see on the E3 floor was, admittedly, just an early combat demo from last year, and the press won’t actually get to go hands-on with a more advanced build until later in the summer. But there was a lot of promise already on display. The melee combat seemed more connected and versatile, opportunities for environmental kills seemed more numerous and more creative, and the gunplay looked less, well, godawful. One scene in an abandoned wedding venue, where dozens of zombies were dismembered to the smooth disco sounds of John Paul Young’s “Love Is in the Air,” even has me hopeful that Dead Island 2 will finally nail the perfect tone for the gameplay.

But the most exciting things I learned about the game—the four new character classes, the seamless eight-person online multiplayer, the improved open-world exploration—weren’t on display yet, so I’m reining in my enthusiasm for now.

Oh, and more feature I can’t wait to see in action? That guy from the trailer who sounds suspiciously like Jack Black has a pet cat named Rick Furry, and the development team actually slapped a tiny mo-cap suit on a real-world feline to get his animations just right. Dawww.

Josh Harmon, Associate Editor
Josh Harmon picked up a controller when he was 3 years old—and he hasn't looked back since. This has made him particularly vulnerable to attacks from behind. He joined EGM as an intern following a brief-but-storied career on a number of small gaming blogs across the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @jorshy. Meet the rest of the crew.

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