#EGX2014 Preview & Developer Interview: Dead Island 2, Reveals 8 Player Co-Op
I should start off by saying that Dead Island 2 is a pre-alpha, which makes it way before even the beta stage of development. So it is very fair to expect some bugs, but considering a few minor hiccups along the way, my experience with the Dead Island 2 was a lot of fun and it’s quite clear that this fun element will carry over to the full release during spring of next year.
Upon starting the demo, we were given a three main objectives, craft both a fire related weapon and another of electricity. The third objective was a very simple one; kill as many zombies within the time limit as you can. Gameplay wise, Dead Island 2 was very similar to previous games, despite now being developed by Yager. The trigger buttons are used to both kick and use you melee weapon, for which I soon made the most out of the awesome Fire Axe that I had crafted. Upon contact with the undead they are soon set a blaze, to which just by chance, I was located among some long grass and when the first zombie hit the deck, the grass had set fire burning any zombie caught among its flames.
The second crafted weapon was an electric shotgun, which other than being deadly at close range, when fired at a close group of zombies, had them all twitching like jibber jabbers with tourettes. Not so soon after crafting my shocking shotgun an optional mission objective appeared on screen, asking me if I wanted to help another player defend the Hollywood bar from a horde of zombies. Obviously being the hero that I am, I rushed in to help my fellow gamer slay some walking dead. These optional missions to help other gamers will of course be available in the full game and working together seems to be a key aspect of Dead Island 2, with it supporting eight player co-op. But what missions you do, who you help and how you approach them, is all down to you.
All in all, despite Dead Island 2 being at the pre-alpha stage I was very impressed with what I played and bringing in Yager to replace Techland seems to have been a very wise move by Deep Silver as I have no doubts that they will take the series to the heights that it deserves and what fans have longed for.
Also at EGX, I got a chance to speak to the Senior Programmer of the game and a representative of Deep Silver. We asked the Deep Silver rep a question off camera as to why they decided to bring in Yager to replace Techland. Obviously with Techland moving over to Warner Bros to develop Dying Light, Deep Silver was won over by not only the ability of Yager, but also their enthusiasm to take the Dead Island series to the next level.
You can read our interview with Senior Programmer Isaac Durham Ashdown below:
First off, I just finished playing some Dead Island 2 and it’s fair to say that it was a lot of fun, full of randomness. But just how fun was it to develop a game such as Dead Island 2?
It was a lot of fun, I was a big fan of the first games, so it was great to find out this was a game that I will be working on. It was a lot of fun coming up with all kinds of crazy ways to define the combat, it’s a great experience.
As you said, you’re a fan of the original games, but was there anything that you wished to change from the originals, by adding your own spin on the series?
It was one of my dreams to take a game that I already enjoy and then do things my own way. One of the things we’ve changed from the first games, does not have to find a workbench to craft weapons. We felt that going out your way to find a work bench, especially when playing with a friend, it can slow down the gameplay experience and it perhaps wasn’t as much fun for your friend waiting around while you craft your weapons.
So by now allowing you to craft your weapons anywhere, it keeps the action flowing, though it does take a little time to craft the weapons, which leaves you vulnerable at that time. So you might want to ask your friend to watch your back while you mod/craft your weapon, this then keeps both of you involved.
You spoke about modding your weapons in Dead Island 2, roughly how many weapons can you mod and can you actually mod every weapon?
Just about every weapon can be modded, there are a few weapons that are an exception that we feel are already crazy enough, but yeah, just about every weapon can be modded in Dead Island 2.
One of the many things that I liked about other games such as Dead Rising 3, was that some weapons were there for comical purposes, rather than inflicting damage. Are there any weapons in Dead Island 2 that serve a similar purpose?
Not really, some of the weapons are wackier then others, but they all serve their purpose to inflict damage. None of our weapons are funny just for the sake of being funny, they’ve all maybe got their own back-story and a reason to use them and also to show off your awesome created weapon.
Do you have a favourite weapon from Dead Island 2?
One of the many things that I love about our weapon system, is that you can pull off some very interesting combos. In Dead Island 2 you can duel-wield weapons, so you can take two different weapons and make for some fun combinations. For example you can have a pistol that sets a zombie on fire, then if you have a character in the Berserker class, you can unleash your fury attack on them, which is a high powered kick. You can them maybe aim your kick at another set of zombies and set them on fire as a consequence or better still, set the grass on fire too. There are plenty of weapons, fighting abilities to mix up and play around with, which is great fun experimenting.
When taking the Dead Island series out of the fictional island of Banoi, to the sunny state of California, what does the new location move bring to the table?
It’s a lot fun setting the game in a real place that will have some gamers recognising their surroundings as they may have been there before or recognised it from the movies. The premise of Dead Island 2 is that the government has abandoned California and left its inhabitants to their own devices, which some of the characters see this as a great opportunity to live their life the way that they’ve always wanted too and live the American dream. Having this location let’s us play around with what some people already know and others expectations of the sunny state.
Is the game location of California full of its many iconic locations? Can you explore the beach and so forth?
Yeah you can, if you take on one of the objectives from the demo, you will be able to get a nice view down to the coast. You should be able to see the Ferris-wheel in the background from the Santa Monica Pier, so you can go all the way down there and explore that location. There are also plenty of other iconic locations that were not ready to talk about just yet, but one of those locations will involve San Francisco.
A huge part of the previous games was its popular co-op mode, are you going to enhance on what made the multiplayer experience so popular to begin with?
We’ve put in a lot of work to improving the co-op for Dead Island 2, in the demo it only shows four player co-op, but in the full game, we’ve ramped it up to eight player co-op. California is a big place to explore and the new eight player co-op will certainly complement that. The game will be full of other players, but you’re not obliged to play with them if you don’t want too. If you start a game and your friends are also online with Dead Island 2 at that time, then you will be paired with them or if not, then you will be paired with other gamers from around the world.
You’re free to do your own thing, but if you want to join in on someone else’s fun then you’re free to do that also. For example you might hear gunfire or explosions, so you explore to see what’s going on and you might find it to be another player surrounded by zombies. So it will be up to you if you choose to help them or not. You can choose how you interact within the game and its world events. Some events might be more casual, while others might be more competitive. For example you might walk into an area that has been squared off and you find yourself in a PvP mode in which you might compete with others for some resources. But you’re free to walk in and out of that zone as you please. We also don’t have the kind of co-op that has you minding your own business and then suddenly someone comes along and stabs you in the back and makes off with your resources, so you can always play proper, friendly co-op.
Was there any likelihood of Dead Island 2 coming to the PS3 or Xbox 360, or was this game only ever achievable on the new gen systems?
Dead Island 2 can be a pretty intense game, with the hordes of zombies and of course the eight player co-op. A lot of that wouldn’t have been possible on the last gen systems, not to mention all the back end stuff going, like the new server technology coming in to support this kind of game.
This is a question I always like to ask, if you were stuck in Dead Island 2’s location of California and you had to pick one videogame character to keep you company, who would it be?
If I had to pick one character, then it would have to be GLaDOS from the Portal series, as I’m she can help to keep things even more interesting.
Finally, a while back a Dead Island pre-order incentive was announced in which you would get some cool DLC for the game. Is there anything else in the works that may include a statue or figurine, something like that?
A little while ago there was an online survey that spoke of some potential collector editions for Dead Island 2. So we’re definitely going to have a collector’s edition, but nothing’s been announced yet, so watch this space.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
Dead Island 2 will release spring of 2015 for the PC, PS4 and Xbox One.