Dead Island 2’s journey has been as rocky as surviving a zombie invasion. It was announced at E3 2014, but over the years it has changed development studios several times, so the creative process has taken a long time . Yager Development was succeeded by Sumo Digital, although development has finally fallen into the hands of Dambuster Studios. Now, in the middle of 2022, we have finally been able to test the game for a few minutes.
Those responsible for the project have confirmed that the version to which we have had access is still in beta phase. It’s been designed so that we could experiment with the core combat mechanics, so we’ve only been able to break down bits and pieces of the story. In total there will be six playable characters , but we have put ourselves in Amy’s shoes. She is infected and is one of the few people who is immune to the disease. Despite everything, there is a kind of duality between the human part of her and the zombie part of her.
Los Angeles, land of zombies
The demo takes place in a city inspired by Los Angeles (Hell-A), inside a disgraced amusement park long ago. Before, the cradle of entertainment and fun; now, a nest of zombies ready to tear the flesh from our bones and drink the blood from our veins with voracious relish. Our protagonist knows what she is up against, since the city is in quarantine , but she goes into the lion’s den (of the zombie, rather) to recover a laptop with very sensitive data.
The first thing that strikes us is that the settings are very large, although the main story guides us through the map with relative clarity. We avoided a couple of zombies and managed to get into the park. Inside, inside one of the buildings, we turn on the flashlight and illuminate the area, apparently empty of enemies. Suddenly, we come across a door locked with an electrical mechanism. As usual, the next objective is to find the electricity panel to reactivate the current. And what happens when the lights come on? That zombies do like mosquitoes with light: they go towards it. In the blink of an eye we are surrounded. We have a very varied arsenal of weapons : rifles, pistols, sticks and even electric claws that come in handy to leave zombies paralyzed for a few seconds. We haven’t seen anything about the crafting system yet, but since we collect parts of objects from the ground it’s obvious that they will be added in the final version.
Dead Island 2 sensations at the controls
Playably, the combat system reminds us of many titles of the genre: first-person, fast and charged blows, the option to dodge and to use objects as thrown weapons. A simple can of gasoline can be used to give a few pots when the situation requires it. In addition, we can throw Molotov cocktails and a kind of bait that attracts zombies. As they eat, it goes off like a bomb and rips them to pieces. We survived the horde after emptying the magazine and ripping off some heads with sticks and other blunt objects. It should be noted that the body of the enemies is procedurally damaged when we hit it, so the reactions are not preset. On the other hand, we can use some elements of the setting to our advantage: the electrical cable resting on a puddle is ideal for frying the monsters. To do this, we turn on the generator at the right time.
Once outside, the only way to get through is to ride a roller coaster, but to no one’s surprise, the mechanism doesn’t work, so the power has to be reactivated. And when that happens… back to killing zombies. We fight against different archetypes of enemies, some more resistant than others. The biggest ones are very dangerous, but we come across others that explode when they come into contact with our character . A nearby explosion means certain death, so we’ve been forced to repeat this section a couple of times. If the first aid kits are low and we see that the special bar is full, it may be a good time to run Fury Mode , which gives us the opportunity to fight melee with great force, while gaining health. Of course, its duration is limited. It turns out that getting the laptop is going to be even more difficult, as an evil clown is lurking. He is the final enemy of the demo, a monster much stronger than the rest of the zombies that knocks us down several times. We discover, however, that the electric claws are an ideal weapon against him, because the seconds that he is paralyzed are worth us to hit him with everything we have.