Dead Island 2 Preview - Expanding Horizons

Dead Island 2

Update - September 2015: Dead Island 2 is in Limbo

When Dead Island 2 was first announced in June of 2014, I was excited. The developer who was working on it, Yager, was responsible for one of my favorite story-driven shooters on the PS3: Spec Ops: The Line. I truly believed that they had what it takes to bring this series to the next level.

Things were fairly silent from then on, with some previews and gameplay surfacing last August, which you can see below:

So yeah, it was looking good for having just been announced and given the fact that we were seeing pre-alpha footage. The expected release date was to be in 2015, but then in April of that year, a tweet hit the game's Twitter page:

"We have always set ourselves a big goal for Dead Island 2: to create the sequel that takes Dead Island to the next level. A game that takes what our fans tell us they love about Dead Island – multiple different characters to play with, co-op, and turning a paradise setting into a zombie slaughter melee – and a game that adds a ton more content and combat options on top of that.

And we wanted to have all of that that done for release in Spring 2015.

We have been looking at the game long and hard, and we have decided we didn’t reach that goal we set out to achieve quite yet. This is why we have decided to delay Dead Island 2 to 2016.

Right now we are focusing purely on development, and we will have more info to share at a later stage.

We know that our fans will be disappointed by this news, but by giving Dead Island 2 more time we are confident that everyone will get a better game to play as a result.

As you can see, this is the atypical "our game has been delayed" message that we've come to know all too well. Usually this just means they are polishing the game though, not considering something far more drastic.

So Long Yager, it's Been Fun

Then the unthinkable happened. After working on the game for three grueling years, the publisher, Deep Silver, decided to drop the developer from the project. Not only had it been this long, but this news also came an entire year after the sequel was announced. I was truly shocked to see this news as you rarely hear about a developer just being plucked from a project after so much time invested.

Deep Silver released a statement to the press in July of 2015:

"With Dead Island 2, Deep Silver has always been dedicated to delivering the sequel that Dead Island fans deserve. After careful consideration, today we announce the decision to part ways with development partner Yager.

"We will continue working towards bringing our vision of Dead Island 2 to life, and we will share further information at a later stage."

It's just mind blowing that something that drastic can happen so quickly. The original Dead Island and its sequel, Dead Island: Riptide, were developed by Techland who went on to make Dying Light instead of Dead Island 2.

Shortly after the announcement, Timo Ullmann, the managing director of Yager Development spoke out on the specifics of the termination:

"Our team is made of the best creative minds and tech specialists, who all share a common identity. The team worked with enthusiasm to take Dead Island 2 to a new level of quality. However, Yager and Deep Silver's respective visions of the project fell out of alignment, which led to the decision that has been made."

It's unclear who broke up with who, but if Yager really did remove themselves on the basis of a conflicted vision, then that takes some serious bravery, but also a dedication to the project that allowed them to see that the vision they had wasn't going to be accepted and they refused to budge on their grounds. I'd like to think it was the latter.

YAGER is an independent computer and video games developer based out of Berlin, Germany.They are currently working on another project called Dreadnought which is being published by Grey Box. According to Ullman, the studio is also working on one or more other unannounced projects.

As it stands, Dead Island 2 isn't dead, but it also doesn't have a developer. It's on life support at this point. We'll update this article as needed, letting you know what published Deep Silver decides to do.

Original Article Follows:

I had a mixed relationship with the first Dead Island. It was infamously known for its heart-wrenching CG trailer, which gave way to a game that, while fun, didn’t have the slightest amount of emotion that the trailer led the world to believe would be in the game. Instead, it was more of a melee focused cooperative zombie RPG. It had a story, but it was just kind of “there”. What’s more, the game was sort of boring by yourself, I could tell it was meant to be played by several people over an online co-op.

No split-screen, and no friends led me to ditch the game and walk away. Later on, I picked it up again when I had a buddy of mine asked if I wanted to do co-op with him. The game was instantaneously better on this subsequent playthrough. The story was still non-existent, but man, the game was a lot more fun with someone watching your back. The developer, Techland, went on to make a pseudo-sequel called Dead Island: Riptide which was honestly more of the same.

Now though, we’ve got a new player in town. You see, Techland is busy working on Dying Light, so the publisher, Deep Silver, hired a new studio to make Dead Island 2. That studio was Yager, most recently known for their excellent PS3 game: Spec Ops: The Line. They are also working on a new sci-fi game called Dreadnought, so clearly these guys are busy. I like the change though, I think Yager could really breathe some new life into the series with Dead Island 2.

New Developer, New Style
Yager isn’t looking to pull a bait-and-switch like Techland did with the first Dead Island. Their announcement trailer at Sony’s E3 Press Conference was all sorts of wacky, goofy, and gory. The new tone is refreshing though, and I for one was happy to see the new style. It wasn’t until Gamescom 2014 that we saw some real gameplay. The footage that was shown confirmed that the game will be taking place in a real location for the first time.

The first Dead Island was set on the fictional island of Banoi, but the second is set in sunny California. Locations such as Santa Monica, and Venice Beach were mentioned, along with many other San Francisco landmarks. Yager also made mention of a new area, but they neglected to give details this early on in the game’s development. The game is confirmed to have four playable characters, and weapon customizations like the first two entries.

The combat this time around is much more brutal though, with a focus on visceral gameplay that puts even the intense melee of the first game to shame. The story takes place several months after the events on the island of Banoi. The United States has put California under a full Quarantine after the outbreak spread onto the mainland. Those who have been left behind are starting fresh and they don’t seem to be holding back.

Beta Test

It's been announced that the PlayStation 4 will receive the Dead Island 2 beta test a full 30 days before the Xbox One and PC. The beta test is available to anyone who has preordered the game, though specific dates have yet to be announced.

You Have my Attention Yager
After giving the first game a second chance, I like the look of Dead Island 2. The game isn’t set to come out until spring of 2015, but what we’ve seen in enough to pique my interest. I definitely like the style and the new humorous approach to the zombie apocalypse, and the developer has impressed me before to be sure, so the setup is looking good. We’ll just have to wait and see more before we can decide if this is a head shot, or a stray swing.

What are your thoughts on Dead Island 2? Do you think the new style is a good choice? What about the new developer? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert Date: 9/14/14

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Comments

Dead Island 2

I loved dead island and riptide,kept me playing for hrs on end so ill be playing dead island 2 regardless,and cant wait. Dead Island 2 and Dying Light are the most wanted for me and just hope there's more of these kind of games from Techland,Deep Silver and Yager in the future. keep up the excellent work.

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