Since it was revealed in 2015, Dead Island 2 has been through a number of developers, and I thought it was even cancelled at one point. However, as has been recently reported by Eurogamer, Dambuster Studios is still working on the game with a view to release it. The thing is, zombie games are pretty common now, so Dead Island 2 needs to be different from its peers, like Dying Light 2, if it’s going to stand out.
I don’t know if you played the first Dead Island, or even the half sequel, Riptide, but they both had one thing going for them that was pretty unique at the time. They were both zombie games set on exotic islands. The first game leaned into this setting far more, and was actually housed on an island resort filled with everything the average holiday maker needs, from a bar on the beach, to tiered pools. Sadly Riptide veered away from this setting, planting players in a far more uninhabited island, but an island setting it was none the less.
Since these games released, I’ve not played another zombie game that felt as unique in its setting. Even the upcoming Zombie Army 4, with its death-ridden wartime Europe, doesn’t feel as unique. I think the best part about Dead Island’s resort setting was the freedom it allowed you to have, which brought it much closer to a real life zombie scenario.
Bear with me on this one. If you were caught in a zombie apocalypse, you’d initially be stuck not knowing what’s happening. As you explored your surroundings you’d get your bearings for where the local undead are, what’s going on, and where to go to get food or move from point A to point B. This is exactly how Dead Island unfolds, leading you into the game from the point that zombies have taken over.
There was a lot more to Dead Island 2 than its setting, such as the weapon combinations and elemental effects, but it’s that feeling the original setting inflicted on players that the sequel needs to bring back.
Dying Light 2 puts players in a world that’s been reshaped by a zombie outbreak. World War Z has a series of missions that have been decimated by another pandemic, but there’s nothing out there right now that matches up to what Dead Island had.
Dead Island 2 has been in development for so long that it might have been scrapped a couple of times and development restarted. Whatever the game looks like right now, it’ll still be good as long as it has a setting that gives players the same feelings they got when playing the original. But if it doesn’t have that same setting and feeling, then I can’t see it being any good at all.