The Dead Island 2 developer wants to make zombies fun again

After years in the developing desert, dead island 2 is back – and its developer wants to return to the basics of zombie fiction too. At a preview event in London earlier this month, British studio Dambuster Studios told the assembled journalists that one of the game’s four pillars – alongside Paradise Gone To Hell, Visceral Combat and Pulp Tone – is Zombie Core ” be. ”

It seems like stating the obvious. dead island 2is, like its 2011 predecessor, a game about surviving a zombie apocalypse and fighting the shambling undead. Of course, zombies play a central role; why should Dambuster have to repeat this? But developers have a finer point to make here.

“A lot of the zombies…not just games but franchises, especially in the last five to 10 years, there’s often been a message that the real enemy is man. The real bad guy is other people, hell is other people,” lead narrative designer Ayesha Khan (whose professional name is Khan) told Polygon. She could easily talk about it the Walking Dead or The last of us. “Zombies can become almost a setting, almost just a choice of shot. This could be on the moon, but instead it’s with zombies. but Yes, really, it’s about the people and the relationships. And, you know, sometimes it makes beautiful, gorgeous games and movies and TV. We’re not dissing that in any way.

“But we wanted to keep zombies as the enemy, as the graphics, as the focus, as the gameplay. Always at the core, at the top,” said Khan. “That’s the focus of the game.”

A zombie in a crash helmet and knee pads on the beach in Santa Monica, with the setting sun in the background

Image: Dambuster Studios/Deep Silver

dead island 2So it’s not a game about enemy factions of survivors or the human cost of living in an inhuman world. It’s a game about smashing the heads of horrible undead monsters with heavy gadgets. His zombies are not a socio-political metaphor or a dramatic catalyst. They’re creepy and gross and funny.

In this, Dambuster wants to go even further than the original dead island, from Polish developer Techland, was an unlikely hit in 2011 for its colourful, brutal melee gameplay, if not its storytelling. “We saw the sheer madness of combat in the original dead island, but the tone of the story and the narrative didn’t quite match at times, it tended to be a little more serious, a little more focused. That’s the kind of thing that other games have doubled down on,” Khan said, perhaps referring to the two Dying Light games Techland has since developed dead island‘s publication.

“So we took a little look at what’s not being done that much at the moment […] And one of the things we really wanted to do was just make zombies fun again. Just have some fun with it, let the characters enjoy it, you know, let everything be wonderful, ridiculous, larger than life, over the top. Just double that, ’cause that’s the fight, you know? It’s hard to marry a very tightly laced story with a fight that you can pull one out of [zombie’s] spine and show them, right?”

A first-person view of a zombie wearing sunglasses being strangled by the player as the player prepares to attack with an electrified machete

Image: Dambuster Studios/Deep Silver

“We have a core [melee combat] system that we think is quite amazing,” added Dan Evans, Technical Art Director. “But it is terrible violent. If we didn’t just have a slightly lighter tone, I think it could just end up being a really dark murder simulator. Evans credits film directors Paul Verhoeven and Quentin Tarantino as inspiration for their ability to take gory violence absurd, even funny.

“This kind of game is a love letter to Hollywood B-movie horror, right?” said Khan. “We talk almost as if a modern human were watching you [George] Romero, a day of the Dead. That’s the feeling you know Back then it was more shocking, it was more unusual. But a modern person just says, ‘Oh, they really focused on the zombies!’”

Evans intervened with a shoutout for The return of the living dead, while Khan pays homage to zombie comic horror master Sam Raimi. “I mean, [our game] is not as slapstick in the plot as evil Dead, but it’s on that spectrum of ridiculous and gory but still having fun here. You know, we’re all here to have a ridiculous, fun time.”

Last but not least, this seems like a lofty goal for a zombie game developer in 2022. dead island 2 will be released on February 3, 2023 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X. Check out our hands-on impressions of the game to learn more. The Dead Island 2 developer wants to make zombies fun again

Charles Jones

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