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Hands On: Dead Island Multiplayer

Curb stomping zombies never gets old.

All eyes have been on Dead Island ever since that one trailer was released. Could the game actually be that good? Based on the various screenshots I’ve seen, I was beginning to worry. To me, it seemed like it was being over hyped. After all, we were getting excited over a CG trailer with no gameplay footage whatsoever. Having played the multiplayer component for decent amount of time, I can easily say that many of my concerns have been put to rest. There’s just so much fun to be had.

The demo started off inside of a church. This is where you can accept quests, buy weapons, and make upgrades or repairs. We were given a ridiculous amount of money to buy whatever we desired. I purchased and upgraded several types of blades, a mace, a rifle, and even coated one weapon in fire. You can carry pretty much anything you buy, but you can only equip 9 items to your weapon wheel at a time.

Once a quest has been activated, a clear path to your destination is shown on your mini-map. We all left the church cautiously, not knowing what to expect. The first thing you’ll notice is that the environment is completely open to the player. You can go pretty much anywhere you want. And that’s exactly what I did.

The church serves as the central hub. Very little praying will be done.
I mindlessly ran around because I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t even know what the quest was. I kept trying to punch and kick random NPCs, but to no avail. They can’t be harmed. Apparently, we were putting up a bunch of posters for a missing person. The idea doesn’t really make any sense. Everyone is either dead, a zombie, or at the church. I highly doubt that any survivor would stop and look at one of the posters. Regardless of the mission, I just wanted to kill as many zombies as possible.

Not seeing the point of having a bunch of knives as a weapon, I opted to use my rifle first. I learned the hard way that guns need to be used sparingly. You won’t find ammo just laying on the ground, and it certainly won’t materialize after killing an enemy. There’s a bit of a survival horror element to weapon usage, so you actually need to think about what you’re doing at all times.

The enemies themselves are quite ferocious. As fun as it is to kill them, you actually need to put some effort into each enemy you take down. The combat is surprisingly more melee intensive than anything else. If you want to take down the undead, you need to go up to them and punch them in the face. Having three teammates certainly helped with that task. We fended off as many zombies as possible, all while our guide gave us insights to the gameplay.

There are four different characters in the game. Each of which have their own attributes and special abilities. Sam is the Tank class and is good with heavy weapons. Xian Mei is the Assassin and specializes with blades, Logan is the well rounded “jack of all trades”, and Purna is the Leader. I used Logan during the demo. His unique ability is being able to throw a barrage of knives at anything standing in his way. This required use of the Rage meter.

Building up your rage is as simple as killing zombies. You’ll also gain experience points in the process. That XP can then be used to upgrade your character’s skill tree. Even if your teammates were all the same character, they could be leveled up differently, ultimately making them more or less effective in various ways. For the purposes of the demo we were already leveled up quite a bit.

Whether you’re cutting a zombies arm off or chopping off their head, you’re going to have a lot of fun torturing enemies. There were many moments were we just beat on a zombie that was long dead. The most brutal attack was definitely the curb stomp. Despite the horrific setting and circumstances, the game was just hilarious to play. Coming up with different ways to incapacitate your enemies is disturbing, yet very satisfying. And it’s always fun blowing up your teammates by shooting gas tanks. It’s possible to revive fallen friends, but it’s not exactly a good idea to just waste all of your health items unless you need to. If you aren’t healed in time you can respawn nearby but you’ll also lose some XP in the process.

There was a nice variety of enemies always in our way. Some zombies were on fire, some were covered in poison mist, while others served as mini-bosses. One in particular, appropriately named The Ram, was wearing a straight jacket and would charge at us with full force. He has quite a bit of health, but he’s relatively easy to deal with. You just need to side step at the right moment to avoid getting hit. Even the common zombies were no joke. Unlike Resident Evil 5, they don’t just stand there waiting for you to attack them. They will run and you and eat your face at every chance they get. You’re not always alone either. Sometimes you’ll see random survivors out in the streets fighting for their lives.

As all of this is going on, you need to keep track of your various meters. In addition to your health bar, you have to pay attention to your stamina. If you swing your weapon too frequently, your stamina will decrease and your attacks will become less effective. There’s also a meter attached to the weapons themselves. If it depletes, the weapon becomes less effective. You either need to repair it or toss it away. I opted to throw many of my knives at unsuspecting zombies. What’s neat is that you can actually recover them from their dead bodies.

Situations like this happen quite often.
The environment was relatively expansive. Even though this was only one small portion of the game, but there were so many paths one could take. You could even drop down to the sewers if you wanted. If the main quest isn’t enough for you, there’s also a bunch of sidequests to go on. There’s also tons of precious loot to be found, which can then be used to modify weapons. For a game like this, there’s a surprising amount of freedom given to the player.

Perhaps the best part about the multiplayer mode is just how seamless it is. You can easily drop in and out of games whenever you want. Unlike some co-op based games, Dead Island’s entire campaign mode is at your disposal and anything you earned offline or online will carry on to both modes.

Even if you’re not into first person shooters, you’ll definitely want to keep Dead Island on your radar. Imagine a zombie game with elements from Borderlands, Dead Rising, and Left 4 Dead. It certainly has the potential to be a great game. We’ll see how it goes once it hits store shelves in September.

  1. R4U Eldave0
    Since: Aug 2008

    Sounds awesome! Brainless (no pun intended) action but deep enough to prevent it becoming dull. Like Left4Dead I can see this being a lot of fun with a team of 4 :)

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:12.
  2. Mundham
    Since: Feb 2011

    Really enjoyed the emotional first trailer, then got a bit disillusioned when it looked to be yet another staid FPS. Now quite excited about it once again…

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:13.
    • Delriach
      Since: Jul 2009

      Yeah, the trailer is a bit misleading. It’s awesome but it doesn’t give you an idea of what the game is like at all. Maybe the story will prove me wrong. I dunno!

      Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:17.
    • BIGAL-1992
      Since: Jan 2009

      Many people were getting hyped up for a teaser trailer and not the game itself. It sounds quite good, but I’ll wait and see what happens next.

      Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:27.
  3. Bilbo_bobbins
    Since: Jun 2009

    It sounds great to be honest, I wasn’t sure after seeing a video recently, but now that someone has played it and given it good comments, I might think about this now. 4 player zombie bashing sounds excellent

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:22.
  4. AG2297
    Community Manager
    Since: Feb 2009

    It really does sound like a lot of fun and I’m wondering if this could finally be the game that draws in the TSA L4D2 crowd.

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:25.
    • DrNate86
      Since: Apr 2010

      I hope so, I get very jealous not being able to run L4D2!

      Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:42.
      • bunimomike
        Since: Jul 2009

        I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again. Work out what internal organ is worth the most, hit eBay, then come join us! ;-)

        Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 14:20.
      • R4U Eldave0
        Since: Aug 2008

        He has a point, l4d is awesome ;)

        Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 14:25.
  5. sanmartinez
    Since: Jun 2009

    It still looks so good, cant wait to play this game. Bring on the zombies!!

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:38.
  6. R4U Eldave0
    Since: Aug 2008
    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 13:43.
  7. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    Sounds great, knew it probably wouldn’t quite measure up to the first trailer but was still thinking it would be something worthwhile.

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 14:50.
  8. bunimomike
    Since: Jul 2009

    A far more satisfying read and one that now fills me with hope. Especially the co-op aspect. Cheers, Delriach. :-)

    Random aside: how do you pronounce your name?

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 15:34.
    • Forrest_01
      Since: Jun 2009

      Agreedness – I was concerned about the whole 1st person element & having random shufflers fondling my backside without me knowing, but my interest has now been re-ignited.

      Oh & i have always seen it as ‘Del-ree-ack’, but i could easily be mistaken.

      Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 15:46.
      • Delriach
        Since: Jul 2009

        I pronounce it as Delratch. I’m not so sure if the spelling reflects that lol.

        Comment posted on 02/07/2011 at 07:35.
  9. bunimomike
    Since: Jul 2009

    “random shufflers fondling my backside”

    *pre-orders instantly*

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 16:45.
    • The Lone Steven
      Never heard of him.
      Since: May 2010

      You do know that most if not all of the random shufflers will be undead?

      Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 18:43.
  10. Bladesteel
    Since: Sep 2008

    “There were many moments were we just beat on a zombie that was long dead.”

    I thought that was what made them zombies :D

    I’ll have to keep an eye on this game, might turn out to be a good one. Hopefully there will be a demo so we can decide.

    Comment posted on 30/06/2011 at 16:46.

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