It is now Koch Media / Deep Silver's turn to be in the spotlight on Gamersyde. Seth was able to get his hands on Dead Island and brought us back his impressions, but he also went to a presentation of Risen 2: Dark Waters, a role playing game that may be worth checking out on consoles too this time.
Survival of the fittest
Dead Island is an upcoming open world zombie game from developer Techland and publisher by Deep Silver. What makes this game unique among the myriad zombie titles is that it takes storyline, and not just mindless destruction, quite seriously. We were able to spend about an hour with the game in a hands-on multiplayer cooperative demo and came away impressed. The game takes place on an island where an outbreak has caused a zombie invasion. It’s typical zombie faire, with nods to all of your favorites, but it works well. The real heart of the game comes from your base of operations, which is a refuge for human survivors. That is where you will get missions and have the story fleshed out. All of the characters (both playable and otherwise) have well-developed stories that give the game a strong human element. In that way it reminded me a bit of The Walking Dead come to life.
Each playable character has a large skill tree, with some skills existing across all characters and others being unique; one is better with blunt weapons and another with blades, for example. All of the weapons can be upgraded and have to be repaired to remain effective. The game has a detailed weather system and also a night and day cycle but it will not happen in real time and will be linked to the storyline. The world appeared to be huge and while we only got to see one small section there are many types of environments to explore. Players online can jump in and out of your game without the need to restart a mission – it is completely drop in, drop out. Combat was also very satisfying. There are many types of zombies to bash and break apart and they each have weaknesses or unique attacks. One of the most satisfying moments comes when you first kick a zombie to the ground and then curb stomp his head. Violent? Sure it is, but they are technically already dead anyway. Dead Island is scheduled for release worldwide in September.
Deep Silver was also demoing Risen 2: Dark Waters from developer Piranha Bites. While the original from 2009 was more of a traditional medieval RPG, the setting has shifted to the open seas and the age of sail and pirating. In speaking with the design team however, they have chosen to steer clear of the actual seafaring and keep the gameplay and story focused on land. Their reasoning is that they didn’t want to delve in to side games or gameplay that would only serve as a distraction and preferred to focus development time on the heart of the game. You can once again expect a detailed story with a vast script of dialogue.
While development is still early there are many areas in which progress has clearly been made. The graphical engine has been through a complete overhaul and Risen 2 can now boast that it competes with the most attractive games available today. Also, while the Xbox 360 version of Risen was put into work quite late in the development cycle (and it showed), Risen 2 has been developed from the start with a multiplatform release in mind. The game looks very similar across all three platforms. Along with the change in setting there are a few fun gameplay additions. Gunplay is now available and you can even duel wield a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. You will also have a pet parrot at your disposal which can be deployed against the enemy, though mostly just as a distraction to give you time to escape or get in a few quick attacks. No release date has been set but they expect to have the game ready sometime in the first half of 2012.