Dead Island 2 – Is this game dead?
Dead Island, released in 2011, followed in the shuffled footsteps of zombie survival games like the Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead series, but this time from the setting of a tropical island open world. Despite some technical issues with the game, it featured great gameplay, weapon customisation and it sold quite well, shifting over 5 million copies.
You may have expected that the developers Techland would work on the planned sequel, however the publisher Deep Silver decided to work with another developer Yager, the creators of Spec Ops: The Line, for the follow up. Techland ended up working on their own open world zombie survival game, Dying Light, which was released in 2015 and has remained immensely popular and successful in its own right. Oh, how Deep Silver made a mistake there…
In our post why we’re still playing Dying Light, we touched on how Dead Island 2 has found itself in ‘development hell‘. Work began on the Dead Island sequel at the end of 2012… all these years later, it’s only fair to ask “What happened to Dead Island 2?”
Dead Island 2 Announcement
At E3 2014, the announcement trailer for Dead Island 2 was revealed by Deep Silver. This didn’t show any gameplay, but was a CGI rendered clip showing zombie chaos in the new Californian setting:
Nothing too exciting to see here, but giving off a slightly less serious vibe than the previous title. This was followed up a mere two months later in August 2014, when Deep Silver released the first gameplay trailer showing the work in progress:
Great, loads of weapons, violence and zombies as you’d expect. The description underneath this particular video states:
The video shows Pre-Alpha in-game footage and gives a first impression on how beautiful sunshine and bloody melee violence meet once again – this time in the sunny realms of California.
Okay, so for Pre-Alpha footage, this looks pretty impressive. What Games Are defines ‘Pre Alpha’ as a term which defines “a number of interim milestones between prototyping and alpha”
Dead Island 2 is coming Spring 2015 from development studio YAGER for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, as well as Windows PC.
So, with less than a year until the planned release, and a decent looking pre-alpha gameplay trailer you’d expect the development process to be going well, and likely working towards the final stages before testing. That’s where you’d be wrong. In July 2015, Deep Silver announced that they had cut ties with Yager:
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
The difference in creative views between the publisher and developer appears to have been just the first hurdle in Dead Island 2’s existence.
Fast forward to March 2016 – Deep Silver releases a definitive collection of Dead Island / Dead Island Riptide / Retro Revenge for Xbox One, PS4 and PC… and also announced that Sumo Digital (Little Big Planet 3 and Forza Horizon 2 developers) had taken over development of the sequel.
Another 3 years pass, and in August 2019, the latest developer to take over Dead Island 2 is revealed as Dambuster Studios (Homefront: The Revolution). Interestingly, Dambuster was taken over by Deep Silver in 2014, so it seems like they’re now wanting to keep things in-house.
Dambuster Studios are hiring for a Technical Animator, Art Director, Senior Environment Artist and QA Technician with specific references to the following description:
The City of Angels is now the city of the undead.
And so we need your help in creating the sun soaked backdrop to a full scale zombie apocalypse set across the iconic Californian city for the next instalment of the world renowned Dead Island franchise.
Even though there hasn’t been any new promotional material or gameplay revealed, Dead Island 2 looks like it hasn’t died quite yet – although there is still no release date and pre-order listings for the game remain online.
Dead Island 2 Prototype Leak
In what happened to be a strange coincidence, shortly after I started writing this article, news emerged of a playable Dead Island 2 prototype build being leaked on the internet. This was a Beta version from 2015 when Yager was the developer working on the game, .
Your Opinion Sucks on YouTube managed to get hold of the prototype and uploaded some gameplay footage (which may likely get removed for copyright):
The gameplay footage from this leak looks like it had plenty of potential. At this point it’s probably fair to assume the none of this work will feature in the current developer’s build though.
In a tweet that confirms which development team worked on the gameplay shown, a former Yager developer shared a comment on the leaked content:
Oh boy what a blast from the past. Didn’t expect this one and while it’s literally unfinished work in progress in a way it’s nice that at least somehow people can see what we’ve been working on before we got the axe. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯— JD @ home 🏰 (@JanDavidHassel) June 6, 2020
How’s that for a five year old #screenshotsaturday? https://t.co/41fkaREz1U
Is it too late for a sequel?
Dead Island 2 certainly was a game I was looking forward to after completing the original title. However, after all the time that has passed since that, will the sequel be able to deliver? Or will it be able to hold up to its competition – Techland were due to release the eagerly awaited Dying Light sequel in April 2020, however have indefinitely delayed this to allow for more development time – though development seems to be progressing at a much more efficient rate in comparison. I think that many gamers will end up disregarding whatever eventually gets released by Deep Silver, in favour of Dying Light, which improved upon the original Dead Island in every sense.
Regardless, I’m sure Dead Island 2 won’t see the light of day for some time yet.