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The troubling history of Dead Island 2’s development

Dead Island 2’s release has been on hold for years thanks to a series of unfortunate circumstances.

Dead Island 2 was announced at E3 2014 and has been highly anticipated ever since, not just by fans of the franchise but also by intrigued gamers who look on in anticipation. I too am one of those people waiting for the sequel to the incredible first game. It has been almost 6 years since the announcement with no sign of a release, and because of the silence that Deep Silver has had on the topic, it does beg the question if the game is still in the works. Has it been completely scrapped by Deep Silver, perhaps? On top of all this worrying news, or more accurately the lack of it, rumours sound like the project has been passed from developer to developer over time. It’s no wonder fans are worried about the state of Dead Island 2, which is why I am going to cover the history of this saga in more detail.

First and foremost I would like to clarify, that this investigation will not talk about gameplay, story, setting or any other game features. It will purely talk about the current state of development that Dead Island 2 is in at the moment. I will provide links to the websites that I gained my research from at the end for any interested readers who would like to know the more in depth view.

So let’s start from the beginning at E3 2014, when Deep Silver not only announced a sequel to their hit horror game Dead Island, but they also brought with them a trailer that would leave fans shocked – and one that I personally consider one of the best of all time – but the thing that really surprised everyone was that the developer of the original Dead Island, Techland was not involved with the game. Instead, they were focusing their efforts on another zombie game of their own (the Dying Light series), so Deep Silver went out looking for a new developer.

In 2012, Yager development pitched their idea for a new Dead Island game and Deep Silver found comfort in Yager, which is why in E3 2014 Dead Island fans were left shocked to see a colourful, delightful and overall hectic new trailer. This displayed a narcissistic character running down a Californian-ish coast, completely oblivious to all the chaos around him, definitely a change from the original game’s trailer, a gloomy, heart-breaking and brutal display of a mother and a father fighting against a horde of bloodthirsty zombies to save their young daughter’s life. This change of scenery excited their fans because it was a complete u-turn from the norm and that’s what the fans wanted and needed.

While Deep Silver and Yager Development busied themselves with the task of completely rebranding Dead Island, Techland had just set to work on the soon to be hit zombie game Dying Light, which when released trumpeted the impact Dead Island had on the gaming industry. After almost a full year of Dying Light releasing, in July 2015, Deep Silver dropped Yager from development and as the Managing Director of Yager, Timo Ullmann stated:

“Yager and Deep Silver’s respective visions of the project fell out of alignment”.

For the first of many times Dead Island 2’s reins were handed over to a new developer, Sumo Digital, and it was at this point that fans began to worry because they were not being given any information whatsoever on what was happening to the game. They were not sure if the game was being completely changed or if Sumo were going to pick up where Yager left off; they didn’t even know how far into development Yager were, which meant that it could still be years before there was a release. The only definitive information that was given was Yager no longer had control over development. And with this began the long silence that surrounds Dead Island 2 to this day.

Besides that and other announcements of change in development studios, there has been no actual news on Dead Island 2 outside of rumours of further troubles regarding the game. That was until Gamesindustry.biz had an interview with the CEO of Koch Media, a publisher that operates under the label of Deep Silver, Klemens Kundratitz, in which he stated:

 “(…) Dead Island is a very important brand for us and we’ve got to get it right. It’s just a testimony of our dedication to get it right.”

This however doesn’t confirm that the game will come out in the near future or that it will ever come out, it does show that there is still hope for a new “kick ass zombie game” and beyond that, there have been rumours of a possible PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett release, but then again this doesn’t confirm anything. Still, clearly the people who are in charge of canceling games at Deep Silver have chosen not to do so for Dead Island 2, and probably for good reason, hopefully one day we will be able to play that game. The current developer of Dead Island 2 is Dambuster Studios, an internal studio of Deep Silver. You may recognise them by their first and only released game, Homefront: the Revolution.

The reason I wanted to recount this is because the first game I ever played was Dead Island. I still remember the day I was shown the trailer for Dead Island 2 and being extremely excited by it six years on, there is still nothing but a trailer and I remain excited for this game. I personally still have hope in the franchise that defined the types of games that I play to this day, and the game that hugely influenced the gaming industry by mainstreaming the concept of skill trees. Will the game be released? If so, will it be as good as the first installment or possibly better? I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks all for reading, love from your Friendly Neighborhood Geek.

A history of Dead Island 2 from Wikipedia | More on this story from Gamesindustry.biz 

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