Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

E3: Hands on with Dead Island's four-player co-op

1:42 PM on 06.09.2011 // Jim Sterling

Right off the bat, I need to say this -- Dead Island is not the bad game I feared it would be. I went into the hands-on demo worrying that, after all the hype, Techland's open-world zombie holiday would be too rough to enjoy. However, while there is indeed a roughness to it, the enjoyment factor is firmly in place.

I just wish I didn't spend so much time kicking zombies in the crotch so I could have appreciated it more. 

Damn, I love kicking zombies in the crotch.

Many outlets will describe Dead Island as "Borderlands with zombies" and one cannot deny the very blatant influences. There are four characters, each with their own specialties and unique rage attacks that can be activated after a meter is full. My character specialized in thrown weapons and was able to enter black-and-white trances where knives are thrown rapidly and insta-kill the zombie hordes. 

Like all good co-op, the multiplayer is of the drop-in/drop-out variety and anybody can rock any character they want, even if all four players wish to be the exact same person. At the moment, there's no visible character customization, so it may be odd to see four identical twins roaming around. Each character has its own set of skill trees, which provide the biggest visual similarity to Borderlands, as there are three columns with a different set of specializations.

The demo starts out in a church, where many of the survivors are holding up. Here, you can purchase and upgrade weapons. I bought several throwing knives and then upgraded them to attach C4. Yes, I was able to throw exploding knives, and yes, it was everything I could have dreamed of. 

There are a variety of weapons, categorized by their rarity. Some of them, such as an electrified double-edged blade, need players to be at high levels before they be wielded. You can carry a huge amount of items, but you can only equip nine for quick-use. I rolled out of the Church rocking a rifle, a cleaver, a bunch of knives, a sickle, a baseball bat, an iron bar and a mace ... among others too sundry to name.

We accepted a quest, which placed a bold white line on the mini-map, showing the best route. Not thinking straight, I ran ahead and was told that sticking together would be essential. I soon found out why. 

The most striking thing I've taken away from Dead Island is the fact that the zombies are some of the most individually threatening undead I've seen in a long time. Usually, five zombies in a game would be no big deal. In Dead Island, they are a very credible threat, and this is in a game with four human allies. 

A big part of this is the fact that Dead Island is very melee-based. Yes, there are guns, but they run out of ammo quickly. The zombies are also incredibly aggressive, and are often smart enough to wield weapons themselves. Add to this the unique creatures as as Rams (huge, straitjacketed opponents that charge into enemies) or Thugs (tall, muscular zombies that can knock players to the ground in one punch), and you have a pleasantly challenging game, even for four players. 

The game's unique challenge and tough zombies helps distance Dead Island from Left 4 Dead. With a single zombie opponent, it can take two players simultaneously hacking away to chop it down to size. Procedural damage is in full effect, so you can hack off a leg or an arm, or go straight for a decapitation. The level of damage you can do a zombie's body is beautifully grotesque.

Players can share equipment and have the ability to revive allies with medkits. If you die, you'll respawn with a loss of cash and XP. You can expect to die frequently if you don't work together, and remain aware of your surroundings. I quickly found out that propane tanks have a huge range when they explode and are capable of decimating a team. 

Our mission involved putting up posters to help find a missing girl. During the demo, I made sure to point out that putting up "Missing" posters on an island full of missing or dead people was a bit redundant, but I suppose the job pays well enough, so it's worth doing. This quest provided a nice tour of the island, where loot chests, and shopkeepers, and innocent victims still fighting off the zombies could be found. Different areas of the island are shown as whirlpools on the map, and heading toward them will load a fresh part of the map. 

Yet still, all these details pale in comparison to the fact that you can repeatedly kick a dead zombie in the nuts and laugh, laugh, laugh. The decapitations and the exploding knives and the electrocutions never get old, and provide a grotesque sense of fun in a world that's actually quite threatening and grisly. 

Dead Island is not the emotional heart-tugger that its trailers may suggest. It is, however, a game that makes zombies threatening again, while still balancing out the challenge with plenty of opportunity to mutilate and explode in the name of righteous human justice.

You will definitely want to keep your eyes on Dead Island.

Photo Gallery: (15 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Off to the new job shortly. Dunno if it's something I want long term, but I can't complain about the money. New laptop, phone, and consoles could be weeks away :D
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123 /Hatred devs really like the controversy I guess.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Is it too late to write about the waifu wars? I don't really have one but there is a female character I have in mind that I want to talk about.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Bayo has high execution barrier and largely unsafe moveset but Witch Time is a huge saving grace. I bet people are double bitter with Corrin being in the game and being pretty reliable in terms of skillset. Definitely a safer and stronger choice than Bayo
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Streaming some Unravel then perhaps some Firewatch. Don't not come. [url][/url]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Parismio avatarParismio
I was playing Third Strike on PS3 with my PS4 controller and I tried using the dpad for the first and noticed that it doesnt take corner directional inputs. Is this normal for ps4 controllers on ps3?
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
I swear, it makes sense in context..... Kinda. Hmmm. Okay, not so much. [img][/img]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Almost done with my Waifu wars blog. pretty happy with how it turned out.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Time to scream and shout. It's Nanako cosplaying as her big bro! <3
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump is like Gandalf the White vs. Handsome Jack.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Skellige is so cool! It's like the land of Valhalla Rising.
Shinta avatarShinta
God damn, Bernie Sanders is just killing it with this speech. Hitting basically every point. He even used the word "oligarchy." Probably the first time I've ever heard that word uttered on CNN. I think a lot of people in power are shitting their pants
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
In my haste to finally factory reset my tablet, I erased a blog I had worked on. Thankfully, it's fresh in my mind. It's another MGS blog, but it goes the opposite way of my last MGS blog. Pray this guy is not your husbando, for he is shit.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Just ate a disgusting amount of sugary wonders in a Fat Tuesday blowout. Chocolate (birthday) cake, Oreos, brownies, cookie dough, and some creme brule thing. Satiation by way of eat-'til-you-puke is what Shenanigans says!
LaTerry avatarLaTerry
Is there any real difference between the PS3 and the PS4 versions of Valkyria Chronicles?
Shinta avatarShinta
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Say whaaaaaat?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -