Dead Island Riptide adds base defence
There's no escape from Banoi island - now with boats, weather and bases
Dead Island ends with its survivors fleeing a tropical island resort in a helicopter, much like Jurassic Park but with its titular atoll abandoned to the zombie horde rather than a bunch of crafty velociraptors. The escape doesn't take however, and the beleaguered band is swept back to Banoi by a huge storm. So begins the sequel, Dead Island Riptide.
Back to Banoi
The storm has flooded the island, so this time you'll be wading through waterlogged scenery and chunks of zombie with the four returning characters (you can import your characters from the first game) and one mysterious new survivor. You'll find boats for navigating the soggy environments, new base defence missions, and a dynamic weather system that brings Banoi's monsoon season to life.
The original Dead Island, released in 2011, was shambolic co-op fun: a wobbly surprise hit with lots of room for improvement. One such improvement made for Dead Island Riptide, says producer Sebastian Reichert, is the addition of missions in which you fortify and defend a base.
"You were running and running and running [in Dead Island]," Reichert tells us. These new missions mix up the action, giving you a break from hoofing it away from the undead and letting you fend off waves of them instead.
We were shown a mission in which the survivors hole up in the ruins of an old church at the centre of a newly-formed lagoon. Corpses bob in the water around the ruins, and though the sequence starts out sunny the dynamic weather effects whip up a rainstorm as the sequence progresses.
New base defence missions
You fortify your position in a manner resembling Call of Duty's Zombies Mode, adding wire fence panels to vulnerable spots around the church. Zombies then bash away at your DIY barricade while you and your fellows bash away at them. If you aren't mowing down the undead fast enough, the church also includes a few spots where you can deploy a mounted Gatling gun for shredding the incoming horde.
In the period of preparation before an attack, you can plant mines and explosive gas canisters. The physics engine, Reichert points out, can be exploited to create more improvised defences. He lobs some rolls of wire fencing down the slope around the church to create trip hazards for unwary zombies to stumble on.
Hunkering down and defending a makeshift base is a zombie movie staple we're glad to see added to the Dead Island sequel; bases in the first game were no more than cosy quest hubs full of sobbing, bikini-clad survivors and the occasional workbench.
Hard-wearing weapons, more guns
Among the other improvements in Riptide, says Reichert, is a rejigged weapon durability system. You won't need to "keep your glass sword to the end" this time around, he tells us, referring to the alarming rate at which precious weapons degraded in the first game. We didn't try this newly durable zombie-hacking equipment for ourselves, but it sounds promising.
We are also promised more guns and better shooting. We weren't aching to put more bullets in more zombie brains, especially since Dead Island's bloody melee was much more fun than its gunplay. But it's good to hear your imported Purna, the supposed firearms expert, won't be inexplicably unable to fire a pistol as you start out, as in Dead Island.
There will be new special zombie types as well, Reichert says. During the church ruins demo we spotted a Grenadier - a ghoul who can toss grenades - who made an appearance alongside the returning Butcher, the special zombie with the long hair and bony dibber-arms.
Dead Island Riptide is out next year.