Dead Island 2 is going to steer clear of the classic RPG progression trope of skill trees, according to the developers. The long-awaited first-person zombie slayer may rhyme with its competition in more ways than one, but it does seem that the development team working on the game, Dambuster, is looking to re-invent certain aspects of its niche.
Slated to launch late in April, Dead Island 2 has had a long, storied, and fairly troublesome development cycle. In fact, the game's been in production for so long that the original Dead Island received a spiritual successor in Dying Light, which then received its own sequel a whopping seven years later. Naturally, it's worth remembering that Dambuster had to start Dead Island 2's production anew after getting control of the project some four years back.
Though Dead Island 2 recently got pushed back by a few weeks, the developers seem to be eager to hand the game off to players at last. In a recent interview with Game Informer, Lead Narrative Designer Khan and Creative Director James Worrall answered over 80 rapid-fire questions in a fairly entertaining fashion. One of the most notable questions, however, pertained to player progression, and here Khan and Worrall chimed in on the so-called Skill Deck. A substitute for regular RPG skill trees in Dead Island 2, the Skill Deck will allow players to quickly and easily switch their characters' skills in a sleek UI.
Since each of Dead Island 2's character classes comes with its own suite of abilities and skills to choose from, Dambuster has settled on using the Skill Deck to communicate the system's flexibility to the player. As Khan explained, one could jump into the air with one set of abilities, open the Deck, and then switch over to something else entirely before they hit the ground. "You can take some real risks with your loadout," said Worrall. "It sometimes pays off, it sometimes goes horribly wrong."
There's a lot of Dead Island 2 gameplay available for viewing already. Instead of deploying yet another grimdark post-apocalyptic zombie FPS, Dambuster has decided to lean heavily into the IP's tongue-in-cheek nature. Players should expect an over-the-top experience, then, and if the characters' shown abilities are anything to go by, the Skill Deck should tie the experience together in a very satisfying way.
Dead Island 2's combat could be worth all the waiting that fans of the original have been subjected to, then. There's supposed to be a whole heap of combat features that players could choose to spec their characters for. Instead of punishing build mistakes, however, the game seems far more likely to reward ample experimentation instead, which is certainly the preferred approach for a game as wacky as this.
Dead Island 2 launches on April 28 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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