A fresh look at fighting walking corpses
The beaches of Los Angeles. San Francisco's pier. Hollywood Hills. None of these are actually islands, but they're some of the landmark locations of Yager's Dead Island 2. Publisher Deep Silver has handed the franchise to the developer of Spec Ops: The Line, and it appears that the series is in good hands.
You're playing as a zombie-immune survivor who heads into the quarantined state of California because killing the undead is fun, There you meet up with Max (and his cat, Rick Furry), a dude with a van who wants to lead a group of people to kill zombies just because it's cool. Tonally, Dead Island 2 is great--the attacks are huge, and the fact that the characters actually want to be there makes it unique in the genre. It means you're allowed to have fun without worrying about the implicit sadness of the zombie apocalypse. When you're running for your life, you don't usually have time to--say--kick a zombie, and then use a sledgehammer to send them flying through the air. Dead Island 2's move away from sadness to bad-assery is obvious.
Mechanically, it borrows a lot from its predecessors. You can craft cool items (anywhere, even without an upgrade station) and play with up to eight players online. There are some changes, though--you're able to dual-wield two items, and fire spreads in the grass realistically. It all works together to make a game with a better sense of what it's trying to be, and I'm hopeful that--come Spring 2015--we'll all be able to enjoy slaying the undead horde together.