Dead Island 2 studio Dambuster thinks the original developers took "a too complex approach" when creating the sequel.
The road to release has been tremendously bumpy for Dead Island 2. Unveiled all the way back in 2014, the game's initial developer Yager was replaced by Sumo Digital in 2016 before yet another developer, Dambuster, took over the project in 2019 and finally managed to get the troubled title onto store shelves last month.
In a new video by IGN titled How Dead Island 2 Was Brought Back From the Dead, Dambuster reveals why it started from scratch with the sequel rather than building upon the previous developers' work.
As creative director James Worrall explains, this decision wasn't so much down to the content or the tone of previous iterations but more due to the team's desire to go back to basics and focus on what Dead Island does best; bloody, disgusting zombie-slaying action. "A lot of it was perhaps, they took a too complex approach," Worrall says.
He continues, "I think a problem that's facing games, in general, is just blossoming complexity, and it comes back to bite the studio when they're trying to get that game out the door. And so, early on, we just decided, 'Right, no, just going to be people versus zombies, and we've got a gore engine going to make the combat really really visceral and tactile and in your face.'"
Among the most notable changes Dambuster brought about was a scaling back of the size of the game; originally, Dead Island 2 was going to take place across various locations in California instead of just LA. It was also supposed to feature co-op for up to eight players, and the final version reduced this number to three.
The developer's decision to focus on fun above all else seems to have paid off, as the game has received a generally warm reception from fans and critics. In our Dead Island 2 review, we described the game as "Zombie hacking at its purest," adding, "Dead Island 2 takes some simple ideas and works them to perfection in a well-made and fun game. It's a one-note thrill, but does well to make that note absolutely sing."
Here's how Dead Island 2 subverts its genre to make horror fun again.