While many game projects have managed to see the light of day despite many development issues, one that still lingers in developmental hell is Dead Island 2. The game, announced over six years ago, was initially slated to arrive on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, on the heels of the successful original game.
With that, what happened? Well, the answer isn’t quite as clear-cut as you think, mainly due to the shift in the game’s development. Now the real question is what’s next – and if Deep Silver and THQ could announce its return.
With Techland stepping aside to work on Dying Light for Warner Bros., a new company called Yager Development came to the plate with a pitch for Dead Island 2. And Deep Silver accepted the pitch, leading to the game’s announcement during the E3 2014 Sony briefing. A lot of people got excited for the sequel confirmation, especially with its lighter sense in tone over the original game.
By the game Gamescom 2014 rolled around, first gameplay footage from the sequel became available, wowing the public and introducing four new characters and locations around the California area, particularly Santa Monica and Hollywood-style locations. The game also introduced eight players in co-op, making zombie killing more fun with friends.
However, trouble surfaced in July 2015, when Yager stepped away from development of the game because it couldn’t quite see eye-to-eye with Deep Silver on its vision. It would file for insolvency later in the month, leading Sumo Digital (the developers behind the Sonic racing games) to step in a few months later.
Following the takeover by Sumo Digital, news on Dead Island 2 got somewhat quiet. The game wasn’t featured at any events; and THQ Nordic didn’t really have anything to say about its development. It only mentioned it a few times, first in August 2017 and then July 2018, stating it was still on the way.
But then another shake-up took place. In August 2019, the publisher confirmed that Dambuster Studios, the team behind the Homefront: The Revolution game, would be developing the title. It didn’t state what happened with Sumo Digital, or why development shifted hands, but that indicated the project was still alive and well. However, the publisher hasn’t said a word since then.
But something interesting did come up last year. In June 2020, a playable version of the original 2015 demo came around, with those able to play it and see what Yager was working on at the time. The ROM is still making the rounds, though obviously THQ Nordic didn’t authorize it.
The Next Step?
So…what now? Will Dead Island 2 still manage to surface at some point? There is a possibility there.
The reason for this is because, now that the game is under THQ Nordic’s label – and still has a reasonable fan base behind it – the publisher may be looking to re-announce it, possibly as soon as next month’s all-digital E3 event. Reintroducing it as a next-generation title – for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X – could give it just the boost it needs, especially against competitive fare like WB’s own Back 4 Blood and Techland’s oft-delayed Dying Light 2. Not to mention that its light tone – which is likely to remain intact – will really provide a treat for fans of the genre.
That’s not a guarantee, mind you, but it has been a while since we’ve gotten a look at what’s under THQ Nordic’s slate, and E3 seems like the ideal place to reveal what’s coming from them.
We’ll see what unfolds in the months ahead. In the meantime, relive the glorious Dead Island 2 trailer below and enjoy!
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