Dead Island will be released next week and I recently took part in a pre-launch roundtable discussion with Vincent Kummer, Brand Manager at Deep Silver. During our chat, I asked about the game’s RPG elements, features that didn’t make the cut, and the killing of zombie children.

Dead Island is a melee-heavy FPS that puts you in the middle of a zombie outbreak on a remote island. You pick between one of four characters, each with their own unique backstory and skills. The game also contains RPG elements, such as a leveling up system and character skill customizations.

My goal was to be able to give readers a better sense of what to expect from the game. I've seen most of the gameplay videos and I still had questions regarding how extensive RPG elements were, the differences between classes, and combat. Thankfully, we had a great chat with Vincent, and he was more than willing to answer any questions we threw his way. For those that may be on the fence about picking this up, this should give you a better idea of the final product.

Weapons and Combat- As noted above, Dead Island is a melee-heavy FPS. In keeping with the sense of realism they want you to have, your main weapons are more likely to be bats and pipes over guns.

-The zombie damage system allows you to dismember zombies. For example, if you remove the legs of a zombie, they will continue to crawl toward you.

-Unfortunately, while you will be killing plenty of zombies in the game, it has been confirmed that there will be no zombie children.

-Not all zombies require a shot or hit to the head to kill them. There are certain types of zombies that require special attacks or hits. For example, one particular type of zombie requires you to hit them in the back.

-The strongest weapons found in the game are guns and grenades, but they will be rare to find and their usage is limited. You’ll be hitting the zombies more than you'll be shooting them.

-While they are going for a more realistic take on zombies, Vincent also notes that they still kept a balance between realistic and entertaining. This is one of the reasons why you are allowed to craft unique/unusual weapons in the game.

Characters- We've known that there are 4 unique characters to choose from and that each is a separate class with unique abilities. What wasn't clear to me earlier, was whether or not the choice of character changed the final outcome of the game.

-One unique skill mentioned was a boomerang ability. When throwing a weapon at a zombie, this ability gives you a chance of the weapon bouncing back and returning to your hand.

-They decided to go with pre-made characters versus a unique character customization feature, because they wanted to tell a specific story and put you in the role of a specific survivor on the island. Vincent stressed that telling a story throughout the game and keeping a sense of realism was important to the development team.

-In keeping with telling a specific story, the game features more of a linear story than an open ended story with multiple options. This includes a single ending path and the same game ending, regardless of which character you choose to play as.

RPG Elements- I really enjoy first person shooters, but RPG elements enhance the game experience for me. I knew that there was a leveling system and skills that you could upgrade, but I was curious about whether there was enough content to keep RPG fans happy. Thankfully, it looks like there are plenty of RPG elements that will be fun for both zombie fans and RP gamers.

-In terms of RPG style, Vincent says that Dead Island will be closer to Borderlands than Skyrim. There are plenty of RPG-related features, but it is not as extensive as you'll see in hardcore RPG's.

-With that being said, Vincent mentioned that the game is more structured and story-based than Borderlands, so don’t expect the exact same type of experience.

-The game world is not completely open from the start. There are some areas that are blocked off and there are other areas that you are not strong enough to get through until you level up.

-The average gamer will get through the game in 25-30 hours if they play the main game and complete some side quests. Those that complete all quests and go after all achievements could spend up to 50 hours before they complete the game.

-There is a level cap in place and it is set at 50. There was no word as to whether or not the cap would be raised in the future, but if they follow what other developers have done, the cap could be raised with DLC purchases. From the sound of it, the average player won't hit the level cap. More experienced players, who dedicate more time to the game, can reach it.

-A fast travel system is in place to cut down on excessive walking from location to location.

-There are RPG-like battle calculation systems running in the background, such as critical hit percentages.

-There are no timed quests in the game similar to Dead Rising. You’ll be able to revisit quests you have not completed and are not penalized if you take your time to complete them.

-Zombies will have random weapon drops when killed.

Development Changes- With a game as big as Dead Island, some features obviously ended up on the cutting room floor. Here’s some information on what didn’t make it into the game:

-They wanted to include more vehicles in the game, but were unable to. Vincent mentioned that they wanted to add multiple vehicle types, including boats.

-At the start of development, they had 10 characters to choose from, but cut it down to 4 for time/quality reasons. One example of a character that was removed was a Sushi Chef.

-Unique outcomes depending on your character interaction is something that did not make it into this game, but was considered. Specifics weren't provided, but discussion reminded me of the way that companions were handled in Mass Effect 2. Maybe this is something that we'd see in a sequel.

-A feature that was considered, but did not make it into the game was the ability to swim and go over to other islands.


I'd like to thank Vincent and Aubrey at Deep Silver for taking the time out to talk with me and inviting Daily Dead to the roundtable chat. After learning more about Dead Island, I'm really excited to play this game. RPG elements really make or break a game for me, but it seems like there will be plenty to do in this game and that this isn't a game that will be finished in a day. We'll be getting our hands on the game soon and will have impressions and a review posted to the site once we've finished the game.

Dead Island will be available for the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 on September 6th in North America and everywhere else on September 9th.