Despite dropping an announcement trailer a full eight years ago, the sequel to the original Dead Island still hasn’t washed up on our shores.
There was a time when it seemed as though Koch Media’s Dead Island games were going to take their place at the pinnacle of the emerging zombie genre. The 2010s saw an explosion in titles featuring the undead, from Dying Light to Days Gone, with many mainstream titles also introducing zombie modes to cash in on the emergent trend. Call of Duty was one of the first adopters when it spawned its celebrated Zombie Mode as an Easter egg for World at War, while Red Dead Redemption traded outlaws for flesher-eaters in the excellent spin-off DLC, Undead Nightmare.
The first Dead Island caused a considerable stir online in 2011 with its reverse chronological trailer, a teaser so popular it now boasts its own Wikipedia entry and has been parodied and revamped ever since. While the game itself may have been a slight letdown from the promise the trailer inspired, it still did well enough to prompt the development of a sequel, the trailer for which dropped in 2016. Eight years later, however, Dead Island 2 has yet to materialize, leading many to wonder what on earth is going on with one of gaming’s most infamously delayed properties.
The good news is that publisher Deep Silver hasn’t abandoned a sequel to the original Dead Island, with the next installment still slated for release some time in 2023. In February of this year, during a presentation at Embracer, the company that owns Deep Silver and recently acquired a host of other valuable studios, it was cryptically teased by Embracer SEO Lars Wingefors that there were still plans for a release at the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. While nothing was explicitly stated, the impression was that neither Embracer nor Deep Silver had given up hope on the project.
So why have things taken so long to materialize? The main reason seems to be that although Deep Silver has been keen on a sequel, retaining any consistency with regard to the proposed title’s developers has been a trickier task. Dead Island 2 was originally going to be made by Yager, the same team that gave the world the exceptional and harrowing Spec Ops: The Line back in 2012, but creative differences forced the publishers and developers apart. In 2016, Sumo Digital took over developmental duties, only for the British studio to also abandon the project two or three years later. Even since then, Deep Silver has entrusted development to Dambuster, one of its internal studios, to oversee production and design.
All of this chaos has led to a game that has become stuck in development hell, a cycle that fans and even other companies have been quick to ridicule. Just recently, Coffee Stain Studios released a trailer for Goat Simulator 3 (despite not having ever released Goat Simulator 2) which parodied frame-for-frame the teaser for Deep Silver’s still-pending zombie adventure, replacing hordes of the undead with marauding bands of out-of-control goats.
What we do know is that Dead Island 2 has been, rather appropriately, neither alive nor dead, existing in a state of purgatory from which it finally seems it may escape. We know that the game takes place in open-world versions of LA and San Francisco and that the game will feature updated combat and crafting mechanics. Whatever form it takes and however novel these mechanics are, Deep Silver will be hoping that, after having promised a new installment for so long and burned so many bridges, the extended wait for the zombie follow-up ends up being worth the delay.
Harry Alexander is a writer from London specializing in gaming and TV. If he’s not currently out trying to pet strangers’ dogs, he can be found watching reruns of Fawlty Towers and playing Age of Empires II. This is his Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarryAl55.