Dead Island 2 will have cards instead of a skill tree

Zombie slayer Amy chews bubble gum while holding a blood-soaked weapon
(Image credit: Deep Silver)

It's wild to think that Dead Island 2 may only be a few months away. A sequel to the 2011 holiday in someone else's misery was first announced in 2014 with Yager at the helm, then in 2016 it was announced that Sumo Digital had taken over, and now Dambuster Studios will be bringing it over the finish line, having started development from scratch four years ago.

In a recent quickfire interview with Game Informer (via the NME), Dambuster's lead narrative designer Khan and creative director James Worrall answered 86 questions about Dead Island 2, covering its Los Angeles location, attention-grabbing trailer, and how the skill system will work, among other things.

The original Dead Island had skill trees for each character, with three branches covering Combat, Survival, and Fury abilities. Asked if the sequel would also have a skill tree, Khan replied, "There's a skill deck, which is even better."

Expanding on that, Worrall described the skill deck as, "A collection of slots that represent all kinds of different abilities and you swap the cards in and out on the fly, however you want, whenever you want." Don't expect something like Midnight Suns then, where you're randomly dealt cards from your deck of abilities, but rather a card-like visualization for a set of special kicks, punches, ground slams and so on that you swap between when, say, a boss turns out to be immune to the one kind of attack you've specialized in.

Khan chose the cards as her pick for one of the most exciting additions to Dead Island 2, saying, "The art is amazing, they're fun to look at and all of that, but they're just really fun to play with. [You can] change skills midair. You can take off, change your skill, and land with a different loadout, and that's just amazing."

"And you can take some real risks with your loadout as well," Worrall added. "It really pays off and sometimes goes horribly wrong."

Sam Greer played a demo of Dead Island 2 last year, and enjoyed the precision of its combat, which is all about simulating where you aim and what happens to the exact lump of zombie you hit. "All that is thanks to a system for rendering zombie bodies called F.L.E.S.H.," she wrote, "or Fully Locational Evisceration System for Humanoids. It took a decade to create the perfect acronym but by god, they've done it. What it means is that much like the recent Resident Evil Remakes, zombies have an absolutely disgusting level of detail as you hack or shoot at them. It's gross and grimy, the kind of excess that makes you feel like you need a shower after playing."

Dead Island 2 will, if all goes to plan, be available on the Epic Games Store from April 28. 

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.