"Unfortunately for Deep Silver, they should probably just stick to copying Borderlands instead of League of Legends."
For those of you unaware, there's a new Dead Island game in the works, but it's not an FPS this time around. Deep Silver has decided to throw their hat in the MOBA pile. Unfortunately for them, they should probably just stick to copying Borderlands instead of League of Legends because I can't see this game working out too well for them in such an over-saturated market. The game looks awesome but brings nothing new to the table. I want to get a few things out of the way right here. One: I love the Dead Island franchise. I'm a diehard zombie fan, so games where you get to wreck the undead are my bread and butter. Two: I am not a competitive online gamer. I am willing to accept the fact that I don't have the proper mindset for MOBAs, or that I don't have the honed reflexes, or that there are a lot more people out there with a lot less to do than myself * who have mastered the game, even in its beta stages, that I will never even hope to achieve. Bearing those things in mind, I'd like everyone reading to understand that the following comes with a very heavy “Your Mileage May Vary” sticker on it.
"In terms of staying faithful to things that the Dead Island franchise has put on the table before, this game is great – there are workbenches to repair weapons, there are a bunch of characters with unique skill trees to choose from, and then the matchmaking menu."
One thing I'll definitely give the developers credit for is that for everyone who got into the beta, they gave you six gift copies of the game to farm out to your friends, so that you could have a party together and go learn the game together. I spent one day playing with random gamers and one day with my friends and I can definitely say this is a game where you need to be able to communicate with each other. There is in-game text chat, but as anyone who plays hectic online games will tell you, no one has the time to type out what they need to tell you while simultaneously slaying zombies. Friends don't let friends play online competitive games without headsets, people. The game gives you a quick demo of how to play (which feels a lot like Diablo to be honest), and then you get to the menu screen where you can check out what characters and items you have unlocked and so on. In terms of staying faithful to things that the Dead Island franchise has put on the table before, this game is great – there are workbenches to repair weapons, there are a bunch of characters with unique skill trees to choose from, and then the matchmaking menu.
"That being said, having three different versions of the four 'main' characters seems a little lazy for a game that has no story attached to it."
Currently, there are only two modes – one which pits players against waves of zombies at different capture points, concluded by a big boss, and one where the players are playing against other players as well as zombies to collect the most supplies. The former plays like...well, like Diablo, to be quite honest – like a Diablo with nowhere near the dedication to story or the customization options. The latter is probably more what most DOTA/LOL players are used to, defending points while capturing things. Character-wise, there are a few core characters that have basic, armored and mutant versions, as well as a few other characters, and they all do different things. The character balance seems like the developers put some thought into it, at least – small things, like making sure that tank characters have AOE heals, things like that. That being said, having three different versions of the four “main” characters seems a little lazy for a game that has no story attached to it – if there were an in-game reason to care about different flavors of the different characters, that could be excusable, but without that it just feels like an artificially inflated roster. All characters can have two weapons – a melee and a ranged, and they're all those charming kludged weapons that have become a hallmark both of the franchise as well as zombie survival games since Dead Rising. There are special abilities unique to each character, which unless this is a beta-specific thing, seem to be unlocked via killing zombies within a given map, which is particularly damaging in the PvP maps, since you have to balance your time between slaughtering undead to get your skills and punching players to win.
"Personally, I think the developers would have been better served to make a Diablo clone, since they have something which is almost just that."
The game can be fun, challenging and it feels good when you've got a team together dominating multiplayer. The boss battles are brutal, and you definitely feel like you've accomplished something when you get through them. But in an Internet where you have people playing League of Legends competitively and DOTA 2 in their spare time, does the world need another one of these? One that isn't terribly inventive or clever. It looks and sounds great, sure, and it plays decently, but dragging people away from their other games they've taken the time to get good at to play another one from a franchise that isn't known for this type of game isn't something I really see happening. Personally, I think the developers would have been better served to make a Diablo clone, since they have something which is almost just that. But as it stands, all Deep Silver has left me with is a hopeful but limp “meh.”
* EDIT: My line about people having more time than I do was in no way meant to be taken as insulting - I was trying to get across that this game, as with many MOBAs, requires time to master, and since I got into this beta relatively late and only had a few days to get a feel for it, the people who had been doing it longer were clearly better at it. Unfortunately, that came across as "Hah, look at these chumps who spend all their time playing games. Such nerds!"
Preview by: Adam Seats | Previewed on: PC