Dead Island is one of my favorite games that debuted in 2011 not only because of my undying love of the undead, but also because of how it shaped up as a new and innovative zombie game.  I thought Dead Island's open-world exploration, deep crafting system, and scavenging aspect led it to be one of the most realistic games featuring the zombie apocalypse. Left 4 Dead was too level based and Dead Rising never produced the fear you expect to find in an undead world.

After gaining inspiration from Jeff's "Building a Better Zombie Game" article, I decided I wanted to specifically write what could make a better Dead Island sequel.

Let's get rid of this.


Dead Island does a fantastic job of giving players a near-open world to explore. There are multiple environments to enjoy zombie slaying, such as a jungle, city and beach resort as well as closed-off environments like office buildings, super markets and sewers. These give players the feel of how each environment would operate under a zombie invasion.

However, during a zombie invasion, I'm not going to be prancing around the open streets and beaches of a tropical island. I want something more relatable, but not overdone. I don't want New York City right off the bat. You would never travel to an extremely populated city during a zombie invasion. I'd like to see the main character live in a suburban neighborhood like most. I'd like to see him maybe travel to a neighboring city in search of supplies. Maybe he just visits a local strip mall. Whatever the case, give me a more believable environment that most would experience.

This is what I'm talking about!

Making Your Own Fort

I'd like to see more scavenging than Dead Island provides. I'd like to break into my neighbors' homes, steal their canned goods and siphon their gas from their car. I think an exploration mechanism like Grand Theft Auto where I have to free roam the city in order to find supplies and survivors would make this a much more engaging game opposed to the almost completely open-world setting of Dead Island. I should also have to interact with a setting depending on the time of day. If night is fast approaching, I should have to find a safe store to make my bed and use the supplies I've gathered to protect myself (very much like Fortnite's concept). Eventually you'll learn which types of structures are good for surviving and the appropriate supplies you should collect throughout the day. If you tack on this survival mechanism along with missions, you'll have a best-selling game.

I'd like to see those bastards get me up here.


I enjoy ramming zombies with a decked out car as much as the next guy. I also don't mind walking the streets in order to get from one place to the next while slicing zombies with a chainsaw. But let's be honest, if I were trying to evade zombies in real life, I'd head for rooftop travel. I'd sidle along the edge of buildings where zombies can't climb. I'd organize a system for only traveling through the second stories or above of houses by caving in the stairs and making bridges across the gaps from planks and rope. I wouldn't survive one second alone walking the streets with a baseball bat. I want the new Dead Island to reflect this. Engineer a new system that is similar to Assassin's Creed or Infamous where I can utilize my surroundings more. I realize this might be the most difficult new concept for the developers to add, but I also believe it would be the most beneficial.

This should be a reality in zombie games. You got bit, deal with it.

The Zombie Factor

I whole-heartedly agree with Jeff's comment that "the zombies we fight in video games are essentially melee enemies with incredibly stupid AI." That being said, I'm tired of this BS where your character is somehow immune to the virus and can walk the streets unabashed. I want there to be a real fear of encountering a zombie. I want to snipe that thing from the rooftops with a spatula before I ever get close enough to whack it with a baseball bat armed with nails. If a zombie can't infect you, then you are simply playing a game with really dumb enemies. Let there be infection and a consequence for it. Maybe you lose all your weapons and attributes when you inject yourself with the vaccine. Maybe there is no vaccine and you lose your character completely for the next guy in the line-up. Either way, this a factor sorely neglected in zombie video games. If Dead Island wanted to use the same four-character lineup, then I suggest make each character available after a death sequence.

This should not be the number of zombie outbreaks when I start a game.

First Stop, Infection 

An interesting twist, but not one that I'm absolutely demanding (like the others) is a new time frame for the virus. Instead of the few opening cut scenes of Dead Island showing the virus out breaking and you running from it until you wake up in a cabana, how about being forced to face the infection as it is happening and bash down as many zombies as you can before you reach that cabana (or in my new setting, a house of some sort) conscious. With the day timer that I mentioned above, the zombie count could increase realistically before your eyes as you had to further prepare for the changes that were coming. Maybe that house was safe on day one, but now that it's a week in, you need to find a much safer local. This time frame could provide a new twist to Dead Island in order to keep it fresh.

I double tapped that sucker, he better stay down.

Killing All Zombies

As I played Dead Island, I was personally irked at all the zombies that would spawn at the exact same point even if I had killed them at an earlier time. I really like the Fallout mechanic of fallen enemies. In Fallout, if you kill an enemy, then they remain a corpse in the spot you slayed them and they remain that way. It became almost predictable what I was to expect from a certain area when I'd have to revisit it. I like the idea of making an area safer because you've already killed the SOBs. Maybe there could be zombies that wander in from the scent of blood or hear your combat, but I want to see the brains I splattered on the ground and have them stay there. This would give you the appearance that you are actually doing something to stop the invasion, and this was a concept sorely missed in Dead Island.

*in the same room.

The Most Important Addition- Friends

We know that everyone loves games where they can play online with some fellow gamers, especially to survive a zombie onslaught. Here's a cool thought: make that same multiplayer mode available locally. If I were to tell you that I'm going to brave the zombie apocalypse on my own because it is easier and more fun, I'd be both lying and dead. As a fan of games that allow me to tangibly be in the same room as my friends while playing, I believe local co-op and multiplayer mode is a necessity to this game. Don't forget the people who may not live in an area that supports Internet access. So, let's not alienate consumers by neglecting to let them survive the zombie apocalypse with their best buddies. After all, that's more realistic.

And in case you need a more succinct description of my many assertions for Dead Island 2, here is the short of it:

Setting: Change up the setting to a place where people normally live, like the suburbs. Not a tropical island or big city.

Make Your Own Fort: Add in the mechanic of time in the form of day and night and make the character have to find a place of safety during those times with the materials they collect.

Exploration: The streets and sewers are both too risky and overdone. Give me some rooftop travel and Assassin's Creed-like climbing mechanisms.

The Zombie Factor: You're facing zombies, not dumb melee AI. If you get bit, you're infected.

Killing All Zombies: Once you down the SOB, he's down. Don't have continuously re-spawning zombies after all my hard work.

The Most Important Addition- Friends: A locally cooperative mode is a must.


You know what you need to do, Techland. Get on it.