Dead Island Epidemic – Zombies invade MOBA
Dead Island Epidemic was a pleasant surprise: in fact, Deep Silver has finally showed its new game, allowing the press to experience this unusual chapter of the zombie series. We can call Epidemic “atypical” because, unlike the previous Dead Island titles, Epidemic is a completely different kind of game, obviously born from the huge success of MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2. Epidemic is a multiplayer affair in which multiple opponents cooperate and compete in large arenas, just like in the two games mentioned before. All this, of course, is set in the universe of Dead Island, which marks a significant difference to your usual MOBA game. The project will be free-to-play and the development has been entrusted to a Swedish team, Stunlock Studios, also known for the acclaimed Bloodline Champions.
I was the first to arrive in the room and I had the chance to talk for a few minutes with the Swedish guys, who briefly explained the premise of Dead Island Epidemic and the mechanics of what they call PvPvPvE. Twelve players are in fact divided into three teams, each representing a faction that tries in every way possible to survive and recover money: each team plays against the other two human teams and the NPC zombie horde, which is the main twist on the formula. The game takes place chronologically after the events of Dead Island, when the virus has now turned into a real epidemic, so human players will have to deal with hordes of zombies with the only goal to devour them. In our short session, the aim was to maintain control on certain outposts scattered around the map, hold out long enough to collect all the supplies and return them to the enemy base, which reminded me of the classic Capture the Flag mode.
Much of the time you will need to work with your team to eliminate the zombies that gradually emerge either from the ground (obviously) or from vegetation, but sooner or later you’ll meet players of other teams. The clashes between factions usually gather in the middle of the map, and at this point anything can happen: while two teams are committed to fight each other, the third one might take the opportunity to prey on another area of the map and take the lead, not to mention that zombies could jump into the fray and make these battles even more chaotic.
But in Epidemic, players of opposing teams might in some cases even work together. Specifically, they might want to bury the hatchet for a while in order to eliminate a powerful zombie boss who, when knocked out, drops a huge number of useful resources to the various teams. In these situations there may be space for a strategic approach: two teams clearly at a disadvantage might decide to form an alliance, take out the third team that is currently winning and divide the rich spoils after clearing a boss. The arena we tried it seemed fairly small, probably to avoid players never even crossing each other; of course, to understand the quality of the maps designed by Stunlock Studios we’ll have to wait for the first public beta.
Compared to other MOBA, this new Dead Island is clearly faster-paced and more action oriented, thanks to controls that resemble those of the typical top-down shooter. There will be many playable classes , each one with unique abilities, characteristics and weapons. The idea is that the epidemic has somehow infused the various characters with a number of different powers and abilities both offensive and defensive; however, as usual in the Dead Island series, the weapons will play an important role in Epidemic, allowing the player to choose between various improvised instruments and use the one that is best suited to your fighting style. The version we tested was offering six different characters, but the developers have stated that the number is not yet final.
I can’t wait to learn more about Dead Island Epidemic. I’m not a huge MOBA fan but regardless, my interest spiked when playing.