Dambuster Studios is confident Los Angeles is a great location for Dead Island 2, even if it’s not an island
Publisher Deep Silver revealed Dead Island 2 in 2014 and Los Angeles as its main setting (with a teaser in the game’s logo that San Francisco could be in it too). Fans are excited about the sequel for a variety of reasons – the initial trailer was great – but the question that left many wondering: Why is Dead Island 2 set in a place that isn’t? an island?
I went to Nottingham, England to visit Dambuster Studios, and this was one of the first questions I asked. Unsurprisingly considering this is the team that’s been developing this game since 2018, lead narrative designer Khan has an in-depth answer.
Simply put, Los Angeles has become an island, metaphorically speaking.
Dead Island 2 begins on the final days of the LA evacuation after a zombie outbreak swept through the city. She said that some aspects of this evacuation were surprisingly effective, so the entire city was surprisingly well sealed off. The final decision from the authorities was that LA must be quarantined in order for the infection to take place and, hopefully, to die. The result of this quarantine is that no one can enter and no one can leave. As if completely surrounded by water with no boat or other way to escape, people (and zombies) in LA can’t escape the city. Although it’s not geographically an island, authorities cut LA off from the rest of the world.
That’s the lore explanation for why Los Angeles is the setting for a series of games about being stranded on an island with zombies. There’s also a practical reason that lies somewhere between the lines: Los Angeles is an iconic, marketable, and feature-rich location more than a resort island like Dead Island’s Banoi. I wouldn’t be surprised if Los Angeles was a simple setting because designing a zombie game in the city is so much fun. It was certainly the case if my conversation with Dambuster was any indication.
“Going from Banoi on a resort island to Los Angeles… the answer is… it’s super diverse,” design director Adam Duckett told me. “There is a lot of opportunity and potential, both in terms of the environment, as well as in terms of characters, personnel and the zombies themselves that we can bring into the game. There’s that vibrancy, the sunlit locations, the beaches, the strange castles of Bel-Air, etc. It’s a great environment for us to have that combat experience.”
Creative director James Worrall echoed Duckett’s views, saying LA is a great opportunity for big characters in terms of real places and people.
“Los Angeles has a rather eccentric or expressive type of culture and identity, and that identity is recognized around the world,” he said. “Whether you’ve been to LA or not, we’ve all seen it through the lens of Hollywood, and we thought that kind of Hollywood prism would be a great way to stay entertained while you run. around to punch the zombies.”
During my conversations with the team at Dambuster, the developers referred to the game’s setting as LA “postcard”. Los Angeles’ open-centric design takes players to iconic locations you might see on postcards at California airports: Bel-Air, Hollywood, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, etc. the game is set in pulp action horror, each of these postcard locations has been caricatured to some extent, which makes sense – locations need to fit the gore scene too levels of zombies and larger-than-life characters chose to stay in Hell-A.
“You have these two or three classes,” Worrall continued. “We have this fantasy version of LA that everyone has seen – the Hollywood lens. On top of that, we’ve stamped, the tragic remains of a failed evacuation attempt… and on top of that, we have your classic zombie apocalypse. But we took great care to enhance the vibe and color of the place. [Art director Adam Olsson] and his team did a great job in… glorifying this place. We’re not looking at a version of Fallujah or anything like that or a war zone. It’s still a great space, easy to navigate and relatable.”
Olsson says on the visual side of things, he and his team worked to build an almost mythical entity that LA has become a city, which further accentuates the noisy atmosphere. of Dead Island 2. Worrall said Dambuster’s inspiration for Dead Island 2’s atmosphere in LA dates back to the 80s, 90s and 00s, especially in the more horror realm, like Robocop, Nightmare on Elm Street, and the Alien and Predator series.
“I have real, very nostalgic memories of going to the movies in the afternoon, and you would be immersed in this world, and the credits would run, and you would step out into this sunshine. , and have this real feeling. that you just left a real spot behind,” Worrall commented when I asked him what he wanted players to feel when the Dead Island 2 credits rolled out. “And there’s a little bit of a sense of loss, but a little bit of, ‘Wow, I can’t wait for the next thing.'”
As for Olsson, he wants players to feel dazzled by all the colors and how everything in Dead Island 2 comes together.
“I want them to be like, ‘Why aren’t there more things that do this?’” he says. “Zombies are amazing. Really, what we want to do here is just have fun with the zombies because… we’ve had a lot of games in 10 or 20 years that have become popular, but a lot of games in that number is just a dark mirror erected to show the deepest depths of man. And I just want people to go out and think, ‘This is fun. Zombies are happy again.’”
Worrall, Olsson, Duckett and the team in Dambuster believe Los Angeles is the place to do it.