Out of the fire and into... another fire.
The survivors of the first Dead Island game may think they have escaped the horrors of Banoi island scot-free, but their ship wrecks onto another island, where—you guessed it—they get to experience the terror of the infection all over again.
I was treated to a 20-minute hands-on demo where I teamed up with three other survivors for co-op survival through the campaign. I have not played the first Dead Island game, so I honestly did not know what to expect in terms of gameplay. It features melee-focused combat, but the point of view is in first-person, something I found very awkward getting used to. In fact, I'm not sure I really got used to it, especially since the time I had with it was so short. Even though there is an aiming reticule on screen, not unlike what you would see in a first-person shooter, I found using it to line up my knife-slashing attacks clumsy at best. About halfway through my demo, I started to wish that I had selected the character who was the expert in firearms instead.
We started really early in the game, which I expect to be somewhat slow, but it never once felt like the action picked up beyond spurts. After we were acclimated to our new hell, we had to put up barriers to keep infected out, and then of course they attacked. Then we had a brief respite before we had to put up new barriers for the next wave. Not long after, we decided to blow up the bridge they were coming in on, which of course meant more infected were attacking. Regroup, talk, attack. Regroup, talk, attack. It felt more like I was playing a few rounds of horde mode on Gears of War than a campaign, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all.
In addition to the melee combat, the game features some RPG-like elements, including weapon upgrades and skill trees for your character. Each time your character levels up, you get a skill point to spend at a rather large skill tree for combat, physical, or survival skills. It's not as complex as you might see in a traditional RPG by any means, but it was still larger than I expected for an action game.
Dead Island: Riptide releases April 23, 2013 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.