Kinda Sorta MOBA: Dead Island Epidemic Explained

By Alice O'Connor on June 27th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

But hey, that looks like a plain old action-RPG.

I had not particularly noted Dead Island: Epidemic‘s passage into Early Access. I’d seen enough games chasing the dream of League of Legends and Dota 2‘s success with only a few small new idea. And it had the temerity to coin its own cutesy genre name, Zombie Online Multiplayer Battle Arena! However, after watching a new gameplay trailer explain what it’s up to, I’m at the very least interested. Not enough to pay for the beta of a game that’ll be free-to-play at launch, mind.

While the majority of MOBAs (do I still need to explain this dreadful name?) seem to mostly duplicate LoL or Dota, Dead Island: Epidemic takes their ideas of per-match progression and slap them into something a bit more like Diablo III with a sizeable PvE side.

Epidemic’s controlled with WASD rather than RTS-y clicking, like an action-RPG (and yes, like Smite). It also has levelling up within each game, like a MOBA. Each class has has separate persistent levelling too, improving skills and unlocking new options and all that. Also persistent are the dozens of weapons that need to be unlocked and crafted, changing characters’ attacks with wacky things like beartrap gloves and poison-spraying water pistols. And Epidemic’s about straight-up murder rather than pushing lanes.

The PvE side includes co-op wave survival, while PvP is three-team PvPvE, about trying to collect more supplies than any other while dodging zombies. For a MOBA, that’s creative. I imagine I’ll give it a look when it launches, then probably stop after discovering how it’s monetised. So few MOBAs get that right.

(Gosh, that name! MOBA! Multiplayer Online Battle Arena! Doesn’t that also describe Call of Duty: Ghosts, StarCraft II, and almost any other multiplayer killing game? I’m fond of “Dote ‘em up” while Chris Thursten of PC Gamer swears by “wizard ‘em up.”)

Technically the Steam Early Access dealio is that your money goes on packs with items and XP and in-game cash for unlocks and all that F2P jazz, the cheapest of which is £8.70 in the sale. Alternatively, you can try your luck signing up for the beta.

Here’s that new explainy trailer, or for straight gameplay there’s oodles on YouTube. Say, surely some of y’all have played it? Go on, do tell.

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17 Comments »

  1. nekoneko says:

    Pff, if you want to play this, find anyone on Steam who has it already and ask for one of their 10 beta giveaways. They constantly show up in my inventory and I can’t get rid of them.

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      I went onto the trading forum, offered it for free, and within 5 minutes someone wanted it.

  2. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    Well a “Role Playing Game” is also very generic, but at least that has the excuse of coming from a time when it actually was a good descriptor.

    • AngoraFish says:

      …coming from a time when it actually involved some role playing, not scripted open world combat simulators that it typically refers to today.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Which time is that, exactly? 90% of electronic “RPGs” have always been about fighting monsters and leveling up while following a scripted storyline. They’re called RPGs because they lifted their mechanics from Dungeons & Dragons, not because any actual roleplaying is involved.

  3. Stevostin says:

    Review on Steam are very positive. And I mean reviews by ppl with 50h+ of playtime.
    I was totally uninterested but this looks actually pretty good.

  4. Malarious says:

    I’ve reached a point in Dota 2 where doing the things I need to do to win is mentally taxing. Checking minimap every 5 seconds. Checking the items and levels of everyone in the game every opportunity I have, and thinking of how to counter them, and keeping a running tally of the major ability cooldowns in my head (especially if I’m playing Invoker). It’s fun, and I enjoy it, but it’s exhausting. So when I tried Dead Island Epidemic I thought it’d be a good change of pace. I was right, actually. It’s certainly dumbed-down and simplified, even moreso than Infinite Crisis (though less so than Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm) but it’s still an enjoyable player versus player experience where I can just kind of turn my brain off and not worry so much about playing sub-optimally. It’s a good companion game to a real MOBA.

    • Kunstbanause says:

      Thats exactly how I feel about Dota2. Can’t wait to try out epidemic.

  5. Steven Hutton says:

    This game has a mind boggling amount of P2Win and Grind. It is probably the worst example I’ve ever seen.

  6. rusty5pork says:

    This game is made by Stunlock, who made Bloodline Champions. BC was my favorite MOBA ever, mostly because it had 5 minute matches and felt MUCH more action-oriented than your traditional MOBA. Then, unfortunately, Funcom killed it.

    Epidemic is not as good as BC, but I’m still enjoying it.

  7. aliksy says:

    I played two rounds of it, I think. I quit when I got to a fight against a big monster that did a huge attack every seconds, but the game only allowed me to ‘dodge’ every 10 seconds. That was not fun.

  8. puzzlepiece87 says:

    I am one of the people who loved Dead Island, but I’m not really an ARPG person, so this didn’t do it for me. If anyone’s wondering, there’s not any of the locations/exploration or melee combat that I found so satisfying from Dead Island. This is a pretty straightforward Diablo-style click em up, except without the emphasis on loot.

  9. lucky jim says:

    This game is actually really quite a pleasure, and I recommend everyone who likes competitive little games like this to give it a shot. It may have popped up with the MOBA-craze, but it’s not a clone at all. This comes from a good amount of experience playing scavenger (PvP). I have no idea what the Horde mode (PvE) is like.

    The idea is to get the most supplies, competing against two other teams, loaded into your truck. You can do this either through capturing points on the map to give you regular supply ‘ticks’, and/or you can also get a large amount of supplies dropping from boss monsters (looters and hoarders, hoarders being very mean versions of the tougher zombies types). Once you reach a certain amount of supplies (approx. 2/3 full) your home base can be raided if the enemy team can take out your turret, and steal supplies from your truck to bring back to their base.

    The dynamics between the fastest team to reach the supply area (you first have to run through a ‘beginner’ area and smash a barricade), what the other teams are doing (going for points, going for the looter at the beginning of the game, going for both?) as well as all the complications that can arise from the endgame really adds a very interesting level of gameplay to the mix. When you’re nearing endgame and one team is clearly in the lead, it is VERY possible for the remaining two teams to combine their efforts and come out ahead for the win, or for one team to benefit from the other two fighting if they’re not paying attention. You have to be very aware of who’s going for what and how well they’re doing.

    The game does already seem to suffer a bit from character and weapon level disparity. It’s just been nerfed in the last patch and I will be providing my feedback for them to narrow the gap even more with a few changes. It’s not necessarily a pay-to-win mechanic in itself, as you can get blueprints for powerful weapons just from loot drops that you receive at the end of the game, but there’s a very clear difference between higher-level ‘rare’ weapons and lower level weapons that can make people feel useless when getting matched up against other players who are fully kitted out.

    That being said, the game is still in closed beta, the last patch made some efforts to fix these things as well as reduce some overtly powerful items, so it’s improving.

  10. gamezglitchz says:

    GOOD VID Here is My Response
    Latest Patch Notes:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q7IHhTmWA8&index=2&list=PLeusrXH_hwpi5mvUTTCWW5YfxmuS88cLV
    GUIDE and TUTORIAL

  11. funtard says:

    I’ve got about 30 hours in it and here’s wot I think:

    The graphics and animations are all pretty good. The movement feels right and the skills feel like they have impact. Above all else the game is FUN but it’s not without problems most notably the really slow progression of your account level. It’s glacially slow and might eventually end up being enough to put me off. The monetisation is also similar to league of legends with new characters requiring a fairly high investment to pick up.

    Damn it’s fun though. get 3 friends and queue for scavenger mode. It’s pretty imbalanced and chaotic but yea… fun.

  12. joshmouch says:

    I’m a DOTA player, and I agree that this game is nice when you need to give your brain a break. However, while this game is fun, there definitely is too much pay-to-win and/or grinding.

  13. 1tshammert1me says:

    I’ve had this discussion before. IMO Call of Duty: Ghosts (or any COD) & Starcraft are not MOBA’s as they aren’t strictly multiplayer. COD has singleplayer as does Starcraft an important distinction.

    In a MOBA their isn’t any storyline or campaign to complete it’s just that, a battle arena.
    “Dote ‘em up” “wizard ‘em up.” are both terrible names, they do not describe the gameplay whatsoever.