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  1. #1
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    Dead Island impressions?

    Well to be honest I downloaded it to cheat the late UK release date, so I've been playing it a few days now.

    After seeing the reviews I wasn't too hopeful, but I'm pleasantly surprised by how good it is. It doesn't have the polish of an AAA title so there are quite a few bugs here and there (a few of which are actual game-breakers, one is a game-ruiner, a savegame deletion bug specifically) but at the same time the game just kind of works. And the graphics aren't the greatest, but over the years I've become very good at ignoring graphical shortcomings (replaying the original Deus Ex a few times will do that).

    The combat is visceral, satisfying and challenging, far more so than similar games (Dead Rising for instance, the most comparable game, has zombies as little more than punching bags for your novelty toys). At times it's a little unfair though, both in terms of just sending an unfair number of those hard to deal with running zombies at you or just from the physics engine breaking and letting a zombie you just walloped around the head with a sledgehammer hit you anyway. Still, at least the game doesn't fall into the pitfall of being so easy it'd bore a 4 year old, that'd be the worse sin in my books.

    The characters could use some more differentiation too in my opinion, a 15% bonus to one weapon type or another really doesn't change much. Also the game doesn't do a whole lot to cater for your character; mission rewards will be just the same whether you're the gun, blunt or blade specialised character.

    In spite of all my moaning I really do like Dead Island, it's entertaining me in a way few games do anymore. Probably because it scratches both key itches; the one where I need to brutally murder anything in my way, and the one where I always need better shinier loot.

    So I figure quite a few of you out there now have Dead Island, what have your impressions been?

  2. #2
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    I've played about five hours, level 12, and it has only recently gotten tough (especially with the sending too many fast dudes at you trick (tip: go for the legs!)). I like it a lot. The game world is pretty, detailed, and well-realized. Sound is great (voice acting so-so, but sound effects, especially zombie sounds, are solid). The combat is good, which is crucial, since it's basically all you do. I wish it were more action and less RPG (i.e., comparing the numbers of different weapons), but it's fine, and upgrading and modding weapons is fun. I'm surprised by how much the quests interest me (so far, at least) -- the context of the island's desperate situation makes typical fetch quests more engaging.

    If John's combination model is accurate, then this would be "Borderlands+Far Cry 2" for me. +Zombies, of course.

    It's also worth noting that the game does not run in Steam offline mode. I know there are people who care about that sort of thing, and it hasn't been much-publicized.

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node Bobtree's Avatar
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    I've played around 25 hours (level 29), about 50% story progress, and I love it. I'll skip the bug-talk here and make some useful observations.

    Dead Island is really much closer in play-style to STALKER, though melee-focused, than to Borderlands or Fallout3. You have to think about what you're doing and play smartly. Act 1 (the Resort map) is a bit slow and easy. It does get much harder as you progress. The city map (Act 2) is brutally awesome. I can't wait to see Act 3.

    There are complaints about player movement and the time it takes to loot things, but these are important balance aspects. You can't dance with zombies with impunity, and nobody in multiplayer can sprint past combat to hoover up all the loot while others are fighting. The pacing overall is great in these respects. Looting also becomes less necessary as you get access to more vendors.

    The level scaling works fine. You gain skill points and higher $ income, but it devalues your older weapons, and increases the range of levels that zombies and weapons spawn at. Spending your money is important: don't hoard it, and don't hoard anything you don't need to carry that isn't essential or valuable. I carry a stack of grenades (molotovs/etc), a gun or two, 5 melee weapons (including 1 that's only for throwing), and a stack of the best medkits I can afford.

    The skill tree requires 3 points per row (except for the 1-point 1-ability rows) to unlock the next row in a category (fury, combat, survival). Use your Fury ability too, for eliminating special zombies or mowing down a big crowd or both (there's a big XP bonus if you can get the multiplier up during fury).

    The player-death respawn mechanic is good because it keeps you playing instead of quicksave/quickload creeping. You WILL die and pay the 10% cash penalty, so think about how to spend money and deploy your resources to mitigate the risks. Don't repeat your mistakes.

    Random co-op is not ideal, but if you can find some methodical team-play partners, it works very well. Don't accept a quest reward when your inventory is full, because it will drop on the ground and be lootable by anyone. Also try not to split up and proceed without taking your reward weapons, unless you are coordinating with friends to save time on easy side quests. Only the host can pick the active mission, so don't go activating side quests if you joined someone (if you've done them before, they disappear again when you load your own checkpoint later). The available lobby-list is dependent on where you are, so if you want to play with people at your level and continue the main story, go to the latest map area story-wise, then check it. If the host leaves, you should reload a checkpoint to get your own mission list back.

    Dead Island had a very messy launch. It has bugs, it has issues, it has annoyances. Despite all this, it's a great game.

    some useful info:
    known issues: http://forums.steampowered.com/forum....php?t=2101253
    keyboard movement stutter workaround: http://forums.steampowered.com/forum....php?t=2104767
    fix&modding info: http://forums.steampowered.com/forum....php?t=2106453

    The F key is locked into "hold to use", even if you bind use on something else. Putting use on E won't pickup-swap your weapons or accidentally pickup-use consumables, but also won't let you exit the City Hall machinegun.

    Having a full inventory screws up some interactions. Don't try to buy/trade/pickup stackables when your inventory is full (even if the stack is not). I also had an over-capacity inventory once.

    Partial quest progress is not saved, so don't do anything half-way before quitting.
    Last edited by Bobtree; 09-09-2011 at 06:11 PM.

  4. #4
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    I plan to download the modified files that let change the original Fov, and maybe the sprinting speed, and ammo count.

    It feels like one of these games where modders have fun, like Just Cause 2. I hope,but who knows?. With enough modding, where can end in a situation like GTAIV, where modders make amazing quality available on the game.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobtree View Post
    Partial quest progress is not saved, so don't do anything half-way before quitting.
    This is worth highlighting and repeating. I found this out the hard way. It's probably the most annoying thing about the game. Also, this is the first game I've played with a David Foster Wallace reference. That's worth a lot of points, in my book.

    Also! Set the gamma low, lower than it recommends. You want the interiors nice and and dark. Shame there's no day/night cycle.
    Last edited by Giaddon; 09-09-2011 at 06:29 PM.

  6. #6
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    Have only played a few hours so far but I really like it for many of the reasons which have already been mentioned; the STALKER/Borderlands/Far Cry 2 vibe, the great level design (which is more than you can say for most games with even a remotely open world-like element to them), really nice graphics and satisfying combat system. Probably the most pleasant surprise of the year so far. Even Deus Ex 3 not sucking was much less of a revelation than Techland actually pulling off an above-average game...

  7. #7
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    @Tei,

    I wouldn't fuck with the sprint speed. It only makes the game slightly less tedious, but totally ruins the terror of sprinting through a cluttered bungalow to get away from infected.

    FOV fix is a must, obviously.

  8. #8
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    The ammo count is extremely low, but at the same time it's enough. The guns are generally not amazingly effective except against particular (and rare) enemies. Floaters are extremely susceptible to electricity so I always shock mod my assault rifle for them and butchers (and indeed bosses) seem to quite dislike flaming shotgun to the face. And of course headshots are an instakill on any human enemy. The first two cases are uncommon enough not to tax your ammo supply and in the latter case the area will have plenty of ammo lying around.

    Above all else though, the guns are simply unsatisfying. Their modifications are limited and only acquired late game, and walking corpses aren't terribly bothered by tiny pieces of metal hitting them funnily enough.

    I finished my first playthrough a short while ago, playing as the gun specialist character. Suffice to say I was left feeling a shade disappointed by my weapons of choice, generally sticking to my melee weapons.

    Next up I'm going to try the blade specialised character. A bit fragile, but Jesus Christ I've seen the late game blade weapons, they're ridiculous. Throughout the game the difference between blade and blunt is small (blades have a bit more damage and use less stamine, blunts hit with more force and are more durable) but near the end it becomes astronomical, with weapons like the katana more than capable of slicing many zombies apart in one swing (and this was without decent bonuses to blades!).

  9. #9
    Activated Node Whitmore's Avatar
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    I'm liking the game a lot, although there are some things that really bug me; don't get me wrong, I love the game..

    The inventory is driving me up the wall. I pick up Alcohol, expecting it to go into my inventory as I already have some, and all my quickslots a refilled. It randomly replaces one, I don't notice and drink it by accident. Really annoying and no clue why that happens. I really wish it had more of a Deus Ex inventory system/inventory tetris as that'd make it more interesting and survivalistic in my opinion(Do you bring the booze and medkit or the extra weapon?)

    Not got far enough to try guns, but the melee system is really strong; cutting off a Thug zombie's Arms and then giggling as he trys to assault you is fun. Throwing them is relaly statisfying, too.

    Again, the Talent system is.. Eeeeh. It's good, but could've used more work in my opinion, but it's good for what it is. Visually, the game is great looking save for the draw distance.

  10. #10
    Obscure Node dhex's Avatar
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    so the overall verdict seems to be "very good, but kinda annoying"?

  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node Flint's Avatar
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    I wonder if there's going to be any mod support to this, sounds like the sort of game that could make great use of a healthy modding community.
    Give me steam and how you feel to make it real.

  12. #12
    Activated Node Whitmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhex View Post
    so the overall verdict seems to be "very good, but kinda annoying"?
    I'd agree with that. Most of the annoyances are just design choices/Consolisation stuffs. Overall, it's definently great fun in my opinion.

  13. #13
    Lesser Hivemind Node DigitalSignalX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whitmore View Post
    The inventory is driving me up the wall. I pick up Alcohol, expecting it to go into my inventory .. and drink it by accident. Really annoying
    THIS. I have died only twice so far *knock on wood* and it was due to spontaneously drinking booze when I was expecting to swing my weapon.

    Also the degredation is just super silly. A crowbar that becomes useless after 10 hits etc.. If you spend a lot of money on a blue or purple upgraded weapon, you end up going broke keeping just that one weapon repaired after a couple dozen kills - even with the various bonus to degradation talents.

    I really have been enjoying this game so far (about 10 hours) but I may end up waiting for a patch/single player mod to those two issues.

    Otherwise, the combat feels superb on my edged weapon chick and though it's a bit repetitive, the game is so beautiful that I don't mind so much.

    Oh, and every single woman on the island is wearing a skimpy 2 piece bikini while I roll around in heels and a skirt. riiiight.

    edit: also the respawn issue is pretty silly too. It's as bad as Far Cry 2. You enter a hut, come back outside and all the zeds you killed 90 seconds ago are right back again. So ya, I really want to like this game a lot more, but these couple of mechanics are really getting in the way.
    Last edited by DigitalSignalX; 11-09-2011 at 02:42 PM.

  14. #14
    Lesser Hivemind Node agentorange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giaddon View Post
    \Also, this is the first game I've played with a David Foster Wallace reference. That's worth a lot of points, in my book.
    I probably won't be playing the game for some time, but I am interested in that reference. And what context they could fit one into. Spoil it for me please?

  15. #15
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    Been playing it for a few hours now and I would describe the game as Borderlands with an emphasis on melee combat in a zombie apocalypse setting. Which is not at all a bad thing in my book. If that sounds good to you then get it.

    I'd also like to point out that the two major concerns about the game I had after reading the RPS review - the walk speed and auto-levelling of zombies - turned out to be unfounded.

    In the first instance I simply disagree with John, the walk speed is fine. As for auto-levelling, it sounds terrible but in practice it works well. This is certainly not Oblivion.

  16. #16
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    You should realize that there are skills that greatly improve the durability of weapons.

  17. #17
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    @agentorange:
    Sure -- some anonymous conspiracy theorist has scrawled graffiti on several walls in the game, theories which seem to revolve around John McCain. One of the big points in his web is that "D F Wallace" wrote an article about him, a reference to "Up, Simba," DFW's article about JMCN's 2000 presidential bid.

  18. #18
    Lesser Hivemind Node DigitalSignalX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayon View Post
    You should realize that there are skills that greatly improve the durability of weapons.
    For the blade char, there is the maintenance skill under the combat section, 3rd level is 30% durability which I already have maxed and frankly see very little difference. Under survival tree there is improved maintenance, which adds another 30% only to modified weapons. I haven't gotten high enough to unlock those yet, but at almost no impact at 30%.. I'm not optimistic about 60% being a huge improvement.

  19. #19
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    The durability of sharp weapons never gets particularly good, but workbenches become increasingly abundant and your arsenal will become supplemented with guns and grenades in better supply. This adds up to make maintaining a decent set of blades fairly easy (if still rather expensive, the blade specialist could sure have done with that ability for cheaper repair).

  20. #20
    Activated Node Item!'s Avatar
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    I have played for a few hours and...well I haven't felt inspired to go back to it since I put it down to go to work on Sunday.

    I like the concept and the exploration of the island...the zombies themselves are quite well realised and the focus on melee is refreshing and - when it works properly - visceral.

    That said;

    Voice acting is grating to the point of physical pain, the controls feel slightly drunken and unresponsive (though that may just be a side effect of coming from playing every other FPS of late where the protagonist moves like a human Ferrari on an ice-rink...) and some of the mechanics are just...stupid; i.e. the money/repair/upgrade system, the way the inventory works and the fact that a solid steel pipe breaks and becomes unusable after using it on a zombie head a few times.

    Add the fact that the actual melee combat feels generally inconsistant and innaccurate and I think we are left with something that I probably won't bother going back to until the the modders finish their work.

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