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.