Dead Island 2 was many things a good year ago – seemingly in development hell, nearly forgotten and even labelled vaporware. It may seem harsh, but it was announced in 2014, less than a year after the PS4 and Xbox One, and went from YAGER to Sumo Digital before finally landing at Dambuster. Other games with more resources have fared far worse.
However, now it’s available – and pretty good, though it has some issues, selling over a million copies in just three days. It also finally continues the story that was interrupted years ago with the conclusion of Dead Island: Riptide. Right?
Dead Island 2 takes place a decade after the events of Riptide and is set in California, primarily in the ruins of Los Angeles. A mysterious zombie outbreak has occurred, leading to the state being quarantined. The main characters are the Slayers – not the band or the anime, but Bruno, Dani, Ryan, Amy, Carla and Jacob. They’re on an evacuation flight out of the city, but panic ensues when someone infected happens to be onboard.
As a result, the US army shoots the plane down to prevent the infection from escaping. While the Slayers survive, they’re bitten and infected by a zombie. After joining up with fellow survivor Emma, they retreat to her mansion and meet Sam B. from the previous games, who is immune to the virus. At this point, the Slayers also discover their immunity, though they seem a little off at times. Like they’re fighting against it or something.
Eventually, the group encounters Dr Reuben Reed of the CDC, and despite Sam’s warnings, they travel to Santa Monica to hopefully create a cure using the Slayers’ immunity.
The group also runs into Lola Konradt, part of another group of survivors similar to the Slayers. After “helping” them awaken Fury Mode, they get to Reed and learn that evacuation won’t happen unless the survivors can prove they’re immune. Thus begins the journey to recover Reed’s equipment, rescue his daughter Tisha, and so on.
However, after various twists and turns, it’s revealed that Reed isn’t all that innocent. He’s the one who caused the infected outbreak, dubbed the Autophage. Things get a little…out there from this point on.
Reed says the Autophage is part of the human DNA and will wipe out everyone. People like Konradt and the Slayers are considered “Numen,” beings who carry the Autophage while not turning into flesh-eating zombies. He started the outbreak to locate the Numen and find a way to stop the Autophage.
Horrifyingly enough, his daughter Tisha carries the cure since Reed injected her with Numen blood before she was born. Reed transforms into a Mutator (or a Reubanator, since his first name is Reuben. Seriously) because of the Autophage. The player fights and kills him, but Tisha flees amid the chaos.
As the player returns to Emma and Sam, the latter who’s falling to the Autophage, they use the single cure from Reed to help him. Everyone evacuates from Los Angeles while the player stays behind to find Tisha since she’s the source of the cure. As this happens, Konradt and her group are watching them from a distance, communicating with the player telepathically and teasing their future involvement.
After that, the Slayers do what they’ve always done – kill zombies.
So Dead Island 2 ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. It’s perhaps not all that surprising since there is post-game content, giving players a reason to stay in the game’s world and help those in need. However, Dambuster Studios already confirmed other content in the expansion pass. Konradt and her group could likely feature in those, though in what capacity remains unknown.
What is her greater design? If the Numen are considered the next step in humanity’s evolution (or something), what does Konradt have planned? If she wanted to leave Los Angeles and spread it further, she and her group could have taken the helicopter Emma and Sam left on. Instead, she chose to stay behind with her group and continue observing from a distance. Granted, that could still be her goal in the long run – she simply chose not to pursue it right now.
It’s also worth noting that Tisha was working with some hackers to look into the CDC. It’s possible that Reed wasn’t working alone – that there were others in the organization, if not in the higher echelons of the US government – who were involved in this experiment. After all, the latter seemed very organized in quarantining California and ensuring no one escaped. Perhaps it knew well in advance that the outbreak was coming. Then again, it did lose control of the state to a catastrophic degree, so maybe it underestimated just how deadly the “infection” was.
There’s also the much bigger implication of the Autophage and how it’s part of human beings. It’s insane, sure, but think about it in the bigger context. It means that a similar outbreak could occur in other cities. Reed spoke about starting the outbreak, so there may be some triggers.
If there is a higher power – perhaps the figures behind Reed – they may recreate the experiment in other cities to find more Numen. If not, and the Autophage activates for humanity all at once, other cities have also likely fallen.
Either way, it would make for a sequel that lets players come out swinging against the so-called undead. Throughout Dead Island 2’s story, it’s revealed that the Numen are connected to a hive mind, allowing them to communicate telepathically. It raises the question of what exactly the Autophage is.
Why is it hard coded into humanity’s DNA? How can the Numen suppress and harness it anyway, since Fury Mode is a byproduct of the same? It comes across as more of a mutation than an infection.
But why did the player lose control of their immunity at one point and attack Tisha? Why did Sam’s immunity suddenly falter? Are the Numen serving some higher purpose thanks to their mutation? Maybe that’s why Konradt chooses to watch the Slayers at the end instead of eliminating them. She wants to see what they do next, and whether they’re worthy of the “higher calling,” so to speak.
There is a further implication to all this that by staying in the city and fighting off the various hordes, the Slayers are further solidifying their status as “survival of the fittest.” Perhaps further honing their abilities and becoming stronger overall as Numen.
It’s hard to say, and there are plenty of unanswered questions. Based on the game’s success, the story that started in Dead Island 2 isn’t over by a long shot. While subsequent expansions could tell us more about Konradt and her allies, we may not get the bigger picture of the Autophage until future titles. New characters, and perhaps more returning ones from other Dead Island games (since Sam implied they’re alive at one point in the story), could also enter the picture.
Time will ultimately tell, but for those who relished all the zombie-slaying action, there should be even more to satiate their needs. Even if the story doesn’t appeal to you, there’s some promise of the Numen’s abilities evolving further and granting new powers to the Slayers over time. Who knows? There may even be new Apex Zombies to fight and larger cities to explore.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.
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