Just Cause 3 is a Bat-Shit Crazy, Next Generation Mercenaries That Never Was


Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (2005) and Mercenaries: World in Flames (2008), were one my favourite titles back on the original Xbox, developed by the now defunct Pandemic Studios. They were every gamers dream of having an open world title where they could do almost anything they wanted. After seeing Just Cause 3 in action at the start of Square Enix’s E3 Press Conference, I must say I am excited for it’s open world gameplay that lets you ride a god-damn missile falling from the sky.

The images below are screen-caps from the trailer as, unfortunately, I cannot find ANY press assets from E3 that showcase these crazy stunts.

In Mercenaries, the open world was the players playground and they could level any single building that they saw fit. Give or take the Just Cause franchise includes this feature, a decade ago on the original Xbox, this blew my mind. To see a game on the new generation of consoles feature such a vast open world for the player to explore where they can level buildings, use barrels as explosives by using the grapple hook and allowing them to hook enemies to buildings is just pure bliss.

From watching the trailer, you’ll instantly notice the similarities between both games and you’ll know why Just Cause 3 will be amazing. Driving tanks, soaring through the sky in your wing-suit, leveling buildings, blowing everything up it’s what I really wanted Mercenaries 3 to be, but unfortunately never was.

On the show room floor, Square Enix were holding public interactive presentations where they would showcase just how you can cause destruction in the game. Players can destroy buildings by using the grapple hooks to couple them together with exploding barrels, they can destroy statues again by using exploding barrels, or the statues own arm to slap itself and make it crumble.

Players are able to use helicopters to destroy bridges and make them tumble with cars still on there, unhinge large fuel containers to blow up petrol stations or tether cars to other cars, the possibilities are endless. Avalanche Studios have embraced the over the top nature of the franchise and it’ll make you and I enjoy the game all the more.

What you saw over the course of the 3 days is exactly what I saw and there wasn’t much else. You can’t sell the game to me any more because I’m already sold. I love an open world game where I can traverse the environment and do as I please. Standing on top of the plane you were just flying then just casually base jumping off it, only to spread your arms and activate your wing-suit to sore through the sky, will be on many players “To do” list.

Losing speed? Just use your grapple hook to hook onto the ground to pull yourself further and continue flying.

There are so many open world games coming out end of this year and early next, that they’ll need something special to make them stand out from each other. Just Cause 3 will have some really tough competition for crazy open world game, but I strongly feel that it does enough to set itself apart from the pack.

OXCGN’s Project Cars Review


Project Cars is the ultimate racing-simulator for the current generation. It’s racing expectations hit you in the face from the moment you ‘press start’. And it is definitely not a game for everyone.

From the very beginning Project Cars feels like it assumes players come from an automotive background and would know their way around its complex menu’s. The lack of explanation provided in some areas can offer a confusing experience. I’m afraid that many people may form their own opinion on Slightly Mad Studios game before they have even pulled the right trigger to accelerate.

Take Career mode for example, players are immediately given access to the entire range of career modes on offer, from Go-Karting to Formula One, the freedom here is greatly appreciated.

However, many players will be completely lost as to where they want to begin, because Project Cars’ menus can explain things very poorly. The career modes offer no explanation besides a small logo/graphic of the type of race they will be involved in, so hopefully you can decipher them.

Once you think you have it right and press that A button – you’re locked into that Career type. No back button to change your mind.

But the good news is that you can run multiple careers at the same time. The downside is you’ll need to fill out your driver profile details for every time you want to investigate a new career mode. This may get quite tiring if you’re a naive car gamer just looking to find a race with a Nissan GTR.

Did I say Nissan GTR? Sorry, it doesn’t exist in the world of Project Cars. Nor do many other popular brands that you would imagine would exist in racing games of today. No Lamborghini, no Ferrari, no Subaru and no Nissan are just examples off the top of my head.

I feel this is a huge deal breaker for any car enthusiasts wanting to race in a similar car that they own in real life.

One great piece of news for Australia is the Bathurst track is featured here, but don’t expect any Australian cars. I image the latter part just caused you to slide your Forza disc back into your disc tray. By the time you make it into your first race hopefully you’ve left all your Forza knowledge locked up outside. Forget it all. Project Cars is a true test of skill, and by far it is the most unforgiving and raw racing experiences on the current generation consoles so far.

Project Cars is like learning to play an instrument, it’s a frustrating test of willpower until one day when you just pick it up and it just works. Along the way you will get penalised for touching the grass, love tapping other cars and just general loss of control. The game offers an insane level of customisation for your driver preference. From its difficulty, to tuning your car, to even the location of everything on your heads up display. For those true racing-sim fans – paradise. But everyone else, I must ask, how long do you want to be in menu’s compared to actually driving the cars?

There is so much driver preference customisation you may feel disadvantaged by just wanting to come home from a long days work and have a few quick races before dinner.

Forgetting Career mode, I found a much more enjoyable experience simply using the quick race feature found from the home screen. Simply pick any car and any track and off you go. I felt this was a great way to experience all that the game offered and was a much quicker learning process than from career mode.

In the brief time I’ve spent in multiplayer a large portion was waiting for matchmaking to work. Finding a specific game type with a similar class of car was a test of patience.  After waiting for 10+ minutes I finally was placed in a match that was already in progress and lasted 30 seconds before ending.

After that test, I used the quick match option featured from the home screen. Which was not quick at all, but substantially shorter than the earlier 10 minute wait. The result was a race against a completely random collection cars and classes. Was it a race? not really, in fact it was more of a test of who could stay on the track for the longest.

Multiplayer is a testament to the difficulty of this game. Forget the battle to the podium simply trying to reach 1 lap with no major incident is hard, whether your fault or not someone will stack and crash into you. In fact in one match, I had a player stack their car right at the pit lane exit and every player crashed one after another.

If you’re the type of enthusiast who hears the title ‘Project Cars’ and thinks of Dad working on his rusty 69′ Camaro for years until it’s restored to glory. Think again. In fact there is really no vehicle customisation available in the game at all, the cars are all already at ‘race spec’. If that type of project is your thing then walk away right now.

Graphically the cars look fantastic and very realistic, the amount of different camera angles to choose from is appreciated and really suggests they have thought about exactly what this niche group of gamers would want. Slow the car’s down and look at the environments and perhaps they’re a bit blurry but who cares you’re supposed to be going fast!

TL;DR

Project Car’s is a raw racing-simulator experience. And expect just that. This game is for the niche that have been dying for a true  racing simulator. If you can overlook the lack of vehicle-customisation and lack of cars on offer there may be a home here to truly test your skills. If you have the patience and invest the time you will find a considerably strong racing-sim that I’m sure will grow stronger as the months go by.

Project Cars is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and coming soon to Wii U and PC.

Pros:

  • Ultra Realistic Racing
  • Realistic Physics
  • Graphics
  • Niche game many have been wanting

Cons:

  • Ultra Realistic Racing
  • Lack of cars to choose
  • Matchmaking needs improvement.

For the casual racing gamers:

6/10

For the racing simulator fans:

8.5/10

PS4 Drove 60% of Next Gen Value in Australia for 2014; Number 1 Selling Home Console


Sony Computer Entertainment Australia today confirmed that information released by NPD Group Australia details that the Playstation 4 held the market leadership position in the total interactive entertainment category in 2014. This is based on data from January-December 2014 including sale value from software, hardware and peripherals.

Out of the three main consoles currently on the market, the Playstation 4 holds a 60% market value share, which is quite a significant number in the ever growing $2.47 billion Australian Interactive Entertainment Industry.

It also shows that the PlayStation 4 led the charge being the platform of choice when it came to multiplayer titles such as a Destiny, Watch Dogs and Far Cry 4. On top of that roughly 95% of all Playstation 4’s are connected in some way to PSN meaning that the more digital entertainment services that launch in 2015 will expand the consoles digital footprint.

Being the fastest selling console in Australian history as well as the number 1 selling home console last year, it’s no wonder Sony are seeing great success in their gaming division. With an impressive indie line up and  AAA offering, the Playstation 4 has yet to hit its’ stride.

In the email Michael Ephraim, Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia states:

“The PlayStation brand is exciting, innovative and entertaining and it’s been a busy year!  We are excited and overwhelmed by the response of Australian gamers to the introduction of PlayStation 4″. “This year, we plan to push the boundaries of play further: with bigger, more immersive gaming experiences with titles such as Uncharted 4:  A Thief’s End™; new digital entertainment services coming to Australia and truly ground breaking technologies  in development with Project Morpheus.”

OXCGN’s Saint’s Row IV: Gat Out of Hell Review


(Editor Note: Daniel Geikowski, wrote this review for us with a promotional copy provided by Deep Silver) Saints Row is a franchise that identifies itself with the term “ridiculous.” The first was a GTA knock-off. The second embraced a little more silliness. Volition found their niche with The Third. Finally, IV took the game to superhero-proportions by giving the player super powers. To put it simply, this is not a serious series, and it’s one of the funniest games out there.

Volition and Deep Silver have ported Saints Row IV and its new expansion Gat Out of Hell to next-gen consoles, and quite honestly, I’m not entirely sure it warrants your purchase.

For a full review of IV, please check out our original review. This review will award a score for each ported title individually, and the package as a whole. The version being reviewed is the Xbox One.

Saint’s Row IV

Saints Row IV casts the player in a role signifying the ultimate ascendance of the Saints: the President of the United States. The game starts out comical enough, but the proverbial things hit the fan when aliens invade and cause massive destruction. The President gets thrown into a simulation of Earth where he attains superpowers, and must ultimately defeat the alien menace to avenge Earth and humanity.

In this Re-Elected edition of the game, the base game includes all previously released DLC (missions, weapons, items, etc.). For its price tag, it provides value, and still holds up as a genuinely fun game. While the game does not contain very many technical issues like Gat Out of Hell, it still does not run at a constant framerate and ultimately comes off as unimpressive for a game on current generation consoles.

If you have never played the game before and have interest in the franchise, whether as a returning fan or a new one, I would ultimately say that it provides value for its entry fee. However, as of the time of review, the framerate issues are not justifiable (especially for a game that runs better on PCs with worse specs than the consoles) – especially when you can get the game cheaper on Steam.

7.5/10

Gat out of Hell

Ever since the original, Johnny Gat has been a series staple and a personal favorite of mine. Rude, sarcastic, and always witty, Johnny brings comic relief to a game that is arguably entirely based on comic relief – and that’s a feat.

Gat Out of Hell sees the player from IV, the President of the United States, sucked into hell via Ouija board. As it would turn out, Satan himself was impressed with the destruction and chaos caused by the President in his term, and wishes to wed the President to his daughter Jezebel. Johnny Gat, of course, takes it upon himself to follow the President into hell to – wait for it – assassinate the dark lord and free his friend.

The expansion revolves around causing enough chaos in hell to attract Satan’s attention, and you have many tools at your disposal to accomplish this goal. The usual activities return with hell-themed renditions; for example, the activity focusing on insurance fraud has you playing as one of the grim denizens of hell, and you must throw yourself in front of cars to rack up not dollars, but years off of your “sentence” in hell.  You also have missions to accomplish, which largely center around recruiting various people throughout real and franchise history to join your team, such as William Shakespeare, Blackbeard, and The Twins (latter being from the franchise) to piss off Satan.

Satan

You also have powers like in Saints Row IV, but these are more focused on a hell-like vision. Johnny Gat has wings and can fly, and his powers are generally focused on summoning demonic imps, doing super stomps, and things of the like. Unfortunately, while it sounds great on paper, the execution was not so entertaining. Navigating with the wings is very clunky, and God help you (pun) if you need to jump a small distance – it’s no easy task. You also cannot sprint. The game wants you to fly around and explore, but all of the activities and mission starts are generally on the ground… defeating the purpose. I hated running around on the ground. Also, at one point you get a chair with a machine gun on it and you roam around like something out of Garry’s Mod.

This brings me to my biggest criticism of Gat out of Hell: it just feels like an idea that sounded awesome on paper, but simply didn’t follow through in execution. When I first booted up the game, I was seriously confused because, as one would expect from an interpretation of hell, I expected everything to start attacking me. Nope. The strange skeleton-like denizens of hell just mind their own business. The only people posing any threat to the player are Satan’s demons, which are like the police in the game.

Johnny as a character felt off. It reminded me of Gears of War: Judgment, in that the character was more of a distant representation of someone you thought you knew from previous games that you would come to understand better, but whose performance and delivery ultimately fizzle.

Johnny Gat

The game itself was just not visually appealing. While I understand that hell can only have so much visual variety with this vein of interpretation, the game itself just looks bland. Buildings are all the same shade of greys and browns, every “citizen” of hell looks the same, and at the end of it all, it just feels not funny or scary – it feels weird, and not in a good or entertaining way.

On top of this criticism, the game is a genuinely bad port. The game jumps from around 20 to 60 FPS constantly. Even with enabling the optional v-sync in the options menu, I can’t see any visual change – and I’ve played the PC version back in 2013. The game lacks anti-aliasing and looks very dated. Saints Row IV on PC was a very optimized game; my current PC, which is probably around the power of the current gen consoles (maybe a little less), runs the game better than this.

In effect, you really aren’t getting your money’s worth in this situation. The expansion will only run you a few hours, and I could only recommend it to a die-hard fan of the series that wants to see the story continued. Maybe these issues will be alleviated with a day-one patch, but that’s what we said with Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity. At this point in time, it’s a very poor rendition of the title that would only benefit someone who has never played the game before and does not own a capable gaming PC.

5/10

SUMMARY

At the end of the day, there is a pretty solid amount of content awaiting players who pick up the physical package. When grouping both together as a package, you get more value than purchasing either game individually – but take them on their own, and there’s not really much to recommend, especially with the technical issues. Maybe these issues were specific to the Xbox One, but there is no excuse for this.

Combined score (Physical package)

6.5/10

Review conducted with version supplied by the Deep Silver.

What Comes Next: OXCGN’s Most Anticipated for 2015


At the end of any year we take time to reflect on what has passed, but we also look towards the future and 2015 looks pretty great for gaming, here are some of the OXCGN Staff’s most anticipated games for 2015.

Yvan:

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The Witcher III: Wild Hunt

How is this NOT on everyone’s most anticipated list for 2015?

It may have been delayed (again) but the game looks like it will evolve the series into something amazing. With a huge open world to explore and a proven track record the lessons CD Projekt Red look set to deliver one of the best games of 2015.

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Evolve

I am really looking forward to where Evolve will go and for how much it has to offer to co-op gaming. The core experience of teaming up with your mates to hunt monsters is not new but the nuance that Turtle Rock Studios is set to bring looks like it will separate Evolve from the rest of the field. A particularly exciting feature is prioritising the roles you like; want to be the monster but don’t want to play a medic, place the monster and your preferred number 1 and the medic as your number 5. It is a really simple system that really works.

Mario Maker SS2

Mario Maker

A seemingly odd inclusion but ever since I played Mario Maker at E3 I’ve wanted more. The new trailer that premiered during ‘The Game Awards’ he kept that E3 momentum going.

The huge range of options including swapping between Super Mario 1/3/World as well as expanding on what you can add to a level and what items do in a level looks like it will lead to some amazing and evil Mario levels.

Further the possibility that this could be ported to the 3DS for play and editing on the go seems amazing.

The Tariray:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 

Oh my stars! I am so excited for this game.  I love Geralt’s story and the beautiful engaging story his world is set in.  Also, Open World Monster Hunting and Questing! I am so down for that.  I have always loved the strategic feel of not only adapting your skill sets but equipping the right armor and potions before a crucial fight.  As always, the decision making process is superb and I genuinely enjoy seeing the full consequences (sometimes, incredibly long term) of your decisions.

And while the awkward flirting of the first and decidedly less in the second games were sometimes borderline offensive or uncomfortable, I do hope there are still options for getting freaky in the filing room with the bank clerk who wears that ridiculously huge wimple.

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No Man’s Sky

Well, I’m calling it – this is going to be the game of 2015.  Super duper random generated space exploration! The colour! The economy system! The critters! The EXPANSE OF THE UNIVERSE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS!!!

Arthur:

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Halo 5: Guardians

343 Industries are certainly seeking redemption for the multiplayer launch of the Master Chief Collection and if the beta is anything to by then Halo 5 is going to be something special. An updated shooter that’s staying true to the franchise formula but modified to adhere to current trends; the next iteration in the Halo series looks like the shooter to beat in 2015. With a beta running for 3 weeks, 343 have enough time to tweak to the game and balance it to once again be the King of Xbox Live.

Dean:

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Bloodborne

There is a lot I am excited about in 2015: Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain, Batman: Arkham Knight, StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, Below, Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin to name a few, but honestly, I am mostly excited to finally get my hands on Bloodborne. Each time I have played a From Software game I have been late to the party – most of the mysteries have been solved and I am simply following in the footsteps of the community at large. But with Bloodborne I am given the opportunity to jump in at the ground level with every other Souls enthusiast and play through at the same time, contributing to the discussions and theory threads rather than reading them months later.

As someone who has grown tired of the traditional high fantasy settings the world of Bloodborne looks unbelievably interesting, I can’t wait to drive the streets of Yharnam and die gruesome deaths to the horrible things that stalk me from the darkness.

It’s going to be awesome.

Jessica:

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Rise of The Tomb Raider

There is one game that stands out for me for 2015 and that’s the next Tomb Raider. Although we actually have little to no information about Rise of the Tomb Raider I can wait to be running in Lara’s shoes again with those perfect action sequences and powerful shotgun. I’m excited to see the events she will face and it’s always fun to play a strong female protagonist.

Should I Stay or Should I Go…Next Gen?


As the first official year of next generation gaming draws to a close, the staff at OXCGN weigh up the pros and cons of taking the plunge into next gen gaming.

Arthur:

Best Reason To Go Next Gen

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Halo: The Master Chief Collection

If there was any reason to make the jump to next gen particularly if you were looking at an Xbox One then look no further. Featuring all 4 Bungie developed Halo titles that follow Master Chief and the king of Xbox Live with Halo 2, 3 and 4’s multiplayer maps on 1 disc as well as additional DLC; Over 400 achievements to keep the completionists occupied for months and constant updates moving forward, this is the definition of a gaming collection bundle.

Best Reason To Stay Old Gen

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel:

I ache for when this game comes out on the PS4 and One with updated graphics, because old consoles just don’t do it justice. That being said if you can’t afford a new console just yet The Pre-Sequel is everything you loved about Borderlands with more insane 4-player co-op this time bringing the chaos to the moon.

Dean:

Best Reason To Stay Old Gen – Over Promised and Under Delivered

This year we have seen many highly anticipated titles released to the masses in an unfortunately broken or under developed state (more so than any year in memory). Between Dark Souls 2, Watch Dogs, Drive Club, Assassins Creed: Unity, Halo: Master Chief Collection and Destiny, some of the biggest games this year were utter disappointments. The problems these games faced was varied; from failing to deliver the breadth of content that was initially revealed to significant graphical downgrades and in some cases online-only titles that just didn’t work.

If this year was anything to go by 2014 was not the year to buy a next-gen system. Most of the best games came out across both new and old gen and those that didn’t will be there in 2015 to be picked up on the cheap when you finally dive in to the next generation of console gaming.

Yvan:

Best Reason To Go Next Gen

ShadowMordor

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

This game looks and feels great on next-gen. It plays like dog shit on previous generation consoles. This probably has a lot to do with poor porting team working on it and would explain the delay release on older generation release.

The sad truth is that it’s not better on next gen, it just really sucks on old gem

Best Reason To Stay Old Gen

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

It’s not quite Borderlands 3, but it’s the Borderlands experience all over again, and how could we not love it with the majority of voice talent being filled with Australians?

Assassins Creed Rogue

Assassin’s Creed Rogue

Probably the LEAST broken Assassin’s Creed game to come out in 2014 (oh snap!) and brings back the much loved ship battles from previous games. Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a perfect example of what Ubisoft is capable of and Assassin’s Creed Unity is a perfect example of what they can fuck up.

Jessica

Best Reason To Stay Old Gen

With the shaky next gen launch there are many reasons the stay old gen. with most games releasing on all consoles you miss out on almost nothing and next gen users don’t get the chance to play two of the funniest games of 2014; South Park: The Stick of Truth and Borderlands: The Pre Sequel.

As a South Park fan The Stick of Truth was a dream come true with the hundreds of references, fantastic writing and crab people. The Stick of Truth is kind of a blur of happiness as every hour was just amazingly fun and the you could feel the love put into this game and how every RPG element seemed to work seamlessly into this world.

On the other hand Borderlands: The Pre Sequel was the same looting and shooting but with the huge amount of Australians references it definitely felt like it was calling out to me. It was just fun hearing Aussie accents guide you to each location and I think this Borderlands had the best writing and missions I’ve ever seen. I held onto every piece of dialogue and words cannot describe the Bogan gun.

Stick of Truth

OXCGN’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 shoots players back into the webslinger’s suit to experience the same old web-slinging action that we have known since the Spider-Man 2 era; but somehow, this game sadly feels like a step backward. Awkward controls seem to interfere with what could be a graceful web-slinging experience, and repetitive thug fights grow stale quickly.

Spider-Man 2 places gamers into a world based similarly-but-not-quite on the movie. Peter Parker likes to have long-drawn out conversations full of cheesy jokes and one-liners, that will surely have you rolling your eyes after Spiderman’s first interrogation sequence.

Players also get to relive the Uncle Ben scene again – in-case you weren’t sick of it already.

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The story mode spends most of its time introducing players to the random villains and heroes known in the Spider-Man universe – which leads the main thrust of the narrative to quickly get lost. Additionally, there is way too much time spent performing Peter Parker missions, where players are forced to walk and take investigative photos of objects and other things within the game world that instantly becomes boring.

The only nice surprise is to see Stan Lee receive a large feature in the game as Peter’s go-to comic book guy.

I must confess: I did enjoy the quick time sequences that featured during the game. It’s refreshing to have them back after game developers got over the fad, and there really are some cool sequences that really make you feel like the web-slinger himself.

Graphically, on the PS3 the game looks fairly awful: The open city is full of jagged edges and blurry textures. Loading times are also worth mentioning – the game will take so long to load you may consider taking a nap. This is particularly frustrating when you’re waiting for something to load and it turns out to be a tiny room; leading you into another load sequence within minutes.

TASM2 (2)

If you are a next-gen console owner, you’re probably bored waiting for that next big release – you may have already considered purchasing this game. Taking into consideration the game’s low purchase price, it does offer some value for money, but is destined for the bargain bin for those still on the fence.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 delivers exactly what you would expect going in. And with that in mind I think gamers who’ve enjoyed the past iterations of Spiderman or those tired of waiting for the next big release should consider The Amazing Spider-Man 2. 

Pros:

+ Quick time events are quite refreshing

+ Stan Lee cameo

Cons:

– Horrid loading times

– For a PS3 release so late in its cycle, graphically the game is poor.

TL;DR

6.5/10

E3 2014: Dead Island 2 Preview: “Cool and Kickass”


A New Direction for Dead Island

Set after the events of the original Dead Island and Riptide, the infection that started on the island of Banoi is now spreading all over the world. One such place that has fallen victim to this plague is California, and thus the United States Government has turned the state into a large quarantine zone.

They’ve also turned it into a ‘zombie filled playground’ for our new heroes to dive headfirst into. After the teaser trailer that premiered at Sony’s E3 presentation, we got to see that the new California is a much brighter and fun place than it’s darker predecessors. With Dead Island 2 the developers are opting for a tone described by them as “cool and kickass”; less dark and heavy than those before it but also not reaching the level of ridiculousness of Dead Rising 3.

This tone is mirrored by the goals of the main characters, each one being immune to the virus and heading into the quarantine zone to destroy zombies. This game isn’t so much about escape, this time it’s more about fighting back.

Players will be able to choose from four unique character classes, each with their own skills, abilities and fury attacks. If you purchase the game on Playstation 4 you’ll be able to select an exclusive additional class which has yet been unannounced. The four classes announced are the Hunter, the Berserker, the Speeder and the Bishop. The specifics of each class have not yet been announced, but from the images shown today we’ll have a speedy blade focussed class, a heavy weapon specialist, a ranged weapon class and a fourth class based around thrown weapons.

Deep Silver also announced a central character, ‘Max’, who drives the van featured in the trailer. He will be joined by his loyal pet cat, Rick Furry, in the adventure through California. This is the first time a real life cat has been motion captured in gaming, allowing Rick’s animations to be very realistic. The story behind this quirky duo is one of second chances. Upon seeing these ‘immune’ in California Max hops in his newly outfitted van to start a fresh life in California, hoping to help the immune and potentially find a cure for the spreading illness.

Besides zombies, our characters won’t be the only humans in the quarantine zone. The game will also focus on the human factions gaining power in the zone such as the raiders, escaped prisoners and even deserting military forces. These forces will challenge the player in new ways, often outfitted with powerful weapons and vehicles.

On top of introducing all these new classes, factions and characters, we’ll also be getting new ‘motorised’ weapons like hedge trimmers and hand saws. While this new type of weapon will be very powerful, they will all be powered by fuel, a resource you’ll have to collect, and will make a lot of noise, attracting nearby zombies. These are probably best saved for when you have no choice to fight loud and fast against the horde, unless of course you enjoy being swarmed by the undead! The developers also noted you will be able to dual wield in Dead Island 2, rushing in to fight off zombies with a sawn off shotgun and machete at the same time.

We’ll also see a whole host of new zombie bosses and types, and the developer, Yager, claims to have a new system implemented into the final build that will ensure no two zombies look exactly alike, adding to the immersion of the game. It will be very interesting to see just how different the variety in zombie design will be.

After being presented with all this new information we were treated to a live gameplay demo from a 2013 prototype build of the game. We were also shown in engine renderings of scenery and zombies taken from the most recent build. The graphics are looking quite good at this stage, but I expect we’ll see much more of the actual graphics in the lead up to Dead Island 2’s 2015 release.

The demo opened with us driving in Max’s van into suburban California, and then leads through houses and backyards in the area. This allowed the developers to really show off what is at the core of Dead Island games, the melee combat.

Dead Island 2 adopts the same combat style of it’s predecessors; that is to say it’s full of slicing and dicing zombies up close, lopping limbs and heads clean in gruesome slow motion. Not a lot has changed on the melee side apart from adding more moves and animations, as well as some cool abilities that will have you smashing zombies into the sky with you sledgehammer. It all looked very fun.

Ranged weapons seem to perform better in this game, especially with Yager at the helm. Their previous title, Spec Ops: The Line, was a third person shooter and you can see aspects of that in Dead Island 2’s presentation. New crossbows and guns can be used to devastating effect against zombies and humans alike. You’ll also be able to mod and upgrade your weapons on the go this time round instead of having to find a weapon bench, which is a nice new change.

Yager have worked well so far to implement noise into combat scenarios, as well as using the zombies to attack and distract enemies. By simply shooting cars with a crossbow to get the alarm going or causing an explosion you can draw a whole load of zombies, perfect to take out enemies deep in cover or to set up a dangerous trap.

Fire is another aspect of the title that has an interesting new implementation. In much the same way as we saw in Far Cry 3, grass and foliage can be lit on fire, causing damage to the environment and enemies. It’s a cool little feature that means you have to be more thoughtful in where you lob that molotov, making sure not to find yourself in a dangerous spot!

In terms of multiplayer, the game will offer the full open world and story experience to up to eight players at once. You’ll be able to ‘compete, cooperate or coexist’ in a social open world, but you’ll still be able to play completely solo or offline too.

It will be very interesting to see how this game turns out when we see more footage, and all the way up to release. For now, I’m optimistic. The game has a good studio at the helm and a solid foundation, I only hope that we see a better narrative in this title than in previous entries, and that it will do enough to really make it stand out as a new and improved Dead Island title. The game will be playable at Gamescom and PAX later this year and I’m very interested to see how it differs from and improves upon what was shown to us at E3 2014.

Dead Island 2 is coming to PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4 later in 2015. You can check out the official box art below!