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Dead Island: Epidemic Preview

The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre is one of the fastest expanding genres in the gaming industry, with League of Legends and Dota 2 at the forefront of the genre. The problem with MOBA’s in general is innovation, as most new MOBA games being released in this day and age are more a “variation on a theme”, rather than being its own unique game.

I’ll be honest, when I found four Dead Island: Epidemic beta keys lying in my Steam inventory, I actually had no idea what the game even was. Having reviewed Dead Island games in the past, my interest was partial at best, as the franchise is among the worst of the zombie franchises out there.

Being the ever hopeful gamer that I am I decided to give it a bash, and got myself and a few friends together to try out the game. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at just how fun and entertaining this game is even in closed beta, and has managed to invent its own genre – the ZOMBA (zombie online multiplayer battle arena).

Dead Island: Epidemic has two game modes at the moment, Horde and Scavenger mode. Horde mode can be described as a small “Left 4 Dead” campaign, and is entirely PvE. Four characters are grouped together for a “timed run”, in which you have to capture points and fight a boss at the end. The faster you do the run the better the reward you get, which you then use to craft your weapons, much like the original Dead Island games.

The second mode is the PvP mode, and puts three teams of four against each other in a mode that resembles League of Legend’s Dominion mode. Players have to first break their way into the map, and capture points and defeat special monsters which give you supply. You then have to take that supply back to your truck, rinse and repeat.

There are also special monsters that sporadically spawn in certain locations in the map, called Hoarders that if defeated, drop a huge amount of supply. These monsters often become the fighting ground between the three teams, as capturing that supply can often mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Unlike Dominion where the points count down, Scavenger mode is rather a race between the three teams to reach a certain number of gathered supply – the first team to reach the goal gets the biggest reward. Once someone has won it not the end of the map however, as the fight for second and third place still exists between the remaining teams. The higher you place, the better the rewards you can use for crafting better gear.

The crafting system (as said earlier) comes from the previous Dead Island games, and makes for an interesting system in which to better your items and weapons. In your rewards you get schematic plans for items, which you can then use to craft better items for your character.

What items you can craft depends on the level of your account, which directly influences the level of your “workbench”, the place you use to create your items. The level of your workbench levels up with your account level, so the more you play, the better items you are able to craft.

In terms of playable characters, in essence there are only four characters to choose from, Berg, Isys, Amber and Bryce. Berg is the tank like character with decent disable that specialises in heavy weapons, Isys is a light weapon expert with good amounts of burst damage, Amber is the team healer and support character, and Bryce specialises in ranged attacks.

There are however different twovariants of these characters, the armoured versions and the mutated versions, and each come with their own unique skills. To be able to unlock the none standard versions of the characters requires character points, which you can only get from playing games at the moment.

The biggest foreseeable problem I have with the game besides the odd bug here and there is the possibility of a “pay to win” model, which may negatively affect the game. This option is not available at the moment but the options and settings are already in place in the game, so it looks like it is something the studio is thinking about doing. The game is still in closed beta however and the community feedback on various forums strongly suggests that people are not a fan of the “pay to win” scenario, so it may well be changed before release.

Dead Island: Epidemic is a surprisingly fun game that incorporates strategy and teamwork as key elements to your success while enjoying some post apocalyptic zombie mayhem, and is well worth a try if you can get your hands on a beta key.

No launch date has been set, but you can apply for the beta if you are keen to try the game by simply clicking here.

If you want to see my dream team go to work in Scavenger mode, I have uploaded some gameplay footage onto my YouTube Channel, DeMoNiK Goes Gaming.