E3 2011: Dead Island Hands-On Preview - Cooperative Multiplayer

The gang's all here during our hands-on multiplayer session with Dead Island at E3 2011.

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Dead Island, the first-person survival game from developer Techland (Call of Juarez), may take place on a tropical island, but there won't be a whole lot of rest or relaxation. Instead of dressing up in silly outfits or traveling around with a wise-cracking football coach, Dead Island's somber inhabitants spend their time in quiet desperation. Escape, survival, and deceased family members are the only topics the locals want to discuss, and it seems everyone has his or her own tragic story to tell. At this year's E3, we finally got the entire four-person cast together for a brief cooperative multiplayer session.

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For today's demonstration, we were back in the same metropolitan area that we saw at the end of our previous coverage. Our mission this time was to leave the safety of the heavily fortified church and venture into the zombie-infested city. While there, we would hang up flyers informing the possible survivors of the church. Of course, we were the only ones who could do this because we were all immune to the zombie virus. Once again, we were in the shoes of rapper-turned-zombie-slayer Sam B., who excelled at bludgeoning his foes to death with blunt, melee weapons.

There's safety in numbers in Dead Island. We found this out quickly after our group promptly split up and was easily overwhelmed by packs of undead. Once your character takes enough damage, he tumbles to the ground. From this prone position, you can either get helped up by an ally or help yourself up after a set amount of time. Doing so will automatically restore a bit of your health so that you don't instantly fall down again. Of course, while prone, you could always just get beaten to death by a zombie as our character did--constantly. When you die, your character respawns right where he fell at the cost of some money and experience.

And when it comes to money, it's finders, keepers on Dead Island. Whatever weapons, items, health packs, or money you pick up is yours to keep (or to share with your friends if you're feeling generous). Sharing health packs is especially easy because you just have to walk up to an injured player and tap a button to quickly administer some first aid. On the flip side, you can also walk up to a prone zombie and, if you line yourself up with its head, tap a button to cave its face in with the heel of your boot.

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Techland is still adjusting how the game will handle players entering a co-op game who are vastly under- or over-leveled compared to the host. The cooperative play is also online only, so if you were hoping to stomp a few heads split-screen, then you're out of luck. At any rate, you can get marooned on Dead Island this September on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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