"It's a more boring story than everyone would like," says producer Michael Kempson about how the makers of the gritty war story Spec Ops: The Line landed the sun-kissed zombie comedy overtones of Dead Island.
"Dead Island came out and was a pretty big hit in our office," Kempson explains when we catch up with him after a BCD presentation of the game. "We had a lot of communal areas with a lot of dev kits set up, and when Dead Island came on it was on for weeks and weeks. You couldn't get away from it. Everyone loved it, loved the co-op. It was the game for lunch break, every day. And then we got wind that Deep Silver were looking for a partner, and we thought 'hey! we can pitch for that'."
"There was a sense - not really thinking about it at the time - that we needed something back into our system," he replies when we ask him was it a need to recover from the intensity of their then-current project that drove them towards this sequel. "[Just] enjoying these comedic qualities and exploring something else. Spec Ops was great in its own right and it did what it set out to do, and we want to do the same thing again with as much conviction as Spec Ops with Dead Island 2."
What the team want to focus on for the sequel and to carry over from the first game are the same thing, and underscore really what made the game shine for them in the first place: co-op.
"The multiplayer became that big thing... the gore and setting were great, but people seemed to love to be able to do that together at any time. And it was super slick and easy on dead Island.
"So we wanted to expand on that concept, and what we come to now is this eight player, dedicated server... basically the world's smallest MMO. You're going to be in a persistent world that you can always come back to with your friends... we feel that ease of use and social nature of it was a real core thing to Dead Island. And that's where we're going to take it."
Catch the full interview below.