Dead Island 2 features a new open world. The game takes place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and a third unknown location in California, unlike the first game that has been on the island of Banoi off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The fighting game has different mechanisms than its predecessors. Dead Island 2 also includes several features of its predecessors, such as the Rage system, which gives the player a temporary blow thumb, and the crafting system.

Several months after the events of Dead Island, the armed forces of the United States has put California in a complete restricted quarantine zone due to a new outbreak of zombies. It is unknown how the infection began.

Techland was originally set to develop Dead Island 2, but instead they decided to focus on the development of Dying Light with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Deep Silver went for a developer until the Yager Development has launched the Deep Silver game in summer 2012 and has obtained the agreement. As announced at E3 2014 Sony briefing media, Dead Island 2 will be more dynamic than its predecessors. The game was originally scheduled for a Spring 2015 release, but for now, it keeps a date placeholder on various commercial sites and has been delayed until 2016.

At Gamescom 2014, Deep Silver has shown gameplay from a first version of the game. According to the presented content, the game takes place in California, including landmarks such as the Santa Monica Pier and Hollywood, and many places San Francisco. Similarly, only a fraction of the modifications of the weapon and new zombies were represented on the stage. Also, Deep Silver said the game will feature four playable characters, but only two were shown at Gamescom Demo. It will also feature cooperative multiplayer eight players.

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