Xian Mei, one of the four main characters, preparing to attack oncoming zombies.
Dead Island will feature open world gameplay, played from a first person perspective, with up to four-player co-operative play (local and online) in a sandbox environment, including a heavily interactive environment. The focus will be on melee combat, incorporating customizable weaponry, vehicular customization/combat, and RPG elements.
There is an experience system and a skill tree system. There is also a stamina bar, meaning that after a set amount of action with a weapon, the character will need to stop to regain their stamina before continuing to attack. It has also been confirmed that there are “special class” zombies, which are more powerful than the standard zombie. Players will need to use flashlights in dark areas, adding suspense to the game. Night time and changing seasons have been confirmed to not take place during the game, although a weather system is in effect. Because of the ESRB rating system, there will be no children zombies in the game.
The game is set in the Palms Resort, in fictional Banoi, located off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
The first mission serves as the tutorial. The character wakes up with a lifeguard standing over him. The man helps the character up, and guides him/her to a beach hut with other terrified survivors/tourists. One person begs the character to go outside and help the lifeguard fend off the horde. The character then picks up a dinghy paddle and walks outside. After helping the lifeguard, a voice is heard over some speakers around the area, warning survivors the area isn’t safe.