When Techland released a trailer for Dead Island a few weeks ago, no one quite knew how popular it would be. Taking Twitter by storm, the beautiful and emotional video showed a family caught admits the zombie outbreak desperately struggling to survive. Excitement grew within the gaming community at the prospect that Dead Island will be the turning point for the multitude of zombie games, rebooting a predictable genre. After various outlets got their hands on the game recently, it turns out the trailer couldn’t be further from the truth.
Techland didn’t produce that video, Glasgow-based Axis Animation were hired to put together a promotional tool for the game which began development over four years ago. That’s nothing new, studios often outsource promo trailers for their games, it means they can concentrate on making the game. But the separation between video and in-game content has earned Techland their fair share of criticism as the game itself won’t be anything like the video. Techland’s international brand manager Blazej Krakowiak told NowGamer quite defiantly: “Obviously a CGI trailer is not the game. Even FPP games often use TPP cutscenes, to show something from a different point of view or even, as is the case with the Dead Island trailer, to tell a side story to expand the game world for the viewers.”
The intention of the video was to set the tone of Dead Island not represent its content. However what seems to have happened is Axis Animation created something poignant and touching that many gamers will find it tough not to associate with final gameplay. The hopes that a new level of maturity (for lack of a better word) has come to zombie games is fading with every preview I read but it does sound like Dead Island will at least be adding new and interesting mechanics to the fold, combining all the best elements of previous undead games into one. But it’s still not quite the promise we were given when the majority of people were introduced to the game via the now infamous trailer.
Krakowiak argues that we as gamers should come to expect a major difference in trailers and content: “I believe that gamers know the difference between CGI and gameplay footage very well and they both serve a purpose,” adding “Take an honest look at the best CGI trailers of recent years. As a gamer I love watching them. Sure, they’re a different form of entertainment but they’re still about the games I care about. Still, even the best CGI trailers are never too close to the actual gameplay and that’s quite all right, there are other videos for that.” It’s a fair point, there are indeed other videos to show what to expect from a game and maybe we should have seen them first before arguably being led astray.