I was going to do this as a sidebar in my larger article previewing Dead Island 2, but then I realized it would be a sidebar of about 800 words, which is not a sidebar Alice, for God’s sake, pull yourself together. Dead Island 2 is set in LA, known as HellA as a little play on words, because it’s full of zombies now. Your job is to smash a lot of them to pieces with a hammer, like so many sausages and balloons full of blood held together by sellotape. In the course of this, you find yourself merrily looting your way through the homes of the rich and famous, stuffing as many screws and bits of scrap metal into your pants as the elastic can handle (I assume; none of the player character options have a backpack). Notable among things I couldn’t find when I went looking for them: the bastard keys.
I really enjoyed the design of the Hollywood McMansions in Dead Island 2. They’re not all completely bespoke – I noticed a reused layout at least once – but it’s obvious someone went: okay, who does this house belong to and what terrible stuff would they buy? One of the first you go in to obviously belongs to an asshole who thinks of himself as cultured, so it makes sense that, among his antiques in glass cases he would have a sword, for chopping up zombies. I appreciate the effort!
There are different ways to get in and out of these homes, and sometimes you backtrack and find yourself exploring them at different times of the day. See a juicy supply crate in a locked sauna? Buddy, you can smash that sauna door. You have to be careful sometimes though; buildings or rooms can be alarmed, so you have to disable them before you start smashing through windows, or the alarm will go off and you’ll have a buncha zombies lunging at your neck. And then you yourself will be alarmed, ho ho.
But there are some doors that you can’t circumvent, and over repeated playthroughs of the preview levels I became enraged by this. There were times I felt the game was openly mocking me. I did a side mission where I saved an aging, golden age action star from his besieged mansion, and as thanks he gave me the keys to his house and told me to take whatever I wanted. Imagine my shock when I went to pillage the garage and I was told I needed his garage key. The old man gave me his keys already! Why are there? more keys!?
In the Halperin Hotel, a zombified take on the Beverly Hills, I successfully found all the keys to open the safety deposit boxes in the lobby, and was thrilled. You know what I didn’t find? The key to the locker in the laundry room. I checked every abandoned housekeeping cart I found. I killed all the zombies that looked like they might have worked at the hotel. Where is the laundry room locker key and why is it so fucking far from the bastard laundry room?
Others are just… locked. This door opens from the other side, you’re told, but there is no way you can get through the other side. Maybe it’s a preview build issue. Most of them, I’m sure, are a skill issue, though. There were a bunch I didn’t open because of my own lack of stick-to-itiveness: the kitchen door requires a fuse for the fusebox, and I didn’t want to hunt for one in the vicinity, or buy one and backtrack . If I searched the hotel from top to bottom, the laundry room locker key would probably have turned up.
But, with the best will in the world, Dead Island 2 isn’t the kind of game where you want to have to go back over yourself. It’s pretty unpretentious, and while there are stories to find (a guy leaves a note in the hotel for his girlfriend, saying he’s gone to the top floor to steal stuff, and then you find a body surrounded by wallets) it’s not a rich RPG with layers of meaning to be found in every item description. The safety deposit boxes are a great example. I started at the lobby, did a big loop of the hotel in the course of the level, and ended back in the lobby where I could use all the keys I found. Laundry locker keys shouldn’t be hard to find in a game where you shove pool cues through corpses.
Look, I just don’t get why a dude who told me I had access to his home didn’t include the garage in that. Where is the garage key, old man? What are you hiding in there? ADMIT ME TO YOUR CARS, YOU ELDERLY LOCK PERVERT.