Four Types of Playstyles

Learnings from our Liquid Swords Plays: Dead Island 2 Session

A few weeks ago, we spent a Friday afternoon covered in blood, guts, and pool water. Our Liquid Swords play session took us to Hell-A in Dead Island 2. Not only did we have a great time, but we got to know each other a little better through our different playstyles. Since we picked a single-player, we took turns in the driver’s seat, and looking back, it was evident that our group had four very distinct styles.

The Tinkerer

Before we dove into the actual gameplay, our first archetype stepped into the spotlight. Only when the settings were finetuned did the game begin. Regardless of playstyle, one of our favorite parts of the game was the vast array of weapons. We broke into a glass case to retrieve an officer’s sword (like anything could keep us from a good blade), threw batteries ripped out of the hoods of abandoned cars, and skewered many a head with a long pike. But when we got to the point where we could upgrade and craft new weapons, we were in a new league: thank you tinkerers!

An electrified sword in Dead Island 2

Dead Island 2 lets you craft and upgrade weapons and break down your existing ones to scraps as well. As if Marie Kondo was in the room, our tinkerers cleared out the inventory and created a powerful armory, parts of which sparked literal joy thanks to the electricity that now powered them.

Taking the time to get our settings in order got our game off to a great start, but the various tinkering throughout made the day much more charged. Did we mention that we fried a lot of zombies?

The Hoarder

A Tinkerer can only do so much on their own. To truly unlock their potential, they need some Hoarders. This playstyle prioritizes picking up as many items as time and inventory space permit, from broken weapons to literal scraps.

To the delight of our hoarders, the city of Hell-A is full of more stuff than a B-lister’s spon-con feed (that’s sponsored content in case you’ve managed to keep your socials influence-free). The healing power bars and energy drinks that healed us were just one example of the attention to detail and scene setting. Every single surface was covered in items that we tried to pick up, even though the grabbables were very clearly labeled.

A collection of DVDs in Dead Island 2

These items were just one block that built the city of Hell-A out into a living, breathing character in its own right. When we had the Hoarders at the wheel, time to soak in the setting was duly taken, but as the creators of a story-based game, we all had our found narrative feelers out. There was an abundance, and all of it had its proper place and appropriate context. Jaunt had a mansion with framed posters of movies she had starred in. An abandoned house in the same area had a celebrity scandal apology drafted on a whiteboard. The sun-drenched streets were lined by looming palm trees and adorned with graffiti. Even the zombies at the hotel wedding venue wore flower crowns as they lunged at our throats.

All these elements came together to create an ever-present and distinct environment. We felt it throughout the game, but it was when the Hoarders took the time to examine every surface that we really took note.

The Wrecking Ball

Another instance that (literally) threw different items in our faces was when our Wrecking Balls had the controller. These gamers aren’t necessarily Miley Cyrus fans, but they all favor a volatile navigation approach. Let’s put it like this – a Wrecking Ball doesn’t open a door; they kick it down. A window is an opportunity to leave a smattering of shattered glass in their wake. Oh, did you place these items on a table? They look so much better on the floor.

There is something to be said about how satisfying it is to take a moment to smash up a bunch of items in a combat game for no other reason than simply being possible. We promise this doesn’t apply to the real world and especially our new office, HR! Once we discovered that glass would shatter when hit with a bat and furniture would topple when kicked, the interior decor was in just as much danger as the undead citizens.

A sword destroying a laptop in Dead Island 2

The Wrecking Ball’s style might not be as universally useful as the Tinkerer's, but it was appropriate for a world filled with zombie swarms. Each Wrecking Ball threw themselves into each fight, often feet first, when we learned how to jump kick. The zombies were plentiful, to say the least, and anyone carrying even an iota of tension from the week could unleash it through the digital workout this approach provides.

The Sneaker

Finally, we find our Sneakers on the opposite side of the spectrum. Whereas a Wrecking Ball runs into unsuspecting zombies, the Sneaker will find the path of least resistance. Just because the city is swarming with predators doesn’t mean they can’t be circumvented. Zombies are known to eat brains, not using them after all.

Our resident sneaker changed the dynamic in an exciting way. Our adrenaline levels stayed high, but the tension considerably increased. When we all had been shouting mere seconds ago, the Sneaker commanded silence without uttering a word. When they had the controller, the rest of us were on the edge of our seats as we waited for the zombies to look up and notice us.

A first person view of zombies eating victims in Dead Island 2

Patience is a virtue and, for a Sneaker, a lifeline. The rest of us learned that the chaotic city of Hell-A is just as exciting when approached with caution as it is at a sprinter’s pace. Sneaking was even more fun thanks to the detailed environment that let us hide behind walls before scaling them, throw found projectiles to cause a distraction, and take in the city’s stunning view from up high for pleasure and protection.

To say that our undead afternoon was a success is an understatement. We knew we would have a great time but weren’t expecting to peel quite as many layers off our teamwork onion. Our next Liquid Sword play session features a new game that will take us down a very different path, and we can’t wait to see what we learn next!