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Long-awaited Dead Island 2 reveal headlines Gamescom announcement frenzy

Eight years after its public announcement, Dead Island 2 finally looks like a video game—and its bloody, polished gameplay reveal capped off a lengthy Gamescom opening night presentation of video game trailers and announcements.

The open-world zombie survival game, as developed by the British game studio Dambuster, also got a firm release date of February 2, 2023, on current- and past-gen consoles and Windows PCs (via Epic Games Store). It uproots the series from its island origins to a zombie-savaged version of Los Angeles (or, as the trailer calls it, “Hell-A”). The gameplay reveal for this melee-focused first-person game is so ripe with detailed facial animations, massive open-world environments, and gory amputation that we wonder how it will scale down to the Xbox One’s hardware. Still, the trailer does a solid job emphasizing humor, conflict, and solid voice acting, which might be the production-value spark this game needs to stand out from so many video games about open worlds, zombies, and gory combat.

Gamecom’s event didn’t have a unifying concept beyond “game studios who paid for premium placement,” so the rest of this article will highlight the event’s revealed games that stood out, either because they followed up on previously anticipated games or impressed as new teases of gaming fun to come.

Return to Monkey Island Horse Armor trailer

Return To Monkey Island‘s release date has been confirmed, and it’s soon: September 19, better known as International Talk Like A Pirate Day. The news was provided by longtime series huckster Stan S. Stanman, who returned this week as an over-the-top marketing guru and announced that anyone who preorders the game would receive a “horse armor” item. The news clarified that this item does nothing more than take up a slot in your inventory, with zero impact on gameplay or puzzles. The trailer also included a peek at various in-game locales, framed as they will appear in real gameplay, and they gave us optimism about the sequel’s art direction.

Renowned fantasy author Brandon Sanderson confirmed his collaboration with the creators of Subnautica to build the “elaborate sci-fi universe” of the new game Moonbreaker. But there’s no open-world survival system here. Instead, Moonbreaker is a turn-based miniatures-tactics game that looks like a more accessible spin on tabletop classic Warhammer. Arguably the coolest feature shown off this week is free access to a “paint your minis” toolset, so that players can invest in digital figurine customization without having to buy DLC. The new game’s Steam early access period begins September 29, and it will be preceded by “one or two” free play preview opportunities before its paid launch.

Sonic Frontiers “story” trailer

Sega used this week’s Gamescom stage to lock its upcoming open-world game Sonic Frontiers to a November 8 release date. This comes despite our reservations about the demo we played at Summer Games Fest feeling a little undercooked and buggy, but either Sega is confident that the final game is up to snuff, or we’re in for a doozy of a game in a few months. Either way, today’s demo showed off a few new, desolate biomes, a new villain, and a few new oversized bosses, along with clearer footage of the retro-minded side-scrolling zones that impressed in the demo we previously played.

New Tales from the Borderlands announcement trailer

New Tales from the Borderlands, coming October 21, appears to ramp up the production values of the former Telltale-led narrative adventure series. Though we didn’t see whether the game’s conversational sequences and dialogue choices would resemble the 2014 original, this sequel’s action scenes and comedy sequences were full of upgrades in production values and cinematography. Also, thankfully, they include interesting new characters instead of an over-reliance on the series’ dated likes of Claptrap, which seems like a good sign.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series reveal

As far as official Telltale games go, the company’s upcoming narrative adventure, The Expanse: A Telltale Series, was announced with a summer 2023 launch window, along with a peek at pre-alpha gameplay. Its vague reveal suggests at least one major sequence will revolve around finding clues in an abandoned, scavenged spaceship to figure out what went awry. Even if this is a humdrum video game experience, we at Ars Technica generally gobble up any explorations of the rich Expanse universe of sci-fi stories, so we’re looking forward to more on this one.

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