Dead Island has been in development for years, so not surprisingly, the game wasn't always the combination of action RPG we've become acquainted with over the last few months. There was actually a point during development when Techland had way more than four playable characters mapped out.
"With [Dead Island] being in development this long, back in the day when development started, it wasn't even just four characters," Dead Island Brand Manager Vincent Kummer told us earlier this week.
"We were thinking about ten characters to choose from. We had different reasons for why they were on the island. One of the first characters we had was actually the sushi chef of the restaurant that you could play with the others. So we actually had several characters, and in the end we just went with these four because we thought they had really unique reasons for being on the island. They were just really different.
"You can imagine how they came to the island, why they came here, why they are who they are. They're fit for survival."
So that pretty much explains how we ended up with Xian Mei, Logan, Sam B, and Purna as the final four stars. When I asked Kummer why Xian Mei, a worker at the Banoi resort hotel and one of the four playable characters, was chosen to be the Dead Island poster girl, he cited her vulnerable appearance as the main reason.
"When we think about motive and the character and who is going to be the poster boy -- or girl -- we want to show someone who is vulnerable, someone who was weak but now has to deal with this kind of situation," he explained.
"We picked Xian Mei from the beginning because she has this vulnerability but is obviously trained in some way to handle herself. For us, she was the perfect character to show both sides of Banoi: the paradise and the hell on earth."
During another interview, Kummer also mentioned the team's original idea of creating a more player-driven story, with more choices like in Fallout. Ultimately, the developers cut out some of the more story-based decisions in favor of a more linear experience in order to accommodate co-op.
That said, if you plan to play on your own, don't expect bot support. Dead Island doesn't offer AI allies as a substitute for real people, so if you're soloing the game, you really are alone. As for co-op, players should be relieved to hear there is no direct friendly fire. Damage can still be taken from collateral damage, however, like carelessly setting off a propane tank near your buddy.
Dead Island will be released next Tuesday, on September 6. For more on gameplay, be sure to check our previous chat with the insightful Mr. Kummer. You can also watch the recently released launch trailer below.