People are downloading and playing a five-year-old build of Dead Island 2.
The build, which reportedly emerged on the V board of 4Chan, is playable, although there are placeholder assets throughout. It is dated June 2015. Footage from it is popping up all over YouTube:
Eurogamer has verified this build is the work of Spec Ops: The Line maker Yager, which was tasked by publisher Deep Silver with making the zombie sequel before both parties split amid creative differences in July 2015.
In March 2016, Deep Silver announced UK studio Sumo Digital had taken on Dead Island 2. Then, in August 2019, Deep Silver announced it had brought development in-house at Homefront: The Revolution maker Dambuster Studios.
Dead Island 2 has been in the works for quite some time, then, and has clearly suffered a rocky development as it's shifted between three studios. It was first announced at E3 2014 with an eye-catching trailer that, well, is certainly quite the watch today.
What we'd seen of Dead Island 2 showed it as colourful and crazy - an eight-player multiplayer zombie riot in sunny LA. It was playable by press at events throughout the second half of 2014, at a time when the game was due out spring 2015. But in April 2015 it was delayed to 2016, suggesting major problems were afoot.
Dead Island 2 is still without a release date, but Koch Media boss Klemens Kundratitz recently insisted it was still important for the company.
"My favourite question," Kundratitz said when our friends at GamesIndustry.biz asked for an update on the beleaguered zombie sequel. "Look, Dead Island is a very important brand for us and we've got to get it right. It's just a testimony of our dedication to get it right.
"It's a great story to tell everyone that it's on its third studio, but we like to be judged on the end result and we're really confident that when it comes out it's going to be a kick-ass zombie game. We'll certainly give it all our power."
While this build of Dead Island 2 is very much playable, it's unlikely to resemble the Dead Island 2 that will be officially released. Still, it's interesting to see the game Yager was working on just a month before the project fell apart. Three locations, a raft of characters and classes as well as online co-op functionality are all included, although the latter is disabled.
"Our Yager team is fully committed to the development of AAA quality titles," Yager boss Timo Ullmann said when it was revealed its Dead Island 2 was cancelled.
"We work closely with international publishers and partners and have at the same time always remained an independent development studio. Our team is made of the best creative minds and tech specialists who all share a common identity. The team worked with enthusiasm to take Dead Island 2 to a new level of quality. However, Yager and Deep Silver's respective visions of the project fell out of alignment, which led to the decision that has been made."
Later in July 2015, Yager Productions GmbH, the Yager Development sub-studio set up for the development of Dead Island 2, filed for insolvency.
Eurogamer has asked Deep Silver for comment.