Shout at the dead with Alexa Game Control in Dead Island 2
Amazon is rolling out its latest game integration with Alexa Game Control support for Dead Island 2, the open-world zombie game due out at the end of April. I was able to play with a preview version of the game, using the headset to issue commands and trigger zombies.
Alexa Game Control does not require an Amazon Echo device. Instead, you can use your desktop microphone, your computer’s built-in microphone, or a headset, but you must link the game and your Amazon account. Setup was easy via QR code, and voice commands can be configured to work as a “talk-to-talk,” one click to talk, or you can leave the mic completely warm. I used the simple “head-to-talk” option, which uses the B key by default. In addition to PC, Xbox is also supported.
This isn’t my first foray into voice-activated games. I remember being blown away by the potential of a game called Star Trek Bridge Commander back in 2002 that promised players to give verbal commands to the ship’s crew. After purchasing the headset and plugging it into my 2002 computer, the novelty quickly wore off. Voice commands worked, but it was much easier to use keyboard commands instead.
In 2023, the situation looks similar. I tried Dead Island 2 with Alexa voice commands and found some useful instances, but often required restrictive language. The best way to use it is: “Hey Zombie!” was to attract an idle zombie to you. or something similar out loud. That way I can take out zombies one at a time from a larger group instead of getting surrounded and bitten every time I turn a corner.
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Finding and adding waypoints to map highlights like desktops and traders is another option, but I found it easier to just look at the in-game map to navigate. Weapon selection can also be done by voice, but the terminology is tricky. The utility guides the game to automatically select the current best weapon, saving you the hassle of opening menus and comparing stats. The final game will also feature online co-op multiplayer, and voice commands can be used to trigger general responses or movements such as a dance or thumbs up.
After a few hours, I can say that Dead Island 2 looks and plays very well overall. It’s set in LA, so the island part was a little misleading, but I loved the satirical take on Hollywood clichés and all the jokes and sight gags. For the most part, the Alexa Game Control features didn’t add any extra playability to the game, and I’m not sure I left it on for the entire game. It’s a “Hey Zombie!” said. command was very useful and I used voice command more than others.
Dead Island 2 is coming to PC and consoles on April 21st. This is the first game to support the new Alexa Game Command initiative, but Amazon says “more games should follow.”
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