Review – Dead Island 2

It’s been nine years since the first trailer for Dead Island 2 took us all by surprise and showed us the new setting of Los Angeles mixed with a fun and bloody vibe for the franchise’s next instalment. As the years went on, the delays kept coming and the developers switched hands which led to further delays and a whole new showcase, the game is finally here a mere 12 years after the last one was released, and while it would be easy to be pessimistic about it, fortunately, the result is a fun zombie slayer infused with layers of humour, character and a lot of blood, gore and bone shattering action, turns out, the wait was definitely worth it. 

Dead Island 2 is an open-world RPG set in the non-island of Los Angeles. The setting is now re-branded as HELL-A and is separated into 10 open-world areas that allow you to complete side missions, and quests and search for collectibles while working through the main story. By dividing the areas up into smaller sections of the world, it feels easier to navigate. The various locations from film sets to mansions in the Hollywood hills to zombie-infested hotels with zombie brides begging to bash your brains in. All of these areas are still expansive and are a lot of fun to explore. Due to the size of it, it feels like a much more controlled way to get around the city and not have to chart your way around an abnormally large map. I found I didn’t get as lost as I normally would in a huge open-world game like this and I enjoyed being taken to different parts automatically to complete missions. 

This game offers a FLESH system when it comes to undead combat. As you hack and slash away at zombies on the screen, bits of their flesh strip away and their muscles, bones and eye sockets are exposed, allowing you to be very precise with your attacks to keep your weapons lasting longer. The system also allows for each of the zombies to have their own personality traits and strengths that make them unique. When you bash a zombie’s leg, they will fall down, allowing you to brutally maim them to finish off the kill quicker than you normally would. 

Modding and upgrading your weapons is part of most games, in this title however you can upgrade your basic weapons like knives with electricity mods that then allows you to inject shocks into zombies as you stab them, it then takes a lot less attempts to kill them. It also works well with hydro zombies (zombies with huge water tanks on their back) that can electrocute and take out multiple zombies at once. It’s also a great way to take out the undead who are hanging around in the pools and spas of the Hollywood Hills mansions. Weapons do still break easily and you need to ensure you have enough cash and parts to repair them (or dismantle them for parts) Your player can carry quite a few weapons at one time, just keep in mind that they do break fairly easily, particularly in the later parts of the game when things start to get crazy. 

While this is a completely separate location from the previous game, a great nod to the original is the looting of suitcases and abandoned luggage as you travel across HELL-A. It maintains that connection and recognition from the previous title, particularly if like me, you revisited the original recently. You can break into cars and loot, when you do though car alarms can randomly go off and bring hordes of undead swarming to your location. There are safes to break into by locating and dismantling a mag-safe lock and these often contain the best loot. 

Dead Island 2 gives you the option to choose out of six different characters. Each has its own special set of skills and advantages. We played the main playthrough as Ryan the adult entertainer who was due to attend a party as a fireman as the virus outbreak happened. Using this to his advantage, he manages to snag a seat on an evacuation plane, of course, things don’t go to plan and the story progresses from there. One of the biggest surprises was that you can’t switch characters at any point during the game, you need to create a whole new game. Each character collects cards the more you play and you then apply these to your character to apply different abilities and strengths. These can be switched up at any point and I had a great time figuring out the best ones to keep in the deck during different missions. 

Visually the game looks spectacular. The cut scenes are well-detailed and the effects on the zombies, particularly when you get up close and the flesh starts peeling away looks unlike anything seen before. The design in each character is unique and ultimately comes down to what personality and character you want to play through as there isn’t too much of a difference when it comes to character traits and abilities. 

Dead Island 2 is far better than it ever had any right to be. The story is bare bones, however, it does make up for it with the huge variety of zombies and the FLESH system revolutionises the way you can make calculated and decisive kills. The game runs like a dream on the Playstation 5 with no bugs or crashes during my 30-hour playthrough. This is a solid instalment in the series that proves the wait was worth it. 

Dead Island 2 is available on the 21st of April 2023 on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 and PC. 

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It’s been nine years since the first trailer for Dead Island 2 took us all by surprise and showed us the new setting of Los Angeles mixed with a fun and bloody vibe for the franchise’s next instalment. As the years went on, the...Review - Dead Island 2