Even though Dead Island 2 looks great and seems perfect at first glance, it has a striking lack of creativity. On the one hand, Dambuster Studios has made a charming and funny post-apocalyptic sequel to the 2011 original, which is full of great one-liners and body parts. But other than its out-of-the-wall silliness and good comedy skills, there is not much to it that hasn’t been done better in a dozen other zombie-filled games since the first Dead Island came out more than a decade ago, including and especially Dying Light 1 and Dying Light 2.
Dead Island 2: Description
Even though it is not very original, Dead Island 2 does a good job with its over-the-top LA-based zombie parody and gives a series that has been stagnating for far too long a much-needed Botox shot. Putting lots of blood on Hollywood’s red carpets to make them even redder was hilarious and a good use of time in general. This is a funny first-person action game where the most normal thing is to kill zombies in “Hell-A” in horrible ways.
After choosing one of six virus-resistant playable characters on a failed plane evacuation, you are thrown gore-first into the intense streets of Southern California, where no one seems to take the end of the world seriously. You can play this 30-hour adventure alone or with up to two co-op friends. During that time, you’ll drop-kick and disembowel your way through a herd of zombies and meet a bunch of larger-than-life quest-givers, like a drugged-up rock star and a geriatric former movie star who gets his fashion advice from Hugh Hefner.
Dead Island 2: Pros and Cons
- Open-world games let you explore a large, immersive world.
- Co-op mode for up to 4 people to play together.
- We don’t know much about how the game is coming along or when it will be out.
- Bugs and glitches have happened in the past with Dead Island games.
|Operating System||Windows 10 (64-bit)|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3.3GHz or AMD FX-6300 @ 3.5GHz|
|Memory||8 GB RAM|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or AMD Radeon R9 270|
|Storage||50 GB available space|
|Official link||Visit Website|
Dead Island 2: Dead lines
The weakest part of Dead Island 2 is, however, its confusing story. During the short campaign, you have to find flimsy reasons to go to each different part of Los Angeles. You are constantly introduced to new, disposable characters who stop being important as soon as the plot moves you to a new area. Most of these characters are written to be annoying in a cheeky, wink-wink way. The majority of the cast is made up of old actors and LA socialites. But the writing is never funny or clever enough to make these characters more than just their basic ideas, and it’s never smart enough to pass as satire.
It’s also hard to tell when some jokes are bad on purpose, like in a b-movie, and when they’re just poorly written. Over halfway through the main story, you meet “sKOpe,” a device that works like an Amazon Alexa and is part of a side quest to find other sKOpes all over the map. It might have been funny when my character spoke in a monotone voice on purpose so the sKOpe could recognize her if an in-game ad hadn’t told me three times before to connect an Amazon Alexa to Dead Island 2 so I could use it to give voice commands.
It’s not all bad, though. Some of the side quests made me laugh, even though they were few and far between. Most of the time, the side quests are a lot more interesting than anything in the main story. This is because the humor in the side quests tends to come from more ridiculous characters, while the main story often gets too serious or dramatic.
Unleash the beast
She’s just an ordinary killer. I keep her going by adding skill cards I find around the city or on dead enemies to my deck, which is a four-card-tall half pyramid that I can change. At the top of the pyramid, where the standard Abilities card type lives, there are five slots. Protective Survivor cards get four slots, and the number of slots keeps going down from there. That might not seem like a lot of room to customize your Slayer, but I find it easy to use. There are a lot of cards to find and choose from.
Each one affects a different part of your Slayer’s defense, offense, or Autophage. Autophage is a powerful ability that makes you more like a zombie, but it costs your health. But I often don’t use all of my choices. I like to play defense, so I keep early Abilities cards like Dodge, which stuns enemies when you dodge their attack, and Slayer cards like The Limb Reaper, which lets me hurt a zombie for health, with me for the whole game.
Even though some enemies are resistant to certain types of attacks a zombie in firefighter gear, for example, doesn’t like fire attacks skill cards change how you heal, hit, and kick in broad strokes. Increase the damage of your slide attack, press R3 to make your jump kick stronger, and other things like that.
And since you can change or add to your deck at any time, trying out new cards never feels like a big risk, unlike with a skill tree or other system that requires you to spend points that you can’t get back. This hands-off approach makes sense for Dead Island 2, which wants you to kill zombies but usually doesn’t care how.
Dead Island 2: Hack and slash
Most of the time, though, the story doesn’t get in your way. Instead, it just tells you where to go so you can explore destroyed neighborhoods, mansions, hotels, studio backlots, and other places. Along the way, you’ll run into all kinds of shambling, running, crawling, and smashing zombies, which you’ll mostly fight with melee weapons. Depending on how you build and fix them at workstations with items you have stolen, these weapons can be as simple as lead pipes or as fancy as elemental slicers.
Even in the first few hours of the game, we were able to make a tire iron that could kill a lot of people at once and some knuckle dusters that let us hit bigger targets as fast as sound. The melee system is a lot of fun. You can use your reticle to target large areas on zombies’ bodies, and you can dodge and block attacks, which are very important to your survival. It’s not always very accurate, but we had a great time getting through crowds of enemies, and it’s fun how different it feels when you have different weapons.
Finding a favorite tool is fun, but the best moments usually happen when a weapon breaks at a crucial time, forcing you to use a less powerful one to get through a chaotic fight.The levels of Dead Island 2 are also full of small side objectives that you can choose to do. These can be as simple as getting around some buzzing electricity to loot a side room or as big as full sidequests.
In one of these early missions, we had to save an old movie star from his mansion by guarding him on his slow stairlift. In another, we did custom kills for an aspiring influencer at a Hype House-style man cave complex. Again, the scripts may not have been genre-defining in either case, but the frame stories are entertaining enough to make these side quests worth doing.
Bad to the bone
As for the story missions themselves, we can’t remember the last time we played through a campaign where the design choices were so dull. It’s embarrassing how many times we had to find a battery to fix a circuit breaker or fix the pressure sensors on some pipes. Worse, your character will make jokes about how often they have to solve the same boring puzzles to move forward. We’re sure it was meant to be a cute, self-aware moment from the developers, but all it did was make me more annoyed.
Both the high-end (Ryzen 9 5900X, RTX 4080, 64GB RAM) and low-end (i7-7820X, GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER, 16GB RAM) builds I used to play Dead Island 2 worked pretty well. Even the less powerful build was able to run the game with all settings on Ultra, with only small FPS drops compared to the more powerful build. Since the motion blur is set to a high level by default, it’s a good thing that both the button mapping and the graphic settings are pretty strong.
When fighting through an army checkpoint, my FPS dropped into the 30s, probably because there were so many zombies on the screen. One area of the game, Beverly Hills, had a strange bug that caused the frame rate to drop to 20 FPS whenever I closed a menu. Luckily, I could fix this by opening and closing the menu again. These problems didn’t seem to be the norm, though. Based on what I tested, the game seems to run very well even on fairly old hardware, which was a relief given the recent rise in poorly optimized PC ports.
Dead Island 2 is exactly what it says it is, which is a big deal given that it took a long time to make and had at least one complete restart. It’s a fun and bloody take on a pretty simple genre, and anyone who liked beating their way through the hordes of zombies in the first game will be glad to see it back. If you want foolish, bloody fun, this is a great choice. Don’t expect a new story, and don’t complain if it all starts to feel the same after a dozen hours.
As a real role-playing game, Dead Island 2 has a lot of fun quests, a wild cast of characters, and a thrilling pulp story that really pull you into its weird world. The game can be played again and again. If you add a wild co-op mode for up to three players, you’ll be in Los Angeles for a very long (and bloody) time.
Only gaming publications and people with a lot of influence get early copies of Dead Island 2, so there is no other way to play it before it comes out. So, if you don’t have a store that sells the game on speed dial, this trick is your best bet.