Dead Island 2 has finally arrived, nine years after its original announcement, and we have been playing the game to see how it measures up to its predecessor.
The game begins with the player selecting from one of six playable characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The motley crew boards the last evacuation flight out of the city, only to crash land shortly thereafter. After waking up, the player quickly discovers that their character is immune to zombie bites.
Once you select a character, you are stuck with that choice for the rest of the game. However, you can customize your loadout with skills collected throughout the game. The game’s storytelling is not its strong point, as the writing is fairly pedestrian and the exposition can be a bit tiresome.
Thankfully, the story is not the main focus of the game, and the player is free to explore the game’s environments at their leisure. The game takes you through ravaged neighbourhoods, mansions, hotels, and studio backlots where you’ll encounter a range of zombies, which you’ll take on primarily with melee weapons. These weapons range from unadorned lead pipes all the way to tricked-out elemental slicers, depending on how you build and repair them at workstations using looted items.
While finding a favourite tool is rewarding, the best moments always tend to come when a weapon breaks at a crucial moment, leaving you scrambling to use a less powerful option to scrape through a chaotic fight. The game’s melee system is enjoyable, allowing you to target specific areas on a zombie’s body using your reticle, with dodge and block mechanics that are crucial for your survival.
Dead Island 2’s levels are also littered with small side objectives you can choose to complete, from simple challenges like getting around some buzzing electricity to loot a side room, all the way to bigger options and full side quests. The frame narratives of the side quests are fun enough to make them worth completing.
The game’s graphics are impressive, even on current-gen hardware. The game’s colour palette is vibrant, with dark night-time sections that are creepy, and sun-soaked outdoor areas that feel authentic to their real-life counterparts. However, the real star of the show is the game’s dismemberment tech, which allows for realistic and gory damage to zombie corpses. Limbs can be hacked off, torsos bashed in, heads decapitated, and all manner of other nasty outcomes.
Overall, Dead Island 2 is a competent technical showing, and while there are no standout moments, it is still an enjoyable experience. It is impressive that the game manages to deliver on what it promises, despite the long development cycle and at least one reboot. If you’re a fan of zombie games or the original Dead Island, then you’ll likely find a Hell-A good time in Dead Island 2.