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Dead Island 2 Review

Come to the Coast, have a great time!

Dead Island 2 doesn’t mess about, a long awaited sequel to the fondly dismembered Dead Island. This time round you get to choose from a bunch of keen zombie slayers and make your way through the cluttered alleyways and luxury houses of L.A. Once you’ve picked your Slayer du jour, depending on their style and skill tree…it’s clobbering time!

For reasons unknown I went with wise-cracking Irish lass Nina, she takes no prisoners and swings a mean hammer. Oh, and for reference the cut scenes are instantly skippable, which is blessing.

Dead Island 2 is Environmentally Smashing.

The game delivers on the environment, while its not truly open-world the level areas are big enough to explore with abandon. You’ll find yourself in all sorts of environments and plenty of dark places to ferret around in. On occasion the visuals feel a touch rough, but most of the time the game has plenty of wow moments. That said, you are pretty much funnelled into areas and the respawning zombies start to get a bit on your wick.

What the game does do well is give you options. Harking back to good old Bioshock days, being able to harness the environment to trap and kill zombies is my favourite thing.

  • Smash a Fire Hydrant to flood the road and then electrocute it, tick.
  • Throw a car battery into a swimming pool, tick.
  • Roll an oil barrel down the street and set fire to the slick, tick.
  • Even a flying dropkick to smash a couple of walkers off the roof is satisfying.

Of course it’s not all lollipops, setting off a car alarm is often cause for concern. As you’ll soon meet every zombie in the neighbourhood.

It certainly doesn’t hold back on the red stuff, either, you’ll be slipping around on sticky spillages like Shaun of The Dead.

Sticks and Stones will break some bones, and then Degrade.

Dead Island 2 is a melee heavy game, there’s no argument about that. While you can get guns later in the game the focus is all about smashing skulls. Given the fact that the game is set in L.A. one of the most surprising things is the lack of shooty weapons, I actually only gathered a handful of bullets in the first few hours. Which is just a promise of things to come. And I’m a well known nosey kleptomaniac in these kinds of game.

The issue I have with melee games in first person, is that it’s a melee game in first person. Once again the timing of attacks, judging depth and speed, it’s all a challenge. Dead Island 2 is visceral for sure, so those heavy swings and maiming sledgehammers are satisfying, but there’s a level of exhaustion that sets in when you’ve smashed your way through 50 repeating zombies. An exhaustion that could be cured quite easily with a mini-gun.

Weapons are upgradeable by adding buffs to limited slots, but, its’s not that expansive. You do this at the Workbench, usually in a safe house, that is scattered around the world. Costco must have had a special on workbenches. It’s a very Rock, Paper, Scissors trade off – more speed, less durable, more heavy hitting, less speed etc. Adding effects like Fire or Electricity is great for setting off environmental traps, but never feel really meaty in combat.

When I look back at games like Biomutant and Alienation, the upgrades are much more satisfying to earn and apply. Let’s not talk about weapons degrading and the cost of repairing them over here in 2023.

Live, Die, Repeat.

Dead Island 2 and your inevitable demise. Given the amount of zombies, there’s no shame in being overwhelmed now and again. Especially in the odd Boss Fight too.

When you respawn into an area you’re playing it again, although some objects pop back in while others don’t. Revisiting areas also repopulates the scrap and collectibles that you use at the workbenches, which is handy, but illogical. Of course you will need to revisit areas too, especially in the early stages once you work out the where to get Fuses and where to use them for secret stashes.

Dead Island 2 also brings a decent co-op offering, making zombie smashing a more social affair, pretty much an essential these days.

Overall it’s a fun game, with a few hiccups. Personally I find the constant reliance on melee too exhausting for long sessions. That said, in short bursts it a great game to work out some frustrations, alone, in the dark, when the monsters come.