Dead Island 2 Review
|Published:||30th of April 2023, 6:44 PM GMT|
|Reviewed on:||PS5, PC, XB X|S|
- Several different locations to explore
- Loads of zombie variants to encourage players to switch up weapons
- Well optimised for PC and Console
- Tiered weapon system can be a bit limiting
- Story is short and basic
- Combat can feel repetitive even with the wide array of weapon choices
Dead Island 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the 2011 hit video game Dead Island, developed by Dambuster Studios and published by Deep Silver. This action role-playing game is set in LA, which has been lovingly renamed to Hell-A on account of the zombie outbreak. You’ll need to hack, slash and shoot your way through hordes of zombies as you encounter loads of different zombie types. You’ll get to choose from six character who each have unique strengths and weaknesses. The game consists of a main story as well as a series of side quests that you’ll be able to unlock as you proceed through the game and uncover new regions.
Story and Quests
The story for this game is reasonably short, with players able to complete the main quest in around 15 hours. For the most part the story is pretty fun: you’re introduced to new zombie types, your slaying skills are put to the test and there are a few puzzles and dilemmas you’ll need to solve throughout. That being said, the story and the game overall can feel a little basic and perhaps even a bit dated. This dated feel to the game might be a detriment to some, whilst others might feel it’s nostalgic to simpler gaming times, since it plays similarly to older zombie games like Dead Island, Dead Rising etc. There’s nothing inherently bad about a game that isn’t doing ground-breaking things, its main focus is zombies and there are lots of zombie variants to meet throughout the game, with each variant having different weaknesses and strengths.
The story, and the game overall, can feel a little basic and perhaps even a bit dated.
In terms of side quests, there are a total of 33 in the game, and at first you don’t have all that many available to you. As you go through the game and complete more story and side quests, you’ll unlock more and more quests. A fair few quests are unlocked in the post-game, which means that even when you’ve finished the story, there’s still some stuff for you to see and do in Hell-A. As far as side quests go, they’re pretty fun and about as much as you’d expect from a game that revolves around zombies. You get to meet some fun NPCs and fight some named zombies in mini boss fights. Again, not ground-breaking, but fairly enjoyable, nonetheless.
Zombie Slaying Combat Mechanics
Although the story might feel a bit lacking to some, the zombie slaying combat is the main appeal of this game. There are tons of weapons and weapon modifications that you’ll be able to experiment with. The different apex variant zombies and bosses will also inspire you to try out new weapons and status effects. Combat mechanics like maiming feel really intuitive and make for fun combat against lesser zombies as it encourages you to aim for parts of the zombies other than their heads! Moreover, given the fact you don’t get guns until pretty far into the game, it really encourages you to get up close and personal with the zombies. That being said, despite the encouragement to try out new weapons, the combat can get a little repetitive by the end of the game and whilst the bosses do have different weaknesses, there isn’t that much variation that would call for unique and creative combat approaches.
Curveballs, which is the game’s category name for throwable objects and bombs, are another element of the game’s combat system. Despite this game’s penchant for generous loot dropping and crafting materials, you don’t have to craft curveball items like you do ammo, so they can be a really handy tool in fighting zombies. Plus, you unlock a lot of these curveballs by completing side quests, so it further promotes exploration the completion of quests outside of the main story.
The skills tab also encourages new combat mechanics as you unlock different kinds of skill cards. Some will boost damage or speed or stamina, whilst others will give you special attacks that can be powerful in a horde of zombies. These skills are great for players who really want to min max the game, and at the same time, if you don’t really care about spending time honing the perfect build, you won’t miss out too much if you don’t use these skills all that often.
The tiered weapon system can sometimes feel a bit irritating as you’re constantly having to switch out weapons, even if you’ve spent tons of money upgrading your new favorite toy. Whilst the tiered weapon system and generous loot dropping zombies mean that combat can stay fresh (to some extent), it does make upgrading weapons feel a little redundant at times. It would have been nice to have a more fleshed out weapon crafting or upgrade system that allowed you to keep your favorite weapons for longer.
Although the story is pretty basic but it has you explore several different regions of Hell-A, including the bougie mansions of Bel-Air, Hollywood Boulevard, and the not so swanky sewers and underground metro areas. It’d have been nice to see a few more NPCs in the game, but this isn’t a huge draw back given that the game is all about slaying zombies. And the areas always seem to be well populated with zombies! The fast travel system can sometimes feel tedious as you have to be in a specific location to fast travel and you only unlock it later in the game. It means a lot of the early game story quests involve a lot of travelling back and forth to different maps.
The game looks really good and seems to be pretty well optimised for console and PC (a few minor freezes on PC but nothing major, from our experience). The graphics are great and they’ve done a great job with gore physics and effects. Additionally, a lot of attention to detail has gone into making the different areas of the map feel realistic and thought-out. The zombies wear appropriate clothing to reflect the different residential regions of Hell-A, and the NPCs you encounter will also fit in to where you find them.
A minor thing we did pick up on is that your character has no reflection in mirrors or windows. If you happen to venture into any room with a mirror you might be shocked to see that there’s no reflection looking back at you. Perhaps the game devs didn’t think it an important addition to the game given there’s no character customisations or aesthetics in the game. Regardless of the game devs’ intentions, it does feel a little neglectful to not animate reflections, especially since all the characters are really cool and you only see them on the main menu screen!
There was a bit of controversy around multiplayer mode in this game, as the original Dead Island allowed up to four players to play in co-op mode whereas Dead Island 2 only allows up to three players. It feels like a weird choice given that the standard co-op number is four players for most games, and it’s made even weirder by the fact that there are six characters to choose from.
When playing online with random people, it’d have been great to have a bit more choice in which games you’re joining. For example, it’d be cool to see what quest or side quest was being played by the hosting player and then choose to join based on that info. Without that kind of choice, you kinda just join half way through random quests
Additionally and quite disappointingly, the game does not support local co-op mode. Given that this game has quite a nostalgic and traditional zombie action-RPG feel, it’s a shame that they don’t include more “old-fashioned” features like local co-op. It means that if you do want to play with friends you’ll all need to buy a copy of the game.
Overall, this game is enjoyable if you’re looking to switch off and smash up some zombies. However, since it’s a pretty short game at around 35.5 hrs to 100%, we wouldn’t exactly say its worth $60 dollars (or $70 on console) and its hard to justify that price tag. It’s the type of game you’d want to grab when it’s on sale, especially if you and a couple of mates wanna play together.
A Fun and Gory Zombie RPG
This is a classic zombie killing game but does little to bring any new or ground-breaking ideas to the zombie action-RPG genre.