Dead Island 2 finally comes to most consoles and PC gaming stores after just a short moment lambasting in development limbo. In other words, Dead Island 2 bounced around developer after development team for 12 years!
Starting with an announcement at E3 in 2014 as a direct sequel to the hack-and-slash beauty that was Dead Island, Dead Island 2 has gone through more than its fair share of developers. Its original creator Techland abandoned Dead Island 2 in 2015 to shift gears and work on the Dying Light Series. Yager Development continued on the project until they weren’t in 2016. Sumo Digital took the challenge on but failed and was kicked off the project in 2019. Finally, Dambuster Studios finished Dead Island 2 in 2023 to give us what some critics are calling a lackluster game. However, we found that this is a perfect game for a more casual gamer or someone looking for a hilarious story without a grinding challenge.
A Familiar Feel… Dead Island 2 Almost Feels Like Coming Home
Set in the sunny, botox-filled streets of Los Angeles, Dead Island 2 borrows extremely heavily from a mish-mosh of other zombie games. Featuring melee-focused first-person combat, massive but linear level design, and endless hordes of zombies. Similar to Dead Island, Deadrising, and even The Last of Us, most players will find the crafting and modding system simple and easy to use while still getting amazing gory zombie kills with machetes taped to baseball bats and tasers turning katanas into truly electrifying weapons.
This familiarity with gameplay and mechanics has led critics to think that Dead Island 2 is nothing more than a Frankenstein’s monster of zombie games with none of the polish or charm. However, if are you looking to find a brand new style of gameplay or storyline, the zombie genre could be called a saturated one and probably not the best place to look. This is a great game for the casual gamer or someone with limited time to game. There’s no tricky level design or resource management that feels more like an Excel spreadsheet than functional gameplay.
Comedy, Comedy, and an Almost Sarcastic Feel
Dead Island 2 takes the standard zombie formula – rotting undead, military cover-up, and a magical immune protagonist – and takes a different track. Using the ridiculousness of Los Angles to show how no one is taking the zombie apocalypse too seriously, the game offers up a very satirical feel that gives players a serious laugh and is more akin to a parody rather than an actual survival horror game.
Players encounter a whole cast of characters that feel a bit over the top as the game actively makes fun of LA and celebrity culture. You’ll meet an old-school rocker that took his partying days a little too seriously and missed his extraction from the area, a social media influencer using the outbreak to boost her clout, and even a surprise character from the original Dead Island. Whether or not Dambuster Studios meant to write such a hilarious game, it’s not stopping most players from laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of the story.
Left for Dead Style CO-OP
As some critics may note, there is a somewhat repetitive feel to Dead Island 2. As a single player, this feeling might be more noticeable when you don’t have your friends to help you drop-kick zombies into flaming oil-slick, slapstick style.
Thankful, Dead Island 2 comes with a built-in Co-Op system so that you and two of your friends can jump into the gory-brain-splattering mayhem. Unfortunately, cross-play across consoles isn’t supported and online play uses a peer-to-peer model for hosting, with the host required to game on the latest Playstation or Xbox. So let’s just hope that you or your friends have a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S to be able to host your game.
A Story to Die For
Piggybacking off the levels of comedy that Dead Island 2 brings to the table, the story isn’t just filled with one-off jokes. Instead, the story comes with countless memorable moments and characters that give an otherwise generic hack-and-slash zombie game new life. We can’t talk about the story any further without giving away any serious spoilers, so you’ll just have to play and see for yourself.
Is Dead Island 2 Worth Buying?
This question ultimately boils down to the type of gamer you are. If you are looking for a new style of gameplay and mechanics or have hours of skill and time to devote to a new game then most likely no, Dead Island 2 will come as a repackaged zombie hack-and-style game with little scares and an unpolished feel that previous zombie games did far better. However, if you are a casual gamer or a lover of satirical storytelling and comedy, Dead Island 2 will come as a welcomed parody that you can throw on your tv for an hour or two in between taking care of other responsibilities.
The simple gameplay, recognizable skill trees, co-op capabilities, and ease of gameplay make this game a rollercoaster ride and less of a grind fest. Saving you from throwing your controller or keyboard at the wall out of frustration for dying for the tenth time. Is the game worth the $70 retail price? That might be a bit of a stretch. It might be best to simply wait until there’s a serious sale or when you can pick up a used physical copy at your local game reseller.