Dead Island 2 Review – An Imperfect Dying Light

Development hell doesn't always result in a bad game.

Dead Island 2 Review
Overall
3.5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Dead Island 2 has its fair share of technical issues but there is still an extremely satisfying, if imperfect, zombie-slaying adventure here.

  • Developers: Deep Silver Dambuster Studios
  • Publishers: Deep Silver and Plaion
  • Release Date: April 21, 2023
  • Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & Series S, and PC
  • Predecessor: Dead Island

Pros

  • Excellent Atmosphere
  • Humorous Dialogue
  • Engaging Co-op Gameplay
  • Skill Cards
  • Crunchy Melee Combat

Cons

  • Underwhelming Gunplay
  • Technical And Graphical Issues
  • Mediocre Narrative
  • Repetitive

After nearly a decade of anticipation, Dead Island 2 has finally clawed its way out of development hell and onto our gaming platforms, and fans of the series have been eagerly waiting for an equal amount of time to dive back into this beloved universe.

And due to the success of its predecessor and hype levels for its sequel reaching unimaginable highs, this title has some big shoes to fill. So in this Dead Island 2 Review, we dissect the different aspects of the game and deduce if it manages to fulfill fan expectations, or has fallen it prey to the horde of technical issues and shortcomings that have plagued its development.

Story And Setting

Dead Island 2 Review Story and Setting
Story.

Dead Island 2, like its predecessor, takes players on another thrilling adventure filled with zombie mayhem. Set in an undead-infested Los Angeles, it offers a fresh backdrop and a new cast of characters.

The story takes place sometime after the events of the first game with a new cast of playable characters, each with their own distinct backstories, And with them, players embark on a perilous journey through the sunny streets of Los Angeles. And while the individual characters lack unique story arcs, the game’s plot is primarily driven by meaningful interaction between players and other survivors as they must team up to escape the zombie apocalypse while staying alive.

The storyline isn’t that groundbreaking, but there are plenty of entertaining moments to be found. One example is the return of Sam B from the original Dead Island, which is a very welcome surprise. The game’s humorous dialogue also gives it a B-movie vibe which can keep players engaged for hours on end. Its narrative is told through 20+ main quests, but the delivery is not without its hiccups, especially the ending which is underwhelming, to say the least, and can leave many players without a sense of closure.

Apart from the main quests, there are over 30 different sidequests that can provide some much-needed variety when progressing through the campaign. However, some of these can involve a lot of backtracking to previously explored areas, which can grow monotonous fairly quickly. Still, one can find many gems there as well.

One of Dead Island 2’s strongest aspects is its setting. The city of Los Angeles provides players with a chaotic city teeming with the undead, and each main location functions as a large hub filled with many locations to loot, a multitude of optional side quests to complete, and endless hordes of zombies to slay.

The sheer scale and detail of this world encourage exploration and serves as an ideal playground for zombie-killing enthusiasts.

Even though the narrative might not be this title’s strong suit, the setting and atmosphere serve as the solid foundation for the action-packed gameplay which we will discuss in the next section of our Dead Island 2 Review. 

Gameplay

Dead Island 2 Review Gameplay
Gameplay.

Combat is at the heart of Dead Island 2, offering a visceral and satisfying experience for players who enjoy dispatching hordes of the undead. The game primarily focuses on melee combat, with a wide array of weapons available, ranging from electrified Wolverine claws to acidic golf clubs. 

They can be upgraded and modified to deliver additional status effects, allowing players to experiment with different loadouts and strategies. While melee weapons are the game’s mainstay, firearms are also available. But unfortunately, guns in Dead Island 2 are generally underpowered and suffer from occasionally unresponsive controls, making them a less attractive option in most situations. This in turn causes the melee combat to turn stale fairly quickly as it lacks the fluidity of other games in the same genre like the Dying Light series. 

Thankfully, the game’s loot system is rewarding and keeps players constantly on the lookout for new gear. Unlike some other loot-focused games, Dead Island 2 rarely burdens players with low-quality equipment. Instead, players often find their inventory and storage overflowing with high-quality weapons, prompting them to sell or scrap items to make room for new discoveries.

New abilities are also unlocked through main and side quests which can be swapped on the go. They add a new layer of depth to the combat allowing the players to equip those perks that align with their preferred playstyle. Some of them are downright overpowered, for example, one ability allows the player to enter a frenzy mode and kill zombies with their bare hands. Perks like these are ideal for getting out of tight spots and can only be activated after a certain cooldown.

Solo play is fun, but the repetitive melee combat and limited traversal mechanics can leave little incentive to progress more. If this happens, sharing your adventures with a trusty buddy can rejuvenate the experience. Co-op play is an integral part of the Dead Island 2 experience, and it is where the game truly shines. Teaming up with up to 2 friends to mow down zombies and explore the expansive Los Angeles setting never gets old, despite the occasional technical hiccup. In fact, the co-op can sometimes be a lifesaver, as partners can help each other overcome certain glitches or progress-halting bugs.

Even if you get all your buddies to join you the fun won’t last unless the zombies, who are the real stars of the show, are creatively designed. After spending countless hours in the game for this Dead Island 2 Review, we can assure players that they won’t be disappointed in this regard. The streets of Los Angeles are teeming with the undead, providing ample opportunities for players to engage in combat. In addition to the standard shamblers and runners, the game introduces several special zombie types, each with their unique abilities and weaknesses. The Zompedia, a Pokedex-like feature, allows players to learn more about these powerful foes and adapt their strategies accordingly.

While the gameplay in Dead Island 2 is entertaining and offers plenty of zombie-slaying fun, it is also marred by numerous technical issues. Bugs and glitches, ranging from harmless visual oddities to game-breaking progression blockers, can detract from the overall experience. Thankfully, most of these issues can be resolved by reloading a save or relying on co-op partners, but they are still a significant inconvenience.

In conclusion, Dead Island 2’s gameplay offers a mix of satisfying combat, engaging co-op play, and rewarding loot mechanics. The game’s focus on melee combat can make the experience a bit repetitive, but skill cards unlocked through quests can remedy it to some extent by providing plenty of opportunities for players to experiment and fine-tune their playstyles. However, the numerous technical issues and underwhelming gunplay are undeniable drawbacks that can detract from the overall experience.

Visuals And Performance

Dead Island 2 Visuals
Visuals.

The setting of Los Angeles is visually engaging, capturing the essence of the metropolis, while still maintaining a sense of dread as players navigate through the streets of the zombie-infested city.

Talking about the visuals of a zombie game would be incomplete without talking about the gore system, which in this title’s case is most impressive and grotesque. The game pulls no punches when it comes to violence and carnage, allowing players to dismember and disembowel zombies in shockingly realistic ways. Close inspection even reveals fluids coursing through the organs of the undead, adding an extra layer of gruesome detail. Confined spaces become especially morbid after a battle, resembling the interior of a meat grinder in full operation.

However, Dead Island 2’s visuals are not without their flaws. The game is plagued by various bugs and glitches, ranging from amusing visual oddities to more disruptive issues. Instances of characters phasing through objects or NPCs sinking through the floor during cutscenes are just some examples of these problems. While some of these issues are harmless and can even provide comic relief, others are more problematic and can hinder the overall experience.

Performance-wise, Dead Island 2 suffers from a number of technical shortcomings. As mentioned earlier, the game is riddled with bugs and glitches that can sometimes break immersion or even halt progression. Players may encounter objectives that fail to complete after meeting the requirements, or experience issues with co-op partners becoming desynced from the host. While many of these issues can be resolved by reloading a save or relying on co-op partners to progress, they still represent a significant inconvenience for players.

Verdict

 Verdict.jpg
Verdict.

Dead Island 2, after a tumultuous development cycle, finally brings players to the zombie-infested streets of Los Angeles. The game’s portrayal of the city is expansive and engaging, providing a fitting backdrop for the undead apocalypse. 

The game’s story and setting are passable, but not particularly engaging. But the gameplay shines when it comes to co-op and the melee combat system. The skill card system allows for flexibility and adaptability, encouraging players to switch up their playstyle to match the situation or complement their co-op partners. Visually, the game offers an impressive gore system, with gruesome details that make the zombie-slaying experience feel visceral and intense. 

For players seeking an engaging zombie-slaying experience, Dead Island 2 does have its moments of brilliance. However, it is best approached with tempered expectations and a willingness to overlook its flaws. Those who can look past the technical issues and immerse themselves in the chaos may find a satisfying, if imperfect, zombie-slaying adventure.

This has been our Dead Island 2 Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles. 

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Huzaifa is eXputer's Review Editor, who’s all about RPG games. He’s got several years of experience critically judging games and writing his unbiased thoughts on them. You can also find his content published on sites like Twinfinite & GearNuke. Huzaifa has been gaming for 23+ years, during which he managed to amass 400+ hours on Elden Ring! You can follow his gaming activity on his Xbox and Steam Profiles.

Experience: 5+ years || Previously Worked At GearNuke & Twinfinite || Mainly Covers RPG Guides & Latest Games Reviews