It’s unlikely that you’ll not be aware of the saga that is Dead Island 2. Originally announced back at E3 2014, the game had been passed between multiple studios before settling in the hands of Dambuster Studios – the team responsible for Homefront: The Revolution – in 2019. The final game looks very little like that original reveal. What it look like? As you’ll discover in this Dead Island 2 review, it looks very much like the first Dead Island.

The game begins by giving you six characters to choose from. That’s two more than the original Dead Island. However, it also gives you more unique attributes to consider. Attributes which you aren’t given any explanation for. Sure, ‘toughness’ and ‘stamina’ are pretty obvious, but what is ‘peak health’? And surely ‘resilience’ is the same as toughness? Thankfully, the decision you make doesn’t impact your game in any meaningful way. You’ll play through the same story whichever character you choose, just with a little extra strength or speed etc.

Dead Island 2 screenshot

Once you do start playing, you’ll be treated to a pleasingly short linear tutorial. You’re swiftly taught the basics of movement, attacking and kicking before being given more freedom. Despite meeting some friendly(ish) faces, you’re quickly left on your own again. No weaponry, no idea of where to go. Until you get both. It’s then that the real fun begins.

You still won’t have unlocked co-op or vehicle transport. Skills slots that modify your character and weapon crafting will come later, also. But what you do have here is your first taste of the larger game. You’re given mission objectives with waypoints that are highlighted on-screen. You can head straight to them, or freely explore the environment around you. Should you choose to do so, you’ll find all manner of items. Some more interesting than others.

Dead Island 2 screenshot

The weaponry available to you takes everyday objects and divides them into categories: heavy, sharp etc. These weapons will have different impacts on the zombie foes. Hit a zombie in the arm with a blunt weapon hard enough and you’ll break the bone, drastically reducing the damage should you be struck. Do the same with a sharp weapon and you could remove it altogether. The interest comes from mixing up the weaponry, crafting new modifications such as electric and fire, and putting down the innumerate hordes. Yes, this does sound a lot like Dead Island, doesn’t it?

Where Dead Island 2 changes things is in the scope. This sequel, more than a decade after the original, saw the series skip an entire console generation. With that, the environments are much, much grander than you might be expecting. The game is still divided into areas you will travel between opposed to one overwhelmingly huge map, however there are significantly more of them than Dead Island or Dead Island: Riptide. What’s more, each is much more densely populated with points of interest and side missions.

Dead Island 2 screenshot

The character progression system has seen a revamp, too. Whereas before you would earn skill points to purchase abilities on a skill tree, now you will unlock Skill Cards and slots to put them in. Skill Cards are split into four categories: Abilities, Survivor, Slayer and Numen. You can patch up a character’s weakness or exaggerate an ability. There are some that are unique to your choice of character. But don’t go expecting an entire overhaul. It’s a very simple system, but it works.

Accompanying all of this is the co-operative element which, sadly, was not available to play during our Dead Island 2 review process. The game’s servers are apparently not yet online – including an in-game feature known as ‘spark’ and other elements. Given that co-operative gameplay was one of the best features of the previous two titles (and was available during the review period back in 2011) is surprising to see it absent at this time. Perhaps we’ll revisit when Dead Island 2 launches this Friday.

Ultimately, Dead Island 2 is the sequel we expected. It’s bold, brash and big. If you enjoyed the original releases, there should be nothing stopping you from getting your zombie-bashing buddies into action this weekend. However, at the same time it’s hard to say that Dead Island 2 is going to turn any heads. There were many players disappointed with the original title. For those players, Dead Island 2 isn’t about to change your mind.

Categories: Games