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Dead Island 2 Review

Dead Island 2 Review

From publisher Deep Silver and developer Dambuster Studios, Dead Island 2 releases later this month on the 21st of April. The original Dead Island came out back in 2011, with the latest in the franchise launching in the yesteryear of 2014. Suffice to say, fans of the franchise have been waiting a while for this sequel.

Unlike the recently released Resident Evil 4 (2023) (which I categorise as a third-person horror action-adventure), Dead Island 2 is a first-person horror action-RPG, available to play in both single-player or online co-op. You also get to explore Hell-A (Los Angeles) in a semi-open world fashion. Players will be able to choose from six protagonists for their playthrough: Amy, Dani, Ryan, Bruno, Carla, and Jacob. Each has their own base stats, such as agility or vitality, and they all have different bonuses; Like getting health back from a properly timed dodge or block. For my part, I chose to play as Jacob — the poster boy of the game. This turned out to be a great choice; Jacob is filled with witty comments, which he delivers in his smooth London accent. Some of the stuff that came out of this guy really cracked me up. All the protagonists and characters in Dead Island 2 are very well-voiced, and have realistic facial animations (but only during scripted cutscenes).

Beverly Hills

Storywise, Dead Island 2 feels pretty generic in the beginning — side quests really add the flavour. You start out by surviving a plane crash that was supposed to be your ticket out of the infected area. You then meet up with other survivors of the crash, which leads to you being bitten (bad luck, mate). As your character succumbs to the fever of the bite, all seems lost. However, they survive, waking up some time later, having wandered away from the crash. It turns out you are immune from the zombie contagion. Back on their feet, your character must fight through a mansion in order to reach the safety of other survivors — this and the plane crash act as effective tutorials for the gameplay.

One thing I really enjoyed about this title was the full freedom of movement allocated to the player. Sprinting, running and sliding, jumping, drop kicking, crouching, dodging, climbing, and throwing picked-up items, are all available during this feast of zombie head stomping. I also appreciated how the user interface could be set to dynamic for its various aspects; this allowed me to not have my health status or weapon durability displayed when I didn't need to see it.


Being a zombie-themed game, the need for weapons is implied, and this title has many to choose from. You can scrap, upgrade, and repair your arsenal as needed at a workbench. I highly suggest having a variety of weapons on hand as your favourite can — and will — break. Though, an item's durability only seems to go down when you are hitting an enemy, which means you can hack and slash elements of the environment without penalty — however, I could not pop an inflatable pool toy with my katana, which made me sad. But to balance out not being able to carve up a pool toy, Dead Island 2 has a vast amount of zombie appearance variety, as well as different zombie types, making it so you're not killing the same-looking enemy all the time. Every blunt force hit or slash of your weapon seems to cause realistic damage to the creatures. Using a katana (or other bladed weapons), you will see the deep cuts inflicted on your opponent.


Like the original game, Dead Island 2 looks gorgeous (goregeous, haha could not help myself); this time round, the game is running with Unreal Engine 4 vs original developer Techland’s older Chrome Engine 5. I did have to tweak things a little to get a solid performance, but once done, everything ran great. I am using an RTX 2060 paired with an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, and I have the game installed on my Samsung 980 NVMe. I suggest disabling the Epic Games Store’s in-game overlay. Set the shader cache to 5GBs in the control panel if you're using an Nvidia card, and 100% allow the shaders to load when the game starts up (for some reason, you can skip this process and play without loading the shaders). Doing these three things really improved performance.

Now it's time for the negative side of Dead Island 2. Despite the beautiful graphics, I was taken out of my immersion every time I entered a room with a TV or a mirror. While they both showed reflections of the room, neither showed my character reflected back. It is possible I am secretly a vampire, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Another annoyance was just how quickly items and enemies respawned. I’d clear a building, leave, turn back around and somehow, another zombie or two would already be shuffling over to me. They seem to appear out of thin air the moment I’m not looking. Hey, I get it, it's a zombie game and does not need to be realistic, but this felt like a bit much and made me feel like I was not progressing.


While I can’t say I did not enjoy the game, I will say that some improvement is needed for the next one. Particularly how slow the story can be, and how much time it takes to get interested. Though, that may just be me dealing with a market oversaturated with zombie games.

Dead Island 2 will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (Epic Games Store) on the 21st of April 2023.

8.00/10 8

Dead Island 2 (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

A fun but not relaxing trip to the fancy parts of L.A, Dead Island 2 is a major improvement over the previous franchise entries, with accurate goriness for the player's situation.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Jase Taylor

Jase Taylor

Staff Writer

Explaining things thoroughly and also too much

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