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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 to dive back into this beloved universe.

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 decide 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.

Dead Island 2 | TheEffect.NetStory

Dead Island 2, like its predecessor, takes players on another thrilling adventure filled with zombie mayhem. Set in an undead-infested LA, 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.

Dead Island 2 | TheEffect.NetThe 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.

Dead Island 2 | TheEffect.NetOne 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 storyline might not be this title’s strong suit, the setting and atmosphere serve as the solid foundation for the action-packed gameplay.

Gameplay

As you might have guessed, combat is at the heart of Dead Island 2, offering a visceral and satisfying experience for players who enjoy dispatching swathes 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.

Dead Island 2 | TheEffect.NetThe 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.

Dead Island 2 | TheEffect.NetOverall, 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.

Visuals

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

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.

Dead Island 2 | TheEffect.Net

Conclusion

Dead Island 2, after an almost decade-long 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 enjoyable but the gameplay is what stands out the most. The skill card system allows for flexibility and adaptability, encouraging players to switch up their playstyle to match the situation. Visually, the game offers an impressive gore system, with gruesome details that make the zombie-slaying experience feel visceral and intense.

Dead Island 2 | TheEffect.NetFor players seeking an engaging zombie-slaying experience, Dead Island 2 does have its moments of brilliance.

Dead Island 2 Pricing & Availability

Dead Island 2 is available now for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and on the Epic Games Store.

REVIEW: Dead Island 2
  • Story
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals
4.2

Summary

For players seeking an engaging zombie-slaying experience, Dead Island 2 does have its moments of brilliance.

John Reilly

John is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheEffect.Net. His favourite gaming series is Uncharted and his favourite film is Interstellar. He is also known to quote 'Father Ted' and Keith Lemon more than is normal. John@theeffect.net