Dead Island 2 has been a long time coming. Since its E3 2014 reveal, it’s had multiple development studios working on it and its target release date has been pushed back time, and time, and time again. It’s surreal to finally get my hands on it before its April 21 release date for a brief hands-on preview.
From development hell to hel-LA
During the slice of gameplay provided for the preview, I spent time in Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. While they certainly capture the Californian vibe, the sheer amount of zombies, blood, and guts quickly distract from the well-realized locales.
The game looks and runs fantastic on PC, which should hopefully be good news for the PS5 version. Developer Dambuster Studios is targeting 60 FPS for the current-gen and, if my fantastic experience on PC is anything to go by, I’m feeling optimistic for current-gen console players. (I’m a tad concerned about the PS4 edition, but my fingers are crossed.)
I hope you like killing zombies
Dead Island 2 is yet another game that tasks players with killing a bunch of zombies. It leans into the melee side of combat which, while more uncommon, is not unique. Thankfully, the game’s “FLESH System” acts as an enhancement to melee attacks, making zombie kills all the more satisfying with increased gore.
Thanks to FLESH, players can target individual body parts to damage. Using a bladed weapon to slash at a zombie’s arms and head, or a blunt weapon to knock down multiple foes at once before stomping on their heads before they had a chance to get up, didn’t get old. There are also weapon mods and elemental damage buffs to take advantage of, another tried-and-true mechanic for zombie games. For those who can appreciate messy zombie kills, Dead Island 2 may well have the messiest.
Throughout the mayhem of zombie blood spurting everywhere from increasingly violent attacks, my chosen “Slayer,” Jacob, was dropping one-liners and making snarky responses. There’s a fine line between being Boring Protagonist #512 and a Deadpool wannabe, and Jacob manages to deliver some fun humor without becoming annoying. I’m looking forward to trying the other five Slayers, who are hopefully equally as charming.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
I had no idea what to expect going into this Dead Island 2 preview. I had visions of a rat king of convoluted ideas from too many devs being involved. Happily, Dambuster Studios appears to have concentrated its focus on simply making a bigger-and-better sequel to the original Dead Island and, following my couple of hours with the game, it’s shaping up to be one of the better games of 2023.
Pre-order Dead Island for PS5 for $69.99.