The burning landscape of a zombie-infested LA in Dead Island 2.

Dead Island 2 Review

Dead Island 2 Review

need to know

what is it? A melee action game set in a zombie-infested Los Angeles.
release date April 21, 2023
expect to pay $60/£55
developer Dan Buster’s studio
publisher dark silver
Reviewed on GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER, i7-7820X, 64GB RAM
steam deck not support
associate Official Website(opens in a new tab)

After about 10 hours of playing Dead Island 2, I began to wonder if there was any point in continuing. I’ve been waiting for the game to introduce some new gameplay mechanic or narrative surprise that keeps me invested, or at least gives me some sort of reason to keep going. Another ten hours later, I’m sure; if I hadn’t been playing this game for a review, I’d have stopped playing it long before it was over.

My biggest problem with Dead Island 2 is its game loop, which isn’t so much a loop as it is a flat circle. Get weapons, kill zombies, destroy weapons, get more weapons – and so on. That might sound like a dismissive way to criticize a game, but in the case of Dead Island 2, the problem is that there’s nothing outside of this loop worth engaging with. The game doesn’t have an open world as many expected–instead, the map is split into 10 different locations that you can (eventually) zip between. Once you’ve completed the relatively short main story and completed the remaining side quests, all that’s left to do is head to one of the areas and kill endlessly respawning zombies until you quit or get tired of dying.

(Image credit: Dambuster Studios)(opens in a new tab)

Is it at least fun to kill zombies? Yes – at first. At the start of the game, all you have are some key skills and some basic melee weapons. This was the part of Dead Island 2 I had the most fun with, since I spent most of my time fiddling with the “flesh” system. Almost every body part of a zombie can be hacked away in an instinctive and dynamic manner, allowing you to cut off a zombie’s leg at a specific point, or pop an eyeball out of a well-placed head.

The novelty wears off quickly as the story progresses. Granted, having a zombie and its jawbone flying around in two different directions will never go out of style, but the ensuing fight doesn’t add to the fun of the action. The cards you unlock allow you to enhance certain skills, like your dodge or your jump kick, and you can unlock “Curveball” throws to help keep crowds down, but these upgrades aren’t enough to provide any real variety.

Now might be a good time to mention that Dead Island 2 doesn’t have a difficulty setting of any kind. While not every game needs adjustable difficulty, Dead Island 2 does feel like it could use it–not because it’s too hard, necessarily, but because it’s so inconsistent. The first third of the campaign was relatively challenging, and I found myself constantly depleting all of my melee weapons and periodically scavenging for health items in the environment. Then I unlocked the gun and the difficulty turned into a joke.

While you’ll never have enough ammo to burn down an entire map area without resupplying, they do allow you to knock out limbs of basic zombies in one shot and deal lethal damage to boss enemies from a safe distance. Use it with Pair your skill buff with your curveball, and you can easily become untouchable. Dead Island 2 tries to balance this out by spawning more and more boss enemies as you progress on the map and in the main story missions, but all that’s left to do is fill the length of the game with massive, cavernous health bars.

(Image credit: Dambuster Studios)(opens in a new tab)

Throughout the brief campaign, you’re looking for flimsy narrative excuses to visit every different part of Los Angeles, constantly being introduced to new, one-off characters.

Your first encounter with each of these special enemies is pretty fun, but they’re immediately recycled into standard encounters scattered throughout the map. The first time I fought a hulking Crusher, it was simple but fun. As you make your way through the wedding venue, you’ll encounter a bride who’s about to turn into a zombie, and you’ll have to fend her off to slow romantic music playing in the background. Dodging the barbarian’s slow telegraph attack and timing the jump correctly to avoid her ground bashing was a very memorable and fun scene; when I went outside and encountered another about two minutes into the story mission When the Crusher is put on, it immediately goes sour.

dead line

However, Dead Island 2’s weakest element is its chaotic story. Throughout the brief campaign, you’re looking for flimsy narrative excuses to visit every different part of Los Angeles, constantly being introduced to new, one-off characters who move you to a new area the moment the plot moves you is no longer relevant. Most of these characters are written to be obnoxious in a cheeky nudge, wink, with actors and L.A. socialites making up most of the cast. However, at no point is the writing funny or witty enough to elevate these characters beyond their basic concepts, and it’s certainly not smart enough to function as satire.

(Image credit: Dambuster Studios)(opens in a new tab)

It’s also hard to tell when certain jokes are intentionally horrible, in a B-movie fashion, and when they’re just poorly written. Halfway through the main story, you’ll learn about “sKOpe” – an Amazon Alexa-style device that takes part in side quests to track down other sKOpes throughout the map. It could be funny when my character purposely speaks in a monotonous voice just so sKOpe can recognize her – if the in-game ad hadn’t prompted me to connect Amazon Alexa to Dead Island 2 on three different occasions beforehand I can use it for voice commands. Is this the brazenness of its own co-marketing deal, or just an awkward attempt?

It’s not all bad–some side quests did make me laugh a couple of times, even if they were few and far between. Overall, the side quests feel far more interesting than anything the main story has to offer, as they tend to gravitate towards the more ridiculous characters for their humor and rarely veer towards the kind of mishandled ones the main story is prone to. seriousness and drama.

(Image credit: Dambuster Studios)(opens in a new tab)

bad to the bone

As for the actual content of those story missions, I honestly can’t recall the last time I played a campaign with such bland design choices. It’s frankly embarrassing how many times I’ve been responsible for finding batteries to fix circuit breakers or fix pressure sensors on some pipes. Worse, your characters will joke that they’re constantly being asked to solve the same monotonous puzzles in order to progress. I’m sure this is supposed to be a cutesy, self-aware moment for the devs, but it just annoys me more. If you know your puzzles suck, why are you forcing me to play them?

I’ve played Dead Island 2 on two different builds, one relatively high-end (Ryzen 9 5900X, RTX 4080, 64GB RAM) and one more modest (i7-7820X, GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER, 16GB RAM), both of which usually run smoothly. In fact, even the more modest version runs the game on Ultra at all settings – with only a slight drop in FPS compared to the more powerful version. The button mapping and graphics settings are also relatively robust, which is handy considering how high the motion blur is with the default settings.

(Image credit: Dambuster Studios)(opens in a new tab)

It’s hard to find too many reasons to recommend Dead Island 2 other than the admittedly impressive technical performance.

No matter which version I was running the game on, I did experience some pretty big FPS drops during certain scenes in the main story. One particular segment, in which you fight through an army checkpoint, caused my FPS to drop into the 30s (likely due to the amount of zombies on screen). One area in the game, Beverly Hills, also had a weird issue that caused the game to drop to 20 FPS when I closed the menu, though thankfully, simply reopening and reclosing it fixed the issue. These issues seem to be the exception rather than the rule, but based on my testing, the game seems to run remarkably well even on relatively outdated hardware – a relief given the recent increase in poorly optimized PC ports In one go(opens in a new tab).

I also ran into some general bugs, some of them pretty minor (such as resources dropping in the terrain before I could pick them up, and weird collision detection on some objects throwing me half way through the map) and other more major bugs (like when I get caught inside a wall during a movie attack, or when certain quests refuse to advance). However, I’ve never had any game interruptions or progress stalls that couldn’t be fixed with a simple reload, and Dead Island 2’s relatively generous checkpoints and autosaves mean I’m rarely losing more than A few minutes of progress.

It’s hard to find too many reasons to recommend Dead Island 2, other than an admittedly impressive technical performance. While the combat is responsive and intuitive, it sadly does little to make up for the game’s many shortcomings – especially when said gameplay has barely evolved over the game’s 20-hour campaign.

Dead Island 2: Price Comparison

Find more articles in our categories Gaming & News & Anime.

Thanks for visiting we hope our article Dead Island 2 Review

, help us and share the article on Facebook, pinterest and e-mail with the hashtags ☑️ #Dead #Island #Review ☑️!

Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.