Dead Island 2 nails everything that made the original a cult classic and hits harder than ever

Sequels are a tricky thing, especially when it comes to a beloved franchise or cult hits.

They’re even harder when they come years in the future, and more so when the sequel, in essence, remains very much on topic and theme with the original source material.

This is an extension of our first thoughts of the game.

Dead Island 2 is definitely a sequel to Dead Island 1. It’s practically identical at times, which, as we illustrated in our preview, might be the biggest surprise for everyone coming in.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing either, as the core loop is strong, entertaining and absolutely riddled with blood.

The truth is, there’s not a whole lot to add to the thoughts I laid out in my preview. For better or worse, the game’s identity is scarcely unchanged.

Sure, the environments stay fresh and the enemy types evolve, from hulking beasts to insect-ridden shufflers that attack you in swarms, but from the moment you dive in you know what the expectation is and how to face it.

Dead Island 2 keeps itself consistent, doesn’t rock the boat too much, but still manages to stay relatively fresh between the story, the weapon types, the side missions, and, as mentioned, enemies.

Of course, on the flip side this isn’t a game that’s going to redefine genres or set benchmarks, but it is highly entertaining and a good time.

The grotesque destruction of bodies remains stomach-churning, yet the game’s humor stays witty and really helps to anchor and balance the experience.

And through the differences of Slayers, each with unique abilities, spun off with the variety of skills and cards that evolve as you fight and prevail, your approach to battle differs and forces you to focus in different areas. Lower in Stamina, time your strikes better. Lower health, be prepared to dodge and weave more.

The game’s limitations do show through, rather than having a talent tree similar to Dying Light 2, you’re more constrained to changing up cards and mixing up an approach to suit your playstyle. Completing challenges do add permanent boosts to certain stats, like additional health and stamina, but ultimately it’s a game of experimentation and changing things up.

That is quite refreshing in a sense. Talent Trees, while they can often be respecced, regularly take you down one specific, preferred path, whereas cards can let you trial and error in multiple different ways. In that regard, it is as liberating as it is constraining.

The story is also fairly linear and non-descript, following expected tropes and stereotypes, with slayer dialogue mixing things up ever so slightly. It’s standard Zombie fare between cures and escapes, but it’s the large set pieces that really keep things interesting, taking you everywhere from movie lots, to luxurious lodgings.

But the real surprise is that Dead Island 2 is actually a really fun, enjoyable video game. Nearly ten years on, Dambuster and Plaion have not only reinvigorated a forgotten franchise but actually given it a chance to live on in the years to come.

Considering the development hell this game was in, that’s absolutely the best outcome anyone could have hoped for.


Dead Island 2 brings blood, brutality and bloody good fun. It is a thrill-ride from the opening credits with its use of hard-hitting weapons, good characterisation and stunning backdrops. A limited plot and constraining development options aside, this is the Dead Island you remember and one we’ll likely never forget again. 


+ Weapons hit hard giving off really satisfying combat
+ LA is Hell-A beautiful
+ Good mix of styles with different Slayers and card customization


– Nothing narratively surprising
– Development options are not especially elaborate or as detailed as other games

Dead Island 2 is now available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation

Code Kindly Provided by Plaion for purposes of review

Played on PlayStation 5

For further thoughts on the game, check here 

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