[PlayStation 5] Dead Island 2 Review

by EdEN, Owner

Dead Island 2 from Deep Silver and Dambuster Studios is finally here! Has the wait been worth it? Find out in our Dead Island 2 review!

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Dead Island 2 from Deep Silver and Dambuster Studios is finally here! Has the wait been worth it? The game was first announced way back in 2014, having a rather long and bumpy ride through development. It was originally under development by Yager Development, who at the time had experience from working on combat fight sim Yager and third-person shooter Spec Ops: The Line. The studio was replaced with Sumo Digital, which has a lot of experience in the business going back to 2005’s Virtua Tennis: World Tour on the PlayStation Portable. They, too, were removed from the project, and that’s why it’s now 2023, and Dead Island 2 is finally out. I got a chance to review the Dead Island Definitive Collection on PlayStation 4 in 2016, which included the original Dead Island as well as the standalone expansion Dead Island: Riptide, so I’ve been looking forward to checking this one for a while.

The game takes place in Los Angeles – now dubbed Hell-A. During the intro cutscene, you’ll get to meet the main characters that you can play as. They’ve all had to do something out of the ordinary to get a spot on the flight that was set to evacuate the city, but, as expected, things didn’t go as planned. Someone got on the plane after already being infected – seems like he was a movie star – and bites one of the passengers. After that, all hell broke loose. Each of the characters will have some pros and cons for you to consider, as well as innate skills.

With the plane going down in flames, you better choose quickly and choose wisely! There’s Amy, who has extremely high agility and critical damage as well as average resilience, stamina, and health recovery but suffers from very low toughness and low peak health. Her innate skills are Relief Putcher, which allows her to regain stamina when hitting a zombie with a weapon throw, as well as Divide and Conquer, a skill that will give her a minor damage boost when attacking isolated zombies.

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Next up is Jacob, a chill individual who has max peak health and high stamina, average toughness, critical damage and agility, low health recovery, and extremely low resilience. Jacob’s two innate skills are Feral, which gives him a minor damage boost when attacking zombies in quick succession – a good one to have when taking on groups of zombies – as well as Critical Gains, a skill that boosts his critical hits when his stamina is low, while also allowing him to regain a bit of stamina.

Bruno – who snuck into the plane after taking a picture of someone’s code when he wasn’t looking, excels at critical damage while also having high agility, average stamina, health recovery, and resilience, suffering from low toughness and extremely low peak health. His innate abilities are Backstab, which grants him a moderate boost to damage when attacking zombies from behind, and Rapid Reprisal, which boosts Bruno’s agility and heavy attack charges when he avoids attack with a properly timed block or dodge.

Carla is a feisty one, boosting max resilience and high toughness, average stamina, health recovery, and peak health, all while suffering from low agility and extremely low critical damage. You can probably figure out she’s great for combat as long as you have a weapon that doesn’t rely on landing critical hit after critical hit. Her innate skills are Mosh Pit, which gives her a minor damage boost when being close to multiple zombies, and Dig Deep, which grants a moderate toughness boost when her health is critical.

Dani is an interesting one, given attribute distribution and innate skills. She has max stamina and very high peak health, as well as average toughness, critical damage, and agility, countered by low resilience and the lowest health recovery of the bunch. But her innate skills are pretty good! Thunderstruck makes her heavy attacks trigger a forceful explosion on impact, which can make a big difference when taking on groups of zombies. Ditto for Bloodlust since it will allow Dani to regain health when slaying multiple zombies in quick succession.

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The last character is Ryan, who snuck into the plane by pretending to be a fire department member. He has max toughness, high resilience, average stamina, health recovery, and peak health. This is balanced by having low critical damage as well as extremely low agility. As for his innate skills, they’re Retaliation, which gives him a moderate force boost when using a properly timed block or dodge to avoid an attack, and Seesaw, a skill that allows Ryan to regain health each time he knocks down a zombie.

As was the case for the prequels – minus spinoffs Dead Island: Epidemic (a MOBA) and Escape Dead Island (a third-person cel shaded action game), Dead Island 2 is played from a first-person perspective. That means you’ll be moving with the left analog stick as you look around with the right one. If you press in on the left analog stick, you’ll be able to sprint. Do this on the right one, and you’ll use a knockback attack. The X button will be used for jumping, and you can attack with the R2 button.

For long-range weapons, you can aim with the L2 button and then attack with the R2 button as needed. If you press and hold down the R2 button, you can use a charged heavy attack that will deal more damage while consuming more stamina. To reload your weapon, just press the Square button. Pressing the Triangle button will cycle to the next weapon, or you can hold it down to open up the weapon wheel. You have a defensive ability that is triggered with the L1 button, but you’ll have to time it just right for it to be effective. You can crouch by pressing the Circle button, which can help you get out of a tricky situation. If you press the Circle button while sprinting, your character will slide.

Pressing the R1 button will throw your weapon in a desperate effort to stay alive. Pressing the L1 and R1 buttons at the same time will unleash a special attack in exchange for a big chunk of your stamina. Nothing says get lost like viciously pounding the ground, sending a small shockwave all around you. And then, there’s Fury Mode. Fury Mode is activated by pressing in on both analog sticks once your Fury gauge has filled up. When you do this, your character will turn into an overpowered creature that can make short work of anything and everything on its path. This is a very powerful ability and one you won’t gain access to until you’ve played through a considerable part of game.

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The D-Pad will allow you to access your flashlight by pressing up, or to heal your wounds by pressing down if you have something on you to health with. Pressing left will activate the emote wheel, which is useful for multiplayer sessions. Pressing right will switch your curveball. These are special items that can allow you to, say, trick zombies into rushing toward a specific spot. You might notice that a bit of meat can be used as bait since rotten, stinky meat is catnip for zombies!

Pressing the Touchpad on the DualSense will open up the menu. From there, you will be able to check the map to see where you are and where you should head to. You can also review your inventory so that you can keep an eye on your current weapons and their stats, your consumables, the parts you’ve collected for crafting, the keys you’ve obtained, as well as any curveballs you’ve found. Check your slayer to get a better idea of their exact stats for peak health, health recovery, critical damage, stamina, toughness, agility, resilience, as well as resistance to caustic, fire, shock, and bleed damage. Your slayer’s stats will increase as you gain experience and level up.

You can also review any of your quests, be those active quests, story quests, sidequests, or lost and found. You should also check out the skills sections, where you can check innate skills, abilities, and more. You have different skill slots to make the most of with the skill cards that you unlock. Skills are split into four different tiers, with more slots unlocking as you progress further and further in Dead Island 2. The first tier is for abilities, which are auto-equipped as you unlock them by completing story quests. Next up are survivor skills which help you get a leg up on the zombies. Slayer skills are useful for making short work of zombies. The last tier is a secret one you’ll have to find out about on your own.

Challenges ask that you complete a series of objectives for some bonuses. You could, for example, have to hit enemies with heavy attacks 100 times, inflict the ignited status on zombies 50 times, knock down zombies 100 times, slay 50 zombies with shock damage, slay 50 zombies with fire damage, amas 1,000,000 in cash, collect 100 parts used in fabrication, loot 100 containers, find a legendary weapon, travel to every zone in the game, collect 5 skill cards, collect 50 zombie parts, or use 10 med kits.

Dead Island 2 Review - 4

Some areas will turn on investigation mode. You’ll have to search for clues to be able to find what you need to move on with the story. The earliest example of this is having to find information about where a specific code is located so that you can open a door out of a mansion that will allow you to reach the next area. Your compass will guide you and show you the general direction you should walk towards. Since you’ll be searching a small area, finding the code will take a few seconds.

The many parts that you collect can be put to good use at the different workbenches you’ll find during your run. At a workbench, you can repair your damaged weapons by spending money. You can also customize them to add some extra effects and bonuses that can hopefully tip the scales in your favor. Do know that common weapons can’t be customized. Only uncommon, rare, or superior weapons can be put on the workbench for boosting by way of mods and perks. Each weapon will have slots that will allow you to add, say, an electrocutor mod to deal shock damage to zombies. You’ll need to have the right blueprint to work on this or that mod or perk, so be sure to search everywhere! Just be careful because some perks can also have negative effects to weigh up the benefits they provide.

There’s a long trophy list waiting for you in Dead Island 2. It’s 45 trophies for you to work on before you can get a new Platinum trophy for your collection, with the list split into 32 Bronze trophies, 10 Silver trophies, and 3 Gold trophies. What will you need to do to get that new Platinum trophy? Without spoiling things too much, I’ll mention some of the objectives you’ll have to complete. These include completing 10, 20, and 40 non-story quests, reaching level 30, finding your first legendary weapon, unlocking every zombie type in the Zompedia, unlocking 10 lockboxes, and collecting 50 journals, to name some examples.

Under the Extras section, you can check out collectibles, challenges, tutorials, stats, and the credits. Collectibles are split into blueprints for weapon mods, perks, and consumables you can craft, the many journals you’ll obtain for quests, lost and found, and other story beats. Then there’s the Zompedia, which will track all of the common zombies that you run into, as well as the deadly Apex variants that you fight. The stats section will contain information such as types of zombies slain, limbs maimed, perfect blocks and dodges, and finisher kills.

Dead Island 2 Review - 5

It’s been a long wait, but Dead Island 2 certainly delivers. If you enjoyed the previous two first-person action games in the series, then you’re going to love this sequel since it’s bigger and better. Hell-A makes for a great setting, and it’s one that many of you out there will be familiar with. The game looks great on PlayStation 5, with the only complaint being that your character does not show up on reflective surfaces. The gore system is also a big improvement over the previous two releases in the franchise, with every hit, slash, and explosion dealing considerable damage to each zombie’s physique. There are a ton of customization options for the mods and perks you can add to your weapons as well. And once you’re able to use zombie parts… well, that’s when things get really crazy. Dead Island releases on April 21 on PlayStation 5 at a $69.99 price.

This Dead Island 2 review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Deep Silver.

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