Dead Island 2

Years in the making, zombie-slaying action returns in a brand-new game, Dead Island 2, from Dambuster Studios and Deep Silver. The long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s Dead Island is now available on Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

It’s now been 8 years since Dead Island 2 was first announced. Let’s take a look and see what the team at Dambuster Studios were able to accomplish in this highly anticipated zombie slaying sequel.

Dead Island 2 Details

Platform(s): Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Xbox One, PS4 and PC
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Developer(s): Deep Silver Dambuster Studios
Publisher(s): Deep Silver
Genre: Action role-playing, Survival horror
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)

A glorious sun and blood-drenched Los Angeles

Dead Island 2 is a first person action-RPG. The game is set in an alternate version of Los Angeles that’s soaked in sun and blood, aptly nicknamed HELL-A. The game is centered around a lethal virus that is rapidly spreading throughout Los Angeles, transforming everyone into insatiable zombies.

During the chaos, the city has been put under quarantine and the military has retreated. After being bitten and infected, you realize that you possess unique abilities, which enable you to harness the corrupted powers of the undead coursing through your veins.

Along with a small group of similarly resilient and cocky individuals, you hold the fate of Los Angeles, and humanity as a whole, in your hands.

Modernized gameplay for a new generation

Dambuster Studios has done a fantastic job of enhancing the combat mechanics that were lacking in the original Dead Island. As a result, Dambuster Studios has modernized Dead Island 2’s gameplay to cater to a new generation, which is precisely what a sequel should aim for. As with the first game, you are given the option of selecting one of six characters, which the game refers to as Slayers.

Each Slayer has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, backstory, and motives for escaping the quarantine zone. By choosing between Amy, Bruno, Carla, Dani, Jacob, and Ryan, you start building your ideal character based on their two innate abilities. For example, Amy’s Divide & Conquer grants her a damage boost when fighting lone zombies, while her Relief Pitcher ability allows her to regain stamina when throwing a weapon at zombies.

Fundamental gameplay elements stay true to their roots

The fundamental elements of combat from Dead Island have remained intact in the sequel. The gameplay still involves a first-person perspective and emphasizes melee combat, where you must continually search for the next available weapon to bash the undead’s heads while also dealing with weapon degradation.

In addition, you need to scavenge for med kits, energy drinks, and protein bars to maintain your stamina. Speaking of stamina, Dambuster Studios has tweaked the way it works. Recovery now takes longer than in previous Dead Island games. Every time you perform a powerful swing or strike, your bar depletes, and if it’s exhausted, you’ll be left defenseless.

Fully Locational Evisceration System

The team at Dambuster Studios implemented a brand new gory and gruesome dismemberment system for Dead Island 2 called FLESH. It’s short for Fully Locational Evisceration System for Humanoids. As a result, it allows you to damage your opponents bodies in a variety of ways, which makes dealing with the undead a lot more fun.

Without going into too much gory detail, I will say that the locational damage on zombies that you inflict is spectacularly gory and the game’s combat experience is one of the most visceral and gruesome ever.

Enhance your abilities using skill decks

Instead of using skill trees, Dead Island 2 uses something called skill decks. By collecting special cards you can enhance your character with unique abilities, powers, and support when confronting enemies. These cards are divided into four categories: Abilities, Survivor, Slayer, and Numen, and can be interchanged and combined at will.

For example, some cards can enhance your agility and endurance, while others create explosive effects when you use a med kit to fend off zombies.

Weapon customization

In Dead Island 2 you can customize your weapons by collecting components and money and then visiting a workbench that are scattered throughout the game. You can stick with the same weapons throughout the entire game if you want. However, Dead Island 2 is designed in such a way that you are rewarded for switching weapons frequently.

There are various combinations to discover that work well and cater to any playstyle. Additionally, by exploring, you’ll discover new and more powerful weapons. And, while some of my favourite weapons broke during battles, the game offers a wide variety of weapons to choose from.

Unparalleled gory realism

The visual elements of Dead Island 2 are truly remarkable. It boasts top-notch textures, stunning lighting and a vibrant colour palette. However, the game’s most exceptional aspect is the unparalleled realism of its gore physics. The impact of each strike on your undead foes is astonishing.

It results in progressively tearing through multiple layers of skin, fat, muscle, and sinew. With bones ultimately being shattered to reveal destructible organs. Unquestionably, this level of detail is nothing short of astonishing, making combat with zombies a thrilling and gratifying experience.

Conversely, this is also complemented perfectly by the game’s stellar audio. The sounds of sickening crunches and the grisly, wet noise of metal cutting through flesh effectively convey the force and impact of your attacks. Moreover, the game’s soundtrack, with its energetic rock songs, is also suited to the setting, adding to the intensity of the game’s more dramatic, action-packed moments.

Dead Island 2 is satisfying mindless zombie-slaying fun

On the whole, Dead Island 2 can be summed up in one word: fun. As an action RPG with a lot of numerical elements, it’s a refreshing game that hones in on what it’s good at and strives to be the best it can be. The game doesn’t make any attempt to reinvent the wheel, but nevertheless is a more than satisfying mindless casual zombie-slaying gorefest.

If you’re a fan of the Dead Island series or someone who enjoys playing zombie-themed games, Dead Island 2 is an absolute must.

+ Rewarding exploration
+ Visceral and engaging combat
+ Comical story and dialogue

– The objectives involving puzzles could benefit from more diversity


Gameplay: 4/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Sound: 4/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5

Overall Rating 4.1/5 (82%)

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Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.