The Dead Island 2 press preview allowed me to complete the first nine missions and a few side quests, and this review is based on my limited playthrough through the Epic Games Store.
Fans of the 2011 zombie survival horror game Dead Island have been clamoring for a proper sequel for years. Dead Island 2 has been in development since it was first announced in 2014, and many thought the title would never see the light of day. Now set to be released in April, Dead Island 2 takes place after the events of the Dead Island: Riptide expansion from 2013. Are you ready to fight your way into HELL-A?
Despite the title, the sequel transports players to sunny California, which has been overrun by the undead and quarantined. Playing as one of the Slayers – Dani, Jacob, Ryan, Amy, Bruno, and Carla – you must complete missions in Los Angeles and San Francisco while slaying hordes of zombies. Each Slayer has special fighting perks, weaknesses, and personalities, as well as their own personal agenda. I took on the role of Dani, a tough Irish rockabilly who has no filter when it comes to speaking her mind.
Dead Island 2 starts as Slayers and NPCs take to the skies in a plane heading out of the quarantine zone. All hell breaks loose when an infected passenger becomes ravenous, and the plane plummets. Find your way out of the rubble while learning the fundamentals of the game, such as ducking, climbing, and killing a few zombies.
Among the few survivors are a movie star and her agent, who don’t seem to realize life as they know it has come to an end. Fame is only going to get you so far in an apocalypse. The celebrity gives you the address to her Hollywood mansion, which becomes your next location goal once you escape the wreckage.
The California setting is gorgeous, and it’s great seeing famous landmarks, even if they are burning to the ground. Exploring mansions and the streets of Hollywood will provide you with medkits, energy bars, energy drinks, and scrap that will come in handy once you gain access to workbenches. This allows you to modify and upgrade weapons, which I did with a few melee weapons I found. Although guns are present in the game, I did not have the opportunity to discover them during the levels I played.
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While a good headshot is satisfying, the lack of guns didn’t stop me from having a great time taking down zombies. One of my favorite ways of dealing death to the undead was interrupting a pool party when I had a battery on hand. You will use various traditional and non-traditional weapons that you find, which become even more enjoyable with mods. There’s also the good old-fashioned head stomp after you knock a zombie down. During these early stages, that became one of my go-to moves.
Slayers’ abilities are enhanced by cards that grant them special moves and enhanced capabilities. You can stack the deck to tailor your preferred gameplay style better. While I didn’t believe these made a significant difference at this level, they were easy to understand and apply. I’m interested to see how Slayers progress through the later levels.
Although I had a great time playing Dead Island 2, some players may find it tedious. Even in this brief preview, I found myself repeating actions and encountering the same types of locations and zombies. While this was not an issue during my gameplay, I may reconsider after 10+ hours. Let’s hope that isn’t the case and that things become more varied as the game progresses.
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Overall, Dead Island 2 is a satisfying sequel to an enjoyable zombie horror series. I’m excited to buy the full game and see what it has in store when it comes out.
The game will be released on April 21, 2023, on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One/Series X/S, and PC.
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