Dead Island 2 impressions — gory PS5 spectacle is worth the delays

By Sean Lawson,

Dead Island 2 is a fantastic sequel well worth the wait we have endured. Get ready for some grisly zombie PS5 carnage!

The Dead Island 2 trophies are just around the corner for those of you who can't wait to start earning. Before you dive into this incredibly delayed sequel to Dead Island, read our Dead Island 2 first impressions to get an idea of what to expect. Could we have a new entry for our best PS5 and PS4 action adventure games list on our hands?

Dead Island 2 gives a stellar first impression!Dead Island 2 is a worthy sequel

SeanL

Dead Island 2's introduction raises some concerns

Dead Island 2 opens up by pummeling your senses with a frantic cutscene that swiftly introduces each of the different characters you will play as. While the cinematic is quite fun to watch, it teaches us nothing about the lead characters, spending maybe ten seconds with each of them. Then, after the cutscene ends, yet still before the gameplay starts, we are thrust into picking which of these six characters we want to play as. Your choice pretty much comes down to their appearance and what special skills they have, which is very little information to work when you can not change your character for the rest of the game.

The lucky zombie slayer I chose was Ryan, a stripper masquerading as a firefighter with a quick sense of humour, nice healing abilities, and lots of muscles to help beat zombies into a pulp. Perfect. Although, I was also tempted to go with a character named Amy, a Paralympian with high agility and nice stamina regen. Ryan's healing pecks perks shined a little brighter to me in the end, though it was a disorienting choice to have to make at the outset of the game.

Dead Island 2Are you okay sir?

After the hectic cinematic and character selection process, the world of Dead Island 2 opens up to you — after learning the basics of course. You'll need to perform a tutorial that introduces you to combat, navigation, and a variety of survivors that will inevitably become a huge part of the story going forward. Again, it's another sign of the game's introduction feeling rushed, and it's an impression that left me worried about how the rest of the game would fair.

Thankfully, once you make it out of the opening introductions and find yourself in the vibrant lands of Bel-Air, situated in lavish Hell-A, the game really tightens up and ultimately provides a stellar experience. Exploring the world, uncovering new weapons, and annihilating the walking dead is, as you would hope, an absolute hoot. Ryan's personality also helped make the experience even better, his cheeky little quips and dry sense of humour building upon the already strong foundations that Dead Island 2 was making for itself.

Dead Island 2Blood, blood, brains, and more blood.

Dead Island 2's combat is well crafted, fun, and grotesque

The joyful energy between Ryan's fabulous personality and Dead Island 2's robust weaponry was further amplified by the game's slick, fast-paced, and grotesquely beautiful combat. As demented as it may be to say, slicing up all those zombies and watching their limbs fly all around the screen was simply a delight, and there's no way to write that without sounding psychotic. It's clear that Dambuster Studios has spent a lot of time getting the gore perfect and they've done a bang-up job — Dead Island 2 is absolutely disgusting, in the best way possible.

Striking a zombie with your blade and seeing its flesh tear open in a (presumably) realistic fashion is fantastic and something I didn't think I would ever be praising to anyone but my doctor. Punching a hole through a zombie's head before effortlessly swapping weapons and then pulling off a ferocious finishing move feels so badass and exhilarating. The parry system — yes, I was dubious too — is implemented successfully and provides, dare I say, some genuine strategy to the arm-flailing combat. A well-timed parry usually guarantees a sick finisher and I enjoyed testing out all the different weapons to see how each finishing move looked.

Dead Island 2Dead Island 2's combat cards had me sceptical

Skill cards are fine but they're no skill tree

Dead Island 2's skill cards had me worried. As someone who isn't for games that focus too heavily on tactics and long drawn-out planning, the cards felt like they would be wasted on a player like myself — just let me start swinging at the zombies and I'll be happy. The cards function as additional bonuses that can help make your chosen character feel even more of a badass, changing up how certain attacks or skills work. I messed around with this a little, figuring out what the best concoction of moves would be, but it's a constant task having to swap in and out the skill cards which suit you best.

You may — like me — find you like multiple skills that, unfortunately, replace one another. This means you'll be jumping in and out of the skills menu swapping different ones in and out, which can get a bit annoying. I wish there was a quicker way to swap skills in and out, something that didn't break the flow of combat, but in general, I would have preferred a bog standard skill tree. It just feels more rewarding when you spend points to unlock new abilities or increase your health — it's more engaging and also simply less fiddly.

Dead Island 2I can't wait to steal everything I can from this glamorous house.

Grisly sights, eerie sounds, and kleptomania

While combat provides a lot of thrills in Dead Island 2, another big highlight of the game is thievery. It's safe to say Dead Island 2 unleashed my inner kleptomaniac and started a downward spiral that I am yet to recover from. If Dead Island 2's world forgot to nail it down, I was taking it.
I was thrilled that Ryan had such deep pockets capable of holding surplus amounts of each individual item because I desperately needed as much inventory space as I could take.

Honestly, the true horror of Dead Island 2 was finding that I had run out of space to hold any more scrap or weapons — terrifying. An inner monologue of my average venture around Hell-A would sound something like this: "Oh, what's that? You're in danger and need me to save you from the zombies trying to eat your face? Of course! Just give me a moment to ransack your house of all your earthly belongings and then I will be right with you!" It was pure kleptomaniac bliss.

Dead Island 2Don't enter bathrooms in Dead Island 2. It never ends well.

With the constant need to take everything and anything that I could get my hands on, I also (quite naturally) stumbled upon some really cool and interesting locations. For example, one location included the absolutely filthy bathroom you can see above — something tells me it won't be passing its health and safety inspection. The experience of stepping into a space dominated by this much carnage and gore, with no clear explanation for how it got this way, allows the imagination to create all sorts of crazy possibilities about what on earth went down here.

Accompanying these grisly and horrific sights are the eerie sounds of the game's world. Creaking floorboards, random banging, screams, cries, and sinister snarls all litter the air and provide a constant state of unease as you trudge through cramped rooms, blood-drenched tunnels, and dilapidated houses. While the Dead Island series isn't known for being scary, the music for each game continues to provide an unsettling atmosphere and keeps you grounded in the fact that any nasty surprises could come charging at you from any direction — and trust me, they will.

Dead Island 2The thong is a really bold fashion choice!

Side missions in Dead Island 2 are pretty sparse to start with

Side missions in Dead Island 2 provide you with new blueprints, weapons, and even characters you can send to specific safe zones. However, these missions are far and few between all the exploring and main story antics you'll be getting up to. In fact, within the first ten or so hours of playing Dead Island 2, only three side missions were actually available to me.

Now that I'm 30 hours in, side missions have been popping up more frequently. However, they still feel relatively lacking as most can be completed in five minutes (or less) and there are only 33 side quests in total (not including the Lost and Found quests). Some of these side missions are simple fetch quests which you can pick up and complete in literal seconds. That said, there are some real standout side missions mixed amongst the duds. A few of these quests have been pretty substantial and a lot of fun — especially the ones that have taken place in Bel-Air — these missions introduced a few eccentric characters and provided true over-the-top carnage.

Dead Island 2Handsome stripper, Ryan, is ready to strip his way to victory... I dunno.

The Dead Island 2 trophies are straightforward and easy

The Dead Island 2 trophies are pretty simple to unlock, though it's going to take a bit of time to earn the bulk of the trophy list. There are 46 trophies in total, including the platinum 'Who Do You Voodoo,' which may be my favourite name for a platinum trophy ever. There are a total of 12 story-related trophies, eight sidequest-related trophies, and five trophies for completing various challenges (killing zombies, collecting weapons, exploration and so on).

There are four trophies relating to collectables, though these shouldn't pose an issue if you explore diligently and allow your inner kleptomaniac to take everything that it possibly can. The rest of the trophies are just miscellaneous tasks and other typical things you expect from a trophy list of this kind: trophies like 'Max Headroom' (reach level 30), 'Break a Leg' (Maim 100 limbs), 'Anger Management' (slay 50 zombies with Fury attacks), and 'Donk' (hit a zombie with a thrown melee weapon from 35+ meters away).

For those curious, there are also two multiplayer trophies to earn, though these aren't too taxing. One of the trophies simply requires you to play with a co-op partner and complete five quests together for the trophy 'Slayer Squad.' The second trophy, 'I Am the Resurrection,' tasks you with healing your downed co-op partner five times — pretty standard fare all in all.

Dead Island 2Could I get you a drink of water? You appear to be on fire ma'am.

Not everything lands in Dead Island 2

While a vast majority of Dead Island 2 sticks the landing, there were a few elements that I found dull, tedious, or frustrating. Firstly, the series of side quests called 'Lost and Found' I could quite happily live without. These quests see you backtracking all around Hell-A to find a chest that has either a semi-decent weapon in it or a now zombified person. These missions feel as though they were tacked on to pad out the game's length, which I'm not totally against, but I wish they had fleshed out some of the shorter side missions or simply added more side missions instead. The 'Lost and Found' quests are, unfortunately, just boring and having to complete 15 of them is an absolute chore.

The other pain I encountered was a bug that made using the drop kick ability incredibly frustrating. Drop-kicking a zombie into oblivion should be the epitome of fun; however, a bug that randomly teleports you just slightly away from your foe is incredibly disorientating and, shockingly, not fun. Due to this bug, I chose to primarily use the less fun other type of kick in my playthrough just to avoid the teleportation problem.

Dead Island 2Sir? I don't believe that human is vegan like you asked for!

Outside of the aforementioned bug, however, the game ran smoothly with no major issues of note. All the quests completed as intended, progression was never marred by unforeseen bugs, and any glitches that cropped up tended to be more humorous than irritating. Come on, zombies rocketing up into the skies because of a devastating finisher — that's hilarious.

Summary

Dead Island 2 is filled with zombie chaos, quick wit, horrifying scenes of gore, and a fun (yet simple) story. Despite its seemingly never-ending delays, the game is finally here and dare we say it has been worth the wait. Sure, Dead Island 2 isn't perfect, but its does provide an engaging experience filled to the brim with charm, blood, hilarity, and zombies, and that last one is pretty key. Dead Island 2 is worth your time and may even surprise you with how well-crafted it is.

Sean spent 35 hours in Hell-A and stole endless amounts of trash from the zombies that roamed the streets. Sean earned 17 out of 46 trophies and sits with a completion rate of 25%. He plans to dive back into Dead Island 2 and earn its platinum. A PS5 review code was provided by PLAION, Deep Silver and Dambuster Studios.
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Sean Lawson
Written by Sean Lawson
Sean is a Staff Writer who focuses on the geekiest Sony news. He specializes in PlayStation trophies, the best PS Plus games, RPGs, and fighting games. Sean is using this experience to cover Stellar Blade, Dragon Age Dreadwolf, Baldur's Gate 3, and Dragon's Dogma 2 for PS5, all while he still dives into favorite games like Mass Effect, Tomb Raider, and Persona.
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