Dead Island 2 Review - Zombie Piñata

When first Dead Island came out, zombie games weren’t as much of a “thing” as they are now. First-person melee combat was rare and weapon customization was even rarer. A working mixture of all those rarities molded the original game into a semi-cult classic, despite it being plagued with technical issues at launch.

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Nine years after it was first announced at E3 2014, we have the sequel in front of us. In that lost decade, we had witnessed a genuine drama about lost trust, empty promises, occasional bankruptcies, and studio closures. Early on, Dead Island’s original developer decided to change the publisher (who still owned IP) and went on to make the Dying Light games. Those made bank and become everything anyone could hope for a proper, albeit unofficial, sequel.

Dead Island 2 review

Is there a space on the market for an official follow-up, made by someone who never did this zombie thing before? Dead Island 2 has a lot of hurdles to overcome, most importantly, the legacy of those two spiritual successors to the original game. Also, The first-person melee combat and weapon customization aren’t THAT peculiar anymore. The audience also might suffer from zombie fatigue at this point. Pissing against the wind? Maybe…

Not so open-world Zombie Apocalypse

Dead Island 2 takes place in Los Angeles, or Hell-A, as the (still) living inhabitants like to call it. Last time we checked, LA wasn’t an island, but hey, artistic freedom and all that… You’re one of the few survivors that were supposed to be evacuated by plane from a sudden zombie outbreak in the city. As expected, not all passengers were kosher, someone was infected and they bit another and it all went down. Literary. The army fired the AA missile, the plane crashed, and you got to the point of picking which survivor you want to play with. Each of the six characters has slightly different stats and moves, but it doesn’t really matter which one you pick.

Not so open world Zombie Apocalypse Dead Island 2 Review Gosunoob

From that point, you’ll be strolling, stabbing, mauling, and shooting through Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and everything in between. Feels like the LA tourism board oversaw the selection of the game’s locales. Unfortunately, instead of a seamless, continual city, we got a collection of small, separate neighborhoods that load separately. Also, there’s no driving, no losing yourself in the biggest urban jungle on the west coast. Dead Island 2, as its predecessor, foregoes the open world for a simulacrum of it.


The main driving force for going through Hell-A is the game’s story, but it’s just as predictable as the locales it takes place in. Los Angeles, being the world capital of superficiality, is, of course, filled with all the most common Hollywood tropes. I figured there would be a famous actor/actress that needs saving and some marijuana-loving denizens of Venice Beach – the game delivered and then some. There’s a damsel in distress/famous actress trope, influencers trope, swole weightlifting Muscle Beach trope, and washed-up old rock star trope and it just keeps going to the point where you’re allowed to groan out loud every time a new character is introduced. They even replaced the Oscars with Romeros (exasperated sigh).


Zombie apocalypses are fertile ground for a scathing look at the state of our world, but there’s no real critique or deep societal insight in any of the main or side quests in Dead Island 2. Not a hint of irony or true reflection. The game plays it super safe and predictable, making the whole storytelling structure boring.

Bone Crunching Zombie Disposal Bonanza – Deed Island 2 Review

Fortunately, the combat is not dull at all – the zing that made the first game great is still here. You’ll get your hands on a plethora of melee weapons, blunt or sharp, that will make disposing of zombies a lot of fun. To enhance the experience, each enemy is maim-able at different spots, and the action will take a while to become boring. Sadistic players that salivate on the prospect of casual butchery will have a field day.

Weapons are scattered all around and can be found just laying on the ground or by killing zombies. Higher quality ones are obtained through quest rewards, locked chests, or safes. These superior weapons offer additional slots for applying mods and perks at workbenches. That boring old sledgehammer sure hits differently when combined with a thingy providing a fire debuff. You’ll just need to find the blueprint for it first.

You’ll not get to use firearms until the second half of the game, which is the same as it was in the original Dead Island. It didn’t make much sense to delay this ballistic gratification, because firearms are not super-powerful at all. As you level up, the weapons and the world will keep up, as well as your enemies. This keeps the difficulty level constant, but makes weapons obsolete pretty fast, requiring additional resource investment to make them useful again.

Not repeating the same mistakes

If your jam is mindlessly going through hordes of varied zombies for hours on end, Dead Island 2 will provide just that. As a bonus, you’ll get smooth visuals and glitch-free gameplay for the most part. There’s nothing as severe, in terms of bugs, as there was in the first game. LA neighborhoods convey all the glitz and glamour you’d expect, and it all ran quite smoothly on the PS5. There were only a few instances of noticeable FPS drops in 30+ hours of gameplay. Not a bad tradeoff for one of the most detailed representations of the famous Venice Beach.

Sequels are hard, man!

Dead Island 2 is a somewhat decent first-person zombie-killing simulator. In every other aspect, its devs lacked ingenuity and the will to push the boundaries and experiment a little. Just like every mediocre Hollywood sequel, it milks the legacy of its predecessor, copying the elements that worked and staying away from any radical changes. Dead Island 2 is Predator 2 in this analogy, and its most severe problem is that it gets stale and boring waaaaay too fast. It can be fun in co-op if you can persuade your buddies to join you in maiming, but as a solo experience, it’s simply underwhelming.



  • Detailed Zombie maiming and dismemberment mechanics.
  • Great visual representation of some the most famous LA areas.


  • Basic storytelling with terrible pacing.
  • Every weapon feels the same after a while.
  • Same as the first game with prettier graphics.
Review platform: PS5
Published by: Deep Silver
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Author Serge profile picture
Having games be part of his life since Commodore 64 it was only natural that Serge co-founded With every new game he travels from being the Noob to being Gosu. Whether he does coding or editorial work on the website he is still amazed by the fact that gaming is what he does for living.