Pretty much no game ever is worth waiting almost 10 years for, but when Dead Island 2 launches on PS5 and PS4 next month, it'll at least deliver on the comedic fun its reveal trailer teased all the way back at E3 2014 . Having been passed between three different developers over the past decade, it's difficult to work out where the work of Yager Development and Sumo Digital ends and where the efforts of Dambuster Studios begin. However, what's there is enjoyable. Familiar, but fun.
We recently had the chance to play the game's opening four to five hours, spread across various mainline missions and a handful of side quests. Having selected from one of six characters — all of whom have a few abilities and stats to call their own — the opening sequence has you fall victim to a zombie bite. This actually turns out to be a boon rather than a hindrance as it's revealed you're immune to the virus; this has gameplay ramifications in the full title, but we did not see any of it in the opening hours.
Nevertheless, the first few main quests have you form a home base at a celebrity's HELL-A mansion and then explore the surrounding area in search of rescue. Our first impressions of the core story are it comes across a bit formulaic, with little to truly get excited about or characters you'd want to risk your life for. It's a very typical open world narrative, but the side quests we encountered did provide quirkier tales to pursue. From an elderly gentleman who's stuck on the top floor of his mansion because the power to his stairlift has been cut to a TikTok-loving teen with a thirst for zombie carnage, Dambuster Studios appears to have gotten much more creative in its optional content.
As for how Dead Island 2 plays, think Dying Light 2 without as much parkour — at least for the first few hours. While guns are supposed to be a much bigger part of the experience than in Techland's latest zombie title, melee weapons are what you'll battle the undead with at first. The usual baseball bats, wrenches, and iron pipes are littered across HELL-A but they can only deal so much damage on their own. Workbenches let you apply elemental mods and perks to upgrade weapons Dead Rising 2 style, with resources and cash needed to install them. Since there's weapon degradation, it's at these stations where you'll also pay to repair your favourite skull crushers.
So frequent are these materials that it feels like you're scavenging for supplies just as regularly as zombie brains are destroyed. Dead Island 2 is one of those games where environments are absolutely covered in resources; you can't take ten steps before finding a suitcase to loot or a car boot to pop open. Even though these pickups aren't essential, it becomes somewhat stressful and annoying to see so much clutter all over the place. It's a common part of some open world games nowadays, but taking a few minutes out of a story quest to hoover up all the resources in a given area still isn't a particularly enjoyable task.
Much of that is forgotten, though, in the midst of undead battling action. The game's opening hours prove you'll have a whale of a time just repeatedly smashing zombie's faces in, growing your arsenal with bigger and better weapons, and unlocking new skills. All the standard hallmarks of a quality open world experience, so don't expect Dead Island 2 to be much different from classics past. Still, what's there is evidence enough that Dambuster Studios made fun one of its top priorities. You may not come for the story or the looting, but Dead Island 2 clicks with a quirky set of weapons and a huge zombie horde to be beaten down. Combine the two and you've got hours of entertainment scheduled in for April.
Dead Island 2 is out for PS5, PS4 on 21st April 2023. Will you be playing it? Let us know in the comments below.