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It’s safe to say that we were somewhat skeptical that Dead Island 2 was heading towards this hands-on preview. This skepticism wasn’t based on what we’ve seen of the game so far, or our history with the series (in fact, we quite liked the first Dead Island), but rather on the long development period of the game. After all, Dead Island 2 has been revealed almost 10 years ago at this point and such a long development cycle doesn’t always work in the game’s favor.
Fortunately, most of our preconceptions were crushed almost immediately, like an injured zombie writhing around waiting to be stomped into oblivion. Yes, Dead Island 2 is that kind of game: a true slasher that turns off your brain and quickly revels in its absurd concept as you race through Beverly Hills trying to find the most creative ways to take down the undead.
Our hands-on time with the Dambuster sequel covered roughly the first five hours of the game, including a handful of main story missions as Dead Island 2’s LA-based map begins to open up. What immediately stands out, at least on Xbox Series X, is how pretty this game is. It may not be the most technically advanced video game of all time, but the way the blood-soaked walking dead contrasts with the bright colors and stark whites of suburban Los Angeles neighborhoods is truly a sight to see. It’s all running at a nice 60FPS on the Series X too, feeling very smooth in motion.
That’s okay, because that smoothness helps you take advantage of Dead Island 2’s “FLESH” system, or “Fully Locatable Humanoid Evisceration System,” as it’s also known. Basically, sever any part of those damn zombies and they’ll start dismembering like an undead Sunday roast, limbs flying off and chunks of zombie flesh falling to the ground. However, we cannot recommend tucking it in once you have finished carving.
The main quests also seem pretty varied, at least from what we played at the start of the game. hours only, we chased the undead across a film set, saved an inebriated couple from being mugged while partying in the hills of Los Angeles, and even danced for a boss fight while music played in an abandoned hotel ballroom. Dead Island 2 makes good use of its unique setting and certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously.
That said, we don’t agree with the overall open world structure of the game. As far as we know, Dead Island 2 is not a continuous open world: you encounter warp points and locked doors while the game moves you from one part of “HELL-A” to another. while we’re gone great Worried about the size of the open world in terms of scale, it’s a little shocking to come across loading screens in an open world game in 2023. These structural issues haven’t affected the main campaign much, but it’s felt like just having fun in the open world was somewhat stifled by the game’s segmented design.
However, you have a lot of freedom when it comes to character weapons, skills, and abilities. Almost all tools can be modded and upgraded through blueprints and workbenches, meaning you can add cool elemental mods to your weapons while battling the undead. There’s also a fairly comprehensive ability card system in play here, which we tested with a A little during our practical time. You can use it to swap the abilities of active and passive characters; improve things like your “kick” and “slide” moves, among others. It never gets old to find zombies across the room with a well-timed dropkick, we have to admit.
We hope Dead Island 2 can tie it all together when it launches on Xbox on April 21, 2023. While we have reservations about the game’s open-world sandbox and how limited it might seem over time, we really enjoyed the first hours of play, especially during its various main missions. Dambuster Studios may have accomplished the unthinkable by saving Dead Island 2 from the brink of infection by game developers. We will know in a few weeks!
Are you looking forward to finally playing Dead Island 2? Let us know in the comments below!
Ben is a fan of action, racing, and direct fire in every video game he can get his hands on. When he’s not playing, Ben spends his time listening to too many Guns N’ Roses, watching football, and probably eating somewhere.