Dead Island 2
Hands-On Preview
Andrew Barker Andrew Barker

Xbox One, PS4, PC

Deep Silver

Yager Development

Action RPG


US Spring 2015

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For the horde!
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A handful of special zombie types made the demo, uh, slightly less boring. I guess.
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Brains, etc.
"[The demo] was such a poor experience that it's hard to tell whether it was a fair representation of the game as a whole."

I'm not going to mince words: Dead Island 2's demo was one of the worst I have ever played. I sat in a small room attended by a young woman who looked like she was ready to fall asleep and endured a torturous 15 minutes of gameplay.

There were four players in the team, though no teamwork was ever required. Zombies were so fragile that a couple of hacks with a melee weapon or a decent shot would take them down. Imagine Left 4 Dead 2 without any of the danger or suspense and a tacked-on level-up system. Even a couple of special zombies, the exploding suicider and burly thug, couldn't liven up the undead party.

The objectives of the demo were simple: collect electrical equipment to upgrade your knife, and collect flammable equipment to upgrade your gun. A few zombies roamed the streets, but tended to leave me alone if I let them be. I broke into the electrical store and hoarded supplies, then did the same at the gas station. In five minutes I'd completed the initial objectives and then... nothing. No more goals were given. After a few minutes of aimless wandering, I was instructed to go defend the movie theatre. I followed the objective flag to the gate where I hacked away at a sudden horde of zombies until time ran out. I then had a couple of minutes of the demo left to, again, do absolutely nothing.

While I'm sure the full game will feature many additional weapons, the knife and machine gun I was provided with were uninspired. Fortunately, after an upgrade, the firearm shot fiery bullets and the blade discharged electrical shocks into nearby zombies. The elemental aspects were fun to play around with, but hacking wave after wave of zombies without purpose was draining.

It was an incredibly violent experience, too. Blood exploded from zombies on every hit, and some violent finishing moves filled my screen with red splatters. It was over-the-top, but I was never particularly impressed by it. It only seemed to serve as a distraction to the uninteresting combat that lay beneath it. I did gain experience as I killed each zombie, but was unable to use it for anything in the demo and didn't actually level up.

Graphically, Dead Island 2 was not impressive for a PlayStation 4 title. It was certainly above the visual experiences offered by the PS3 and Xbox 360, though a strong bloom effect blurred out the entire environment. The abandoned houses, boarded up shops, and broken cars were aesthetically serviceable, but felt by-the-numbers. There was no originality to be found.

Dead Island 2 is dead boring. Well, the demo was, at least. It was such a poor experience that it's hard to tell whether it was a fair representation of the game as a whole or not. Instead of creating an interesting, engaging gameplay environment, it instead tried to hide behind a veritable ocean of blood and gore. For fans of the first game and its developers, I hope the final product is far superior to what I played.

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