With the release of Dead Island 2 just over a month away, we spent six hours with the game to see how the zombie-fest is shaping up.

First announced almost ten years ago, it’s been a bit of a rough trot for Dead Island 2. After slowly shuffling from developer to developer, you’d be easily forgiven if your spidey sense was tingling. Surprisingly though, if my six-hour demo is any indication, Dead Island 2 might just turn out to be a bloody enjoyable trip to HELL-A.

It’s here in this sun-soaked location that all of Dead Island 2’s action takes place – right after a plane filled with locals hoping for a last-minute escape comes tumbling down. Soon after you’ll fill the shoes of one of the survivors, and within minutes cop a cheeky love bite from a member of the undead. Luckily, it turns out you’re seemingly immune to the disease, quickly turning you into the number-one gun for hire in town.

Much of your time in Dead Island 2 will be spent roaming the streets of HELL-A, from Bel-Air to Beverly hills – each zone broken up into larger playgrounds instead of one persistent open world. We didn’t mind the odd loading screen here and there, and the game did well to embrace the more ridiculous tendencies of the tinsel town, all the way to an over-the-top influencer mansion. It’s all rather tongue-in-cheek in tone, which is a refreshing change of pace from zombie media lately. I also didn’t expect it to look quite so nice, either, which was a pleasant surprise.

No matter where you find yourself though there’s plenty of zombies to beat to a bloody pulp. Much like the original Dead Island, combat is heavily melee-focused and requires you to source any manner of weapons throughout your travels. During our demo I utilised everything from pipes, to katanas and even a trusty kitchen knife. Collect enough resources and you can beef-up your arsenal with a range of elemental effects like fire or electricity that do well to manage larger hoards or stronger foes. In amongst it all is the new FLESH system, which procedurally breaks down zombie skin and bones and it’s as brutal as it sounds. If you’re in the mood for a splatterfest, rest assured Dead Island 2 delivers in spades.

What was most interesting about my time with Dead Island 2 is that I never once picked up a gun to deal with the undead. In fact, their inclusion was only briefly hinted at before the preview came to a close, meaning the balance between automatic weapons and melee options remains a mystery. Hopefully it helps keep the action fresh and frenetic, because I was starting to grow a little tired of hacking and whacking my way through every foe. The weapons I had discovered didn’t feel overly unique from one another and the card-based system (designed to help create unique options for players like a semi skill tree) didn’t seem to add all that much variety to things, at least not yet.

With that in mind, my time with Dead Island 2 left me interested to see how the final product comes together. It might feel like a game from ten years ago, but developer Dambuster Studios still has a lot of potential it can make the most of, so fingers crossed this is one zombie apocalypse you’ll happily welcome with open arms.

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