Dead Island 2 PS4 hands-on preview – cracking zombie skulls with mates

As the sequel to one of PS3’s best zombie games, the pressure is fully on new developer Yager Games to create a title that lives up to Techland’s Dead Island; and, so far, it’s looking good.

The demo I played at EGX 2014 is still in the very early stages of development, but Dead Island 2 already looks impressive, with excellent gore effects and animation as you slice up hoards of zombies in variety of entertaining ways. Dead Island 2 features four-player co-op and I had a chance to venture out with three friends in tow to kill as many zombies as possible in the time allotted.

Playing with others who have exactly the same aim – in this case cracking zombie skulls with speed – was a lot of fun and it’s clear to see that having team-mates by your side opens up many strategic possibilties that will come in handy against the zombie hordes. The main highlight were the weapons with the likes of the meat pounder (not the official name) having a real sense of power behind it as you smack enemies square in the face. I also had a lot of fun using the shovel to attack the zombies and watching their reactions as they crumbled to the floor.

Even during this short hands-on time, there were plenty of weapon-types to choose from and it’s clear that a lot of the fun to be had from Dead Island 2 will be experimenting with what’s around and seeing how many different ways you can pummel the zombies. 

The only issue I found in this build were the guns which appeared to be far weaker compared to melee attacks, with zombies taking multiple shots to kill and forcing me to reload several times before I could drop them. Although you could argue that this weapon inbalance does add tension and drama, I’m hoping that the weapons are more in-tune with what you’d expect from them in the final game as it really wasn’t even worth using the guns at all.

The new crafting system has come a long way since Dead Island, allowing you to add new elements to your weapons by heading to the likes of a gas station to turn your axe into a giant flaming axe. To change to that weapon though you need to hold the correct button for quite a time, which makes you vulnerable to attacks from zombies; this is where having buddies around you is crucial. Nevertheless, I would like to see the time decreased as it felt like I was there about two minutes just holding a button, which isn’t much fun.

The action in combat felt very fluid, and the frame-rate performance was impressive considering the sheer amount of zombies on screen. Overall, Dead Island 2 shows a lot of promise. With a vast range of weapons, an improved crafting system, superb animation and three friends by your side, it should be an absolute blast.