Dead Island 2’s zombie-stocked netherworld is a lot easier to weather with friends, so it’s helpful that the game prioritizes multiplayer just as much as the original Dead Island did. But even so, this bloodbath of a sequel approaches co-op differently in a few important ways.
Keep reading and you’ll find all your co-op questions answered.
Read More: 10 Critical Things To Know Before Playing Dead Island 2
Does Dead Island 2 have crossplay?
No. But while players are unable to join games across platforms, they can join games across generations of the same platform, so a PS4 player can join a PS5 player’s game, and an Xbox Series X/S owner can play with someone who has an Xbox One.
But while cross-gen is possible, currently, only owners of newer console models, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, can actually host multiplayer sessions for cross-gen play.
How many people can play Dead Island 2 at once?
Though the original Dead Island allowed up to four players, Dead Island 2 controversially caps the player count at three.
I know many longtime fans are disappointed, but, from personal experience, I can tell you that playing even as a duo makes the game feel laughably unchallenging, like you’re tying friendship bracelets, not bludgeoning your way through an unending zombie parade. It’s still really fun, though, like playing Whac-A-Mole.
How does Dead Island 2 multiplayer work?
So, you’ve got your consoles sorted out, and you’ve broken the news to your would-be fourth player. You’re ready to begin the simple process of actually enabling multiplayer.
To activate multiplayer in a new game, play for about 30 minutes, until you’ve completed chapter three, “Call the Cavalry.” A prompt will appear and ask you to select between “online options,” which connects you to a random game, and “social,” which connects you to a friend’s game.
If you decline enabling multiplayer at this point, it will nevertheless be subsequently available as an option in your main menu, and you can toggle between single- and multiplayer games at your leisure.
To act as host, hit “continue” from your main menu and select either “public,” “invite only,” or “friends only,” which is limited to the users you’ve added as friends on your console, or for PC players, on your Epic Games account. To join an existing game, select “join game,” and then either a friend’s name, or “quick join” for online play with a rando.
In any case, multiplayer only works when players are either at the exact same section of the game, or if one player invites another to a section the hosting player has already completed.. In other words, you can never use co-op to skip ahead, you can only revisit previous chapters, or push forward from a shared point together.
Are there any benefits to playing multiplayer over single-player?
The obvious answer is that, yes, multiplayer makes difficult enemies and quests more manageable, and it makes Dead Island 2 a more social experience. But there are some hidden benefits, too.
Though multiplayer works most appropriately (in my opinion) when every participant’s story progress matches, a high-level player can nevertheless assist a lower-level player with a game chapter they’ve already beaten. Dead Island 2 will automatically temper the senior player’s level to better match the rookie’s, but it allows weapons to retain their higher-level status. This is bad news for early-game enemies, but it provides an entertaining option for helping friends wriggle out of spots they found difficult to manage alone.
And, even if you are playing chapters you’ve already completed in single-player, when playing with someone else your game will save all your found items, side-quest progress, and accrued XP. This makes multiplayer a painless way to level up and acquire special quest rewards, too.
How about drawbacks?
Playing on my PS5, I’ve noticed Dead Island 2 looks a bit more choppy during co-op than during single-player, but not distractingly so. Other than that, though, the only real downside I found to multiplayer is that the game can start to feel too breezy, at least if you’re playing with friends who are significantly lower level, like I am.
With only two players, we managed to defeat the second boss in—not joking—under two minutes, which felt embarrassing, considering it took me a couple of tries and lots of whining to win in single-player. If you want to feel challenged, I’d recommend avoiding multiplayer for big story moments like this, or at least avoid playing with anyone whose weapons are much stronger than your own.
What do you think of Dead Island 2’s multiplayer so far?