Eight years later, Dead Island 2 has made its triumphant return to Gamescom. The beleaguered zombie RPG showcased a fancy new CGI trailer and a sizzle reel of characters smashing zombies like Gallagher going to town on a pallet of rotting watermelons. It comes out on February 3, 2023, almost exactly a year after 2022's big gruesome zombie RPG. Are you ready?
Dead Island 2's latest trailer showed off Jacob, one of six playable zombie-slayers. According to the game’s developers these are “larger than life” characters with “unique” dialogue that showcases the game’s “pulpy” and “irreverent” tone. It also sports a co-op campaign, bigger map, and more complex dismemberment system than its predecessors. But if you asked me to figure out what sets the cursed project apart from other zombie games outside of its sun-soaked rendition of Venice Beach, I wouldn’t have a clue.
I have no idea whether Dead Island 2 will be any good, and at this point that almost feels beside the point. It’s transcended the particulars of its sub-genre to become pure video game industry spectacle, like Duke Nukem Forever and a handful of other projects that were birthed in one era and clawed their way through years of development hell into another.
The game was infamously revealed back at E3 2014 with a CGI trailer showing a man jogging obliviously while everyone behind him is eaten alive by zombies. A brief gameplay trailer followed at Gamescom that summer which showed basically what we saw today, albeit much less pretty looking. Then the game disappeared. The original reveal trailer has been viewed on YouTube over 24 million times. The top comment with over 50,000 likes reads, “I was 12 when this trailer came out. I’m 43 now.” That was three years ago.
The first Dead Island in 2011 was made by Techland. The Polish studio was supposed to make the sequel but ended up making parkour zombie hit Dying Light instead. Then Yager Development got involved. In 2015 publisher Deep Silver dropped the Spec Ops: The Line studio over conflicting visions, and enlisted Sumo Digital in the UK. That didn’t work either. By 2019, parent company THQ Nordic (now one of the many facers of Embracer) announced Dambuster Studios would finish the game with one of Deep Silver’s internal studios while new alpha builds started leaking online.
And now here we are. Dying Light 2 released in February and was...fine. Whether Dead Island 2 is better, worse, or just another fleshy hack-fest, it will certainly be remembered as that game they refused to just let die.