Dead Island First Impressions


Remember when you watched this trailer, and how many times you had to change your pants afterword? Remember how you thought this might be be the greatest zombie game ever? I thought that this might be successful hybrid of Borderlands meets Dead Rising. Well bad news gamers, it isn't, well to me at least.

The Story and Missions:

Dead Island is the story of multiple survivors on the island of Banoi after a zombie outbreak occurs.The player picks one of four characters specializing in either throwing weapons, guns, sharp weapons or blunt weapons.  They must help the other survivors to make it off the island alive. Sadly, this is as deep as the story gets and you are their errand boy(or girl) throughout the game. To me, the missions feel pointless and I don't feel rewarded after I complete an objective. Some Missions like finding juice, food, and gathering peoples jewelry, feels repetitive and boring. The RPG skill tree system also seems to miss the mark. Leveling up to put a point in a set skill doesn't seem to grant the power that I wish it did.

The Weapons and Combat:

Weapons in Dead Island range from boat paddles, knives, and typical guns, to kicking and punching the dead back to the grave. And the melee weapons are everywhere (guns are a bit more rare). One frustration I had was that weapons seem to break constantly, regardless of whether they were completely repaired or upgraded, which can lead to frustration and using your fists when you shouldn't have to. Combat in Dead Island is hit and miss. There is no real strategy involved, just beat the walking dead until they cant walk anymore. It's fun for the first 10 minutes but gets boring fast. I found myself more than often kicking them to death because I didn't want to damage my weapons, or leave myself vulnerable. The option to throw your weapons doesn't help either, as most times weapons don't do nearly enough damage as the player hopes they would; escaping some fateful encounters.

The Undead Horde:

The AI is smart, but at other times lacking. Zombies could run at the player in droves one minute and the next not even seem to care. Most zombies I fought seemed to run right past me without a second look. The AI also always seems stronger then you. No matter how much money the player puts into their weapons it never seems to be enough, especially at higher levels. Maybe I'm just used to being overpowered in most zombie games, but Dead Island is certainly a challenge at some points, especially alone.

The Island of Banoi and the detailed meat monkeys:

The world itself is amazing. Bright textures and colorful environments make the island of Banoi seem very real, making exploring very engaging. The missions themselves bring you all over the island, making sure the player sees every detail. The Zombies look well, dead, exactly how zombies should. Every swing of a knife or boat paddle produces a beautiful mist of undead blood.


As much as I would like to think this is a Borderlands/Dead Rising hybrid, the co-op doesn't hold up. Money, health, and experience isn't shared so more often than not, players will be fighting for kills and items which would make the team weaker rather than stronger. If you have really good friends who are willing to share everything, you might just survive the zombie outbreak. And although player's items and level are saved from joining their friend's games, some progress isn't. When aiding my friend in his missions, I recieved "This mission not added to your story" messages. And upon returning to my single player adventure, made me feel like I lost hours of progress; having to repeat missions I just completed.

Final verdict:

To me the hype was huge for this game. I really wanted this game to be great, but it feels rushed and left a bad feeling in my gut. I do cut this game some slack however on being a new IP. Techland and Deep Silver definitely did a great job as a whole.  For a new game it is pretty and there is fun to be had, just most of it feels like a chore after awhile. For the first big game of fall (other then Resistance 3 and Deus Ex), it just feels like a let down.

What do you think of Dead Island so far?

UberExplodey's picture

Thanks for the write-up dude. Bummer that story progression on single player and co-op doesn't carry over.

Reid Wildenhaus's picture

I'm glad to see that you didn't compare it to Left 4 Dead, as the two are incomparable. I think that it is a really buggy game, and needs an update. However, I think this game is either a hit or miss depending on your taste in games. I really enjoy this game, but truth is, it isn't for everyone.

Aquapit's picture

I hear there is some problem with saves becoming corrupted with Dead Island. And there is only auto save, no manual save, which could be problematic.

Hoping for some patches.

Goshin's picture

Thanks for the info! Saved me the trouble of getting it. Was looking forward to it as well. I guess this is a case where "Trailer Hype" just doesn't carry over to the game. 

RPGeesus's picture

This seems fair. I might still get this game, since it looks up my alley and I need something to wash away the taste of two-months-of-no-games, but I'll keep all of these in mind.

Also, one question about the combat: I saw on another site that there's an option to change fighting from digital (using the triggers or something to swing back and forth) to analog (using the stick as the way you swing, a forward-and-back movement that lets you have more precision). Apparently it's a lot more fun because it becomes somewhat of a puzzle to see how you can dismember zombies, although it feels like garbage  for a while.

As a terrible point of reference, the analog combat could be compared to that of the 2008 Alone in the Dark, except much better.

getrdun21's picture

I just got done playing the game in coop and it does actually share money and it gives u a little experience when a partner gets a kill. To me yes the story is kind of dull and the usual story but it is a lot of fun when u play in coop with a good friend and you just play and have jokes. But doesnt every game usually make you the errand boy? haha

Benjamin Weeks's picture

I think that Dead island is a great game for the 16 hours that i have put in to it so far. The Combat is good in my opinion i played as Logan and he can kick ass with his throwing. And i played it on PC so the controls where much better than on Xbox.

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