Dead Island 2 gameplay shows off bridezilla zombie, has the vibe of pro wrestling

A new video of Dead Island 2 shows off about 15 minutes of gameplay, highlighting the absolutely over-the-top gorefest that is its ranged and melee combat. It's full of campy-to-annoying dialogue and cheap laughs, but they're still effective. Honest to God more than anything it reminds me of the absolutely absurd tone of modern American Professional Wrestling.

The trailer follows "slayer" character Dani through an upscale LA neighborhood as she bashes, stabs, shoots, and otherwise splatters zombies while cracking a bunch of cheesy and/or annoying quips. (Sounds like something else we saw recently.) Again, though, the approach to atmospheric violence, outrageous fighting, and campy dialogue more than anything reminds me of the absolute silliness that is wrestling.

It's a decent promise of variety, as the gameplay reveal promises "dozens" of different zombie types which are best dealt with using different weapons and skills. It also shows off the abilities of the protagonist "slayers," who are seemingly immune to the zombie plague but have had their DNA mutated by it anyways. That lets Dani enter "fury mode" and grow claws and strength that can toss zombies across the room.

There's more than just splattering shown off, as the trailer dives into systems like the obligatory crafting of weird weapons: Katana with a flaming propane nozzle, electrified fist claws, etc. There are also what developer Dambuster calls "curveballs," weird limited-use powers like meatbait, a "sack of blood and guts to draw zombies away from you."

Naturally a crafting system means that you will spend far more time gathering garbage than the five seconds in this trailer that the protagonist spends picking up garishly highlighted wire, lightbulbs, and random chemicals in a broom closet.

Also on display are the skill cards that are replacing the talent tree from Dead Islands of yore. These let you customize your character with powers and stunts like stylish mid-air full-body dropkicks (wrestling!) and slamming ground stomps to trip up nearby enemies (also wrestling!).

Near the trailer's end there's also a series showing off Apex Zombies, which are "hyper-mutated" zombies with unique behaviors. Examples included a spike-covered punk monster with spike arms, a big burned-up guy wearing chains, the obligatory fat vomiting monster, and—perhaps the most pro wrestling of all—a giant bridezilla monster near the end. (Which is the part most worth watching because I am not joking they 100% definitely used their elaborate zombie-gooping explosion physics on a cake.)

We'll see if the campy tone can sustain Dead Island 2 when it releases on April 21, 2023. And yes, for the record, that's one last release date change for a game that spent nine years in development hell.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.