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Dead Island 2 is the long-delayed sequel to the cult 2011 co-op zombie survival game Dead Island. It was originally announced at E3 2014 for release the following year, again published by Deep Silver and to be developed by Yager Studios (of Spec Ops: The Line fame), taking over from original developer Techland. However, Yager was moved off the project, with another developer, Sumo Digital, taking their place in 2016, only for Sumo Digital to get moved off as well and replaced with Dambuster Studios in 2019. After several years of radio silence, Dambuster’s version was revealed at Gamescom 2022, and finally released on April 21, 2023 for 8th and 9th generation consoles, and for PC as an Epic Games Store exclusive.

It's been more than a decade since the events of Banoi and Palanoi, and now the United States government has placed the state of California in a full quarantine due to a zombie outbreak. But are the citizens freaking out, living what could be their final days in fear? Nope, not by a long shot! Instead, Los Angeles, now known as HELL-A, has become a super-bloody paradise for those who either don't want to leave the Golden State or want to do their part in the zombie epidemic and deal with them by force. Or do it just because it's fun. The story follows six of these survivors; a stuntman, a Paralympic athlete, a roller derby skater, a male stripper, a motocross rider and a street hustler, as they make the most of the apocalypse and slay their way through HELL-A, helping who they can and turning who they can't into a fine red mist.

Check out the E3 2014 trailer right over here, or the 2022 Gamescom re-reveal here.

This game provides the following tropes:

    The Cancelled 2014 Version 
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: In the E3 2014 trailer, aside from the jogger himself, the rollerskater and the overweight man with the shotgun both reappear as zombies running alongside him.
  • Body Horror: The E3 2014 trailer alone had a healthy-looking jogger devolving into a zombie over a timelapse, complete with a Gross-Up Close-Up of his flesh decaying.
  • Fake Muscles: In the E3 2014 trailer, the jogger's biceps are revealed to be implants when his infection turns him into a zombie and his decaying flesh and skin can't keep the implant in one of his arms in place. The skin on his nose also falls off to reveal he's had a nose job. Ironically, the prominent billboard seen at the end suggests that the man was running a fitness gym advertised by his good looks.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: The jogger in the E3 2014 trailer has on some headphones which start blaring out "The Bomb" by Pigeon John, and so he fails to notice the escalating chaos erupting behind him: a woman rollerskating that is attacked by zombies and screams at him for help, a guy shotgunning zombies who eventually gets overwhelmed, an out-of-control limo which almost clobbers him, and then a helicopter crashing. It's then subverted when it turns out he was already infected before he started running, implying that he was simply trying to Face Death with Dignity.
  • Hellish Copter: In the E3 2014 trailer, a news chopper careens into view with (presumably) zombies hanging from the landing struts. It crashes into a building and explodes.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The 2014 male player characters were more macho and the female player characters were more sexualized compared to those from first game, or their final versions in the final 2023 release of the game. The character designs overall were also much less Totally Radical and much closer in tone to the first game. Unsurprising since all media is inevitably a product of the times in which they are created.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: One of the zombies seen in the mob at the end is a surfer with her surfboard still attached to her ankle.
  • Robbing the Dead: In the E3 2014 trailer, after the zombified jogger gets killed (well, disassembled) by a melee weapon in the face by two survivors, one of them gets out and steals the shoes the zombie jogger was wearing.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The E3 2014 trailer has a guy jogging to the tune of Pigeon John's "The Bomb". As he's going, it turns out that he's jogging in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. Hell's breaking loose, innocent people are being attacked left and right, but is he freaking out? Nah.
  • Stock Scream: In the 2014 trailer, the Wilhelm Scream is used towards the end when a bat-swinging survivor gets overpowered by zombies.
  • What Might Have Been: A incomplete build of this specific version ended up being leaked, from shortly before the developer cut ties with Deep Silver, allowing people to see how far the game had got into development.
  • While Rome Burns: In the trailer, a man is out on a jog, headphones on, completely uncaring of the Zombie Apocalypse raging around him. However, he's already been infected by a wound he concealed under his armband, and he eventually turns, still running through the streets in the company of the undead.

    The 2023 Released Game 
  • And I Must Scream: Bursters can sometimes be heard begging for help, even as they're shambling towards the Slayer. While it's possible their use of speech is only a leftover fragment of humanity being used to lure people closer, the more horrifying option is that even after being transformed, these zombies are still conscious and trapped in their own zombified bodies without control of their actions.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The Storage Locker allows you to put away any weapons you want to keep and not sell, and also has an option for "Unclaimed Property" that allows you to retrieve weapons that spawned that you didn't or could not pick up for any reason. It ensures that, whether from having a full inventory already, being forced to flee from too many zombies, etc., you still have a way to acquire and use any potentially useful weaponry.
  • Armies Are Evil: Mostly Averted. With some exceptions, the Military was trying to save as many people as possible while not allowing the outbreak to spread and not dying. They have draconian containment methods (like rigging evacuation buses to incinerate their passengers if one is infected, or standing orders to shoot down planes carrying infected) but considering how terrible a zombie outbreak is, they can scarcely be blamed.
  • Artifact Title: The game takes place in Los Angeles, which is decidedly not an island. Ditto for earlier versions of the game that were in a nonspecified California location. Emma does make a reference to feeling like a castaway and Hell-A is a Closed Circle like an island but it's a stretch.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: At the start of the game, the Slayer begins their adventure by awakening to find themself impaled by a piece of debris from the crashed airplane. They immediately yank it out, then go stumbling around to find a medical kit with which to patch themself up. Any medical professional will tell you that you should never just yank something out of your body if you've been stabbed with something, as the item being there is what will keep you bleeding out. Especially with something as serious as a gut wound that could have potentially punctured any organs. Granted the Slayer is definitely in an emergency situation, but even in a state of shock they would've been better advised to have left it in when they went searching.
    • Bruno, The Smart Guy of the Slayers, does the same as everyone else (because the script says so) but of them, he's the one who chides himself for doing this form of Worst Aid. "Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: After the survivors in Emma's house discover the Slayer is bitten and close to passing out again, Michael is left holding the gun and forced to make the call on shooting them. The Slayer collapses and the screen goes black as a gun goes off. Only for the Slayer to wake up again an unspecified time later, handcuffed but alive, without so much as a gunshot wound. Emma reveals that Michael actually fainted under the stress and fired the gun on his way down; the round went wild but thankfully never actually hit anyone. Though Emma gripes that it was close.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Like you wouldn't believe. The first game is already one of the most gruesome of its kind, but this sequel cranks it up to new heights never seen before.
  • Body Horror:
    • Thanks to the "Fully Locational Evisceration System for Humanoids” AKA the F.L.E.S.H. System, Dead Island 2 is capable of procedurally generating anatomically correct layers of skin fat and muscle which can be ripped away to reveal breakable bones and internal organs that are individually destructible. This means that every enemy in the game can be torn asunder in a myriad of ways with a disturbingly realistic level of detail.
    • The mid-game story quest "The Giant-Slayer" goes into some small detail about zombie anatomy. As the Slayer and Patton discover from a crude autopsy on a Crusher, the Apex Infected are actually developing completely new organs that let them do what they can do, simultaneously allowing Slayers to harvest those organs in order to use them for creating weirder and more dangerous types of weapon mods. At the same time, though, the Slayer realizes that if the zombies are mutating like that, there's a very good chance that their own immunity to the Autophage could do something similar to them.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Several of the stronger skill cards, such as Flare-Up, Anger Mismanagement, Hot-Footed, and Lightning Strike, buff your skills in exchange for making them cost health.
  • Cast Full of Rich People: Given the game takes place in many of the wealthier areas of Los Angeles, like Bel-Air, Hollywood Boulevard, and Beverly Hills, many (though not all) of the people the Slayer comes across are well-off celebrities or people who are wealthy through other means.
  • Celebrity Survivor: The game takes place in L.A., so several of the survivors you meet are (fictional) celebrities. Emma Jaunt, a famous horror movie actress, is one of the main supporting characters in your survivor group. Sam B returns, taking on the role of a mentor figure.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the cutscene where the protagonist meets Emma after the plane crash, she's seen ripping off her high heels and throwing them in a bout of frustration. Later, when bitten and knocked on their back by the zombie that bit them, the protagonist spots one of her discarded shoes. Then immediately uses it to stab the zombie in the eye to stop it from killing them.
  • Clown-Car Grave: More like Clown Car Everything, but zombies will emerge in seemingly endless numbers from the ground, particularly around the beach, or else every single vent or grate around. No area is ever totally safe except designated safe zones.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Sam B advises the Slayers to use the sewers to travel around Los Angeles in relative safety, stating that was how he was able to escape Banoi in the first game, and also advises you against trusting the voice on the radio promising solutions. In one piece of ambient dialogue he also mentions Logan, Xian Mei, Purna, and either John Morgan or John Sinamoi, implying that the other Banoi survivors are still alive but that the group broke up after the events of Riptide due to an unspecified incident on their escape boat.
    • A newspaper gossip column that can be found mentions Logan being spotted living under the radar somewhere out in the Midwest, with a dog.
    • A journal found on the Santa Monica Pier implies that at least one other veteran of Banoi or Palanoi was hired by the U.S. military to assist with the containment efforts, although they work under a codename.
    • Completing the 'Fool's Gold' sidequest will reward the player with one of Xian Mei's knives that she used in the previous Dead Island games.
    • The trophies "Who Do You Voodoo?" and "I Got a Zombie Army and You Can't Harm Me" are both lyrics from Sam B's hit "Who Do You Voodoo?" from the intro of the first game.
  • Crying Wolf: The quest to find Laura, who was locked in the Venice Beach police station just as the apocalypse was kicking off, has a journal titled "Crying Wolf" in which she desperately tries to get officers' attention because her friend, who is locked in the cell with her, turned into a zombie and started attacking Laura. Because her entire stint locked up consisted of her raising false alarms, no one believes her and the officers are thankful that she finally shut up not realizing she was really in trouble and they now have two zombies locked up.
  • Deadly Gas: Although the danger of Caustic-X is more about getting it on the skin (since the Slayer can walk through an entire sewer polluted with the stuff and hardly cough), a Superior-tier ranged-weapon mod can be used that causes the death of a zombie to generate a gaseous form of Caustic-X that has a slower DOT effect but still accomplishes the same goal of dissolving zombie flesh off their bones.
  • Degraded Boss: The game's Elite Zombie enemies typical start showing up after you defeat a King Mook version of them as a boss battle.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Different types of mods can be added to weapons in order to make them more powerful or give attacks certain traits, like setting enemies on fire when hit.
  • Dirty Coward: According to Curtis Sinclair, his nephew, Tony Sinclair, tried to survive the party by sacrificing one one the maids by throwing her at a zombie. For that reason, Curtis doesn't feel too bad for Tony once he was infected and encourages the slayer to kill Tony out of spite.
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet: After the plane takes off in the intro, all of the passengers are cheering with relief at the fact that it seems they've all managed to survive and escape HELL-A. That is until Robert turns into a zombie and begins biting the other survivors, which triggers a Code Zulu that results in the plane getting shot out of the air to prevent the infection spreading.
  • Elite Zombie: Know as Apex Variants, they tend to be similar to the ones from Dead Island; Crushers are Thugs with a wider moveset including slams and jumping attacks, Bursters are Suiciders, Slobbers are Bloaters, Screamers are similar to the ones from Riptide except they can attack normally as well as scream, and Butchers are still probably the most dangerous zombies and can now even block bullets with their blade arms. There are also Mutators, which start off as regular walkers but mutate into a powerful miniboss with a ground slam and the ability to launch spikes from their chest.
  • Emergency Weapon: Should they break or otherwise find themself with no weapons, the slayer will resort to using their bare fists to fight the infected.
  • Establishing Character Moment: All of the Slayers are seen during brief moments in the introductory cutscene, which gives the player a succinct impression of their character.
    • Amy literally runs her way onto the scene, and meets a soldier guarding the gates to the airport. Explaining that she'd just sprinted twelve miles from the other airport in Long Beach through zombie infested HELL-A because she'd given up her seat on a plane there to someone else. Along with an introductory shot of her prosthetic leg to prove she's a Handicapped Badass to boot.
    • Ryan, dressed in his firefighter's uniform, is seen dumping several items from his suitcase (including handcuffs and an advertisement from a strip club) which prove he's actually a stripper and not a genuine member of emergency services. And the only thing he grabs from his belongings is a small keychain that's clearly a gift from his younger brother. Before he grabs a fire extinguisher and runs to catch the plane pretending to be a real firefighter, showing he's quick to get into any role he needs.
    • When Bruno is waiting in line to get into the plane loading zone, he takes advantage of an earthquake that distracts everyone to surreptitiously take a picture of the boarding pass of the person behind him with his phone. So that he can then present it to the guard in front of him and pass it off as his own ticket.
    • Carla rides onto the scene on her personal motorcycle like a true Badass Biker, rather than on the bus with other passengers to be. Screeching to a halt just in front of the airport's loading gate and casually tossing her keys to the soldier guarding it before strutting up the ramp.
    • Jacob firmly establishes himself as a fearless badass with a devil-may-care attitude by managing to hitch a ride on the plane's landing gear as it took off. Sporting a cocky grin and smoking a cigar as he gazes out over the burning HELL-A landscape below him before he climbs up into the cargo bay.
    • Dani literally pops out into the scene by jumping out of a band chest plastered with punk band stickers, having snuck onto the plane via the luggage storage. Where she meets fellow Slayer Jacob, exchanges casual banter with him, and then takes his cigar straight from his lips.
  • Evil Poacher: Before the zombie outbreak, Nikki Gutte would hunt down endangered animals, though Ronnie was the one who brought the animals to her in Los Angeles. In "Justifiable Zombiecide," she's the first Screamer you meet when the Slayer, Sam B and Ronnie go to her house to steal her guns. She and several zombies kill Ronnie, and it's up to the player to finish her off.
  • Faking the Dead: It's implied Sam B has been living off-the-grid for the past decade (out of concern They Would Cut You Up if his status as an immune survivor was known), and the few showbiz people who know of him think he's dead.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The first thing we see of Amy is a shot of her running legs, which gives us a view of her prosthetic leg.
  • Foreshadowing: When the Slayer discovers that a CDC outpost still exists in Santa Monica with a guarantee of escape if they can prove their immunity to the doctors, they voice their intent to go with the Bel-Air survivors who cynically reject the idea. In particular, Sam B says that getting involved with government types is likely to backfire since They Would Cut You Up. Later on, after hacking the Skope network, they learn that Reuben was always lying about getting them out of Hell-A and just wanted their immune blood to complete his cure for the Autophage.
    • It's a Freeze-Frame Bonus blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but when the Slayer finally reaches Michael at Monarch Studios and defeats their first Slobber, when they enter Emma Jaunt's trailer, they find Michael presiding over a Romero statue and medical supplies. But if one looks past him at the sink nearby, they'd see a pile of bloody cloths, looking very freshly used. It's an early hint that Michael tried to clean up and disguise the zombie bite that eventually turns him into a Runner and forces the Slayer to execute him right in front of Emma before they leave for Santa Monica.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In the intro movie, while Bruno's being checked through security, Robert is in the background bribing a soldier to let him, Emma, and Michael onto the evac plane. Notably, that soldier does not check any of their temperatures, which lets Robert conceal his Zombie Infectee status just long enough for the plane to take off...
    • In Bruno's portion of the intro, you can see a man in a hat, sunglasses, and letterman jacket two places in front of him in line. Then the same man is seen in the bus that Ryan and Amy's bus passes by, where he's bitten by a newly turned zombie before the sprinklers set the interior ablaze.
    • If you pause when looking at Ryan's firefighter hat in the intro, it can be seen that the front of it says "SEXY DEPT." under the number, giving extra proof that he's not a genuine firefighter. Along with most of a sticker on the back which looks like it's from a partially ripped off "99 cent" price sticker.
    • The zombie Carla is punching on the character select screen is the unlucky fangirl who got mauled by Robert Steele.
    • Late in the story, when Reuben abandons the Serling Hotel, the Slayer goes through the paperwork on his desk while speaking with Emma. This includes four sheets of paper that display photos of Jacob, Amy, Carla, and Dani all using the same Blood Drive machine in the CDC camp in Santa Monica. This carries the implication that any Slayer who isn't currently in your group is making their own way through Hell-A, including making contact with Reuben.
  • Gender-Inclusive Writing: To account for the fact that the Slayer can be either a man or a woman, other characters will always refer to the player's character with "they/them" pronouns.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Screamers' shrieks are loud enough to break glass and strong enough to send the slayers flying.
  • Gorn: Thanks to the "Fully Locational Evisceration System for Humanoids” or F.L.E.S.H. you can mutilate and eviscerate the undead in a myriad of different ways. The system is mostly procedural so you can mangle and deform nearly every inch of flesh, bones, and organs in graphic detail.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Both Bruno and Carla have a habit of using various Spanish phrases and curse words throughout their dialogue.
  • The Ground Is Lava: During the mission "The End of the Line" players have to navigate a flooded room where the floor is electrified, traversing it via crates and other elevated objects. While the initial crossing is relatively simple, the other end of the room is missing a circuit breaker, which may lead to players taking the risk of getting into the (also flooded) side rooms to see if the missing breaker is there. It's not. It's in a different room that also has an electrified floor.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Joshua, the man trapped under a piece of plain wreckage that the protagonist will try to help at the game's start, ends up being bitten and infected by his zombified wife. Which leads to the now-zombie Joshua proceeding to free himself by ripping his upper half from the still-trapped lower half of his body, trailing his intestines along the ground behind him while clawing his way towards the protagonist to attack them.
  • Hellish L.A.: The game's tagline is literally "See You in Hell-A", and it portrays the city as a land of vapid decadence even before the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Hollywood Acid: Caustic-X despite explicitly being said to be a alkali. It's green, it's steams, it breaks down human flesh in seconds, (bases are more dangerous to human tissue then acids), yet the Slayers can breath the fumes in without dying from lung damage.
  • I Choose to Stay: Despite having a chance to escape Los Angeles, the Slayers decide to stay in order to find the still missing Tisha as well as help the other survivors still trapped in the city.
  • Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: The first Crusher to be encountered by the player is dressed as a bride, presumably having been infected during her reception. The first Butcher meanwhile is a clown at an amusement park.
    • Goofy-outfit non-boss zombies include food delivery people with a backpack full of healing items on their back, roller derby enthusiasts, or zombies with a full tank of pure drinking water on their backs (good for elemental effects) apparently because in life they were walking water vendors to tourists.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Bodycount, a legendary rifle from a hidden sidequest, can delete any single enemy in the game in seconds. Once you've got it, it will chew through anything that isn't either immune to bleeding damage or unique Mutators, and there are only a couple of the latter present in the game.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Funny enough, the players are on the other side of this. When rescuing Curtis in his side quest, they have to wait for him to slowly ride down a chair lift as he can't lower himself down the ruined staircase due to damage that decades of stunt work has done on his hip.
  • Irony: When he lets the Slayer into the Emma's house the first time, Michael will say that it's a miracle that they weren't bitten on the way there. It takes only a few seconds for him to realize he was very wrong about that fact.
  • King Mook: The game's bosses are all Elite Zombie enemies with a lot more health. Even the Final Boss is the same as the boss you fought a few missions before (a Mutator), just with more health.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The Slayers get just as fed up with the missing breaker boxes as the players do.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite the much higher body count, the tone of the game seems to be lighter than the original games. All six of the playable character were happy or content with their lives before thrown into the plot versus all four of the previous heroes being has beens or stuck in bad jobs. Then there is the fact that instead there only being resistance to the zombie cause as in the original games, even if a cure isn't found, there *WILL* be survivors of the autophage and humanity *WILL* survive. It's just how many will die in the meantime and how much it will be changed.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: When the Slayer wakes up after the plane crash, they find themself impaled by a piece of the debris. Which they immediately grab hold of and yank out of their body. This, unsurprisingly, leaves the Slayer with a large, bleeding wound in their gut which they then have to stumble around through the plane's wreckage with in order to patch themself up.
  • Mad Artist: In Beverly Hills, you get a series of sidequests from an artist named Francesca who wants you to donate zombie parts. It starts off with donating infected flesh from basic zombies before gathering parts from each apex variant. When it's done, Francesca has made a horse out of the parts with a dead zombie "riding" it, the piece being called "Channel the Charnel Horse." Each Slayer has their own interpretation of the work, but regrets helping bring a horrific piece of art into Hell-A.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: When Jacob encounters Butcho the Clown, many of his insults include referring to him as a child predator.
  • Monster Clown: The first Butcher you fight is Butcho the Clown at the Pier.
  • No Ending: By the end of the game, the only main plotline that is resolved is making sure Emma and Sam B escape Los Angeles. Other major plotlines such as the true intentions of Konradt's Numen movement, the Eschaton Group's research into the Autophage, and Tisha's ultimate fate remain unresolved.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: MASSIVELY averted. In the chaos of trying to escape zombie-ridden HELL-A, panicking people are doing everything they can to get themselves out, even if it means dooming others. The most blatant example being the pair of soldiers guarding the door into the plane in the introductory cutscene. When another tremor hits and they get a radio call warning that zombies have breached the perimeter, they declare they do not intend to stay there and slam the door shut before telling the pilot they're clear to go and that they need to go now. Even though they're leaving behind more people who are still standing on the loading ramp just outside the door yelling to be let in.
  • Outside Ride: Though he doesn't get the whole way this way, Jacob manages to hitch a ride on the last flight out of HELL-A by climbing up the plane's landing gear during or before takeoff. Waiting until the bird was already in the air before climbing the rest of the way up and making his way into the plane proper.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: The first appearance of the Inferno Crusher zombie in-game comes at the same time as an aftershock which crumbles part of the nearby highway, spilling fuel all over the lot you're in, which rings you and the Crusher, Dillon, in flames.
    Jacob: Oi! Dillon! Welcome to my day job.
    Dani: Then let's get into it, ye melter!
    Ryan: Come on, big boy. Let's fucking do it.
    Carla: I'm ready, meathead! Let's light it up!
  • Properly Paranoid: Say what you want about the US Military but they were prepared for a possible outbreak on US soil. Complete communication blackout to prevent panic, evac shuttles rigged to catch fire in case of an outbreak onboard, Anti-Air missiles to shoot down any planes that has an outbrak on board, temperture checks, alkali designed to break down human tissues to dispose of bodies. It still wasn't enough due to the sheer scale but points for thinking things through.
  • Razor-Sharp Hand: Amy's fury makes her fingers as sharp as claws and she's easily able to slice through zombies with just her hands.
  • Red Shirt Army: Despite the military fully mobilizing to quarantine Los Angeles, the forces they actually deploy inside the city to man the evacuation centers ultimately collapse and they're all (un)dead aside from a few isolated holdouts by the time the Slayers investigate their overrun bases.
  • Sequel Hook: The game essentially ends on a Cliffhanger since the plots revolving around the Numen, Eschaton Group, and Tisha remain unresolved.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: Despite being titled as the second game in the series, Dead Island 2 is actually the third game, with Riptide as the actual second game.
  • Shoe Slap: The protagonist uses Emma's discarded high-heeled shoe (tossed aside during an outburst she had after the plane crashed) to stab a freshly turned zombie's head when it suddenly revives and attacks.
  • Shout-Out:
    • This version of LA has a prestigious award called the Romero.
    • Jacob occasionally uses "Wakanda" as a synonym for "awesome."
    • At one point Jacob says "All your bass are belong to me".
    • You can find a couple of cabinets for arcade adaptations of TimeSplitters and Dambuster's Homefront: The Revolution.
    • At one point Dr. Reed walks you through taking a blood sample from yourself. He then asks you if there are any worm-like creatures inside the blood. He then remarks that he was just messing with you.
    • One of the challenges is called "Live Long and Prosper".
    • It probably isn't a coincidence that the actress known for playing the tough, no-nonsense female lead of a spacefaring science fiction series is named Sheppard.
    • There are several achievements/trophies that are named Max Headroom, Hotel California, Can't Handle the Truth and Down with the Sickness.
    • The Flavor Text for crowbars give one to Half-Life.
      "Whether dealing with alien invasions or the zompocalypse, a crowbar never lets you down. Facts."
    • Red's Demise has a Pulp Fiction reference in the Flavor Text. This doubles as a mythology gag for the original Dead Island, where another katana, Zed's Demise, was one of the best melee weapons in the game.
      "Red's dead, baby. Red's dead."
    • Completing the postgame sidequest, "Beacon of Hope," gives you a Legendary tier sword called "The One" modeled after the Kurgan's sword.
    • One quest requires you to find the dog tags of a soldier named Mike B. Hicks. Looking at dog tags lying around also reveals the name Abby Rhodes.
    • A whiteboard listing radio frequencies at the life guard tower in the Venice Beach sector reveals several military FOBs codenamed Rachel, Phoebe, and Monica
  • Smoking Is Cool: At least two of the Slayers (Jacob and Dani) are known smokers, and when they're shown doing it, it's meant to emphasize their badassery and devil-may-care attitude.
  • Soft Reboot: Due to the change in developers and likely disfavor over Techland's defection from Deep Silver (coupled with the original writers being long gone), the game is almost a complete departure from the story of the original Dead Island games. Whereas Dead Island, Riptide, and Escape from Dead Island were all fairly closely tied in terms of plot, Dead Island 2 completely abandons every plot thread from the original games, offering a completely different explanation as to the source of the zombie disease (it's a genetic "killswitch" that was always in humanity's DNA, that seems to be unrelated as Sam requires the cure in the end despite being previously immune), a completely different Ancient Conspiracy as the Greater-Scope Villain (the Eschaton Group instead of GeoPharma/The Palm Garden Order), and a completely different Transhuman Treachery group acting as a Wild Card (the Numens instead of Charon). About the only tie to the original games is the presence of Sam B. in a supporting role as Emma's ex-boyfriend, though he does confirm the outbreaks in the first two games did indeed occur, even directly namedropping Banoi at one point.
  • Take Up My Sword: After the final story mission, Sam B gives the Slayer his sledgehammer, a Legendary tier Bulldozer named Emma's Wrath.
  • The Apunkalypse: One of the odder examples seeing as the Slayers were Punk or Punklike before the apocalypse.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The government is taking no chances regarding the outbreak, and if a single passenger in an evacuation vehicle suddenly turns zombie measures have been taken to make sure the entire vehicle and everyone on board is completely destroyed. Evacuation buses are equipped with sprinklers loaded with gasoline to incinerate the driver and passengers, and any airplane that reports a zombie on board via radio is immediately shot down via missile.
  • Too Dumb to Live: You can find a note about one person's plan to get evacuated first because the sick and wounded are being prioritized before everyone else, which involves riding a bike into a speeding ambulance. If you want to know where you find this note, it's on a corpse stuck underneath the wheel of the ambulance in question.
  • Truth in Television: The particular type of prosthetic leg that Amy uses (often called a Running Blade) is an actual type of prosthesis used by real life disabled athletes. As opposed to prosthetic legs that look more human in shape, running blades are designed to have better shock absorption and provide bounce that allows for more comfortable and efficient running, and are much more durable than an everyday walkable prosthetic. Something very valuable for an aspiring Paralympic medalist (or a survivor of the zombie-riddled streets of HELL-A).
    • Caustic-X, the substance brought in by the military to dispose of zombie corpses, is actually alkali in nature rather than acidic as its appearance may suggest. Bases are actually far more damaging to organic tissue than acids, and penetrate much more deeply much faster.
  • The Virus: You pass through a number of CDC research sites on the Venice Beach waterfront where lab workers have tried, and largely failed, to understand the Autophage. None of them live long enough to realize the issue, which is that the Autophage isn't a virus; it's a prematurely activated genetic kill switch that just looks like it's being transmitted virally.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: When the Screamer formerly known as Nikki Gutte is encountered, she can be seen wearing a pair of shorts/underwear that are clearly bearing the stars and stripes.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: For all of humanity. Reuben reveals in the final act that the Autophage isn't a plague or virus that can be quarantined, but genetic killswitch hidden in all human DNA programmed to exterminate humanity at a predetermined time. And given Reuben's desperation in finding a way to stop it, that time appears to be coming up very soon. Somewhere around 2160 (give or take a dozen years) according to one note of his you find.
  • Younger and Hipper: Similar to other concurrent games such as Rage 2, Back 4 Blood, and Ubisoft's XDefiant, Dead Island 2's characters and game world are a considerable tonal and artistic shift towards a more Totally Radical aesthetic, with much more of a "punk mosh pit" design than the characters and environments from the original game.

    DLC # 1 - Haus 
The Slayers are offered a strange invitation to a house in Malibu that belongs to a mysterious cult, which seems to worship the Konstantin OS. It's set during the events of the main game and can be pursued at any point after the Halperin Hotel mission.

  • An Arm and a Leg: For reasons clear only to the cult members, they all had to lose their right arm as part of their "Ascension" and you see lots of their stored bodies perfectly preserved, all missing their right arm.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The more the Slayer learns about the cult the more convinced they are that it's a scam that lures members in with debauchery and doomsday warnings before subjecting them to brutal Trial by Combat and mutilation. However, when they meet Konstantin in "person" and save the Ark and it's uploaded human minds it's revealed that the Haus really is a Benevolent Conspiracy that is trying to save humanity by preserving those that prove themselves strong enough to survive adversity. This is even more apparent if the Slayer has already completed the main story line and learned about the Autophage from Reed.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Konstantin is a surprisingly example even though he is responsible for the Slayer being infected in the first place by sending the young couple met in the prologue. As "he" explains, the Slayer was the best chance of saving the Ark and its stored human minds from the Dark Brains and is genuinely thankful for their help (and the plane was going down anyway thanks to Robert hiding his Zombie Infectee status, the couple Konstantin sent just insured the Slayer got bitten at just the right time to make it to Emma's.
  • Bottomless Pits: "The Deeper" is the second gauntlet within Haus. It vaguely resembles a bizarre night club rave house basement minus anything to actually rave to. It's got concrete walls, panels of bright lights against dark shadow, piles of televisions, loads of beer bottles, and above all else, bottomless pits that kill you (or zombies) instantly. All the Slayers have various Bond One-Liners for kicking zombies into the pits.
  • Brain Uploading: This is apparently the goal of the Haus cult, though the only supposedly-uploaded member you interact with is a voice of Hope until you take the post-campaign Missing: Zahra where Hope's mother is forced to ride shotgun in your Brink Implant until you can get her uploaded to the Ark to be with her daughter. Further confirming the Brain Uploading is returning to Haus later so you can listen in on a conversation between the two where Zahra is doing a My Beloved Smother routine on her daughter for not applying herself further in the doomsday cult they both joined.
  • Chaos Architecture: Some of the locations in the Haus seem to move on a semi-regular basis. Your hand-drawn map has scribbled out an area where the Well in the forest "used to be". You don't see too much of it in action yourself, but at least once when you emerge out of the houses in the fake neighborhood, the grass-free path has disappeared. And it's back the next time you're there.
  • Cyborg: How the Ascended achieve their transhuman state. The Slayer becomes one after saving the Ark as a "reward" and is apparently modified enough to serve as a Body Backup Drive for the titular Zahra during the Missing: Zahra quest until they can be uploaded into the Ark by Sharing a Body.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Two of the three main members of the cult are friendly (if unsettlingly weird) but all the recordings you hear of Yong Ho make him *incredibly* sinister, not helped by the fact that his latex suit has full on demon horns coming out of the head. The Slayer only meets Yong Ho, in a sense, after they've been turned into a Screamer by the Autophage, but the Missing: Zahra quest reveals he had Hope's mother sacrifice both arms when she returned to the Haus after running away, so at the very least he wasn't the forgiving type.
  • Tempting Fate: There are signs in the first trials area warning you to stay off the grass with good reason to do so. Later on the Haus covers the sidewalk with grass and forces you to fight zombies trigged by the inevitable stepping.


 
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Plane Crash Survivor

After surviving a plane crash, the Slayer wakes up to find they've been impaled. Luckily there's a first aid kit, but it doesn't have the equipment needed to properly treat a gaping wound.

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