Dead Island is a first-person action RPG, set on the island of Banoi, a fictional tourist paradise in Papua, New Guinea, which has become the unlikely site of an outbreak of zombies. The game features an open world for the player to explore where they pick up quests from other survivors on the island, and has an emphasis on melee combat. It supports up to four players with drop-in drop-out cooperative multiplayer. It was originally planned for a 2008 release, but subsequently entered development hell. After various delays, it was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on September 6th 2011 to a cool reception.
Although the player chooses one of four playable characters to start the game, the game will unfold exactly the same with each character, in both single player and in co-op.
The story starts off with the player waking up alone in a hotel room, unaware that overnight the island has become overrun with zombies. As the player makes his way out of the hotel, a voice comes on over the loudspeakers, directing him to safety and away from pursuing zombies. The player then reawakens in a beach hut with survivors. After helping them fend off a zombie attack, John Sinamoi informs the player that he has been in contact with someone else on a radio who promises he can help, but the signal is too weak. They need to get everyone to the main lifeguard tower where there are medical supplies and a stronger radio. After the player clears that area of zombies, the survivors relocate there, only to discover the antenna for the radio is broken.
To repair the antenna, the player must travel to the lighthouse, where other survivors are also congregating. In order to get the antenna repaired, the player must first help the lighthouse survivors get the power turned back on. After fixing the power, fixing the antenna, and collecting food and water for the survivors, Sinamoi asks the player to retrieve a heavy truck from the hotel. After fighting through zombies at the hotel and getting the armored truck, the player takes it to Earl, a mechanic who can reinforce the truck turning it into a rolling fortress. Earl’s daughter, Jin, convinces the player to use the truck to deliver food and medicine to other survivors at Saint Christopher’s Church.
Once arriving at the church, the player meets Mother Helen and another band of survivors, and she informs the player that the water supply to the church is not working, and needs help turning it back on. The pump station is across town, and once the player gets there, they find it is also occupied by survivors, but this time they are hostile gang members that immediately begin firing guns at the player. After defeating these enemies, the player must turn off a series of hydrants and then battle his way through the underground sewers to cut the water flow to the canals, and open the floodgates.
Coming out the other side of the sewers leads the player to the Town Hall, where yet another band of survivors is holed up. They are low on supplies and are unwilling to help the player, so the heroes argue about the situation and believe that the mysterious voice on the radio is their only way off the island. Logan calls Jin on the walkie-talkie to come pick them up but she objects, saying that they're meant to help everyone survive, and threatens to take the armored car & leave them. They reluctantly agree to help.
The player then goes to gather supplies at a nearby supermarket that has been overrun by gang members. After battling through the store, they find a large cache of food, but when the player returns to the Town Hall they find everyone dead from zombies. The heroes decide to go back to the church.
Once back at the church, Mother Helen informs them that Jin left to go help the thugs at the Police Station and asks that you go look for her and retrieve the armored car. Turns out they kidnapped her and she needs rescuing. The player fights his way back through the sewers and the police station to get Jin, and then returns to give supplies to the church survivors. The player then take the supplies and the armored truck back to Sinamoi, who tells them the antenna is still too weak to reach the voice on the radio. So the plan is to use an antenna that is on top of the hotel, in hopes that one is strong enough. Once the player reaches the hotel roof, they finally get a hold of the voice on the radio who identifies himself as Ryder White, a colonel with the Banoi Island Defense Force. He promises they will be picked up by helicopter if they can reach him on a separate nearby island which houses a prison. But the prison is surrounded by mines, so White tells them they will need to find a smuggler named Mowen, who knows the way through the mines. Using old Japanese WWII bunkers & tunnels, the player travels with Jin inland into the jungle to find Mowen.
Once the player enters the jungle, they meet Matutero, a local who agrees to help them get to Mowen if they find and kill Afran, a gang leader who stole his boat. Once the boat is acquired, they are able to navigate the swamps and meet up with Mowen, but he claims he doesn’t know how to get to the prison. Instead he informs the player that he knows of a secret laboratory in the jungle where the zombie virus originated from, and takes them there.
Once at the laboratory, the player meets Dr. Robert West who is in charge of the lab. He claims the lab is just a cosmetic testing lab that is only in the jungle to escape animal rights activists, but other clues around the lab suggest otherwise. After helping out a few scientists in the lab, Dr. West informs the player that there are some local natives that are immune to the virus, and he needs blood samples from them to attempt a cure. Ryder White is very interested in a vaccine as well, for his wife has been bitten and he wants to save her, and he urges the player to bring some to him.
After analyzing some blood from the natives, Dr. West believes he can create a vaccine if he has a more stable version of the virus. This requires the player to find a native who hasn’t had any contact with the virus at all, even if it is dead tissue. A tribal leader agrees to show the player to their catacombs, where they find Yerema, an abused young woman. The player saves her and leads her back to the boat, where Mowen is being attacked by zombies. The player saves him too, then drops off Yerema and a sample from the catacombs at Dr. West’s lab.
Back at the boat, Mowen tells the player that he really does know the way to the prison, and will show him in appreciation for saving his life. Going back to the lab one more time, the player finds it overrun with zombies, and Yerema alive but locked in a cage. The player frees her and grabs the antidote that Dr. West made and heads back to the boat, where they depart for the prison to meet up with Ryder White in cell block C.
The player successfully navigates the mine field and arrives at the prison with Yerema, Jin, and Mowen. Mowen knows some of the prisoners, and they meet up with Titus. Titus will show them to cell block C if the player helps him get some food and weapons, and free an inmate who is locked in solitary. Ryder contacts the player of the radio, urging him to forget about helping the prisoners and get to him as soon as possible, using the sewers. Once through the sewers, the player runs into Yerema and Jin, who inform the player that Titus and the others were overrun by zombies, and Mowen traded his boat to them so they would tell him how to find the player. But Mowen was then killed by the undead along the way.
The player enters an elevator, which is flooded with knockout gas as soon as the door closes. The characters awake later, and meet Kevin, a tech-savvy prisoner who had helped them previously. Kevin reveals that Ryder White has stolen their vaccine while they were knocked out and is attempting to flee. He also says that White is going to bomb the islands once he has escaped, so they must get to White’s chopper on the roof and stop him.
The player battles his way to the roof and find White with his wife strapped to a gurney. White refuses to hand over the vaccine, so Jin releases the wife from her restraints, and she bites White. White shoots his wife & Jin, and then quickly injects the vaccine. But the vaccine's formula is flawed, and White transforms into a large hulking zombie, and the player must kill him. The player escapes Banoi in White’s helicopter with Kevin and Yerema, and the game ends with Kevin giving a knowing grin suggesting he has a more sinister agenda.
Players will progress through the game by completing quests that are given by NPCs. Other than the main quest line, there are numerous side quests that, while optional, will provide the player with rewards like better weapons, new weapon mods, or sometimes just good ol' cash.
Since the setting of the game is a civilian island, firearms & ammo are scarce, so the focus is more on improvised melee weapons. Players will have to do most of their zombie killing up close and personal with items they find in the environment, which ranges from pipes & shovels, to machetes & sledgehammers, and much more. On top of being able to slash and swing melee weapons, players can also throw any weapon for distance attacks. There is also a front kick option, which can damage and knock down enemies. Players can enter Fury Mode, which is a special superhuman alt-mode that goes completely unexplained and grants different bonuses and special attacks depending on which character the player is controlling.
There is a stamina bar that governs the actions of the player. The bar will deplete when attacking, sprinting, & jumping, so players must choose their attacks carefully. If the stamina bar empties, the player cannot perform these actions until more stamina regenerates, which happens automatically when walking or standing still.
As players go through the game, there is ample opportunity to collect loot from the environment. Loot comes in many forms. Players will be able to find new weapons & blueprints, health, cash, as well as miscellaneous items like wire, bleach, batteries, etc. These items can be used at benches to modify weapons for additional damage. Materials and weapons can also be purchased from traders that are found throughout the game.
Benches allow the player to do three different things to their weapons, all of which requires various amounts of cash:
There are four playable characters, each representing a different specialty:
At the beginning of the game, each character has little survival experience, and therefore limited skills. Over the course of the game, players will gain XP by killing zombies and completing quests. This XP goes towards leveling up, and each time a character levels up they gain 1 point to put towards skills in their skill tree. Although each character's skill tree has the same three general branches, the specific skills within each one are mostly unique to that character:
Dead Island features a detailed damage system for the zombies. Each enemy has multiple layers to them, and will show damage depending on where you hit them and what you hit them with. Skin can be torn, limbs will come off, and bones can be broken. For example, a baseball bat can break a zombie's arm, rendering it useless, while a machete can just cut the whole arm off. Each zombie has its own health bar, stamina bar, and level, which will scale along with the player as they level up.
There are seven different types of zombies in the game, and each was designed with two concepts in mind: making a challenging but still fun to combat threat for the player to deal with.
|Walker - These are the most common enemy in the game. They are the typical slow-moving, shuffling zombies that are classic to the genre, as seen in movies like Night of the Living Dead.||
|Infected - Similar in looks to the Walker, except they will sprint at the player when they see them, and flail their arms for multiple fast hits. They are also much quicker to get up when knocked down. These monsters were inspired by the "fast zombies" made popular by films like 28 Days Later.||
|Thug - These are very slow zombies, but stand several feet taller, and will do very high damage and knock the player down if they get hit. They are much tougher to kill than other smaller zombies.||
|Ram - A direct analogue of Left 4 Dead's Charger minus the grappling abilities, these zombies are similar in size and strength to the Thugs, except they are in straight jackets, so cannot swing their arms. Instead, they sprint at the player and kick when they get close.||
|Floater - Essentially Left 4 Dead's Boomers without their tendency to explode, these zombies typically only emerge when water is around, like rivers, ponds, and sewers. They have a projectile attack in the form of acidic vomit that can damage and disorient the player.||
|Suicider - These hideously mutated zombies, which inherited the Boomer's kamikaze attack instead of the Floater, move very slowly, but when they get near a player, they explode, damaging anyone in the blast radius (players and zombies alike). The basic concept of an exploding special infected type.||
|Butcher - This is a very fast, leaping zombie that has no hands, and instead sharpened forearm bones that can do high damage to the player.||
On November 22, 2011, Techland released the first DLC for the game, entitled "Bloodbath Arena." This additional content is essentially a Horde Mode that has players trying to survive increasingly difficult waves of zombies in one of four new maps, either alone or in co-op. Any loot, XP, or items earned in this mode can be brought into to the campaign. The DLC also contains a new exclusive weapon called the Brain Wave Bomb. The DLC costs 800 points/$9.99, but was free to those who pre-ordered the Special Edition version of the game.
On February 1, 2012 a second piece of DLC was released, titled "Ryder White". This new single player campaign lets you play as Ryder White, the mysterious radio voice that players hear during the main game. This new branch of the story lets you see events from his angle and sheds light on how he came to the island. It also contains just two new blueprints and weapons. The DLC costs 800 Microsoft space dollars, or $9.99 in Earth currency.
Skulls are hidden items in the game that unlock special high-power "developer" mods. The skull must first be found, then taken to it's corresponding alter located somewhere else in the game. Once this is complete it will unlock the ability to create its item, which also requires 5 diamonds and $10,000.
Orange Skull - Act 2 - Supermarket - In the first mission that take you to the super market. The skull is located under the first set of stairs in a shopping cart.
Green Skull - Act 1 - Go to the southwest gas station on the island, head to the right of the gas station to the mountains. The mountain near the water from there (on the water side) climb up the mountain, and it's in a toolbox there.
Blue Skull - Act 2 - During the side quest Uninvited Guests - Located in the room across from the kitchen on the second floor. In a glass cabinet to the left when entering the room.
Purple Skull - Act 2 - Sewers
Brown Skull - Act 1 - Bunker 2 Portal - Once able to access Bunker 2. Take the portal to the other bunker. Clear the Suicider from the room and obtain the skull.
Orange Altar - In the sewers before the supermarket. Climb a ladder in one of the long rooms with a floater. (refrigerator and metal grating on the floor)
Green Altar - Act 2 - Supermarket
Blue Altar - Act 1 - Bunker 06 - Portal
Purple Altar - Act 2 - In Alicia's bedroom in her apartment. Northeast of the Moresby map. (Also, where you got the blue skull)
Brown Altar - Act 1 - Climb the rock on the east coast of the island. (Middle of the map.)
Installing Dead Island on the hard drive takes up 3.9GB of space.