Dead Island 2 is a game that was announced nine years ago, disappeared for long stretches since, and has changed developers more than once. Suffice it to say, it’s been stuck in development hell for what seems to have been several years of that time period. But now, it’s almost here. That’s an exciting prospect for zombie genre and RPG fans, and if you’ve lost the plot over the past near-decade, don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about Dead Island 2, including its release date, its many delays and studio swaps, and more.
Dead Island 2 release date and platforms
Dead Island 2 arrives on April 28, 2023 for PC, Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Xbox One, and PS4. This release date was announced in mid-November 2022, and actually came as a delay announcement. The game was previously set for February 2023. Hopefully it’s the last delay in store for the long in-development game.
Dead Island 2 studio shake-ups and timeline
2014-15: While some of the game’s way of being passed around to different studios may have happened behind closed doors, publicly we know of several changes since its announcement in 2014. The game was announced to be in development by Yager, as the original Dead Island studio, Techland, had moved on to begin working on Dying Light. The Polish studio later revealed it was not making Dead Island 2 due to what one Techland developer described as “a lot of moments where we would disagree on the creative vision of the project” with publisher Deep Silver.
Those comments would seem to later be echoed by Yager, when it was pulled off the project in 2015 following a delay earlier in the year. At the time, the decision was made due to a “difference in vision.” A developer at Yager would later add that losing the project was “catastrophic” for the studio and caused it to file for insolvency.
2016: Already having missed its original–and probably overly optimistic–2015 release window, Dead Island 2 was given a new lead studio in the form of Sumo Digital, a team that had previously worked on projects such as LittleBigPlanet 3. Following that announcement, the game went dark for multiple years, and though some assumed it was quietly canceled, publisher Deep Silver would later come back with more announcements.
2018: Deep Silver announced that, despite the lack of updates, Dead Island 2 had not been canceled, though it offered no substantial updates in the form of trailers or other news. The publisher was later acquired by THQ Nordic, giving the game its second publisher to go along with at least two studios attached to it up to that point.
2019: THQ Nordic confirmed again that Dead Island 2 was in production, but had no further details to add, and with its third studio in the lead spot: Dambuster Studios, co-creators of Homefront: Revolution. THQ Nordic’s parent company, Koch Media (today known as Plaion), suggested that the game’s long development cycle was a good thing, actually. “It’s just a testimony of our dedication to get[ting] it right,” said Koch Media CEO Klemens Kundratitz.
2020: In May of 2020, Embracer Group–Plaion’s (formerly Koch Media) parent company, which is THQ Nordic’s parent company, which bought out the game’s original publisher, Deep Silver, in 2018–said not to expect any more updates on the game until after March 2021. A few weeks later, a snippet of Yager’s years-old Dead Island 2 build hit the internet, giving fans a glimpse into what the game would’ve looked like under the Spec Ops: The Line developer’s leadership.
2021: From Gamescom in August 2021, Dead Island 2 came roaring back in its current and seemingly final iteration. The game is now able to be preordered–keep scrolling if interested–and it’s received a number of newsy updates, trailers, and more that seem to suggest the game is really going to launch this time. It’s worth noting, however, that the game was delayed one more time, pushed from February to April 2023.
What is Dead Island 2?
With that timeline out of the way, it might not be obvious what exactly the game is striving to be in its most recent form. But as it turns out, the sequel seems not to veer too far away from what the first game was like, or even what it looked like when the sequel was first revealed. It’s a first-person, open-world RPG set in a zombie-infested Los Angeles that leans into over-the-top combat, characters, and weapons.
Think of it as something more like Dead Rising than DayZ. Players will take on the role of six different characters with a re-spec system that is meant to be used often and easily, to give players access to many ever-changing character builds.
Dead Island 2 trailers
For a game that’s been in development for nearly a decade, there are shockingly few trailers. We could show you the original reveal trailer, but as that instance of the game is several developers old by now, it’s likely best we stick to what’s new, as that will give you the best idea of what Dead Island 2 may be like when it arrives this year.
For the most recent trailers, we have a gameplay reveal seen below, which includes things like sparking gas puddles to cause fires and set a horde of zombies ablaze and a wide range of other wacky, seemingly player-crafted weapons.
In December 2022, the Dead Island 2 team held a livestreamed showcase which included live-action parts as well as more game details. You can watch the whole thing below.
Dead Island 2 preorders
Dead Island 2 is now available for preorder across any of its scheduled platforms. We have a complete Dead Island 2 preorder guide ready to guide you through what you get with each of the several different versions of the game.
This includes things such as digital bonuses just for preordering any version, a Deluxe Edition with additional weapons and more, and even the $100 Hell-A Edition which comes with a bundle of digital items, but also physical bonuses like a map, pins, and tarot cards styled like the game.