The best way I can sum up Dead Island is that it tries to catch the co-op flavor of games like Borderlands and bring it to a tropical paradise with weapon crafting. But fighting the same hordes over and over again in the hopes of getting that one special component for my ultra-rare weapon build wore out its welcome quickly. The game is much better in co-op, though, and it's still quite easy to join a match; just hope you don't land in a game populated with obnoxious teens more interested in showing off and hacking the game than playing the game.
+ The world is huge. Be glad there are vehicles and fast travel, because there are a lot of places to discover. It's not a true sandbox – it 's a number of large connected areas – but it will take a lot of dedication to complete the list of missions. + The graphics are decent and not too stressful. Expect high framerates even if you have a basic gaming rig like I do at the time of writing (A10-6800k + R7 260X). + Four different characters to play as, each with their own bonuses and skills. (I played as Purna most of the time because of her firearms bonuses). + Crafting is good, adds some unique effects to the weapons and increases damage. + The co-op element works well. Very easy to drop in / drop out of games. Leveling happens much faster, and I had no trouble finding other people to play with. + Decent characters, if you can ignore side missions and stay focused on them. Thematically Dead Island has a lot of mature elements. It's just cloaked in this B- movie zombies-on-a-tropical- island setting. Jin's story is touching.
- / + Not really a positive or a negative, since your experience may be different, but the player-base I encountered while pugging coop matches was – immature would be a kind description. I encountered one youngster who asked me if I wanted to go join him in Minecraft. Another person was hacking the game, making everyone die repeatedly (it costs in- game money to respawn, so I didn't find it funny at all). And another player was constantly begging for attention: "Look! Hey, look! I can punch zombies! Look at the size of my fists! Did you see that? Hey, look!" If you have a group of friends you want to play with, you'll have a much better co-op experience than I did.
- Despite the decent story and some good characters, there is very little time is spent with these characters; take time to do plenty of side-quests, and any sympathy built for any of them will have gone by the time we return to the main quests. Don't do the side quests, then; but the risk is going into an area under-leveled – and trust me, you are in for a frustrating time if that happens. - The combat gets boring after the first few hours. Guns only work well against human targets, not zombies. Melee weapons and throwables are for zombies. Run up to an enemy, hack their arms or legs off, dodge a few incoming blows, kick to stagger, kill, rinse, repeat. And enemies respawn REALLY fast, so get what you want from an area quickly, or you'll have to do it all over again. What a chore. By Act IV I just didn't feel like fighting anymore; fortunately you can just run by the enemies in the final levels (a few will chase you, but those can be dealt with easily). - Weapons decay FAST. Stay on the lookout for workbenches to repair your weapons (especially blade weapons), because they'll fall apart in your hands in the middle of a fight with a "weapon broken" message (you don't lose the weapon; it just sits in your inventory until you drop it or repair it). - Finding materials to craft is a pain. Even if you loot every single corpse or house that crosses your path, you'll frequently be short of materials. Much better to join a co-op game in the hope of finding someone to trade with. - The quests are repetitive. "Get 5 cans of food" "Find parts for the generator" "My friend / wife / husband / father / mother was infected, they had a memento / letter that I'd like to have back, can you help?" "Get 5 cans of food" - Maybe because the missions all feel the same after a while, I stopped caring. I rescue this one guy who is trapped in a bungalow with zombies beating on the door. Down the street is a gas station. I rescue him, he opens the door and says, "Thanks mate. You saved my life. But I really need gas for the generator. Think you can help me out?" And I'm thinking, "The gas station is literally right there. Get your own gas." Main story missions are a bit better, but even those suffer from an over-use of escort missions.
Dead Island makes a great first impression with its beautiful island paradise and aggressive zombies, but the copy-paste missions, same-y combat and rapid weapon decay left me feeling annoyed and ready to move on to something else.