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Dead Island 2

Dead Island 2 HAUS Expansion Review

Dead Island 2 has received its first expansion, and we've put Claus on the case.

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The 31st of October is Halloween. When I was young, there was only Fastelavn, but now we have adopted this American holiday. You can celebrate by playing the new expansion for Dead Island 2, which is called the rather gloomy German word "HAUS". You can play the expansion on 2 November on PlayStation 4, 5, Xbox One, and Series X and S and on PC via Epic's digital platform. Admittedly, that's a little late for Halloween but it's still around the spooky season.

HAUS is accessed through an invitation in Bel Air, where your first safe house is located in the main game. After reading this letter, you are transported to the acid house, where you quickly meet the fetish-inspired zombies that have taken over much of the house. They are all dressed in lacquer and leather, and many of them are wearing masks, making them look quite ghoulish and creepy. The whole atmosphere is very Halloween and quite adult, but it makes sense with the amount of blood in the game. The atmosphere is top notch and very different from the main game. It's like getting a bucket of refreshingly cold water in your head compared to the mood of the rest of the game.

The story in HAUS is very weird, but probably in a good way. At the start, you arrive in a room with three headless corpses. You quickly find the first head and place it on the lone body. The head then begins to tell you what's going on in the strange house owned by the cult leader Constantine, who wants to save his cult from the zombie apocalypse. You are then tasked with finding the remaining two heads, which will give you access to the deeper areas of the house and answers to all your many questions. The story is bizarre and weird, as befits Halloween. Each of the two remaining heads has a wing in the house, and you have to search through them, solving little puzzles along the way. One wing takes you to an idyllic neighbourhood with five houses. The four are at the bottom of a hill, and the fifth, which is at the top, is only accessible when you find the key by completing various tasks in the four houses. Don't step on the grass, however, as this will cause zombies to spawn. Once you gain access to the fifth house, you enter the basement, which is filled with fetish zombies and TVs with eyes watching you. It's as weird as it sounds, but I actually liked it. In the second wing, you're let loose in a large forest, where you have to solve small puzzles to gain access to the deeper part of the forest. It's a bit monotonous that the same formula is used throughout the house. However, I would like to mention a cool scene towards the end where you come to a restaurant where there is a very special chef, and I won't spoil anything else, but this scene was without a doubt the highlight of the game.

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Dead Island 2
Dead Island 2

HAUS is a very short affair, however, and it's all a bit monotonous. Yes, the atmosphere is nice, but the game mechanics are rather repetitive and you have to do the same things over and over again in each wing you get to. By the time I got to the end, I felt a bit like I was just playing to get through, because it feels a bit like game design by template.

So what are the new things in the game that make the expansion worth buying? Not much, actually. As I said, there's a bit of new story, which is the most original thing in the game, and then there are new points on your skill tree and weapons that you can acquire. The abilities are pretty similar to the ones you get in the main game, and if they didn't have a different animation associated with them, I wouldn't know they were from the expansion. Among other things, you can make impacts with your weapon to create an explosion. It wasn't in the main game, but it could easily have been, and since there are only five new abilities, it's not overwhelmingly new to report.

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There are also a bunch of new weapons, the most important of which is a crossbow, which you get to solve puzzles by shooting brains that block your progress in the game. Other than this mechanic, the weapon isn't used for much and is only effective if you shoot the zombies in the head with it. Once you're through the story, just like in the main game, you can find keys that unlock safes containing unique weapons, but honestly, I wasn't overwhelmed by them, mostly because the expansion was complete at this point. You can then take the weapons into the main game and murder away with them, but if you've completed the main story as well, like me, it's a bit of a waste. So if you buy the expansion, or get it through the Season Pass you can buy, play HAUS first so you can use the weapons in the main campaign, otherwise they don't add much to the experience, which is a shame. After completing the expansion, I was left with a rather flat feeling, as it all felt rather empty and unimportant. It also doesn't help that the ending of the game is quite esoteric and hard to understand.

If you're going to play HAUS, it should be to kill zombies, because the mechanics that work well in the main game also work well here. The graphics are still great, the leather-clad zombies are well done, and the advanced "damage model" when hitting the zombies is still impressive, as you can see every single damage you do to the zombie.

Dead Island 2

The music is very minimalistic and there are entire sequences where there is no music at all. However, this is utilised well, and when the music does come in, it provides a nice contrast that works quite well. The voice acting is also good, and the six characters you can choose to play with have some pretty funny comments, where I would again highlight the aforementioned chef, where I laughed out loud.

So what's the verdict here? I don't think I can recommend the expansion on its own, as there simply isn't enough content. As I said, it takes about four hours to complete and there's nothing new that you haven't seen before. It's Dead Island 2, based on a weird theme, and whether you think it's worth the money is up to you, but I don't think there's much new here.

05 Gamereactor UK
5 / 10
+
Great atmosphere throughout, good music, still solid graphics.
-
There's not much new here, monotonous at times, lacking content to justify the price.
overall score
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