Home Reviews 3/5 Review Dead Island 2: SoLA Review

Dead Island 2: SoLA Review

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After the bloody romp I had with Dead Island 2 upon its release, I had high hopes going into the DLC. 

The first offering, Dead Island 2: Haus, was a wonderful self-contained story that leant more into the actual horror aspect of Dead Island. The ‘forests’ you wandered around whilst in a cult HQ did make me feel slightly uneasy. However, Dead Island 2: SoLA looks more like the main game; sun-drenched and bloody. As you head over to a music festival that is so LA (you can see where the name comes from) is it a fire festival, or a Fyre festival?

Dead Island 2 SoLA review 1
Heading to Dead Island 2: SoLA?

You can access the SoLA festival as long as you have completed the Giant Slayer main mission in the base game. Unlike the Haus DLC, SoLA acts like a new location on the map, requiring you to first find the entrance to it in Beverly Hills. From there, you can then fast travel to it.

Once you arrive, things are pretty much as you would expect them to be. Exactly how this festival turned into a raging pot of zombies though is something new entirely. The first thing you will do is find the safe house for this area, and inside is a new character called Grace. She explains that the zombies here were turned by listening to a strange beat being played out of some custom made speakers. You, being immune, offer to investigate.

Dead Island 2: SoLA feels like much more of an extension of the main story than the Haus DLC. The odd character makes a reappearance, and at one point you head back to the main map to complete a mission for the DLC. Therefore, despite being available from around halfway through the main story, it is advisable to be nearer the end before attempting.

The DLC comes with what you would expect: new weapons, new zombie variants, new bosses, new locations, new skills etc. However, many of these threw up issues for me.

Dead Island 2 SoLA review 2
New gear is good – but let us use it!

Firstly, the new weapons. One of which, the Ripper, is available for purchase in the safehouse for an extraordinary amount of money. One thing I have always struggled with is money in Dead Island 2, and with how repairs and upgrades work, saving that kind of dollar is unlikely. The second new weapon, the Sawblade Launcher, is given to you as a reward for completing the DLC, similar to how it was in Haus. No. Give me these new weapons to play around with in the DLC, rather than at the end when I am likely to never use them.

Then we get to the new variants. The first one you will encounter is the Whipper, which uses its own intestines to whip you. The range with these is nothing short of ‘long’ and with a new AoE attack it is frustrating, albeit in a good way, as you work out the best way to deal with it. The other new zombie though, the Clotter, is just downright annoying, turning into bloody puddles of ooze whenever you are getting close to an attack. The fact these usually attack in pairs makes them all the more annoying.

The main boss of Dead Island 2: SoLA is known as The Dirge; very much like an apex variant of the Clotters. After his initial appearance, The Dirge will pop up periodically to terrorise you, not too dissimilar from say Mr. X or the Nemesis from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 respectively. He is impervious to any of your attacks, meaning your only option is to run.

The new boss is interesting in how it infrequently appears to rain on your parade. But the new safe house is dead centre of the DLC and in a big field, so I never really felt trapped by it. Unlike say, if it was to appear in the Halperin Hotel section or down in the sewers.

His final boss fight is also one of the trickiest in the entire game. Without giving too much away for plot details, your best bet would be to bring a friend.

Dead Island 2 SoLA review 3
Most definitely Dead Island 2!

All this is wrapped up in a DLC that should take no longer than three hours to complete. It felt Dead Island 2: SoLA would have been slightly longer than the Haus DLC, but they are of a similar length.

But SoLA still manages to feel unnecessarily dragged out. A couple of side quests pop up, but the main narrative and quest design feel purposefully made to have you running to and from the same locations repeatedly. And even with the aforementioned returning to the main map for a quest, it is all padding to give the DLC an acceptable runtime.

It is likely that Dead Island 2: SoLA is the last major update for Dead Island 2. It’s a shame then that it’s the weaker of the two post-release add-ons, as many will have had higher hopes for this one based on the setting alone. But the set-up and the premise are a bit of a disappointment. That, along with some questionable design choices – like locking away one of the new weapons until the end or somehow feeling like a three hour DLC is padded out – means you may just want to say so long to the SoLA DLC sooner than you were anticipating.

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Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
dead-island-2-sola-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Most new zombies are fun</li> <li>Fun new weapons when you can get to them</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Three hour DLC still feels padded out</li> <li>New weapon not awarded until the end of the DLC</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Deep Silver</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 17 April 2024 | £12.99</li> </ul>
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