It would be fair to say that Dead Island 2 exceeded expectations. Well, that wasn’t difficult considering how low the bar was set with the first one, but still, it’s nice to be wrong. The colours, the vibe of self-awareness, and of course, the zombie killing, all tickled my sociopathic ways back in April. Now, several months after release, we have Haus: a story-based DLC set aside from the HELL-A main story.
Giving off a weird American Horror Story/Hostel vibe, Haus is a stylish-yet-bizarre addition to the madness of HELL-A. Set in an opulent mansion away from the carnage, Haus is anything but as players find out what’s happening, and why heads are talking.
So, without further stalling, let’s accept this weird invitation and find out how an apocalypse really makes people behave.
Polite warning: there will be pictures of, as well as descriptions of, gore and violence. Oh, and story spoilers for Dead Island 2, naturally.
This Haus Is Not My Home
So, now that I’ve given the disclaimer out: let’s talk about the story of Dead Island 2. If you remember, we are the fortunate survivor of a plane crash in the LA outskirts, only to be bitten and yet… still not turned into a zombie. No, instead we’re thrust into intrigue and superpowers, whilst a cabal of human/zombie hybrids led by Lola Konradt keeps tabs on us. Turns out, we’re one of these “Numen” types and are destined to bring about the saving of the world, etc.
Well, expanding on that, Konradt also created Konstantin: an Alexa-type device dotted about LA, offering cryptic advice throughout. Turns out, these are part of a bigger picture, even though at times it just seems like an AI listing off thought of the day quotes.
The beginnings of this picture, the blue sky beginning piece of the jigsaw, is a cult tucked away in a luxury beachside Haus (yes, pun intended).
Talking Heads (See What I Did There)
As one’s Slayer enters the house (still “Cor blimey Guv’nor” Jacob, in my case), we’re met with scenes of things gone wrong, against some very stylish art this side of a German disco. Which, thematically, is fitting as most of the zombies are kitted out in fetish gear and leather (hey, I don’t make the stereotypes).
Not far in, players come across Vincent, a disembodied head. Unlike most decapitated types, Vincent is quite chatty and alive. Well, chatty at least, as this cult has established some kind of undead/technology-infused way to live… or at least exist longer. Oh, and conveniently wearing latex suits, like Cenobites with a more common vocabulary and less hooks.
You, insert Slayer, are their supposed chosen one, set to excel them forward and reattach these nutjobs to their bodies. Sounds easy enough, what’s the catch?
Turns out, a bunch of trials throughout their decadent, “haute couture” cult-like setpieces. Yes, it’s one of those short DLCs that offers new locales and not much else.
Keeping A-Head Of The Cult
Honestly, it’s as simple as it sounds. Players trek through a weird suburbia piece looking for the head of Veronique (complete with sinister accent), before looking for the head’s head, that of Yong Ho.
Throughout this little jaunt, players are treated to audio clips of Hope, a new recruit who goes through a rather gruelling process of joining this lot. It’s rather grim, but also curiously fascinating how far those with indulgent tastes will go.
The second area offers a dark, faux-woodlands area, complete with equally weird boss fight (that I won’t spoil). So far, so… additional trials-and-challenge DLC. When we do get the gang back in one piece, in more sense than one, the finale area is… strange.
Without wishing to spoil, it did subvert what I thought was going to happen, but it handles it badly. It drops a Deus Ex-style exposition dump and offers a pretty damp squib of a finale boss. As in, there isn’t one. Just a horde that did kill me a few times, as if to say “you should have played this in co-op”.
The Brains Behind It
In terms of new gameplay gimmicks, Haus doesn’t really have a lot going for it. There are new Survivor cards to unlock but honestly, if you’re playing this post-endgame, odds are you’ll keep your existing loadout. There’s a smattering of new weapons, but no new types (well, we’re getting there), and some DLC weapons as part of the Gold Edition that can be used in here too.
The only real change to gameplay is the K-ROSSBOW… no prizes for guessing what that is. Honestly, it felt a bit of a copout considering that that was Dying Light’s “big DLC draw” too. The mechanic it brings is novel, but nothing new: shooting brains that lock doors in a convoluted manner.
That’s pretty much it, in terms of both content and new gameplay additions. It’s a rather condensed map, which adds to the hub-like nature of the main game. Objectives are largely the same: kill X amount of zombies, press X amount of contextual items… you get the gist. It would have been nice to have a higher level cap, as hitting level 30 in the main game added no real challenge. I breezed through this in about three hours, with no side missions or grind-a-thon trophies to pad it out.
The Haus Sometimes Win
In short, so is this DLC.
Like I said in my main review, I enjoy the self-awareness and tone that Dead Island has gone for. The problem with Haus is that, if one doesn’t have the Gold Edition, it’s not really worth it for three areas, one boss, one new weapon type and horde moment. If you do have the Gold Edition, then hell, what are you waiting for?
In terms of looks, Haus is beautiful and stylish. Zombie slaying is still as gory and cathartic as the main game is. It just would have benefitted from some bite, some challenge instead of “more of the very same but latex”.
Whilst adding a new style and shock to Dead Island 2, Haus offers a paltry run time and not much else. It’s a perfect morsel if players own the deluxe version, but some might feel robbed with such a short DLC.
Dead Island 2: Haus is available now as DLC. It is included in the Gold Edition, or available to buy separately (main game must be installed).
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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