I loved the first Dead Island game back in the day, but returning to play it again before the DI2 release date, I found myself bored with the to-ing and fro-ing of the missions and long drives where you’re just running down zombies. Dead Island 2 doesn’t have the cars, and traveling is, to an extent, faster, but even then a lot of the campaign still feels like it could be streamlined. This is where the Dead Island 2 Haus DLC shines.
Haus can be started fairly early on in the zombie game, and completed mid-way through, but I recommend waiting until the end for reasons we’ll get to later. Whenever you pick up the DLC within your Dead Island 2 story though, you are immediately transported to a stunning modern house overlooking Malibu Beach. In complete contrast to the perhaps too expansive base game, this house, believe it or not, is where you spend the entirety of the DLC. Thanks to its mysterious inhabitants, there’s a little more than meets the eye.
The interior of the first room is sexy and luxurious – Dambuster certainly hasn’t dialed back on the beauty of the Dead Island sequel. A gilded statue and opulent interior hints that you’re in the house of a rich LA cult – a cult that will form the comedic core of the whole DLC. While the Dead Island 2 base game takes a mocking look at the stereotypical residents of LA, Haus broaches the topic of rich secret societies where the 1% get up to god knows what behind closed doors. In Haus, they’ve been working on the answer to immortality, as you find out when you casually pick a talking head up off the floor and place it back on its body.
I’ll leave you to explore everything Haus has to offer, but trust me, it’s a lot. It might be DLC, and it might, in a sense, take place in ‘one’ location, but Dambuster moves us from one dynamite set piece to another. Boss battles, challenge rooms, hundreds of zombies. A gorgeous, atmospheric forest culminating in a terrific boss battle in a sort-of ’50s-style diner which I’ll let you experience yourself.
All of this takes place in perhaps 4-5 hours max, though, which I’ve read others say isn’t enough. I disagree. It’s a DLC, after all, and costs just $12. A complex, interesting, and engaging story still takes place in this time and – the best bit – doesn’t drag on or ever feel boring. Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty DLC has been hailed as the best expansion this year by many, and, while fantastic, it’s pretty big. Of course, this is great value for money, but even today there’s still something to be said for a short, engaging, linear game. I can complete it, have my fun, and be on to the next – I’m in my thirties, don’t have much free time, and my still-to-play backlog gets longer by the day. That said, there are new mechanics, a new weapon, new blueprints, and new skill cards to discover, so there’s nothing stopping you taking all of these back to the base game if you want more.
I also found the boss battles to be far superior in Haus than the base game in that they actually felt easier. Again, this might not sound like a good thing, but I got incredibly frustrated with the base game’s final boss to the point that it was no longer enjoyable. I never got to that point with the bosses in Haus, but I still felt challenged. There are no new zombie types, but all your favorites from the base game are back (in new, stylish outfits) and you’re often overwhelmed by hordes of multiple zombie variants.
I’ve still not even broached the absolute best bit about Haus: how the story perfectly and seamlessly links to the base game. Throughout the gameplay, you’re repeatedly told that you’re here for a reason, that they, the cult, know who you are. Eventually, you even discover that the very first minutes of the base game are linked to this expansion. Whether this tale was crafted alongside or after Dambuster wrote the base game you could never tell, as it feels like this cult has always been behind the scenes of the story you’ve already played out. Without wanting to spoil anything, the only complaint is that flashbacks that occur upon completion of the DLC are related to the end of the base game, which is why I’d strongly recommend only triggering Haus when you’ve finished the Dead Island 2 campaign – you’ll appreciate the reference so much more.
From the concise story, beautiful locations, and seamless integration with the base story, the Dead Island 2 Haus DLC is everything I want from a game add-on. One of two confirmed Dead Island 2 DLCs, Haus is to be joined by Sola next year, and the expansion pass for both can be purchased for the same price as Phantom Liberty – to which we did give a solid score in our Phantom Liberty review. If Sola, a satirical critique of elite music festivals, is anything like Haus though, it’s definitely worth a play. If you’ve still not played the base game yet, take a look at our Dead Island 2 review to see if it’s for you.