Haus is the first story DLC for Dead Island 2 to come out this year with Sola Festival slated for a Q2 2024 release. And it’s something that I had hoped would delve into the stranger side of Dead Island 2’s world.
But while it does do that to an extent, Haus feels like it only dips its toes into waters that are as cool as they are sickening. Let’s get into my review of Haus for Dead Island 2.
A promising start
Haus has a couple of things it needs to do to stand out from the base game of Dead Island 2. I praised the game for its Los Angeles setting and the way different sections of the world satirized Hollywood culture. So I was really hoping that Haus would delve even further into this setting and present an even crazier side of L.A. than before. I’m happy to report that Haus does this brilliantly to start. An ominous invitation brings your character to a Malibu estate where a former death cult reigned supreme. Now its macabre hallways are decorated with the undead, which is an oddly fitting fate, I suppose.
The new Haus estate features darkly lit neon hallways and bizarre rooms that replicate a suburban neighborhood and forest. All the while you’ll be fighting zombies covered head to toe in leather onesies and other suitably strange outfits. On a purely aesthetic level, Haus manages to set itself apart from the base game by offering a location that feels unique. Comparatively, it’s a completely different kind of vibe from the streets of Venice Beach. And if you’re looking for something that feels a little creepier, then this will be right up your alley.
But while the first impressions of Haus are indeed positive, it becomes quickly apparent just how short this DLC really is. You only get four areas within Haus to properly explore, and none of them are particularly big or dense with things to find. In fact, it all feels frustratingly straightforward. And since the DLC focuses on this bizarre death cult, you’d think that there would be something more to delve into. But I’m sad to report that Haus doesn’t offer much to chew on.
As far as difficulty goes, Haus is easier than the last few missions of Dead Island 2’s base campaign. I never ran into an encounter that felt too hard or felt that a quest had overstayed its welcome. It’s nicely balanced for the most part, so if you didn’t struggle with the main game, it should be a breeze. I would have liked some more challenge here and there, but I’d take an easier time over an improperly balanced one any day of the week.
New tools of destruction
It wouldn’t be a DLC if there weren’t some new toys to play with, and while Haus doesn’t offer a ton to the lineup of Dead Island 2, the additions here are a little fun. The biggest addition is the new Crossbow which deals a ton of damage to zombies if you get a headshot. But its slow reload and low ammo count make it a weapon that’s ill-suited to hectic combat encounters.
The Crossbow presents a form of gameplay that’s not quite stealthy but is a little sneakier than bashing zombies with a baseball bat. You can now pick zombies off from a distance without immediately alerting them all to your position with the Crossbow. And while that isn’t a huge addition, it’s nice that there’s a change of pace every so often now.
But the Crossbow’s main use in Haus is to destroy brains hidden around the area that seal various doors. And I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but trust me, that’s how it is. These moments play out as quick environmental puzzles that don’t offer a ton of unique gameplay, but they are fun to help break up the combat as you scour the area for those pesky brains.
Besides the Crossbow we’ve got two other unique weapons. The Hog Roaster is an Axe-type weapon with a little pig mascot spinning around on the back of the blade. And then there is the Dead Islands, which is simply a new Mace. Then there are the new Skill Cards that add a few new perks to Dead Island 2. Apart from that, your arsenal of weapons will mostly be the same exact ones you used in the base game. And it’s a little disappointing that there isn’t much more to find that’s unique to Haus. But that touches on the wider problem that this DLC has.
Cutting things short
It took me around three hours to see everything that Haus had to offer, including the new Lost and Found quest for the location. It’s about as long as progressing through any of the game’s other areas is. But since this is a DLC that has such interesting potential, the short playtime only disappointed me more. The core storyline only takes about two hours to play through, which is not nearly enough time for the narrative to develop and resolve satisfactorily. And without spoiling too much, the conclusion for the main story here is laughably abrupt.
What hurts the story even more is that there are glimpses of brilliance here. It even manages to tie in with the main game’s plot in a particularly cool way. But it’s just so short of an experience that I can’t help but feel massively let down by it. If you factor in the other aspects that fall short, it’s hard to look at Haus in a positive light.
Haus doesn’t even offer a unique enemy type or anything new to engage with, really. It’s all the same sort of stuff that you’ve already seen in the base game of Dead Island 2. With that said, there really is some brilliant stuff in Haus. Soaking in the sick and twisted estate where an untold number of horrors took place genuinely yields some creepy moments. And it’s refreshing to see Dead Island 2 take a more spooky approach to the zombie apocalypse.
At the end of the day, Haus doesn’t offer enough to me to make it feel worthwhile. It manages to add a lot of things I love into a game I enjoyed. But it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to make it feel like an experience that stands out. If you really love what Dead Island 2 is already, then you’ll likely enjoy Haus as well. But for anyone who was hoping for a bigger meal, Haus is more like a sampling that’ll only start whetting the appetite.
Dead Island 2’s Haus DLC releases on November 2.