Dead Island 2 PS5 Graphics Analysis – A Technically Competent Release

Following a thorough round of testing on PS5, we have put together a detailed analysis of Dead Island 2's technical makeup.

Posted By | On 23rd, Apr. 2023

Dead Island 2 PS5 Graphics Analysis – A Technically Competent Release

The games industry is no stranger to games that take what seems like forever to release, and Dead Island 2 is certainly one of those titles. Originally announced all the way back in 2014, Dead Island 2 has crawled out from the depths of development hell in a time span of 9 years all while enduring multiple developer changes and countless delays. But now, the game is finally in our hands and it looks to be a really fun sequel that builds upon the strong foundations of the original.

As for the technical side of things, Dead Island 2 puts forth a strong visual presentation with plenty of highlights in terms of rendering techniques and graphical fidelity. We have thoroughly tested the game on PS5, and we will be running down through the many technical aspects of Dambuster’s latest release in this in-depth graphical analysis.

Game Engine

Dead Island 2_0006

Dead Island 2 is built using Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, and remains all the better for it. While the switch to Unreal Engine might be a stark contrast from the original which used developer Techland’s proprietary Chrome engine, but using a licensed engine in such dire development circumstances is a much better move than building an in-house engine and developing the tech alongside the game itself.

Dambuster Studios has also done a great job in utilizing the engine’s impressive rendering techniques to create a game that looks like a treat. Asset quality is high across the board, and the game makes good use of last-gen lighting techniques and post processing to deliver a solid presentation that not only looks good, but also performs well on the target hardware. Sure, updating the pipeline to Unreal Engine 5 would have allowed for better fidelity in certain aspects – but what’s here is certainly impressive as well.

Character Models

Dead Island 2 - Ryan

Dead Island 2 features some really pretty character models that have a great amount of detail. Each character model has high polycounts on the level that one would expect from a modern AAA game, and the skin meshes are equally detailed as well. Hair physics is also present, which allows streaks of hair to fly to the tune of the winds – though they are mostly primitive from a technical standpoint. The clothes don’t seem to be really reactive to model movements, but they are also made of high quality materials as well which culminates in a pristine presentation for the human character models.

Switching over to the zombies on the other hand, they feature great detailing in terms of torn clothes, weapons plastered on to the skin, and deformed bodies – but that attention to detail tends to get marred down by a model that doesn’t have the same raw polycount as their human counterparts. There’s visible artifacting on zombie hair, and facial textures can look a bit blurry as well. While this compromise could be a direct result of the game needing to display so many zombies at any given time, it’s visible regardless.


Dead Island 2’s world looks really gorgeous from a visual standpoint. The environments not only look realistic thanks to generous use of high quality assets, but they also feel realistic with tons of props scattered throughout each area. Blockades, blood splatters, wall graffiti, and beat down vehicles litter the streets which really sells the fantasy of being one of the last survivors in this previously lived in city. Trees also rustle accordingly when wind blows, and downing enemies will cause blood to stick to the ground and walls.

The wide open areas of the game also provide a stark contrast to the pristine indoors that feature tons of reflective surfaces and furniture that utilize physically based materials. The world streaming tech also works really well, and we saw no signs of hitches in asset loading or pop ins during our experience with the game. The draw distance is also adequately high, and the level of detail swapping also works in a smooth fashion. That said, transitioning between different areas requires you to sit through brief loading screens – which is a rather weird open world implementation by modern standards.


Switching gears over to the animations, Dead Island 2 has done a good job when it comes to nailing the combat feel thanks to animations that have a proper sense of weight to every strike of a weapon. The game features tons of different animations ranging from different zombie attacks to player movement and idle animations, and they all blend into one another resulting in a smooth flowing combat loop.

But the star of the show is undoubtedly the FLESH system. This is basically a procedural dismemberment system where each zombie model will have separate layers of muscle, fat, and bone. Each swipe of your weapon will deal damage to these individual layers while showing visible scars and blood splatters in real-time, and once enough damage has been done to a body part – it can also pop off from the frame entirely. As such, using a sharp weapon will leave more slashes on a zombie while using blunt weapons like hammers will smash and deform the bones in moments unnoticed.

Lighting, Reflections, And Shadows

Dead Island 2_0002

Coming over to the lighting side of things, Dead Island 2 has a decent global lighting solution that is used to simulate direct lighting in open areas. It does a good enough job of lighting the scene, but the presentation can feel a bit flat at times. It tends to suffer with indirect lighting in some tricky situations, which can lead to inaccurate results. That said, this observation is limited to the PS5 version only – and the PC version which features ray tracing might fare better in terms of lighting.

As for the reflections, the game seems to be utilizing screen space reflections for generating reflections on surfaces like glass doors and mirrors. The actual resolution of reflections is quite low here, and the game doesn’t reflect the player character model on these surfaces which looks rather weird. The water seems to be utilizing the same techniques for reflections, though the lower resolution on reflections in this case doesn’t stick out all that much.

In a similar vein, shadows can also show signs of artifacting around the edges – which can be a bit distracting from the otherwise superb presentation. But thankfully, the shadows are applied to all objects; even those that are far away from the player which results in a uniform look throughout the environments.

Post Processing

The post-processing pipeline in Dead Island 2 works to great effect when it comes to cleaning up the presentation and adding some extra flair to the visuals. Take a look at the opening section of the game where you make your way through the rubble of a crashed airplane. There’s a healthy amount of alpha particles on display in the fire, and it’s accompanied by generous use of volumetric smoke. Other areas in the game also feature volumetric light shafts which generate realistic beams of light peeping through windows and other cracks – which also look beautiful.

We also get to see a per-object motion blur implementation in the visual presentation, and it works like one would expect it to – and the end result is a realistic flow of action in the moment-to-moment gameplay. The anti-aliasing pass also seems to be of the MSAA kind, though that’s more of an assumption than a concrete observation but it does a good job of upscaling the image without any shimmering artifacts.

PS5 Performance And Conclusion

Dead Island 2_02

Dead Island 2 on PS5 performs about as well as one would expect it to. The game runs at 60fps on PS5 with a target 4K resolution, though the game certainly uses some upscaling to reach that output resolution with those performance figures. But as mentioned previously, the anti-aliasing pass does a good job of upscaling the image without any visible artifacts.As for the performance, the game held its frame rate pretty well and we didn’t really find any hitches or slowdowns that would distract from the experience.

Surprisingly, there’s no option to switch between any graphical modes. You only get a single 60fps mode, and you have to make do with it. Not having other graphical presets might be a missed opportunity, but with the game performing as well as it does – there’s not a lot to complain about. The loading times are also pretty snappy, and the game takes less than a handful of seconds to load from a save. All in all, it’s a pretty technically competent release that deserves praise on its own.

In conclusion, Dead Island 2 looks about as good as one would expect from a game utilizing this tech. The presentation is pretty solid all around, and apart from a few minor shortcomings – there isn’t much to complain about. It also performs well with little to no bugs and glitches – at least on the PS5. Of course, it’s also a really fun time as well.

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