Dead Island 2 on the Steam Deck: A Zany Apocalypse, But Does It Hold Up?

Dead Island 2

7.5

7.5/10

This hilarious gore-fest is a competent zombie-slaying adventure, but all the creativity has oozed out, somewhat reflecting its journey on the Steam Deck. Like an Orange County socialite, Dead Island 2 great looks and seemingly ideal first impression belies a striking lack of imagination. However, on the Steam Deck, this game really has its moment under the Californian digital sun, thanks to the console’s handheld nature. This device, sporting a custom AMD APU, vivid screen, and a solid control layout, brings a new perspective to the streets of “Hell-A”.

Steam Deck, Dead Island 2, gaming, handheld console, Valve, AMD, performance review, battery life, GPU usage, game settings

Dead Island 2 performs surprisingly well on Valve’s handheld. The game runs smoothly most of the time, with the Steam Deck’s custom RDNA 2 graphics managing to preserve the aesthetic appeal of zombie-slaying. Dismembering zombies with your crafted weapons is as satisfying as ever with the tactile feedback of the Steam Deck’s controls.

The 7-inch display makes the ludicrous streets of Southern California look invitingly chaotic and ensures that the gore stands out as much as it should. Yet, the brightness can be a bit lacking under certain lighting conditions, particularly when playing outdoors or in brightly lit rooms. The dialogue and sound, which are a highlight of Dead Island 2’s comedic brilliance, pop through the Steam Deck’s speakers, although using headphones provides a markedly better experience.

Dead Island 2 Best Settings for Steam Deck

CategorySettingValue
In-game SettingsFullscreen Resolution1280×800 (16:10)
VSyncYes
Maximum Framerate60
Motion Blur0
AdvancedOverall QualityLow
Anti-AliasingFXAA
View DistanceLow
Post ProcessingLow
ShadowsLow
TexturesLow
EffectsLow
Foliage DetailLow
SSAOLow
Indirect ShadowsLow
Screen Space ReflectionsLow
Shading QualityLow
AMD Fidelity FXAMD Fidelity FX Super Resolution 2Quality
Steam Deck Settings (Quick Access Menu)TDP: 11Estimated Battery Life: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Docked Mode Resolution1280×720
FSR (Docked Mode)On
GPU Usage89%
Temperature69 degrees
Battery Drain19.1w
Extra InfoFills the Entire Steam Deck ScreenYes
Valve GradingNot Available on Steam
Recommended Proton VersionWine-GE-Proton7-42
Performance Rating3/5

Note:

It’s worth keeping in mind that Dead Island 2 is using up almost 90 percent of the GPU even on low settings. Upping anything is going to put more strain on an already nearly full GPU, which can result in problems. Plus, the battery drain is already at 19.1 watts on average, so pushing settings higher might not be advisable.

Dead Island 2’s touch controls on the Steam Deck are something of a mixed bag. The game is clearly optimized for a more traditional console or PC layout, and some of the touch inputs can feel imprecise during the more chaotic combat scenes.

Another standout feature for Dead Island 2 on the Steam Deck is the quick load times. The Steam Deck’s custom NVMe SSD ensures that you’re back into the action quickly after your (likely) many deaths, keeping the pace of the game brisk and engaging. This is crucial for a game that thrives on the flow of combat and the rhythm of its narrative beats.

But where the Steam Deck shows its limitation is in extended play sessions. Dead Island 2, a 30-hour long adventure, will demand several charging cycles to complete on the Steam Deck, whose battery life runs around 2-8 hours depending on the intensity of the gameplay. When fighting hordes of zombies with every graphical effect in play, expect to be reaching for that USB-C charger sooner rather than later.

Dead Island 2 on the Steam Deck: A Zany Apocalypse, But Does It Hold Up?

The Steam Deck’s form factor makes co-op play, one of the standout features of Dead Island 2, a little bit of a challenge. Trying to crowd around that 7-inch screen with a friend to strategize or just to enjoy the comedic absurdity of the game’s world is not the most comfortable experience, and this is where you might feel the pinch of not playing on a larger display.

Dead Island 2 on the Steam Deck: A Zany Apocalypse, But Does It Hold Up?

Technical issues weren’t entirely avoidable, though. While playing Dead Island 2 on the Steam Deck, there were occasional frame drops during high-action scenes and noticeable heating after prolonged use. This, coupled with the observed in-game bugs – people sinking into the ground during cutscenes, caption issues – at times marred the immersive experience of a portable zombie apocalypse.

Verdict

Dead Island 2 is a hysterical Los Angeles-infused satire that does most things well enough, but feels like a stroll down the Walk of Fame of celebrated zombie games I’ve already played without adding many new ideas of its own. On the Steam Deck, it becomes a portable laugh riot with friends (battery charger in tow), ensuring Hollywood’s red carpets are soaked in digital gore wherever you go. While Dead Island 2 is a brilliantly funny title with memorable characters, its move to the handheld Steam Deck, though mostly smooth, is not without its trade-offs.

Rating: 7.5/10

Dead Island 2 on the Steam Deck offers a mostly solid, enjoyable, and hilarious zombie-slaying experience, with the convenience of portability, but it’s not without its technical hitches and battery constraints.

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