Despite the good results as far as sales are concerned, Dead Island doesn't seem to be remembered particularly fondly by the press, which makes the fact that WhatCulture! wrote a list-type editorial to praise what game does right all the more notable. Here's a couple of their reasons:
7. Four Distinct Classes = Four Different Experiences
With four different characters to select from Dead Island offered up the ability to play back through the game with an entirely different experience. Yeah I know the basic game didn’t change, but the way you played drastically did. Players were able to pick between Sam B (The Tank), Xian Mei (The Assassin), Purna (The Leader), or Logan (The Jack of All Trades). Each of them had a unique skill tree that complemented a certain playstyle. None of the characters were limited to a certain type of weapon, but instead the game focused on each class having a specialty that increased their efficiency with that particular weapon.
Players were able to upgrade Sam B’s brutality with blunt weapons as he bashed in the skulls of zombie after zombie. Xian Mei was able to become a master assassin with bladed weapons, or even have Logan call upon expert targeting with thrown weapons. Don’t even get me started on Purna. Shed a tear for her uselessness as you wondered around the Resort, but make it to the City and it was all over.
Revisiting the island of Banoi could deliver gamers a new way to play the game if they wanted to level up another character, and it was a great way to extend the life of the title.
Dead Island offered up a large environment that was waiting to be explored. As you ventured through the world, players found themselves in multiple areas that were all very different. Starting in the Resort of Banoi players explored the luxurious pools, huts, and beaches as they set out to complete their quests. Then, the inner city found the players running from the undead in the streets as they navigated around barricades, sewers, and rooftops. The Jungle provided a haven for bladed, handless, berserkers that never seemed to give up. Finally, players found themselves in a prison as the game drew to an end.
Exploration was key to Dead Island, and many of the game’s hidden secrets were waiting to be uncovered, if you were brave enough to stray away from the road less traveled. Just don’t run into Jason…he’s still really, really angry.