Review: Dead Island: Bloodbath Arena

Dead Island went viral with it’s first trailer and created it’s own zombie apocalypse of interest.  I remained a skeptic, even with the release of gameplay footage and more juicy details.  After playing the game, I ended up eating my words quicker than the zombies of Hanoi chowed down on the unsuspecting tourists–it’s a fantastic game and a thrill ride I’m glad I didn’t miss.  In November of 2011, the first piece of DLC, Bloodbath Arena, finally became available for the game.  If you pre-ordered the game, or received a Collector’s Edition, than you received the DLC free, all other players could snag it for a mere $9.99.  Is it worth the time, or will it leave you feeling like a zombie?

What Is It?

Without giving any story spoilers, Bloodbath Arena finds it’s way into the campaign storyline and gives the four survivors the chance to take up arms in four survival arenas.  Not only are there four new areas to play in, there are new weapons and mods available only within the DLC.  Each arena has it’s own difficulty level and allows up to 4 co-op players to import their characters and weapons in an attempt to survive the waves of increasingly difficult zombies.  If that isn’t enough for you, the loot and experience earned all carry over to your single player character, and can be taken back into the game’s campaign mode, giving the player some great incentive to jump in.

Bottom Line

Many Borderlands fans were not impressed when the Moxxi DLC implemented a similar arena style setting in DLC form.  I didn’t mind Moxxi so much, and I think Bloodbath Arena can be a great addition to a Dead Island player’s cache, but it does have it’s drawbacks.  It is fantastic, especially if you are a heavy co-op player, to be able to simply jump in and tackle a few waves of zombies with your friends.  It’s fun to see how your weapons stand up and get into some fast and furious action without having to worry about fetch quests and story missions.  The action is great, the maps are interesting and the fact that it was worked into the storyline certainly makes it more palatable.  The idea that I could carry my loot and my experience back with my character was an immediate incentive.  The big drawback for me is the weapons upkeep.  I know I may sound petty, but having to invest quite a bit in repairing my weapons for arena playtime really hots the in-game wallet hard.  My primary character is one that I have not taken all the way through the game, so she doesn’t have a limitless bankroll.  Yes, enemies in the arena drop some loot, but they don’t seem to cover the cost of repairing some of the high level, modded weapons I’m carrying.  Oh, and ammo?  Just as scarce as in the main game, if not more so.  There’s a seller that you can purchase supplies from before venturing into the arena of your choice, but again, that comes at the cost of spending your hard earned in-game currency.  I love the idea of the arena settings, I think it was very well implemented, but I really think it would have benefited from a couple ammo caches and repair benches that didn’t charge you for repairs.  Either that, or possibly a way to earn repair credits in the DLC maps rather than spend your money on repairs and be forced to jump back into the campaign with a bankrupt character.  As I said earlier, if you are a heavy co-op Dead Island fan, and you have a couple characters with money to burn, than you’ll certainly enjoy taking on the arena modes with your friends.  If you are more the single player type, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of the DLC before you plunk down your $10.  The new maps and modes are tons of fun, but they come at a bit of a gambler’s price.


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