It's time to dig out your copy of Dead Island, brandish your trusty (or rusty) cleaver and take to the tropical paradise of Banoi once again for some out and out zombie slaying. The Bloodbath Arena content was bundled in with the special edition of the game, or some pre-orders, many moons ago and frankly we were starting to wonder whether it would ever actually see the light of day.
Despite offering a heady mix of survival, questing and limb hacking fun, it is fair to say that the original title also had its fair share of issues, bugs and glitches. A number of patches since then seem to have resolved matters, but it also seems that the additional time was purely dedicated to buffing up the main game rather than lavishing some much needed care and attention on this DLC package.
Basically, what you get with your free code (or 800 MS points) is a new area adjoining the Resort, or accessible via fast travel from any relevant board once you’ve downloaded the content. The arena is home to a posse of army dudes that like to spend their spare time beating up hordes of zombies to prove just how badass they are. Success also means they get their pick of food and dibs on the newest, cuddliest teddy bears at bed time. Hurrah! Obviously, seeing as they know next to nothing about our rag tag group, they just welcome them in with open arms and invite them to test their mettle in the four different arenas. As you do.
The opening cutscene is pretty much indicative of the rest of the content, with terrible textures, woeful lip-synching and an almost Top Gun level of over the top machismo. It made us pine for the “Who does your Voodoo” intro in a big way. Once you are into the compound proper there is practically nothing to do, with only one Mod and one collectible that you can snag and no other random loot on offer. There is a shop with a very limited selection of items and four doors to who knows where...
Oh, we know where. They lead to four of the drabbest and most pointless arenas ever conceived. Let’s get the major problem with this content out of the way early doors, as the premise is that you can take on hordes of zombies to rack up XP and the odd item or two along the way. However, you could just wander around the main game area and accomplish the same thing. Hordes of foes can easily be found in the Resort, Moresby and the Jungle areas and just travelling between them will allow them to respawn and let you lop off undead heads to your hearts content. So why would you need a specific arena to accomplish what is already in the game to begin with?
The maps themselves are not much to write home about either, ranging in difficulty from a tiny cave area, darkened village, bland swamp and underground bunker. Each map has a hidden blueprint to find but other than that you just get waves of increasingly large foes to beat up, with time outs between rounds so you can repair equipment or do a runner back to base. The XP and items on offer are pretty paltry really, unless you stick with it for a fair amount of time, and some of the round specific challenges are more trouble than they're worth – do you really want to rush to be the first to die just for 100XP? I doubt it.
Playing in multiplayer also raises another interesting issue, as the host of the game seemingly becomes zombie enemy number one. Every zombie will ignore your other team members and make a beeline for the host at every opportunity. It makes it a bit of a nightmare for that player and enemies will stupidly fall off ledges or run through flames just to follow the quickest route to the unfortunate soul in question. As hilarious as it is to refuse to help your comrades, it does raise valid questions about who programmed the AI to be this way.
At least you can snag a bunch of easy achievements, with 250 points tied to the content and all of it pretty easy to accomplish. If you get a fairly high-level team together then you can probably get through most of the tasks in an hour or so, with an achievement for surviving 15 waves with each character only proving to be the least bit time consuming. Whether you will feel it is time well spent is another matter.
A few bland maps offering combat that is plentiful in the main campaign is hardly much of a draw, and with no extra features, abilities or enemies to make the endless waves of foes a little bit more interesting then Dead Island's Bloodbath Arena is hardly likely to be money well spent. If you have a free download then you may spend a bit of time dabbling in each arena but it is hardly likely to hold your attention for long. Frankly, having your brain eaten would feel like a mercy killing.