Picking up where Dead Island left off, it seems our quartet of cardboard characters didn't escape after all. You're back in the jungle for an extended holiday, but the area you're facing is considerably damper: the summer monsoon has turned the island into a giant water-feature, full of floaty corpses you might want to avoid.
Improvements to the Dead Island engine make this green and blue world look lush, but don't assume the nice weather's here to stay. This much water takes serious rain, so expect to fight your way through dark thunderstorms. Even when the weather's lovely, Riptide should keep you on your toes.
Boats play a big part in getting around quickly, but you'll want to keep an eye out for zombies who'll try to climb in. Get a co-op buddy to hold them off with an axe, and you'll have no problem going full-steam ahead. Preferably though, you'll want to hit them head-on - cruising the boat into a clump of floating corpses smashes them into a fine red purée, leaving a cloud of gore in your wake.
Once you're tired of making 'I'm on a boat' jokes, you've also got a new quest type to play with: Barricade missions ask you to hold the fort against foes, placing machine guns strategically and reinforcing entrances. The new Portal 2-style point-and-click communication system should be invaluable for stuff like this, letting you quickly tell your buddies where they need to be.
"Maybe we're the best at stealing cool ideas!" jokes creative producer, Sebastien Reichert. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, as ever, and it's heartening that developer Deep Silver is so willing to discuss the first game's flaws.
"The cash wasn't the problem - the best thing we had from the four million sales of Dead Island was the feedback," admits Reichert. "The penalty for dying was a big topic: 30 per cent tell us that it's not hard enough, 30 per cent tell us that it's insane. We found out later that it was all about the weapon degradation system being unclear."
The level-scaling system remains mostly the same, which means you can import your character file from the first game. Guns will be more readily available this time, even if the main focus does remain on melee. Last year's trip wasn't exactly a triumph of open world zombie bopping, but this one might actually be worth writing home about.