Time to head back to the island.
I quite enjoyed my time with Dead Island and had a blast playing it cooperatively, and this week Techland released the first DLC titled “Bloodbath Arena”. The DLC includes a new Survival mode played over 4 different maps, and while it’s not the greatest DLC ever released, it’s not the worst either. The DLC will run you 800 MS Points ($10 on PS3) or nothing at all if you purchased the Dead Island Special Edition.
Before we get too far into the details of the DLC, let’s start off by going over how to actually play it, as it can be a bit confusing. So the first download you will get when you purchase it is around 140K in size and isn’t even the actual DLC. After that download is finished, load up the game, and it should prompt you to install the actual DLC which is about 1GB in size, but don’t back out of this download as it needs to stay open to download, unlike when downloading on the dashboard. After that’s done the menu will appear like nothing has changed, so load up your game and then go to a fast travel map and head to the Resort. Once in the Resort, open up your map and near the top left there will be an icon for “Arena Lobby” that is actually right underneath a Fast Travel icon which makes it even harder to see. Go there and you can start playing. Not sure it had to be so complicated, but there it is.
Bloodbath Arena starts off by introducing a new group of Military survivors who have taken up home in an old shelter that has access to 4 areas that are infested with Zombies. It’s not really a story as much as a way to introduce the mode into the game without just sticking a new menu item up, which is better than nothing I suppose.
There are four maps to play on, each with its own unique environment (they each have a workbench too) and difficulty. I would suggest starting out on the Easy map if you are below level 30 and work your way up from there, as they can get pretty hard. As you survive wave after wave of increasing numbers of Zombies, you will also earn XP, money and items dropped by the dead, which is all taken back with you when you leave the lobby and head back to the main story, which you can do at anytime.
In my opinion, this DLC would have been a great opportunity to introduce some more defensive items to the game such as turrets, barricades or other defensive items. Even if they included one defensive item per character, and even make it so that it has to recharge by earning more kills just like the Rage meter, that would have been great. As it is, Bloodbath Arena plays out similar to Call of Duty’s Nazi Zombies, rather than something new and fresh, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Nazi Zombies was fun, but I’ve already played a ton of that and this just feels like more of the same.
They did add in one feature that added a bit of fun, and it’s that during each wave you may receive an optional challenge to earn bonus XP such as kill with only your arms and legs or don’t lose any health. These challenges help spice things up as the waves can get boring after a while if you are playing solo.
So it’s a good thing you can bring some friends to the arena.
Just like the main story in the game, Bloodbath Arena can be played with up to 3 other gamers, and it’s probably best to save this DLC for when you are playing with someone, as it’s much easier, and more enjoyable with a friend. When playing cooperatively some of the optional challenges can turn competitive, as the first person to complete them is the only one to get the bonus XP. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone.
The last thing to mention on the co-op side, is that any XP, weapons and items you find will carry over back to your solo game as well, which is always a bonus.
Bloodbath Arena adds in 10 new achievements worth a total of 250 G. You’ll earn them for Surviving waves and doing other random things such as setting 5 enemies on fire and then killing them with explosives. There is an achievement to reach Wave 30, and one for reaching Wave 30 with at least one other player, and since it gets quite hard, you could be trying those for a while.
Bloodbath Arena seems more like a mode that should have been included with the game (and would have been easier to figure out how to play), rather than as a DLC, but it’s still enjoyable to an extent and for those who prefer survival modes such as Nazi Zombies, will feel right at home here, just don’t expect it to last as long.
Final Score: 7.5/10