Dead Island 2 will have a deck-building skill card system instead of skill trees

Dambuster Studios leads shared details of Dead Island's skill system, which will allow you to equip cards associated with different attacks and abilities.


There have been quite a few notable action and strategy games in the last couple years that have worked deck-building and cards with skills, abilities, and buffs into their gameplay, and it looks like Dead Island 2 will be the latest. In a recent interview, Dambuster devs went into detail about the game shedding its skill trees in favor of a card system that will let players equip and swap out ability loadouts on the fly.

It was Dambuster Studios’ narrative director Ayesha Khan and creative director James Worrall who spoke to the details on the Dead Island 2 skill card system in a rapid-fire interview with Game Informer. It was here that the duo spoke on the system and how it will work.

“[it’s a] collection of slots that represent all kinds of different abilities and you swap the cards in and out on the fly, however you want, whenever you want,” Worrall explained. “he art is amazing, they're fun to look at and all of that, but they're just really fun to play with. [You can] change skills midair. You can take off, change your skill, and land with a different loadout, and that's just amazing.”

Dead Island 2 attacking a zombie with an electric weapon.
Some enemies in Dead Island 2 might be weak against electric or bladed weapons while some won't. The card system will let you swap out skills to adjust to the situation on the fly.
Source: Deep Silver

It sounds ambitious and very different from the usual Dead Island progression. Players used to put points from leveling up into very perks associated with survival, combat, and the game’s Fury system. That seems to be going by the wayside in favor of abilities you can equip and unequip as you go. What’s more, it seems some abilities will be more suited to certain situations than others.

“You can take some real risks with your loadout as well,” Worrall continued. “It really pays off and sometimes goes horribly wrong.”

Dead Island 2 has seen quite the revival in 2022 and 2023 after remaining quiet for many years. It got pushed back from another release date in February this year to land in April 2023, but it’s currently on track for that last date. As we await more details and coverage, stay tuned for more Dead Island 2 here at Shacknews.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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