It's an electrified machete. What else do you need to know?
As you complete missions you will be rewarded cash, new weapons, and blueprints (mods) for custom weapons. There are component parts all over the world, and you’ll need to find them to create deadlier weapons with prefixes like Shock, Heavy, Toxic, and others. There seems to be an unlimited inventory space for parts, so collect away. Sadly, at first you can only carry 12 different weapons. Your tools of undead destruction degrade as you use them, (they can be repaired at work benches) therefore you’ll need every one that you can carry. We found that we’d stick with two or three primary weapons which we watched with a careful eye while the others were more disposable. As in, "I’m going to chuck this monkey wrench into a zombie’s skull," disposable. There are literally "throw away" weapons that can be found everywhere. Wrenches, pipes, oars, bats, wood planks, knives, and just about anything else can be scavenged and weaponized. Like any good RPG, weapons that are more rare use a color rating scale - white, green, blue, purple, and so on. There are also other crafted items you can create like Molotov cocktails and a hand grenade made from deodorant and duct tape - MacGyver would be proud.
The first person melee combat is incredibly satisfying for what seems the first time ever. The primal satisfaction when you smash a zombie in the face with a hammer as he charges at you screaming is unmatched. You’ll encounter a nice variety of zombies. Some even require strategy and team work to bring down without heading to that great respawn counter in the sky. Numerous times we’d come across a Thug, which is a big damage sponge zombie. Nick, as Sam B, would target and break the limbs so the Thug couldn’t swing his massive arms and knock us down. I would throw various sharp objects into him from a distance. It’s these series of small victories in the larger scheme of things that helps make combat satisfying. Every encounter feels like a George Romero fantasy.
Zombie head stomping with some zombie side-boob.
You won’t see guns until the second Act, and then it’s up to you if you want to use them. We simply found the melee weapons more that satisfying. Perhaps forcing players to get up close and personal would seem to make death more frequent, and at times, it is. Thankfully Dead Island does a good job of making you cautious of dying without really penalizing you for getting killed. You’ll lose 10% of your cash and respawn nearby after a meager five second time penalty. You can also revive your teammates if you have a spare Med Kit.
What makes Dead Island truly special is the atmosphere. It’s probably a bad game to compare it to, but if you’ve ever played Trespasser on the PC, it’s somewhat similar in the whole stranded on paradise motif. Where the game excels though is playability. Do what you want, when you want to do it. Feel like hopping in a car and driving over as many zombies as you can? Do that. Want to see how long it takes two players two chop up a dead zombie on the ground? You can do that too, you sadistic bastard. Want to hang out on the beach with the bikini zombies while your partner drives a truck through the surf? Hell yeah, you do! The hilarity of kicking a zombie on the ground in co-op over and over again never gets old. It really doesn't. Then someone goes and does a head stomp and you have to find a new zombie to kick. I call it zoccer. Europeans will probably call it foothead.