Dead Island 2 is the newest sequel to the original game Dead Island, and this game gave a much more grim and deeper insight as to what was the origin of the outbreak. The ending was also a bit of a cliffhanger and still left the fate of humanity into uncertainty which may suggest a better conclusion via a DLC expansion, or even possibly a third game in the future.
Read ahead as we go through the ending of Dead Island 2 and talk about the virus and how it ties up to the viral outbreak that happened in the prequel.
The events of Dead Island 2 happened roughly a decade after the initial outbreak in Banoi island where the story of Dead Island occurred. Despite both games sharing almost the same kinds of the undead enemies, the intent (or the lack of) of the two outbreaks differ from one another.
A brief summary
The game start off in Los Angeles, later dubbed as Hell-A, in the middle of an evacuation from an already ravaging zombie outbreak. We then meet our six protagonists a.k.a Slayers who, in their own ways, try to get on board an evacuation plane. Unfortunately, one of the passengers has already been infected and has “flipped” while the plane is already in flight, causing the military to shoot it down to prevent the virus from spreading further.
After the plane crashed, it is then revealed that only a few people survived, including the protagonist that the player picks (it is later revealed that the other Slayers survived, but are only shown through documents). While trying to rescue another survivor, the protagonist gets bitten by a zombie. But unlike the rest of the victims, the protagonist somehow resisted from flipping and managed to reach the safety of one of the survivor’s home.
At this point, the word about the protagonist’s survival reached Dr. Reed who immediately got in contact and offered to provide a cure to the infection. The protagonist then gets put into a very dangerous trip of reaching Dr. Reed, but along the way, we also get to learn more about the outbreak and the real reason behind the virus’ existence.
Dead Island 2 Ending
During the final act of the game, it is revealed that Dr. Reed was actually the one who developed the virus known as the HK1 virus as part of the efforts of saving humanity from an even bigger and inevitable extinction event. Due to a failed experiment some years ago, and the desperation of finding the cure before time runs out, Dr. Reed decided to do the inhumane act of releasing the HK1 virus into the larger public. This was done in the hopes that amongst the millions that get infected, immune people who are called as “Numen” could be identified and studied upon, all in the sake of finding the ultimate cure.
It was also revealed that Tisha, Dr. Reed’s daughter, was also one of his experiments. Tisha was once an embryo that Dr. Reed genetically modified with Numen genes and raised her as his daughter. His plan was to use Tisha as a subject who he can take samples from in order to formulate a cure to the flipping; not necessarily to the virus itself, which will be explained later on. It wasn’t made clear how Tisha was made or who her mother was, if she had one; there was a dialogue line said by Lola, one of the Numen and a close colleague of Dr. Reed, which suggests that she might possibly be Tisha’s biological mother and the source of her Numen genes.
As the story winds down to a close, we find the protagonist heading towards the escape chopper with the vaccine created from Tisha’s blood. But instead of using the vaccine for themselves, the protagonist decides to give it to Sam B, one of the survivors from Dead Island who also becomes an ally, to save him from succumbing to his infection. The protagonist also decides to stay instead of flying to safety in order to find Tisha who went missing after the fight against a mutated Dr. Reed. This ends the campaign of Dead Island 2, but the player can still continue playing to complete the other side quests. This also leaves some room for a continuation of the story through an expansion or through another sequel.
The HK1 Virus was a virus that was created by Dr. Reed to merely speed up the process of what is known in the game as Autophagy, which was actually the greater threat that the doctor unwittingly brought onto humanity earlier than expected.
Over 25 years before the events of the game, Dr. Reed discovered that there is a hard coded part within humanity’s DNA that appears to be a ticking clock that is ticking down. At first, nobody knew why this was the case and what will happen when the time is up. All they knew from their research was that this event will happen sometime around 2160.
Driven by his curiosity to know what is going to happen, Dr. Reed developed the HK1 pathogen which “spoofs” the zero-clock state and basically speeds up the process without having to wait for more than a century. They first tested it on six subjects, but after introducing the pathogen to the subjects, all of them expired. Soon after, the dead subjects rose back to life, but they were never the same and now resemble what we see as the zombies in the game. Taken aback by this turn of events, the entire facility went down and almost all of its staff died, save for Dr. Reed and a couple more core members of the project.
The discovery, known as the Autophagy or Autophage, just made Dr. Reed more eager to work on the project for the sake of preventing humanity from ever reaching that flipping point despite the set-back. More tests were conducted which allowed them to discover people who are immune to the flipping, later identified as the Numen. But this was still not enough as Numen are way too rare and the team was not getting enough progress to make the cure in time. Hence, the pathogen was then released to a larger population expecting to find more immune individuals, and they chose Los Angeles to be the location to do this.
In Dead Island, the origin of the HK virus was a bit more grounded and that it was a hybrid strain derived from the Kuru and HIV diseases. It is possible that the HK virus and the HK1 virus were actually derived separately, but had the same effect of speeding up the process of reaching the flipping point.
Some points that lead toward this is the fact that both of the research bodies in the two games appear to be unaware of each other’s existence, or at least Dr. Reed and his team were not aware of the events that happened in the first game. There’s also the fact that Sam B, despite being immune to the HK virus, got affected when he contracted the HK1 virus due to the latter being a totally different virus, or a much more potent strain.
Other possibilities on the connection between these two strains is that the game just wanted to give a deeper background on the origins of this disease with its introduction of the Autophagy, or the devs just simply want to do a retcon on how the zombification process works.
Check out this comprehensive video by Gaming Harry talking about the ending of Dead Island 2: