Dead Island 2 survivor Ryan is a rebellious sex worker with a firefighter routine

Dead Island 2 will feature six playable survivors from launch. You might already know one, and that’s Jacob, the Lenny Kravitz-inspired character from The Dead Island 2 re-reveal trailer. During my cover story journey, I played Dead Island 2 for about seven hours, but I didn’t mess with Jacob. However, I did play for a few hours with Dani and Ryan, two very different survivors who add their own flavor to the story of this zombie cup ypse.

I came out of this cover story journey with the belief that Dani is the survivor for me, but Ryan is awesome too. And then there are the other four survivors that I didn’t get to play. Nonetheless, I want to tell you about Ryan, and so does Dambuster Studios (read about Dani here)

What Went Wrong in Los Angeles

As you may already know, Los Angeles has gone to hell, and both in-game Dani and Ryan and the team at Dambuster Studios affectionately refer to the once beautiful and thriving city as Hell-A. Mind you, Hell-A is still beautiful and thriving, but only for the select few who have chosen to stay behind, like Ryan.

Dead Island 2 begins massive evacuation efforts in recent days to get those uninfected out of LA. It’s set roughly a decade after the events of the first Dead Island, and while logic suggests that Dead Island 2’s zombie outbreak virus is the same as Banoi’s, that’s not necessarily confirmed. The evacuation was “surprisingly efficient,” Dead Island 2 narrative designer Khan tells me. The military put the city on lockdown, prompting the decision to quarantine what’s left of LA to allow the infection to run its course. This is where the island aspect of the game’s namesake comes into play, according to the studio; nobody goes in, nobody goes out.

You meet every survivor on one of the last planes to leave LA. Unfortunately, however, it turns out that someone on board is infected. Protocol results in the military shooting down this plane – after all, no infected are allowed to leave the city – and it lands in Hell-A. At this point, I took control of my chosen survivor, Ryan, and the game introduced me to his combat and his main antagonists: zombies! It doesn’t take long for Ryan to get bitten, however, and this is where Dead Island 2’s narrative begins: you’re infected, but you don’t turn around, and you must pass that information and your blood to someone who can help.

Now that we know how Ryan’s story begins in Dead Island 2, let’s talk about why this character is so successful in Hell-A.

Meet Ryan


Ryan’s story starts out like the rest of the survivors, but I actually started playing him later in his story during my Dead Island 2 cover story journey. I guided Dani through the first four or five hours of the game and finished my playing time with Ryan. As Ryan, I explored the Santa Monica Pier, strolled through its spooky funhouse-like atmosphere, and faced Butcho the Clown, a terrifying clown boss who moves like a spider and uses his sawed-off arm bones as swords to regenerate health. It really was the stuff of nightmares.

But unlike me, Ryan took it all easy. He kept it cool, calm and collected which was very different from Dani’s more direct I don’t care who you think you are. Speaking to Khan, it sounds like this contrast is intentional and something that not only applies to these two survivors, but something that players will hopefully notice between all survivors; they are different people after all. She also explained to me how Ryan ended up in LA in the first place.

“This is a guy who didn’t quite peak in high school, but he was always a handsome guy,” Khan tells me. “[He’s] not particularly academic, not particularly hardworking or detail-oriented, and not doing particularly well. In other words, he didn’t want to go to college or anything after high school.”

She says he’s wandered from one dead-end job to another, but isn’t necessarily concerned about it. In the process, he lost his parents in a “pretty mundane way” and had to take care of a little brother.

“All of a sudden he’s the breadwinner and basically the parent to this kid who’s a good 10 years his junior, maybe more where they live in … Fresno where he’s from,” she says. “People used to joke that he was good enough to be a stripper and he always liked to go dancing and stuff like that. And basically, not exactly out of desperation, but just like, “I think, why not? Let’s try this. Maybe that works better.” He started dancing and it turned out he was really good at it and he liked it and eventually he started his own little company.”

Ryan’s routine specialty is based on his firefighter outfit, which is fitting given his company’s name: The Big Hose. That job led him to a bachelorette party in LA before everything fell apart, which is why you control Ryan in his firefighting gear.

“He took that opportunity to say, ‘Okay, I’ll kind of get on the last plane that gets out of here, people make room for a man in a uniform,'” Khan tells me.

Dani’s goal in Hell-A is to get out alive and reunite with her roller derby team for an upcoming game. Ryan’s goal is to survive and reach his brother. Luckily, his brother doesn’t seem to be in LA, nor is he in any danger, but since Ryan is his caretaker, Ryan’s survival in this situation is important.

Ryan’s innate skills

You can transform your survivor in Dead Island 2 into the kind of character you want to play in terms of skills, gear, and more. Each Survivor starts with two innate abilities that speak to their nature and loosely lead you to a possible path for that character.


  • Retribution: Ryan gains a moderate power boost when using Block or Dodge to dodge an attack.
  • seesaw: Ryan gets healthy every time he knocks down a zombie.

Khan says that because Dead Island 2 is a gameplay first, fight first game, the characters were sketched as playable survivors before they were fully realized characters. As a result, the storytelling team was able to “reverse engineer” the personalities of the survivors. For example, Dani specializes in heavy attacks. Why? That was a question that Khan and the storytelling team were able to answer with details that shed light on who Dani is as a person. The same goes for Ryan and the other four playable survivors.

“I like to think about it [Ryan] as stubbornness personified,” says Khan. “He will set and lock his heels and refuse to budge. He’s a wonderfully toned character, if you want to call him that. But he’s also just a really good, slow, steady eddy – just an “I won’t back down and I won’t back down.” What makes someone like that?”

Khan says the team originally designed Ryan as a standard hero with a “classic chin, handsome guy” design that we’ve seen in countless video games before. But Dambuster Studios wanted to turn that on its head. It started with putting him in a fireman’s outfit.

“Can we do it for fun?” Khan says the team asked after putting Ryan in a fireman. “Don’t get me wrong, dear firefighters, no disrespect to them, but you know, [sex worker with a firefighter routine] is something we may not have seen before. We also needed someone who, even when treated as an authority figure by NPCs or people who met them, wouldn’t react that way because they actually aren’t. We needed that kind of distance and that kind of awkwardness.

“When it comes to the way he’s playing, again he’s kind of optimistic … he’s fed up, he’s sarcastic and pessimistic and he’s fair finished with all of this almost from the start. He’s just like, ‘Oh my god, that’s just my luck.'”

Khan says this was deliberately reverse engineered from his playstyle.

“He’s just like, ‘f— all that, [but] I’m getting through it somehow,’” Khan continues. “And, ‘I’ll watch and get angry at the things that go wrong and be amused and confused at the things that go right, but I’m not going to expect things to go right.’ It shows in his playstyle.’”

Is Ryan the Dead Island 2 the survivor for you? Let us know in the comments below! Dead Island 2 survivor Ryan is a rebellious sex worker with a firefighter routine

Fry Electronics Team

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