How to Play Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck (with Pictures)

At the time of writing, Dead Island 2 isn’t available on Steam. That means the only way to play the zombie melee survival game is to pick it up through the Epic Games Store.

Where does that leave Steam Deck users? Well, it turns out Dead Island 2 runs really well on the Steam Deck once you know how to get it up and running. 

Before We Start

I’ve designed this guide with the official Epic Games Store version in mind. Before you do anything, make sure you’ve purchased the game from Epic and know your login details and password, as you’ll need them to access the game the first time we install the Epic Games Store on Steam Deck. 

It may be possible to install the Epic Games Store as a non-Steam game or through Lutris, but I prefer going with the easiest and most accessible version, which is through the Heroic Games Launcher app. 

Another thing to keep in mind, I’m using the press version of Dead Island 2. It works exactly the same as the official version, but the artwork may appear different in my screenshots to your version. 

Step 1: Boot into Desktop Mode

Image showing the location of "desktop mode" on the Steam Deck.

As with all my guides, kick this one off by booting into Desktop Mode by holding down the Power Button and selecting Switch to Desktop from the menu that pops up.

Step 2: Install Heroic Games Launcher

Screenshot of the Discover Store on Steam Deck with red boxes and numbers showing where to click.

Next we’re going to want to install the Heroic Games Launcher so we can run games from the Epic Games Store on Steam Deck. 

This is a pain-free process. Just open up the Discover Store (the blue shopping bag icon) and in the search box (1) type “Heroic Games”. 

A few seconds later you should spot the Heroic Games Launcher on the right. Now just click on Install (2) and Heroic Games Launcher will be installed on your Steam Deck. Easy stuff, right? 

Step 3: Open Heroic Games Launcher

Screenshot of the Steam Deck start menu with red boxes and number to show where to click.

To open Heroic Games Launcher for the first time, click on the Start Menu (1), then navigate through All Applications (2) then scroll down to ‘H’ and click on Heroic Games Launcher (3).

Heroic Games Launcher will open and you’ll be asked to log in to your Epic Games account (and GOG account if you want). Log in now and follow the on-screen instructions to get your account linked. 

If you’re asked to specify a Proton version to boot games with, select the latest Proton version for now. We’ll be configuring the version we need for Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck later, so don’t worry too much about this yet. 

Step 4: Disable Controller Navigation (Optional)

Screenshot of Heroic Games Launcher with red boxes and numbers to show where to click.

Here’s something that I strongly recommend. When I used Heroic Games Launcher, I found it was a pain to navigate. That’s because Heroic has built-in controller support, which is great in Gaming Mode, but in Desktop Mode it’s at odds with the Steam Deck’s built-in system navigation.

If you find it’s doing your head in, go into Settings (1), then General, then scroll down and tick Disable  Heroic Navigation (2). You can always turn it back on after we’re done if you want to use it in Gaming Mode. 

Step 5: Install the Correct Wine Version

Screenshot of Heroic Games Launcher with red boxes and numbers to show where to click to download the correct Wine version.

This is the most important part and needs a bit of an explanation. I’ve tried using different versions of Proton to see which works best with Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck and from my findings, Wine-GE-Proton7-42 is the best to go with. 

Later versions and the official Proton forks will either result in Dead Island 2 not booting or it’ll crash when trying to select a slayer. Wine-GE-Proton7-42, however, let me play the game with very few problems and it’s the version I recommend to everyone who wants to play Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck. 

To grab this version of Proton in Heroic Games Launcher, click on Wine Manager (1) then on the right find Wine-GE-Proton7-42 (2). To the right of this version is a little download button. Click on that and Heroic will download and install it. 

Step 6: Install Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck

Screenshot of Heroic Games Launcher, in the main menu, with red boxes and number to show the order to click in.

Now we’ve got everything set up, we can finally install Dead Island 2. 

Click on Library (1) and locate Dead Island 2. If you’ve got loads of games from the Epic Games Store, feel free to use the Search Box (2). When you’ve found Dead Island 2, click on the little download button (3). 

Follow the on-screen instructions and when asked what version of Proton you want to use, select Wine-GE-Proton7-42. 

Step 7: Configure Dead Island 2 on Steam Deck

Screenshot of Heroic Games Launcher on the play screen. A red box shows where to click to access the settings menu.

The download process may take a while depending on your Internet speeds. One quick tip: Be sure to change how long it takes until the system sleeps. If you don’t, the Steam Deck will go to sleep and stop the download. 

Once Dead Island 2 is downloaded, click on the game once with the right trigger and click on the three lines, settings button (pictured above). 

Screenshot of Heroic Games Launcher with Dead Island 2's settings open. Red boxes and number show where to click.

We’re doing this to make sure that everything is set up as it should be. Under Wine Version, you should have Wine-GE-Proton7-42 selected. If you don’t, change to that now. 

It’s also worth having “Auto install/Update DXVK on Prefix” and “Auto Install/Update VKD3D on Prefix” both ticked. 

Once that’s all complete, you’re safe to launch Dead Island 2 for the first time. Do this in Desktop Mode first to make sure everything loads up nicely. If it does, use the Steam button and right trackpad to click on quit in-game then you’re free to head back to Gaming Mode and play Dead Island 2 as much as you want. 

That wasn’t too hard now, was it? 

All screenshots captured on Steam Deck. Review copy provided by Epic Games.

Wesley Copeland
Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming, tech, and toys journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, Heavy, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.