The background story to the game is that Zack has resurrected "Zack Island" from the depths of the sea, where it was buried following a previous volcanic eruption. He has re-dubbed it "New Zack Island", and has once again tricked the girls into coming to his island. The instruction manual details the differing reasons for which each girl has come to the island, while cut-scenes further flesh out the plot details.
Much like the original, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 features a two-week vacation mode, where the player can indulge in a variety of activities (listed below). Each day is broken up into three segments (morning, afternoon, and evening), where players can perform a single activity during each.
Partnership & Friendship
The game puts a strong emphasis on friendship; players (playing as one of the women) must befriend the other girls by buying them gifts they enjoy from the various stores on the island. Doing so will increase the bond between the two characters. If the friendship between the two is at a sufficiently high level (represented by floating icons next to the girls portraits; the quicker they flow, the stronger the bond), the character can be convinced to become one's volleyball partner. After this is done, players must then ensure that the bond is kept strong to avoid the partner subsequently abandoning them. This can be done by giving additional gifts, spending time with the partner, and winning games.
When a new player plays for the very first time, she is given a tour of the island by Lisa, who automatically becomes the default partner. From that point forward, any new vacations which are taken (without making use of the optional tour) will begin with a random girl approaching and requesting to become partners, although the player can refuse them if desired.
Players can bestow swimsuits as gifts to other girls, regardless of whether they are the current partner or not. However, the more revealing a suit is, the harder it is to get a girl to accept the gift. Again, players must ensure that the friendship level between their character and the target girl is very strong to avoid having the gift returned. It is fair to say that the successful gifting of swimsuits is the main point of the game (as well as the most frustrating), as every achievement involves holding a certain complete collection (or several collections) of suits.
The former "main event" from Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, beach volleyball is once again present. Similar to the original, players must have a partner in order to compete in a two-on-two 7-point volleyball match. The gameplay has been modified to make the game slightly more difficult and to add variety. While there are still only two buttons necessary for gameplay (pass/block and bump/spike), greater manual control is required as, unlike the original, girls will not automatically maneuver themselves into the best formation. In the online mode, two players can compete against each other, each having a computer-controlled partner. Lastly, the camera has been slightly modified to address the criticism that the one in the original game moved erratically or too frequently.
The offline two player "Exhibition" mode from the previous game has been removed, forcing players who wish to play against other players to do so via Xbox Live.
An all new game mode which allows the girls to race on jet skis, either offline or on Xbox Live. The game has been compared to the Wave Race series. Players earn nitro boosts (which give them a substantial, but temporary, increase in speed) by navigating through seven consecutive buoy gates. Players can earn in-game currency by winning the race and by doing tricks. The latter has led to an exploit where players can choose to lose the race, and simply navigate the track indefinitely without finishing, pulling off tricks to earn cash.
Aside from the main beach volleyball mode, this is the only mini-game which supports multiplayer play via Xbox Live, making all others single-player only.
Another mini-game carried over from the previous title, although with slight modifications to account for the lack of pressure sensitivity on the Xbox 360 controller. In this game, players race another girl, hopping across multi-colored floating pads. To successfully hop to the next pad, players must conduct the correct jump; tapping any face button results in a short jump, holding it results in a long jump. Pressing the correct face button that corresponds to the next pad's color results in bonus points being earned.
A new mini-game to the series which is simple in nature, but can be quite difficult and frustrating. It requires the player to repeatedly press a button as fast as possible in order to reach a flag at the end of the beach before their opponent does. To successfully grab the flag, the player must not only be fast, but also correctly judge the distance before pressing the "dive" button. If the player is too slow, falls short, or overshoots the flag, they lose. False starts also result in an instant loss.
Also dubbed the "Hip Battle", this mini-game challenges the player to knock her opponent off a shared floating pad before the same can be done to them. It involves feigns, dodges, normal attacks, and strong attacks, which the girls carry out using only their rear-ends. It is played in a similar fashion to Rock, Paper, Scissors, in which one must correctly guess or deduce the opponent's next action and respond appropriately.
This new mini-game is very similar to the "Butt Battle" in the manner in which it is played. The player must attempt to make their opponent fall off of their distant floating pad. Player victory can be achieved either by pulling the opponent into the water, or by tricking the competition (using a feint) into accidentally throwing themselves in. This requires correctly guessing the countering move, much like Butt Battle.
The final mini-game involves successfully sliding down a water slide at high speeds. The basic gameplay revolves around keeping the player character from falling out of the slide as it twists and turns. Pushing forward on the left joystick speeds the character up, and pulling back slows them down. Left and right are used to prevent the character from falling out of the slide.
Similar to the original, the game features a casino which players can visit during the evenings. Once there, one can partake in several games, including poker, blackjack, roulette and a variety of slot machines (themed after each woman).
By betting the maximum amount and hitting the jackpot when playing Christie's slot machine, the player unlocks sequences of her performing a pole dance in the casino. After nine jackpots in a row, the player is gifted with a "Secret Ticket" the next night, allowing their chosen character to perform this dance.