dead island 2 slayers guide

Dead Island 2 Slayers Guide: Zombie Slaying Has Never Been So Fun

It will take a unique individual to survive the zombie apocalypse. Luckily, Dambuster Studios have found six slayers for the job.

Hell-A has been transformed into a hellish landscape; gone is the playful Santa Monica Pier, replaced by killer clowns and undead swarms of zombie tourists; gone are the shopaholics of Ocean Avenue; Gone are the Hollywood movie stars, all replaced with brain-eating zombies.

On the surface, Dead Island 2 may seem like a shallow zombie-slaying video game. However, take a closer peek, and you’ll discover that Dambuster Studios have created an exceedingly faithful addition to the zombie genre that captures George A.

Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and John Carpenter’s They Live social commentary on American consumerism.

But let’s not turn this into an essay. You’re here for one reason to chew gum and slay zombies… I’ve slain tens of thousands of zombies and explored all these six slayers have to offer.

Choosing your character in Dead Island 2 may not be as game-defining as choosing your starter in a Pokemon game or your character’s class in Dark Souls.

Still, the slayer you pick will determine your gameplay style, strengths, and weaknesses. So without further ado, let’s jump into Hell-A and dismember some zombies!

Key Details Up Front

dead island 2 ryan and amy
Dead Island 2: Ryan and Amy – Image by Alex Maksymiw

I’ve placed all the key details that will help you choose your slayer in Dead Island 2 here in case you don’t have time to read the entire article:

There are six slayers in Dead Island 2 that all have different stats and unique abilities. I’ve summarized each slayer’s key attributes to underline their gameplay style.

In my first experience of Dead Island 2, I chose Ryan, and I hated the grudgingly slow gameplay. After an hour, I restarted the game. Don’t waste time like me, and pick your favorite slayer:

Slayer Strengths Weaknesses
Jacob
  • High Critical Damage and Peak Health
  • Massive damage output with Frenzy and Rapid-Fire guns.
  • Vulnerable to elemental damage and has low health recovery.
Dani
  • Balanced stats with above-average Toughness and Stamina.
  • Makes great use of Bulldozer and Demolition weapons.
  • Weakest health recovery of all slayers but can overcome it with the Bloodlust Innate Ability.
Ryan
  • Best Toughness stat in the game and has High Health Recovery.
  • Slow movement and attack speed, but makes up for it with the Retaliation Innate skill.
Carla
  • A well-balanced slayer that is both tanky and has major damage output when fighting large groups of zombies.
  • Poor critical damage, slow movement, and attack speed.
Amy
  • Fastest slayer with high critical damage, movement and attack speed.
  • Low Toughness means Amy can only take a few hits.
  • Weak against zombie groups and requires strategic play.
Bruno
  • The highest critical damage output of any slayer.
  • High agility perfect for Frenzy and Headhunter weapons
  • A combination of low toughness and Peak Health make Bruno the squishiest slayer.
  • Weak against groups of zombies. 

My entire Dead Island 2 experience has been solo; it’s just how I roll; out of all the characters that I’ve played, I have to say Carla and Dani are the best characters for solo playthroughs. You don’t need to rely on anyone playing as these independent Xena Warriors.

The Six Slayers of Hell-A: Overview

the six slayers of hell-a
Dead Island 2: Bruno in the intro cutscene – Image by Alex Maksymiw

There are six slayers you can choose to play in Dead Island 2. They will take the wheel in the narrative and gameplay style and determine what weapons you use in combat.

  • That last point is a half-truth; in Dead Island 2, you are free to use whatever weapon you so desire. However, if you want to maximize your damage output, you should play to all your slayer’s encompassing strengths, including weapons. But more on that later!

Why would you just; want to survive in a zombie apocalypse? Wouldn’t it be so much better if you had some fun along the way?

If Zombieland taught me anything, it’s to make the best out of a bad situation, yeah, Tallahassee and Columbus go through some hair-raising times, but they sure as hell have some fun along the way, which only strengthens their brotherhood. The characters of Dead Island 2 are reminiscent of that.

  • Your chosen slayer has no impact on how the narrative and campaign progress. No decisions are based on your character’s background or personality, so you can choose any slayer and get the same story experience.

Your slayer will constantly be ranting and raving, whether talking to other survivors, commenting on events, or speaking out loud when on missions hinting at how to complete objectives, so your Hell-A experience will differ in character expression.

None of them take anything seriously, and as a result, they thrive in Hell-A and with their backgrounds, it’s not surprising, so let’s get up to speed with these zombie killers…

Read More: Dead Island 2 Best Weapon Mods: To Slay Zombies And How To Get Them

Jacob

dead island 2 slayer jacob
Dead Island 2 Jacob slayer – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Jacob is the star of the show, well, in all the Dead Island 2 advertisements, anyway. There’s a reason why Jacob is on the cover of the game box.

He has the second-highest Critical Damage stat of all slayers in the game and has the highest Peak Health. He features high stamina and above-average Toughness, making him versatile in combat and one of the best slayers to choose if playing solo.

Jacob may be an all-rounder, but he does have a few pitfalls to watch out for.

Jacob has the lowest Resilience stat in the game, meaning elemental damage, such as shock damage from electricity or fire, and Caustic-X will ravage Jacob’s health.

This can make specific areas, such as the Brentwood Sewers, Metro, and CDC Labs, where there are lots of environmental hazards and elemental zombies, a chore to get through.

Things can get even more pulse-pounding when subject to elemental damage, as Jacob has very low Health Recovery. You’re going to need to carry more Med Kits than usual.

Jacob has one of the highest damage outputs in the game, thanks to his high Critical Damage. However, you should note that zombies scale with your level, and Apex Zombies can become very dangerous at high level fights so you will need to watch out for elemental Apex zombie variants.

Therefore, I believe Jacob does fall off a bit by the end of the game. Nevertheless, he is a great pick for fighting the undead.

Dani

dead island 2 slayer dani
Dead Island 2: Dani Stats – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Dani is another great all-rounder character. Dani, Jacob, and Carla might be your best choice if you’re a solo player. I completed my second playthrough with Dani and had a lot of fun playing as her.

The Irish rocker has attitude, and it reflects in her playstyle, run-in swinging combat style. She has the weakest Health Recovery of any Slayer in the game.

However, the player can overcome this issue by exploiting her Bloodlust ability, which recovers her health every time she kills a zombie. This is a lifesaver at higher levels, and I would argue that Dani is a much better alternative to Jacob for this reason.

Dani is a no-nonsense rule breaker who may not be a stunt devil or an athlete, but she does have tenacity and a drive to survive.

Her backstory is rather limited, but we know from the Dead Island 2 Slayer video that she works in retail and she loves to rock. In the introduction cutscene, we see that Dani sneaks onboard the evacuation plane by hiding in a music flight case and meets Jacob, who also snuck onto the plane.

Ryan

dead island 2 slayer ryan
Dead Island 2: Ryan’s Stats – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Ryan is the tank of Dead Island 2. He supports the best health regeneration in the game and has the highest toughness stat of all slayers, making him a defensive wall capable of taking hits from even the toughest Venice Beach Crusher.

  • Toughness is Dead Island 2’s term for armor; the higher this stat, the fewer damage enemies will deal to your character. This is not to be confused with Peak Health or the Resilience Stat.

Who is Ryan anyway? At a glance, you’ll be led to believe that Ryan is a heroic firefighter; Ryan is, in fact, a male stripper who, at the time of the zombie outbreak, was dressed as a firefighter; Ryan used the outfit to his advantage to get a free spot on the evacuation plane leaving Hell-A at the start of the game.

Only Amy noticed the firefighter helmet reading “Sexy.”

Ever heard of the “fake it to you make it” saying? Well, that sums Ryan’s character up to a T. As the story progresses, Ryan slowly grows into his firefighter boots, saving survivors and protecting the other slayers.

  • If you enjoy playing the tank role in co-op games, then Ryan will be the character for you. His block is unmatched by any other slayer, and his ability to aggro zombies makes him an integral part of the team.

If you prefer being nimble and light on your feet, Ryan is not the character for you. He has the lowest Agility attribute in the game, making his movement speed and attacking speed slow as a tortoise crossing a football field, but he will live just as long as one.

Ryan isn’t completely handicapped in combat, as he is given moderate Critical Damage; however, it’s nothing to write home about. From my experience, I suggest using heavy-hitting Bulldozers and Demolition weapons while playing as Ryan.

Carla

dead island 2 slayer carla
Dead Island 2: Carla’s Stats – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Carla is the second tankiest slayer in the game. I completed my first playthrough with Carla and found that she has the perfect balance of toughness and speed.

Carla has a 5/5 Resilience rating making her easily one of the best characters in the late game.

Toxic Caustic-X projectiles flung from Slobbers will bounce right off Carla; Shock and Fire elemental damage will barely make a dent in your health bar, giving you the shock and awe edge against Apex variant zombies, which become increasingly dangerous as you level up.

Playing as Carla, you don’t feel as sluggish as Ryan. You can still navigate areas of Hell-A without noticing her slow speed, whether thats her movement speed or attack speed.

This does come at the price of her abysmal Critical Damage stat. Make no mistake playing as Carla; you shouldn’t be using either Headhunter or Frenzy weapons since she gets very little value from landing critical hits.

But know that Carla is still formidable in a fight, she excels at taking out large groups of zombies thanks to her Innate abilities, which we will explore later.

Who is this hard-hitting motorcycle-riding hermana anyway? Carla lives in Los Angeles and works as both a mechanic and a motorcycle stunt driver hence her motorcycle jumping entrance in the introduction cutscene.

Nothing phases Carla; whatever the task, she is willing to do it with optimism and confidence, exactly someone you’d want around in a zombie apocalypse.

Amy

dead island 2 slayer amy
Dead Island 2: Amy’s Stats

Amy is the fastest slayer in the game with a 5/5 Agility; you’ll waste no time turning zombies into a heap of red pulp on the ground.

She has above-average health recovery, stamina, and resilience, granting sustainability in combat. Undeniably Amy struggles to stay alive when fighting big swarms of zombies due to her having the lowest Toughness rating of all slayers.

Amy will take more damage than any other slayer in the game, meaning you really have to pick your battles while playing Amy. You can’t go in all guns blazing; however, that doesn’t mean Amy is a pushover.

Amy has the second-highest Critical Damage stat in the game, losing only to Bruno. The combination of high Critical Damage and lightning-quick attacks gives her more consistent damage output than any other slayer.

Amy is an absolute blast to play, and I don’t think she should be your first pick if you are new to the game or you struggle to maneuver around zombies. I highly recommend you shoot her a shot.

You’re probably wondering where all of Amy’s lightning reflexes and conditioning come from. Well before the Californian apocalypse, Amy was a Paralympian running athlete. Explaining how she managed to run to the evacuation zone before anyone even arrived.

Bruno

dead island 2 slayer bruno
Dead Island 2: Bruno’s Stats – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Bruno shares similar stats to Amy being a lightweight and nimble character. However, he does have some core differences that may lean more toward your fast gameplay style.

Bruno has the lowest Peak Health of any character in the game and has an under-achieving Toughness stat, but he does have above-average Health Recovery.

As a result, playing as Bruno, you must learn to select your targets carefully; you can throw charging head-first into zombie hordes right out the window.

Bruno deals bonus damage by attacking zombies from behind, making him a great character if you like sneaking up on enemies.

That said, I believe that Bruno is the weakest of all the slayers in Dead Island 2 because stealth plays a minor role in the game. There is no real point in sneaking up on zombies, as zombies constantly spawn around you.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The hustling con artist has a few tricks up his sleeve to beat the undead. Bruno has the highest Critical Damage of any slayer in the game, so pairing Bruno with a Headhunter precision-based weapon like knives and spear can lead to massive critical hit damage numbers.

Don’t get me wrong, Bruno is fun to play in his own unique way. I found myself thinking more about combat, looking when to engage or skedaddle out of danger.

You can destroy bosses with ease, like Dillon the Inferno Crusher or Alesis Hernandez the Slobber Apex Zombie. However, you can find yourself in equal trouble when fighting Screamers.

Although Amy and Bruno can be categorized into the same class, I see more connection between Jacob and Bruno in stats. From my experience with Dead Island 2, Jacob is a much better option ditching the stealthy approach but keeping the high Critical Damage stats.

For worse, there are no difficulty levels in Dead Island 2; however, if you want a more challenging experience, Bruno will be your character.

Unique Slayer Abilities

Slayer  Unique Abilities
Jacob Feral – Jacob gets a stackable minor damage boost when attacking in quick succession.
Critical Gains – Jacob’s Critical Hits when Stamina is low, get a moderate Critical Damage boost and regain Stamina.
Dani Thunderstruck – Dani’s Heavy Attacks trigger a Forceful explosion on impact.
Bloodlust – Dani regains Health when slaying multiple zombies in quick succession.
Ryan Retaliation – Ryan gets a moderate Force boost when using Block or Dodge to avoid an attack.
Seesaw – Ryan regains Health each time he knocks down a zombie.
Carla Mosh Pit – Carla gets a minor Damage boost when close to multiple zombies.
Dig Deep – Carla gets a moderate Toughness boost while her health is critical.
Amy Relief Pitcher – Amy regains Stamina when hitting a zombie with a weapon throw.
Survivor – Amy gets a minor damage boost when she attacks isolated zombies.
Bruno Backstab – Bruno gets a moderate damage boost when attacking zombies from behind.
Rapid Reprisal – Boost Bruno’s Agility and Heavy Attack Charges when he avoids attacks with a Block or Dodge.

How to Play Jacob and Dani

dead island 2 playing jacob and dani
Dead Island 2: Dani taking on an Inferno Crusher – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Jacob and Dani are the most versatile of the six slayers in Dead Island 2 and arguably two of the best characters to play if you are a solo player. These characters don’t have to rely on backup. They clean up even the biggest swarms of zombies thanks to their regenerative abilities.

Although they are very similar and are malleable to cater to a wide variety of playstyles, they do have two inherent differences.

  • Jacob is more aligned with Amy and Bruno, thanks to Feral ability that stacks minor damage boosts for each strike landing in quick succession.
  • Dani is more aligned with Ryan and Carla because of her Bloodlust and Thunderstruck ability. Like a tank, Dani thrives, taking on large swarms of zombies.

Dismemberment and Bulldozing Explosions

dead island 2 dismemberment and bulldozing explosions
Dead Island 2: Dani Using the Frenzy Party Starter Knuckle Dusters

If you pick either Jacob or Dani, you should use Maiming and Frenzy weapons, as both gain bonuses for killing zombies in quick succession.

That said if you want more variety in combat, Dani is the right character for you. You can have a lot of fun with the Thunderstruck ability. Since Heavy Attacks trigger forceful explosions, Bulldozers, and Demolition weapons are not off the table.

Being a jack of all trades has its perks. You can pick up any weapon and make it sing, which is one of Jacob and Dani’s biggest strengths.

When it comes to firearms, there’s no gun that Dani can’t wield; thanks to her Thunderstruck ability, demolition weapons like shotguns, revolvers, and hunting rifles will trigger explosions when knocking back enemies.

Dani can also use Machine Pistols, as Rapid-Fire weapons can quickly kill zombies thanks to their 100% critical-hit chance when firing in quick succession.

It would be a mistake to crown Dani the queen of Rapid-Fire guns; Jacob’s Feral and Critical Gains innate abilities synergize to rip zombies apart in a flurry of bullets and critical damage.

How to Play Ryan and Carla

dead island 2 playing ryan and carla
Dead Island 2: Carla using a Bo Staff – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Ryan and Carla are the tanks of the slayers, making them the most robust characters. You don’t have to worry about being surrounded by zombies, as they perform better the more zombies that are in the vicinity.

Although both characters are tanks, you should play Ryan more defensively to capitalize on his innate skills. Carla should be played more aggressively, leaning into her innate abilities to deal increased damage while surrounded by zombies.

Block and Counters

dead island 2 block and counters
Dead Island 2: Block Counter as Carla – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Block and countering are a staple of Ryan and Carla’s gameplay. Blocking is a solid way to control hordes of zombies.

Using the block button, you can rapidly press the counter button to stun zombies and ensure that no zombie will ever hit you. (You’re basically invincible using this technique).

Ryan and Carla prefer heavy Bulldozers and maiming weapons; two-handed swords and sledgehammers will serve you well—especially Carla, who is more damage-orientated thanks to her innate Mosh Pit ability.

You can push Carla to her limits in combat since she gains a moderate Toughness boost when in critical health.

The block and spam counter works extremely well with Ryan as his Retaliation Innate Skill grants him a moderate Force boost when successfully blocking or dodging. Therefore, you can build up Ryan’s Force before unleashing powerful, Heavy Attacks that will send zombies flying.

Safety First is an essential skill to equip both Ryan and Carla. Using the block and counter-attack you can rapidly recover your health. I recommend that you refrain from carrying out the actual prompt for a counter, as using a Bulldozer weapon is much more effective in taking out multiple targets.

How to Play Amy and Bruno

dead island 2 playing amy and bruno
Dead Island 2: Headhunter Knife Strike – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Amy and Bruno are the fastest of the slayers, and you should make use of their high agility stats. From my experience, Amy is a lot more versatile than Bruno due to her superior Peak Health.

To play these speedy characters, you must become a nimble acrobat dodging every incoming attack. As a result, I believe Amy and Bruno are the hardest characters to play solo.

Lightspeed Frenzy Attacks

dead island 2 lightspeed frenzy attacks
Dead Island 2: Critical Damage using Frenzy Weapons – image by Alex Maksymiw

You should utilize both Frenzy and Headhunting weapons for Amy and Bruno. Remember that Amy specializes in lightning-quick attacks, and Bruno specializes in high Critical Damage with Heavy Attacks from Headhunter weapons.

However, Bruno can’t solely rely upon the accuracy and Heavy Attacks; otherwise, he will be overwhelmed.

Having a Frenzy weapon on standby has saved my skin more than once, since Bruno deals increased damage from attacking zombies from behind. Frenzy weapons can be used to inflict massive damage in a short amount of time.

Explosives for Crowd Control

dead island 2 explosives for crowd control
Dead Island 2: Pipe Bomb Curveball used by Amy – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Dealing with zombie swarms can be a conundrum while playing as Amy and Bruno because you don’t have the health or Toughness to take many hits. It’s very easy to dodge an attack and only land straight into one.

Amy is arguably better at dealing with large swarms of zombies thanks to her Relief Pitcher ability.

However, Bruno and Amy can use explosive Curveballs such as the Pipe Bomb picked up between Beverly Hills and Monarch Studios or the Military Grenade picked up after completing the Boz Makes a Bang in Monarch Studios.

FAQs

Question: Is Dodge Better than Block in Dead Island 2?

Answer: Ultimately you will want to play to each slayer’s strengths and capitalize on their unique Innate Abilities. Moreover, each of the three types of slayer classes is designed to either dodge or block, with Jacob and Dani being an exception.

For Amy and Jacob, you will want to equip the Dodge Skill, as dodging is where these characters get most of their speed and damage from.

However, I will admit that dodging is underwhelming from my time playing Dead Island 2 compared to blocking. This is because the blocking mechanic allows you to spam the block counter button, effectively making it impossible for zombies to hit you.

You can’t do this with dodging since it’s a directional step. If you were to spam the dodge button in a swarm of zombies, you would end up dodging another zombie attack. However, circling 1-3 zombies is a sound strategy.

Question: What are the Status Effects of Dead Island 2?

Answer: In combat, you will be able to inflict status effects on zombies causing a wide range of effects such as immobilizing, damage-over-time, and knocking over zombies. Here is a list of every Status Effect in the game:
Melting: Enemies receive Caustic-X damage over time and receive increased Shock and Fire damage.
Electrified: Enemies receive shock damage over time and will arc to nearby targets. The effect will also stun enemies and electrify water.
Soggy: Zombies covered in water become Soggy and can be electrified instantly.
Blinded: Vision becomes obscured.
Slowed: Spinting is disabled.
Bleeding: Inflicted by the Puncturator Mod and Spiky Zombies, bleeding causes damage over time.
Ignited: Ignited zombies are covered in flames taking damage over time and igniting any fuel or explosions that they come in contact with.
Flammable: Zombies become flammable after being coated in fuel for jerrycans or the Tear N’ Sear weapon perk.
Frenzied: Zombies recover faster from vulnerable and will attack more frequently.
Traumatized: Causes zombies to become immobilized, unable to move or attack; the effect is removed if the zombies take damage.
Stunned: Zombies can’t attack or move and can be countered.
Weakened: Zombies take more damage from attacks.

Note that some status effects will only be inflicted once the indicator circle has filled from using weapons that apply the status effect.

Question: Do Traders Restock Fuses in Dead Island 2?

Answer: Fuses are a key item used to unlock Fuse Box locations on the map filled with rare crafting supplies and weapons. Each area’s trader will stock two fuses. But they will restock if you leave and re-enter the area.

Dead Island 2 Slayers Guide: Conclusion

So there we have it all the details you need to know about the slayers of Dead Island 2 handed out on a meaty platter to help you choose your character.

I had a lot of fun putting together this guide; I’ve played so much Dead Island that it’s been interesting comparing each of the six characters and seeing the impact of stat differences, especially between characters that share the same archetypical class.

On the surface, Dead Island 2 may seem like a plain old zombie killin’ game. However, a lot is happening under the hood, and if you take the time to appreciate it, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Even if you don’t plan on playing all the characters, it is great to understand how each work and their pros and cons.

Especially if you’re playing in co-op and must work as a team, you’ll understand why you keep dying to elemental damage playing as Jacob and Dani or why Amy and Bruno can’t cut it as a zombie horde slayer on their own.

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