Which zombie slayer should you pick for your first run through Dead Island 2? This guide outlines their stats, strengths, and more to help you make the best choice.

Dead Island 2: Which Character to Pick First?

Which zombie slayer should you pick for your first run through Dead Island 2? This guide outlines their stats, strengths, and more to help you make the best choice.

When you start Dead Island 2, your first choice is deciding which of its six playable “Slayers” to pick first. The character you choose is both more and less significant than it looks. It doesn’t seem to change the story to any significant degree, but it will have a big effect on how you end up playing the game. Here’s what you need to know before you choose a Slayer in Dead Island 2.

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Which Slayer Should I Pick in Dead Island 2?

The six Slayers in Dead Island 2 are split roughly into three unofficial, unnamed character classes, as determined by their starting stats, innate skills, and shared, unique Skill Cards.

  • Ryan and Carla are high-health, high-armor “tanks” who can shrug off enemy attacks. Their damage output doesn’t match the other Slayers’, but it takes a lot to bring them down. Their shared Skill Cards give them benefits from blocking or getting hit, and give your dropkick some extra impact.
  • Dani and Jacob are high-damage characters who are good at taking threats head-on but don’t recover health as easily as the others and can easily be brought down by harmful status effects. Their shared Skill Cards all trigger off of killing zombies in rapid succession.
  • Amy and Bruno are “glass cannons.” Both have high speed but low health, do a lot of damage with critical hits, and do their best when they aren’t the focus of the zombies’ attention. Even in groups, however, Amy and Bruno tend to die a lot. Their shared Skill Cards give them buffs to Flying Kick, sprinting attacks, and successful dodges.

Screenshot by GameSkinny

DI2 doesn’t do much to enforce a Slayer’s specific playstyle. The benefits from your character’s innate and unique Skill Cards are all relatively subtle, particularly in the mid- to late-game when you’ve got access to guns.

In general:

  • Ryan and Carla are made for pure defense
  • Amy and Bruno are all offense, no defense
  • Jacob and Dani are good at wading straight into zombies but need to be careful not to get in over their heads

Dead Island 2: All Slayer Stats Listed

At the start of Dead Island 2, each of the six Slayers has set stats, which broadly influence the best way to play each character.

In the late-game, you can use Skill Cards, weapon mods, and perks to address your Slayer’s weak spots. For example, the Guardian perk raises a character’s Toughness by a noticeable amount while the modified weapon is equipped.

  • Amy
    • Peak Health: 2
    • Stamina: 3
    • Agility: 5
    • Toughness: 1
    • Critical Damage: 4
    • Health Recovery: 3
    • Resilience: 3
  • Bruno
    • Peak Health: 1
    • Stamina: 3
    • Agility: 4
    • Toughness: 2
    • Critical Damage: 5
    • Health Recovery: 3
    • Resilience: 3
  • Carla
    • Peak Health: 3
    • Stamina: 3
    • Agility: 2
    • Toughness: 4
    • Critical Damage: 1
    • Health Recovery: 3
    • Resilience: 5
  • Dani
    • Peak Health: 4
    • Stamina: 5
    • Agility: 3
    • Toughness: 3
    • Critical Damage: 3
    • Health Recovery: 1
    • Resilience: 2
  • Jacob 
    • Peak Health: 5
    • Stamina: 4
    • Agility: 3
    • Toughness: 3
    • Critical Damage: 3
    • Health Recovery: 2
    • Resilience: 1
  • Ryan
    • Peak Health: 3
    • Stamina: 3
    • Agility: 1
    • Toughness: 5
    • Critical Damage: 2
    • Health Recovery: 3
    • Resilience: 4

All Character Stats Explained

DI2 hits you with the character select before it tells you what your primary stats mean. Some are self-explanatory, like Peak Health, but others are a little more vague, like the difference between Toughness and Resilience.

The seven central stats in DI2, defined, are:

  • Peak Health determines how much HP you get every time you level up.

  • Stamina affects the regeneration of your stamina meter. Normal attacks and sprinting don’t cost stamina, but heavy attacks and special moves, such as palm strikes, dropkicks, or War Cry, do. The better your stamina regeneration, the more often you can use your big moves.
  • Agility is how fast your character can walk or run.
  • Toughness determines how much damage you take from physical attacks. At low Toughness, you can be taken out in one hit by particularly tough enemies, and you can’t really afford to hang out in melee range.
  • Critical Damage affects the raw damage output of a critical strike. It’s more important than critical hit chance, as some weapons auto-crit under certain circumstances. For example, Headhunter weapons always crit on a headshot.
  • Health Recovery determines the effectiveness of restorative items like Medkits, protein bars, and energy drinks, as well as any regenerative abilities you pick up from mods, perks, or Skill Cards. Health Recovery also seems to influence how quickly your character recovers HP when they’re out of combat.
  • Resilience is about status effects and elemental damage, which in DI2, means Fire, Shock, and Caustic. Resilience determines how much damage you take from elemental effects and how many hits it takes for the matching status ailment to kick in. At 1 Resilience, you get a status after 1 or 2 hits; at 5, it can take 7 or 8 hits.

Screenshot by GameSkinny

Match the Slayer to the Circumstances: Which Character is the Best Choice?

If you intend to run Dead Island 2 solo, you want to focus on survival. You’ll end up in close quarters a lot, you’re frequently fighting the infected in groups of five or more, and the general volatility of Hell-A means you’re never more than one big explosion away from death.

On the flip side, DI2‘s emphasis on environmental kills means you don’t have to do all your own damage. Ryan and Carla have weak critical hits, but if you’re dropkicking everything into oil fires, it doesn’t matter.

Screenshot by GameSkinny

Your best picks for a DI2 solo run are, in order:

  • Ryan is slow but tough, with two innate Skill Cards that have excellent synergy with one another. With a good bat or sledgehammer, Ryan can raise his Force by blocking via Retaliation, then knock down crowds of zombies to regain health with Seesaw.
  • Carla‘s high Resilience gives you a lot of wiggle room against environmental hazards and status-spewing enemies like Slobbers, and Mosh Pit gives her an edge against hordes. Dig Deep, on the other hand, is a weak innate; any enemy that’s actually gotten Carla to low health is a big enough threat that Dig Deep won’t save you.
  • Dani‘s Bloodlust provides a lot of survivability as long as there are Walkers and Shamblers around for her to mow down. Thunderstruck gives her a lot of get-out-of-jail-free cards if cornered, but watch out for other things in your environment that might get detonated by the shockwave. Early on, her 1 in Health Recovery doesn’t matter since everyone’s HP pool is so low, but Dani gets a fraction of the health restore from effects like Fury activation or the Limb Reaper Skill Card.
  • Jacob‘s Feral gives him a big Damage edge right out of the gate, especially with fast weapons like claws; he can instantly stack Feral to 5 with a single shotgun blast. Additionally, Critical Gains lets him keep attacking forever without running out of stamina. His low Resilience means any zombie with an elemental attack has his number, however, and he shares some of Dani’s issues with healing.
  • Amy is fragile but fast, so in open areas, she’s good with cavalry tactics. Keep a bunch of knives on her to throw, and she can dash in, do some damage, then duck back out to regenerate her stamina via Relief Pitcher. On maps like the Brentwood Sewers, where she doesn’t have room to move, though, either bring friends or a shotgun.
  • Bruno is designed for co-op, where he can assassinate unaware enemies with a sudden Backstab. When he’s alone, you’ll want to get good at perfect blocks/dodges to maximize gains from Rapid Reprisal, which makes him the most high-risk/high-reward Slayer.

None of this is to say that there’s actually a bad pick. You can clear DI2 solo with any of the Slayers, but Amy or Bruno will have an uphill climb, whereas Jacob and Dani have problems towards the end when you’re routinely encountering Apex Infected out in the world. Ryan and Carla will simply plow through the game, slow but steady.

Screenshot by GameSkinny

In co-op play, this list effectively reverses.

Both Amy and Bruno become much more dangerous when there’s a Ryan or Carla on hand to get the zombies’ attention. Bruno, in particular, comes into his own when he can stand back and let someone else open the fight for him.

Since DI2 doesn’t have traditional threat mechanics, Ryan and Carla can’t distract zombies the way you might want, but they can still charge directly into brawls that other Slayers would have to be more careful with.

One note here is that Dani and Ryan actually have negative synergy due to how Seesaw and Thunderstruck interact. If Dani’s knocking all the zombies down, Ryan isn’t, and that means he’s not regenerating from Seesaw.

Again, you can get through the game with any combination of characters, and DI2 will happily let you pick three of the same Slayer if that’s what you want to do. It’s your apocalypse, man. Make the best of it. For more tips and tricks on Dead Island 2, stop by our dedicated guides hub.

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Thomas Wilde
Survival horror enthusiast. Veteran of the print era. Comic book nerd.