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The best Skill Cards in Dead Island 2

You may not think a first-person game about bashing zombies with all sorts of melee weapons would be an RPG, but Dead Island 2 is a little deceptive like that. Each of the six playable Slayers has its own base stats, but once you’ve selected them, there’s not much else to worry about in that regard. What will really define your build is the Skill Cards. These act as a mixture of abilities and buffs you can slot into your character, but unlike a traditional skill tree where you simply unlock new skills as you go, cards can be swapped in and out whenever you like. While that’s great for versatility, the sheer number of cards can make creating an effective build more intimidating than a swarm of flesh-eaters. Before you take on the horrors of Hell-A, take a look at the best Skill Cards in Dead Island 2.

How to get Skill Cards

A man overlooking a railing on a balcony.

Before getting into the deeper aspects of Skill Cards in Dead Island 2, you need to know how to actually get more of these bad boys. You’ll start with two Innate Skills for your chosen Slayer, and get your first one when you hit level 2, but the system won’t open up to you until you hit level 3.

The majority of Skill Cards you’re going to get simply come from leveling up. Every level you gain has a good chance of unlocking a new Skill Card, but which card you get will slightly vary depending on which character you chose since some are exclusive to certain characters, and not every level guarantees a new card.

A smaller number of Skill Cards are held as rewards for completing side quests, held by dangerous Apex Infected, or simply hidden on the map.

In total Dead Island 2 has more than 50 Skill Cards to collect and equip.

How to unlock more slots

You’ll find very quickly that you will be getting far more cards than you can slot in at once. Each of the four categories of cards has a set limit of how many cards you can equip, but at the start, most of them are locked. Unlocking a new slot is also tied to leveling up, meaning that any level will either give you a new card, a new slot, or sometimes both! By the time you reach level 30, all your slots will be unlocked for a total of 15 card slots. That will break down as five Abilities cards, four Survivor, four Slayer, and two Numen.

If you don’t see the Numen category of cards, don’t worry — this category is locked until you hit a certain point in the main campaign.

Best Skill Cards for each category

Examining the ground pound skill card.

Best Abilities cards

Dodge: Your only two defensive options are Dodge and Block, and we find Dodge better in just about every way. While Block can allow for parries, Dodge synergizes better with other skills and keeps you mobile while fighting.

Dash Strike: The most exciting Skill Card you get early is Dash Strike, and you can comfortably keep it equipped the entire game if you want. This move costs a lot of stamina but is a crazy strong palm strike that will weaken a zombie (assuming it doesn’t outright kill it).

Flying Kick: You start out with a normal jump kick, but upgrading to the Flying Kick will make it your go-to opening move in most situations. You can pick between this and Drop Kick, which deals less damage but knocks zombies over, but we prefer the higher damage.

Ground Pound: If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed and need to make some space to heal. By striking the ground you will send out a small shockwave that drains any zombie’s stability in range, so you can also use it offensively too.

Best Survivor cards

Safety First: This card needs to be equipped alongside Dodge since its whole purpose is to improve that skill. With both equipped, every successful dodge restores some health, allowing you to conserve health packs and stay aggressive longer.

Wrecking Ball: Want Flying Kick to be even better? Thrown on Wrecking Ball to make your deadly kicks also inflict the Weakened status on zombies.

Vivisuction: While we’re pairing skills together, you can’t pass up Vivisuction if you love Dash Strike as much as we do. Slap it on to regain health with every successful strike.

Short Fuse: Once you unlock Fury mode, you will get a new meter that shows how much it has built up. If you find it takes too long to activate, Short Fuse lets you unleash your rage with only half a bar.

Best Slayer cards

Janus Rage: This is a great passive boost that either increases your Stamina when your Fury bar is full or gives a damage boost when it isn’t.

No Mercy: Odds are you have a weapon with some type of status on it, and this card makes any damage you deal to a zombie inflicted with one take even more damage.

The Limb Reaper: For even more health regen, because you will never not need it, Limb Reaper works by restoring some health for every limb you sever. At the rate limbs fly in Dead Island 2, you’ll stay quite healthy with this card.

Best Numen cards

Corpse Blossom: Also working with status effects, Corpse Blossom turns any zombie killed with a status into a bomb of that type, such as an electrical explosion, that hits anything else near it.

Born Survivor: You start with this Numen card, but you should honestly keep it on. As long as you have Fury, a hit that would otherwise kill you instead causes an explosion, drains your Fury, and gives you a chance to regenerate health by attacking for a short time.

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Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
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Your bread-and-butter method for dispatching the undead in Dead Island 2 will always be the strongest blunt or bladed melee weapon you have on hand. There's certainly no shortage of shovels, knives, gardening equipment, and even swords to choose from, but you can also mix things up with some throwable items as well -- and we don't just mean throwing your weapon. Curveballs, as the game calls them, are more like skills that can be equipped than weapons since they work on a cooldown timer rather than ammo. Your character can only hold two at once, but there are 13 in total to experiment with. You'll be given one by default, but the rest are up to you to collect. Here's a full list of all the Curveballs in Dead Island 2 and where to find them.
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Chem Bomb
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Caustic-X Bomb
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Nail Bomb
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Military Grenade
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