The Essential Survival Guide To Dead Island

by Tim Turi on Sep 05, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Being prepared is the best option going into any apocalypse. Good planning is especially important when the undead are roaming around. Dead Island (read the review here) allows players to dive into an open world brimming with shambling, cannibalistic corpses and choose how they face the threat. There are tons of things to do and creatures to kill on Banoi Island, but we’ve prepared a few tips that will make starting your adventure a smoother experience.


  • To bring up your map, hit the 360’s back button or Select on the PS3 controller.
  • To manage your inventory, press up on the d-pad.
  • The game’s combat is based around melee, but a good variety of guns appear a little bit after halfway through the game. You can look forward to handguns, shotguns, and more. Remember this is an apocalypse, so ammo is sometimes scarce.
  • Vending machines are cheap, quick ways to completely refill your health.
  • Weapons degrade, so be sure to repair them whenever you see a workbench.
  • Don’t bother spending money to upgrade junky normal weapons. Definitely spend money to repair them as they break, but save the upgrades for green, orange, purple items, etc.
  • Dead Island gets off to a slow start, and doesn’t really hit stride until a few hours pass. Try not to make your final judgment on the game until you’ve done a few quests, explored the skill trees, and experimented with weapons you like.
  • Fully examine your selected character’s skill tree after killing a few zombies and playing around with the game a bit. If the skills don’t match your play style, choose a new character.
  • Exploring is fun, but don’t waste too much time trying to get into sealed areas or access blocked off areas. Many missions will purposefully bring you to a specific locale, and sometimes an NPC or item is needed to enter those areas.
  • Modifying weapons into flaming baseball bats or electric machetes is a lot of fun. But be careful, as mods can sometimes decrease a weapon’s durability.
    There is a new game plus after your finish the game.

Advanced Combat Tricks:

  • Jump kicks are your friend. Jump into the air, then immediately kick the approaching zombie. This will cause your enemy to go down quickly, then…
  • Kick them while they’re down! Kicking fallen zombies is a great way to reduce weapon degradation and take out your frustration. Be sure to look and listen for approaching zombies while stomping away, however.
  • Time your swings. Every attack in Dead Island is deliberate and expends stamina. If you aim for a zombie’s head or arm, you’re more likely to sever or fracture it.
    If you’re overwhelmed by zombies, seek higher ground. Climb ladders or cars for safety.
  • When fighting a bigger foe, have one ally distract them while the other attacks from behind. Xian has a skill which grants her increased damage when attacking enemies from behind.
  • When a zombie is down, aiming for the head results in a higher chance for decapitation/brain soup.


  • Co-op is more fun than single-player.
  • Make sure everyone is at the same point in the main quest’s progression. If you play with someone who is further in the core storyline than you, your progress will not be saved. However, you will retain any loot and experience you gain.
  • Even if you’re further along in the game than a lower-level friend, you can go back to help them out.
  • Inviting a new low-level friend into your advanced game may not help them with quest progress, but the high level enemies will help them level like crazy.
  • Players must stand near each other to start/hand in certain quests, use the fast travel system, or transition into new areas.
  • Make sure everyone picks up the reward from the quest giver after finishing a mission. It isn’t automatically received.
  • Medkits are needed to resuscitate fallen comrades, but the small cash penalty for dying is pretty minor.
  • Weapon modification plans and collectibles like audio and text files are there for everyone, and will stay in your friends’ world even after you pick them up. When you see one, tell your partners. The mod plans are especially important.
  • Everyone should play as a different character. Not only does this increase the variety of combat options, but it makes everyone easier to tell apart. If two players choose Logan, they will look identical.

Climbing Skill Trees:

  • You gain one skill point for every level. Spend your first skill on the Fury tree to unlock your character’s special attack. Even if you don’t grow the Fury tree further, this one is worth having.
  • The three stand-alone skills in the Combat tree unlock new moves. The first skill includes an attack that causes increased damage on blows to zombies’ heads. The second unlocks the curb stomp, which allows you to quickly kill downed undead. The third lets you perform a move that instantly knocks enemies over, along with an even faster curb stomp.
  • Lock-picking doesn’t reap too many rewards, but if you play with the same four people someone should learn it.
  • You must put three skills into each tier of a skill tree to unlock the next set of skills, excluding one-point skills.
  • Developing Sam B’s survival tree truly turns him into a tank. He can learn skills that bestow him with regenerating health and make him zombie cat-nip.
  • Purna’s firearm specialist skills are useful, but not until the last fourth of the game where firearms are more common. Keep in mind that you’ll be carrying your firearms over into new game plus.


  • Sometimes weapons inexplicably disappear after being thrown. It doesn’t happen often, but you’ll be cursing when you lose your fully upgraded and modded purple weapon. Just accept that even cooler weapons are on the way.
  • Logan’s specialty involves throwing weapons. Keep the above weapon-disappearance glitch in mind, and hope that a patch fixes the problem.
  • Quest-tracking can be an inconsistent mess. Objectives can flicker in and out of existence on your minimap. Set your own location with a pin marker if you’re having a tough time with it.
  • AI is sometimes buggy, and while Techland says this will be patched, we offer you some advice. If a crucial AI partner is stuck on geometry or walking in circles, just quit out of the game and start over. You should restart right at the beginning of that quest without losing much progress.

While these are things I would have liked to know going into the game, I still enjoyed learning and discovering things on my own. Remember to have fun and explore.