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Dead Island 2 offers a wide variety of skills to unlock as you progress through the story. While many of your abilities have meaningful impacts on the way you play, picking one or another will mostly depend on your play style, and what feels more fun to you.

As you might need a bit of help in your first run through Hell-A, we put together this list of the best Dead Island 2 skills we got to use in our playthrough, together with some tips about how to take maximum advantage of them in combat.

Dead Island 2: Skill tree guide

As you progress through your main quest, you’ll unlock new slots in skill trees known as Abilities, Survivor, Slayer, and Numen, each addressing different aspects of your character via sets of cards.

There are four separate skill decks to fill up, with slots and cards unlocked as you progress

There are four separate skill decks to fill up, with slots and cards unlocked as you progress

Several of the cards and skills you’ll see in our list might require you to level up a bit more, or just progress through the story up until the very end of the story. That said, make sure you keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the best skill in Dead Island 2.

Dead Island 2: best skills - Block

Make sure to use Block instead of Dodge, that you can unlock slightly earlier. The reason is simple: perfect blocks have a quite extended window, so you can pull them out pretty easily, and this means you get to recover a chunk of your health very often. On top of that, blocking stuns zombies, leaving them open to powerful counterattacks.

Dead Island 2: best skills - Drop Kick

Drop kick is one of the first skills you learn, and allows you to drop kick your enemies jumping with X (PlayStation) or A (Xbox) and swiftly clicking the right analog stick. It’s moderately powerful, feels much better than Flying Kick, and it’s especially useful when you need to make some space between you and your enemies. Also, it makes for a nice WWE crossover. Sort of. For boosted damage, pair it with Hot-Footed from the Survivor skill tree, so zombies will start burning as soon as you hit them.

Dead Island 2: best skills - Overhead Smash

You can trigger Overhead Smash by pressing L1+R1, and that allows you to smash the ground and drain nearby zombies’ stability. This means that you cause immediate AoE damage, but also that you have an extended window where zombies are stunned and you’re free to attack.

Dead Island 2: best skills - Corpse Bomb

Corpse Bomb is part of the Slayer skill tree, and is especially useful when you’re surrounded. When in Fury Mode, all the zombies you kill cause an explosion, slaying all the creatures around them in the process. It’s useful, as we said, but also just fun to see zombies go boom like they’re popcorn. You won’t want to miss it.

Dead Island 2: best skills - Anger Mismanagement

You’ll unlock Anger Mismanagement later in the game, as a Numen skill, once a story reveal comes your way. This Autophage skill allows you to stay in Fury Mode even once the dedicated bar gets depleted, since you’ll keep sustaining it through your own health - up until a few instants before the end of the bar, that is. It’s particularly useful during boss fights, when you just need a final push to wrap the battle up.

Dead Island 2: Beware Autophage

Later in the game, you’ll unlock Autophage, a new set of skills that is linked to the story, where you’ll be rewarded some special benefits at the cost of an increasing chunk of your health. As you activate more and more Autophage skills, you’ll fill a three-segment bar. When you reach the third segment, you’ll suffer major penalties, such as your health no longer auto-regenerating, and medkits being massively less effective.

Autophage is a blessing and a curse, so be very careful when using and abusing it

Autophage is a blessing and a curse, so be very careful when using and abusing it

Our tip here is just don’t abuse Autophage, as you might find yourself dead without even noticing in the heat of the battle, or not being able to recover from massive damage, especially when your health bar is above 1000 HP. All of that can turn to be a bit frustrating when the stakes are high.