Dead Island 2 removed the previously used Skill Tree system in favor of the Skill Deck system. Within a few hours of diving into the gameplay, I could select the skills I wanted to keep instead of slowly progressing until they unlocked a desired skill. That means the skills you can use entirely depend on the cards you find. Moreover, at one time, you can equip 15 cards spread out over four categories.
Table of Contents
Dead Island 2 uses a Skill Deck mechanic instead of a skill tree.
Players can attach skill cards to their decks to gain various skills.
The Skill Deck allows for up to 15 cards, categorized into 5 Abilities cards, 4 Survivor cards, 4 Slayer cards, and 2 Numen cards.
Abilities cards add new attacks and skills.
Survivor cards enhance defensive capabilities.
Slayer cards boost offensive stats.
How To Equip Skill Cards
The card system might be unfamiliar to most players. Most cards are universal, but some are character-specific. You can equip one card of a specific type in each slot.
One of the most engaging aspects I found is that the Skill Deck allows flexibility to change skills anytime. Some cards require others to function effectively, boosting stats when used together.
Categories In Skill Cards
Skill Cards can be broken down into five main categories. These categories define what these cards are capable of doing.
Abilities Skill Cards provide character-specific abilities and fall into five sub-categories. Each sub-category has multiple cards, but you can only equip one per category. The sub-categories include:
Defense: Enhances defensive abilities, allowing for blocking or dodging enemy attacks.
Jump Kick: Enables mid-air jumps.
Special Attack: Unleashes powerful attacks with high damage.
Fury Meter: Aids in filling the Fury Meter to unlock ultimate abilities.
Fury Attack: Grants a temporary Ultimate Ability, useful for crowd control. Any character can use these Fury Attacks, and you can switch between them at will.
All Abilities Skill Cards are universal and can be equipped by any of the six characters in the game.
Block is a Defense Card akin to the common parry system in many games. Blocking an enemy attack replenishes your character’s stamina and briefly stuns the enemy. Plus, it allows a counterattack to neutralize the threat.
The Dodge Skill Card is another of the Defense Cards and certainly the most important one in my experience. I was struggling with dodging the enemy attacks in a timely.
It lets you dodge incoming enemy attacks by swerving left, right, or backward from an enemy. This move also leaves your enemies stunned for a short time, allowing you to attack them quickly.
Drop Kick (Jump Kick)
The Drop Kick Card can be attached to the Abilities Category’s Jump Kick section. This card allows you to perform a drop kick on your enemies, which can send them flying. The Drop Kicks can deal a great amount of damage and can send multiple enemies flying at once.
Flying Kick (Jump Kick)
The Flying Kick Skill card allows your character to perform a flying kick. This is another one of the cards that can be attached to the Jump Kick section and can deal great damage.
During my experience, I found that you must be in the air to perform this attack. All you need to do is press the attack button while in the air.
War Cry (Special Attack)
War Cry, found in the Abilities Section Special Attack cards, enables the player to unleash a powerfulWar Cry. This ability weakens nearby enemies and boosts the player’s Toughness Stats.
I mostly utilized it during co-op sessions that come lucrative in crowd control and tight situations. If you want to push the performance online, I recommend the same for you.
Ground Pound (Special Attack)
The Ground Pound is the second Special Attack found in Dead Island 2. This card allows the player to punch the ground, weakening enemies.
Moreover, this ability significantly reduces the Stability stat of the zombies nearby. This particular attack is also great for crowd control.
Dash Strike (Special Attack)
The Dash Strike skill allows the player to dash in the zombies ahead of them, which deals damage and opens up the zombies for further attacks.
Blood Rush (Fury Meter)
The Blood Rush card allows you to build the fury in the fury meter when you perform counterattacks or slay zombies. Therefore, you can build up Fury faster if you kill many zombies.
Served Cold (Fury Meter)
My emphasis can not be enough to show the importance of having a Served Cold Dodge card. This card allows you to build upFury when the enemies hit you or when you block incoming attacks. This way, you can build fury while taking a bunch of damage and utilize it to your benefit in zombie carnage.
Surgical Focus (Fury Meter)
The Surgical Focus card rapidly builds Fury as you maim zombies, primarily by breaking their limbs. However, this card has a downside: you’ll lose Fury if you take damage from zombies.
Street Brawler (Fury Meter)
The Street Brawler skill card allows players to build fury by damaging zombies. Players can fill their fury meter by hitting zombies with melee attacks and weapon throws.
Sadly, I found this card considerably weak, as the fury will deplete slowly unless a player fills the meter. This is a great card if you are in the middle of many zombies, as performing combos can help build up fury.
Overhead Smash (Fury Attack)
The Overhead Smash is a powerful Fury Attack and can be attached to the Fury attack slot of the deck. This is very similar to the Ground Pound. This Skill card is great for your deck, especially if you are stuck between large zombie crowds.
Spitting Cobra (Fury Attack)
It is quite amazing how this game throws the most unique moments during the gameplay. I was surprised when I used the Spitting Cobra skill card as it turns powerful zombie attacks against them. This skill is adopted from Slobber Zombies, allowing players to hurl poisonous vomit at incoming zombies, depleting their health.
Scream (Fury Attack)
The Scream is a Fury Attack adopted from the Screaming Zombie. When your Fury Meter is fully charged, you can unleash a mighty screech that weakens nearby zombies.
This allows players to attack or get out of tricky situations. You can change between Fury Attacks anytime if you have the cards available.
Fury (Fury Attack)
The fourth Fury Attack in the game doesn’t have a specific name. It represents the full release of a player’s built-up Fury, allowing them to go berserk and annihilate zombies with their bare hands. This rage ability boosts the player’s strength and aggression for a short duration, making it ideal for dealing massive damage quickly.
The Survivor Cards give you Abilities Cards a much-needed buff. There are only four slots for the Survivor Cards, so you can only buff up the stats of four of your abilities. One thing that I want you to remember is to ensure that your Survivor and Abilities cards work together.
Some Survivor Cards are not universal, and only specific characters can take advantage of them.
The Blockbuster Skill Card enhances your Block ability by giving it a buff. When you perform a well-timed block, this skill allows you to trigger a small explosion or blast that depletes the stamina of nearby zombies and stuns them briefly. This provides players with the opportunity for a counter-attack.
The Pain Magazine Skill Card buffs your Dodge Card and Block Card. This adds additional stats to your Defense Cards. Whenever a player dodges or blocks incoming attacks, it boosts the recharge rate of the Curveball Throwables. It is a great card to have so you can quickly recharge your Curveballs.
The Pain Threshold Skill card boosts your damage stats. This is an excellent card with your Defense Cards, as each successful Block and Dodge will slightly increase your damage stats.
The Quake Skill card is a great one to have if you are using Ground Pound Card. The Quake boosts your Ground Pound Stats so that you will hit the ground with even more power. This way, the Zombies will be sent flying after the successful execution of each Ground Pound.
Requirement: War Cry
The Rallying Cry is a remarkable survivor card with you if you use the War Cry Card. This skill card lets you use your War Cry to help your nearby allies.
Whenever a player unleashes the War Cry, it will weaken the zombie and boost the health stats of the players and your friends nearby. Moreover, it also removes any negative status effects from the players.
The Ravenous Skill Card is one of the few cards I use for Fury Attack Ability. With over 30+ hours invested in Dead Island 2, I found it the most beneficial card for Fury Attack. This card allows you to stackup even more Fury if you kill Zombies in Fury Mode.
The Safe Space card is always a great one to have in your Deck. Players often use MedKit to heal themselves, so this card adds a handy perk. Therefore, whenever players use the medkit, it will cause a small explosion that will stun all the nearby zombies.
This is another Survivor Skill Card that seriously buffs your Defense. It allows players to regenerate a small amount of health whenever they hit a well-timed dodge or block. The parrying mechanic will allow you to block incoming attacks and regenerate your health.
Requirement: Dani or Jacob
This is one of the Survivor Cards that will only work with specific characters. The Serial Killer Skill Card only works if you are playing as either Dani or Jacob. This card allows players to increase their damage stats every time they kill a zombie.
Slide Attacks are very beneficial as you progress through the game, and I used them most of the time in the endgame. It brings us to the Shin Shrapnel, which can buff up your slide attacks.
This card adds extra strength to your slide attacks, so you can throw zombies a long distance whenever you tackle them while you have this card. Therefore, this card is excellent as you slide out of a large crowd of zombies.
It works exceptionally well when paired with a Fury Card, enabling players to unleash a Fury Attack when the Fury meter is only half full. This card can be essential in a tight spot, cutting the time to enter Fury Mode in half.
Requirement: Carla or Ryan
The Steadfast Card is also a character-specific card. This card will only be attached to the Deck if the player is either Carla or Ryan.
As the name suggests, this card pays back the steadfastness of a player. The skill allows players to stack a boost in the Toughness and Force stats when they block multiple attacks one after another.
The Surgeon Card is a Survivor Card that boosts the Maiming mechanic in the game. It allows players to increase their damage stats whenever they Maim zombies.
The Corpse Bomb Skill also adds a damage feature to your Fury Attack. This card allows players to cause zombies to explode that are killed in Fury Mode. Moreover, these exploding zombies will also yield AoE damage for the nearby zombies.
I recommend utilizing this in co-op sessions but use it wisely because you don’t want to miss a chance to show off.
Requirement: Ground Pound
The Flare-Up Skill requires you to have Ground Pound as part of your deck. This is a handy card as it adds features to your Ground Pounds. If you have this card equipped, whenever you execute the Ground Pound, it will set the nearby zombies on fire.
The Greased Pig is one of the must-have cards in the Dead Island 2 playthrough. It allows players to get out of zombie grapples automatically. So whenever a zombie holds you back, this card will help you escape it without pressing a button.
The Hot-Footed Card is great if you have Drop Kick as part of your Ability cards. This card takes the fun and powerful Drop Kick to the next level.
Whenever you hit a zombie with the Drop Kick, this card will allow your kick to set the zombie on fire. However, the Drop Kick will also drain some of the player’s health.
The Limb Reaper
The Limb Reaper Skill card adds features to the Maimimg mechanic. This card enables players to restore their health whenever they injure a zombie. As a result, this makes it an essential card to have in your deck as a significant part of the game. Therefore, you will always be able to restore your health.
Bob & Weave
Requirement: Dodge + Amy or Bruno
The Bob and Weave survivor card is another player-exclusive card. This skill card works only if you are playing with Amy and Bruno. Plus, it also requires a Dodge card in your deck. Once equipped, this card will enable you to stack up and increase Agility and Attack Speed if you perform a dodge combo.
The Invigorating skill card takes advantage of the parry mechanic in-game. With this card in your deck, every counter-attack you perform will help you regenerate good health.
I think health regeneration is most crucial for survival. For that instance, I strongly recommend adding this skill card to gain the most benefit in your playthrough.
Requirement: Dash Strike
The Lightning Strike survivor card enhances the Dash Strike skill in the game. This card allows you to electrify zombies every time you use Dash Strike. However, using this ability will deplete your health with each attack.
The Thick-Skinned card gives your stats a direct buff. Once equipped, it increases the Toughness of the player’s character. However, there is also a downside, as this card trades your Toughness for Resilience and decreases it.
Requirement: Dash Strike
The Vivisuction Skill card is another card that buffs up your Ability Card. For that card, you must have Dash Strike in your deck for this Skill to function. The Vivisuction Card enables your dash strikes to regenerate health whenever a player hits a zombie with their Dash Strike.
Requirement: Drop Kick + Carla or Ryan
The Warhead card is crucial when using the Drop Kick skill with Carla or Ryan. It enhances the Drop Kick by adding an explosive effect that reduces nearby zombies’ stamina whenever you perform it.
Requirement: Jump Kick
The Wrecking Ball requires the Jump Kick Card in your deck. The card provides an additional buff to the Jump Kick.
Consequently, your Jump Kick will give out critical hits with every attack. This attack allows players to maim more zombies and get rid of them quickly without damaging their weapons.
The Slayer Cards are designed in a way that they buff up your offensive stats. Therefore, these cards will help you increase the damage your attacks cause and boost speed stats. However, most of these cards are player exclusives or require others in your deck to function.
The Breakdancer Slayer Card allows you to add additional features to the slide attack. Therefore, when a player performs a slide attack, this skill card will increase your character’s Agility and Attack Speed stats. This makes this card a prime choice in your deck if your character is slow.
The Carnage skill card requires you to have Fury Attacks in your deck. This card will increase the damage and Force stats of the player’s melee attacks when you unleash your Fury mode. At the same time, every melee attack with extra damage and force also decreases your Fury meter at an increased speed.
Caustic Blight will cause your melee attacks to melt zombies upon impact. However, this card also causes your Fury to decrease faster. It is a good investment as my Fury was always depleting, but at the same time, my character was dealing stronger damage.
The Clear Sightness is one of the few skill cards that buff up the throwables in Dead Island 2. This card increases the damage stats of your throwable such as Curveballs and general weapons. However, it requires critical hits to increase the damage stats.
Cull The Weak
The Cull the Weak Slayer card is great in your deck if you are running low on health. This skill card will boost the damage stats of players greatly. As a result, the players can land attacks with notably increased damage.
The Deadeye card is for players who depend on their Curveballs more. This card will decrease the recharge time of the Curveballs every time you hit zombies with them. Moreover, this card also decreases the recharge time at an increasing rate depending on the number of attacks.
Far From Done
Requirement: Carla or Ryan
The Far From Done card is a character-specific Slayer card, only working with Ryan or Carla. It allows players to stack up their damage stats every time they get hit by an enemy attack or block attacks, boosting their damage stats.
Requirement: Dani or Jacob
The Group Therapy card only works if you are playing as Dani or Jacob. This card provides a buff to your stamina bar in the game. Conversely, maintaining a zombie-killing streak will bring back your stamina.
Hack And Dash
Requirement: Dani or Jacob
The Hack and Dash is another player-exclusive card that works if you are playing as Dani or Jacob. This card encourages players to maintain a killing streak and rewards them with a boost to the speed of the player’s attacks.
Requirement: Dash Strike
The Hammer Fist card requires you to have the Dash Strike card as part of your deck. This card provides a significant amount of boost to the Dash Strike. The card buffs up the Force stats of every Dash Strike the player lands.
The Hunting Season Skill Card provides a boost to your melee attacks. The card encourages players to hit zombies with ranged attacks and rewards them with increased damage stats of the melee attacks.
The Janus Rage Skill is a passive skill card that attaches a feature to your Fury meter. When the Fury meter is full, the card boosts the player’s Toughness stats. Since, at most stages, you do not need the Fury Meter. I recommend employing the card to gain the most experience out of Toughness, and you can change it when you want.
Requirement: Overhead Smash
The Juggernaut provides a significant buff to your Overhead Smash Fury Attack. This card enables players to gain Fury when they perform this Fury Attack.
The No Mercy Card is another card that provides players with a significant offensive buff. The card gives players a medium bonus for their damage stats when they attack weakened zombies. Therefore, this makes it great if your character has low damage stats.
Pay It Forward
The Pay it Forward skill card is a skill that takes advantage of bad situations. This card increases the damage stats of a player significantly if some attack currently weakens the player.
The Pummel Skill Card is a great card to have if your character lacks Force stats. This card gives you a great bonus to your Force stats if you build up an attack combo.
The card also causes your first strike to be slightly weaker. Therefore, I highly recommend having this card only if you can stack up combos.
Requirement: Overhead Smash
The Pyro Card is a must-have card in your deck if you currently use Overhead Smash as your Fury Attack. This card causes players to light zombies up on fire when they perform melee attacks in Fury Mode. Moreover, the card also adds this feature to the Overhead Smash, so players can light zombies on fire with this ultimate attack.
Requirement: Amy or Bruno
The Second Wind Skill card only works if you are playing as Amy or Bruno. This card allows players to receive a boost to their damage stats whenever they hit a zombie while they are sprinting.
The Skill Skewer is an entertaining Slayer Card in your deck. The card causes players to one-shot zombies with thrown weapons. Therefore, zombies hit in the head with a thrown weapon will explode on impact.
Tools Of The Trade
The Tools of the Trade skill card uses one attack type to boost another. This card allows players to use their melee kills to boost the damage stats of ranged weapons. Even though there aren’t many ranged weapons in the game, it’s essential to boost their stats because of their weaker damage.
The Unrelenting skill card helps you increase the damage stats. The card rewards players with a boost to their damage stats whenever they attack a zombie currently knocked down.
The Volatile Skill Card is a great card to have if you rely on your Fury Mode. This card makes you almost a killing machine in Fury Mode, as the melee attacks performed will cause zombies to explode. The only downside is that it decreases the time players stay in Fury Mode.
As the name suggests, the Voltaic Scream card buffs up the Scream attack. Therefore, it is a given that you need the Scream skill card in your deck to make this work. The card causes the Scream attack to electrify zombies that are in the area of your Fury Attack.
The Numen cards are some of the most powerful cards in the game. However, this also makes them very tricky to acquire, and they also show up in the second half of the game. These powerful cards, nevertheless, have a downside as most of these cards will negatively affect a player’s health or other stats.
The Anger Mismanagement skill card is a card that takes advantage of the health bar. If your Fury meter is empty, this card allows you to use your health bar as fuel for your Fury Mode. Moreover, the Fury Mode automatically ends when the health drops to a critical level.
The Born Survivor skill card is handy when running low on health. This card automatically triggers the Fury Mode when your health is critical.
The Corpse Blossom skill card takes advantage of the status effect mechanic in the game. If you have this card equipped in your deck, it will cause zombies that die from a status effect to explode and spread their status effect to the nearby zombies.
The Glass Cannon is another Numen Skill Card in Dead Island 2 capitalizing on low health. It empowers critical hits, dealing substantial damage when a player’s health is critically low.
The Seismic Stomp card adds an extra feature to the Skull Stomp mechanic. This card will cause the Skull Stomp to cause an explosion and drain the stamina of the nearby zombies. The explosion also puts on a Bleed status effect on the zombies in that area.
The Innate Skills are two skill cards that come by default with every character. These Skill cards are different for every character and help players decide what character they want to play.
The Feral is Jacob’s exclusive skill card and comes with him by default. This card allows players to use attack combos to their advantage and get a stackable boost to the player’s damage stats.
The Critical Gains is the second Jacob exclusive skill card. This card uses low stamina to the player’s advantage. Therefore, whenever a player lands a critical hit with low stamina, they will get a boost to their damagestats and regain their stamina.
The Backstab is a Bruno exclusive skill card and comes with him by default. Players can boost their damagestats if they attack zombies from behind.
The Rapid Reprisal is the second Bruno exclusive skill card. This card allows players to use the defense mechanics, such as dodge or block, to boost their Agility stats. So players can evade large groups of zombies fairly quickly.
The Mosh Pit is a Carla exclusive skill card and comes with her by default. The card allows players to get a minor increase in their damage stats when they are surrounded by multiple zombies. So, if you get in a tricky situation, this skill allows you to fight out of it.
The Dig Deep is another Carla exclusive skill card. This card allows players to receive an increase in their toughness stats when the health bar hits the critical level. Therefore, this card allows you to survive longer when in a tricky spot.
The Thunderstruck is a Dani-exclusive skill that comes with her by default. This card will let players trigger an intense explosion whenever they land a heavy attack while playing as Dani.
The Bloodlust is another one of the Dani exclusive Innate Skill cards. This card encourages players to maintain a zombie-killing spree and rewards them by restoring the player’s health.
The Retaliation is Ryan’s exclusive Innate Skill Card and comes with him from the start. This card will let players use blocking and dodging to get a good amount of boost to their Force stats.
The Seesaw is the second Innate skill card that is exclusive to Ryan. The card allows players to regain their health whenever they knock down a zombie using their attack.
The Relief Pitcher is a skill that is exclusive to Amy’s character. The card will let people regain their stamina bar if they can hit zombies with a thrown weapon.
Divide and Conquer:
The Divide and Conquer skill is the second Amy exclusive skill that comes with her by default. This Innate skill will give players a damage boost when they attack a stranded zombie alone.
The Skill Cards system is a big deal and can help a significant portion of the game. I initially slept on the skill cards but struggled during each mission in Dead Island 2. In my experience, Skill cards pave the way for the gameplay and ensure a best experience for a zombie shooter like Dead Island 2.
A gamer through and through, I’ve spent countless hours honing my skills in competitive FPS games like Counter-Strike and Valorant. When I’m not immersed in the high-stakes world of multiplayer shooters, I find solace in the mesmerizing narratives of games like The Last of Us and the Batman Arkham series.
But here’s an interesting twist – I’m not just a gaming enthusiast; I’m also an avid movie buff. Feel free to join me on Steam: Z3US
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