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Dead Island: Fast Leveling Guide

Thanks to the coronavirus outbreaks, gamers have more time on their hands than ever before to clear out their video game backlogs. Since we are on lockdown due to a virus outbreak, why not pass the time by playing some thematically appropriate video games about virus outbreaks?

Seeing as how no shop items, no damage, no saves runs of Resident Evil games are mostly a CarcinogenSDA thing, you are probably already done with Resident Evil 3 Remake (because, unfortunately, the game is extremely short). So, instead of bobbing and weaving from zombies in the ruins of Raccoon City, why not go on an adventure on the tropical island of Dead Island‘s Banoi?

Developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver, Dead Island was released in 2011 to mixed reception. A sequel to Dead IslandDead Island: Riptide, was released in 2013, but the original game is still considered the definitive Dead Island experience.

The predecessors of the widely popular Dying Light, the Dead Island games are not what you would call underappreciated gems and have more than their fair share of flaws. Despite this, Dead Island has a loyal fan base of players, and to this day I can still play Co-Op with random teammates in the original 2011 game.

The Dead Island fanbase isn’t huge, but it is loyal

Get your controller or mouse and keyboard of choice, ready your answer to the question “Who do you voodoo bitch?” and let us begin.

Fast Leveling in Dead Island

If you ask any experienced player of Dead Island what you should do when you are first starting, most will tell you to completely ignore combat, and complete as many quests as possible to earn experience and level up. There is a very good reason for this: Characters at level 1 suck.

The four main protagonists of Dead Island are Logan, Xian Mei, Purna, and Sam B. They all have varying levels in the three main attributes of strength, stamina, and health, as well as a weapon preference. Sam B is a blunt weapons expert, Xian Mei is good with sharp weapons, Logan is a throwing expert, and Purna is a gun expert. Investing in each of their respective perk trees will allow them to become more proficient in their preferred combat style.

Once built up, each of these characters can become very powerful machines of death, but as raw recruits, they’re pretty terrible. A level one Logan is a throwing expert with no throwing expertise and the lowest base stamina of the four characters (Meaning he sucks in melee combat). A level one Xian Mei is a glass cannon with no cannon and all glass. Purna is a gun expert, but you can’t get guns in Act one at all, unless you are at least level 20 and get lucky finding one in a random weapons chest (you can also find several revolvers, but they won’t do much). Sam B is the only character that can make do while playing the game normally, in my opinion, as he does not need as much investment as the other three characters.

You need to get a lot of experience in this game, and you need to get it fast. You can kill thousands of zombies and complete every side quest you can find, but that is not going to get you anywhere near the game’s level 60 cap. There is a gauntlet-style arena that you can grind up levels in, but it is dead Co-Op content and not good experience either.

Ignore the Bloodbath Arena. The experience gains are trash for the time spent.

Once you finish the game, you can replay it over from any chapter with a default build. If you go back to the final chapter of the game, your character’s level will be set at 32. Level 30, however, is when builds start to get really fun, so I am going to help you make that your starting point instead of your ending point.

Most games have a go-to strategy for easing the difficulty of the game and or providing a multitude of benefits. In Interplay Entertainment, games like Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, as well as Troika Games’ Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, you farm random encounters and you win the game. In Dead Island, the go-to strategy is to take advantage of how the checkpoint system works.

We are going to exploit that checkpoint system to get to level 30 in the prologue of the game.

Level 1-30:

Hotel Massacre Simulator

First, select the character that you will be playing as in this playthrough. Logan is my personal favorite, and arguably the best character in the game (When he is built up), so he is who I will be using. He also makes certain parts of the prologue level grind faster. This strategy works on both the original Dead Island and Dead Island: Definitive Edition.

After picking your character, progress through the prologue until you get contacted by a voice over the intercom in the elevator. He will tell you to get a weapon from the maintenance storage room at the end of the corridor. Loot all the luggage outside and inside the hotel, as well as the bodies (or body if you are playing the Definitive Edition) in the bloody water. Loot inside luggage takes a while to respawn; these bodies will frequently give loot multiple times in a single run, so make sure you don’t miss them. Possible loot will range from component items used in mods, money, medium medkits, and alcohol. The bodies in the lobby have a small chance of having weapons on them, but this is really only useful if you are playing Logan. The durability of your weapons will dry up fast if used as melee weapons, and you have no way of repairing them in the prologue. Thrown weapons barely degrade, however, so Logan can definitely take advantage of them. You don’t get to keep any weapons you find in the prologue, so don’t stress too much about it.

Feel free to use weapons in the prologue, but don’t get attached to them

Once you are finished looting, head for the maintenance storage room. Unfortunately, three Infected will be blocking your path, so the guy on the intercom will tell you to turn around and hightail it down the other corridor. Do not listen to him.

Head down the opposite corridor, but a third of the way down, there is going to be an open hotel room with a Walker hanging around in the doorway. Two doors down from this room, there is a bag on the ground to your left. Never head past this bag, as doing so will make you leave the hotel.

Do a jump kick on the Walker in the doorway to knock him to the ground so you can get past. Standing kicks can knock down walkers, but it may take three or four attempts and you’ve got several Infected on your tail. So, don’t take the risk.

After knocking down the Walker, head into the room and jump on the bed. This will be your safe zone (be aware that zombies can still sometimes clip onto the bed) for this section. Make sure to place your character towards either the left or the right side of the bed, and not always right in the center. Infected will sometimes run off the nightstand and wall to your right and onto the bed if you stay in the center.

Here they come!

After a couple of seconds have gone by, a stream of Infected will come into the room and try to attack you. Most commonly, you will get three Infected, but sometimes you only get one, and other times you get five. This is where some differences start to set in depending on whether you are playing the original Dead Island or the Definitive Edition. In the original, the AI is pretty stupid, and you need to do more herding than you would in the Definitive Edition. In the original, these Infected can get stuck on luggage carts, in doorways, and sometimes randomly drop aggro (even if they are in the same room with you). It sounds a lot worse than it actually is those, but just keep it in mind.

Once you have got some Infected near the bed, it is time to kick off this party. And I mean that literally, so start jump kicking them. Standing kicks never knock down Infected, but jump kicks always do. If you are playing the original Dead Island, the Infected are more likely to stay down for a prolonged period of time. If this is the case, crouch down and start punching them. Punching them takes up less stamina and will do more damage than kicking them will. Aim for the head when you can, as it will deal more damage than body blows. If you are playing the Definitive Edition, Infected will get up quicker, so you will probably have to use standing kicks on them more often than in the original.

Give these Infected some Sweet Chin Music to knock them to the ground.

Then go Mike Tyson on them until they’re all dead.

These Infected zombies start out at level 51 (and eventually reach level 60), so make sure you don’t get hit, otherwise, you are going to be super dead. It will probably take you around five minutes getting these Infected down, but don’t worry, the grind only gets faster from here.

After you have dealt with the first wave of Infected, deal with the lone leveled walker in the room, and then head back out to the main corridor. There will be a bunch of Walkers for you to kill, and the right corridor will have several Infected still lurking around. I recommend that you deal with the Infected first because this enemy type is extremely inconsistent when it comes to threat detection and pursuing you (it is one of the most frustrating parts of this game). You cannot afford to take any hits at this level, so just deal with the bigger threat first. Lure them to the bedroom just like with the first wave of Infected and kill them in the same fashion.

Make sure to say hello to your in-laws in the lobby.

After that, deal with the Walkers in the lobby in the same way. Be careful with the Walkers, as there are actually two types, the standard Walker that is all but harmless because it moves at a snail’s pace, and Shamblers, who will stumble their way towards you at a fairly fast pace before lunge attacking you. Be careful, as sometimes the Walkers will have weapons as well. Most of the time, they will be level 1 disposable weapons like rusty pipes or wooden sticks, but they will occasionally have leveled weapons like cleavers and knives.

Be careful not to let zombies stack onto these bodies or they will temporarily despawn.

Once all the zombies on this floor are dead, pause your game and load last checkpoint. The game will respawn you back inside the elevator after the voice on the Intercom contacted you. From there, you just rinse and repeat the process until you are satisfied with the level that your character is at.

Remember to always loot these bodies every run.

Perk Prioritization

After you kill your first Infected, you will level up for the first time. When this happens, immediately head to the skills section of the menu, and unlock your Rage ability. Rage is going to expedite the grind a lot, especially if you plan on staying here for long. Not only will activating your Rage move allow you to kill a bunch of zombies, but it also gives an experience multiplier depending on how many enemies you kill. The highest multiplier is X4 and can net you as much as 80,000 experience. Logan and Purna have the advantage over Sam B and Xian Mei since the former have ranged Rage attacks (Logan’s being an AOE attack) and Sam B and Xian Mei having melee Rage attacks. Once you have invested enough into your Rage skill tree, you will be able to use your Rage move every other run.

Make the most out of your Rage ability to make maximum exp gains!

To get the most out of your Rage move, you will want to make sure that you use it at the best possible moment. That moment is right at the beginning of the section when you are fleeing from the Infected in the corridor. Slow down to a jog to make sure that the Infected will still aggro you, and instead of heading into the bedroom, go to the main lobby with the walkers hanging around. Once the Infected have joined you in the lobby, activate your Rage ability, and kill as many zombies as you can. If you are using Logan, he can easily kill every zombie on this floor with a single Rage, except for the Walker in the bedroom. The other three characters will be able to kill most of them as well, but they are not as consistent at full wipes like Logan.

After unlocking your rage move, prioritize unlocking the final combat perk.

You should always use your first perk point to unlock your Rage ability, but after that, you will want to shift into investing in your Combat skill tree. The fourth-tier perk of the Combat tree will unlock a special stomp attack which will instantly kill any downed zombie by stomping on their head. This is going to speed up the grind dramatically, so you should get it as soon as possible. Be careful when using it, however, as this first stomp ability has a long wind-up animation. If used when near a group of enemies, you will likely get hit. That is why you want to keep investing in the Combat skill tree only until you unlock your final combat ability. It doesn’t show up in-game, but this final ability will upgrade your stomp into a more instantaneous action that is a lot safer to use. Also, be sure to collect the meat left behind by Infected when you give them a permanent solution to their splitting headaches. Meat is a component for one of the most useful items in the game.

After you have unlocked the level two stomp ability, I recommend heading back into the Rage tree and unlocking some more perks here to improve the effectiveness of your Rage skill, as well as make it faster to obtain. How much you should invest in the Rage skill tree is always the most contested aspect of character building in Dead Island. Some players just unlock the initial perk and nothing else, others go as far as to unlock the final Rage perk. It is up to you, but if you want to get Rage every other run, then you will need to invest significantly in this skill tree. After that, invest in your Survival skill tree as you see fit. If you are playing as Logan, be sure to unlock his final Boomerang skill.

Like any other game with a perk tree system, Dead Island has a lot of dump perks that you should completely ignore. Logan, for example, has a perk which reduces fire damage that has literally no practical use at any point in the game. Sam B and Purna have perks that are only useful if you are playing in Co-Op, so if you are running solo, are a complete waste to get.

Never get crappy perks like these, as they are a waste of perk points.

There are also a lot of perks that seem useful either long-term, or just for this training section, that you need to watch out for. Increasing the durability of your weapons is very useful if you are Purna, Sam B, or Xian Mei, but these perks are useless to Logan since you will be throwing weapons 99% of the time.

These are examples of overkill perks (For Logan).

Increasing your critical hit chance when throwing kicks sounds like a good perk to have in this prologue, since you are kicking zombies so much, but it really is not. The main use of kicking is knocking enemies down and then finishing them off with a head stomp. So, it doesn’t matter if your first kick is a critical hit or not.

Even at max level, you cannot unlock every perk in the game, so be sure not to waste any of your precious skill points.

How Long Should you Grind Here?

This method is great for grinding out the first 30-40 levels of your character. You should be able to hit level 30 in just an hour, and level 40 in 2-3 hours depending on how focused you are (and depending on how the zombie AI is treating you). It is possible to grind all the way up to level 60 in the prologue, but I would not recommend it. For starters, you are going to be killing a lot of zombies and (presumably) completing a lot of side quests in this game. You are going to get a lot of experience doing these two things, so you might as well get something out of them. Maybe it is just me, but I hate being maxed level and not getting experience from quests anymore. You know how in Fallout 3, when you discover a new location, you get some experience and hear a little cha-ching sound? When you reach the max level, you do not hear it, and I don’t like that.

Anyway, another reason why you should not aim for max level in the tutorial is the fact that experience gains eventually start to go down. Once you reach level 33, the amount of experience you gain from killing these Walkers and Infected will steadily decrease. By the time you hit the 50s, you are going to be getting less than 300 experience per kill. If you want to go past level 40 before diving headfirst into the brunt of the game, then we need to leave the tutorial section.

Level 30/40-60:

Harassing Two Guys in Front of a Hotel

To move on to the next part of your fast leveling, you are going to have to complete a few story missions and a side quest. Don’t worry, as this isn’t going to take long. The first thing you need to do is obtain the Deo-Bomb mod blueprint. To get it, head for the Lighthouse (which you will do anyway in the story) and talk to a guy named Mick Fler. He will give you an easy side quest called Tell Me Where It Hurts and asks you to get three bandages and some painkillers for his friend Linda. You can easily find bandages and painkillers in the infirmary back at the Lifeguard Tower, and in random ambulances on the roads. Giving him these items will reward you with the Deo-Bomb mod blueprint.

Complete a five-second quest to get the best weapon in the game

The Deo-Bomb is arguably the most useful weapon in the entire game. It is extremely powerful and can easily wipe out entire mobs of enemies. Grenades also work for this training method, but you won’t gain access to grenades for a long time.

After you obtain the Deo-Bomb blueprint, you then need to get your hands on a whole lot of deodorant and duct tape. If you level grind in the prologue up to level 40, you should have somewhere in the area of $20,000 dollars. This will be enough for what you need to do.

Most people think that you need to use the duplication glitch of dropping an item, dying, and then immediately reloading a checkpoint in order to duplicate the dropped item. The reason for this is the fact that you will need several hundred Deo-Bombs in order to reach level 60 by using this method. If you’ve only been playing the game for a couple of hours, chances are you won’t have enough money to purchase several hundred deodorants and duct tape. That’s not even including the $50 charge every time you create a Deo-Bomb. Don’t worry, as this is unnecessary, as there is another glitch you can use.

First, purchase 50 deodorant and 50 duct tape. Deodorant goes for $150 each and duct tape $100 each. Tack on $50 fee per every Deo-Bomb created, and you are looking at $15,000 in order to make 50 Deo-Bombs. Here is where the duplication glitch comes in.

By rapidly creating Deo-Bombs in the modification menu, the game will for some reason duplicate the number of Deo-Bombs you make. I don’t know why it happens, I just know that when I quickly create 50 Deo-Bombs, I end up with over 200 of them. This is more than enough for what we are about to do.

The fruits of my rapid button-pressing labor

Once you have your Deo-Bombs at the ready, make sure that you are at Chapter 3 in the story and talk to Sinamoi and begin the quest Born to be Wild. He will tell you that he needs you to go into the town of Moresby to look for supplies. To do so, you will need a rig to plow through all the zombies in the tunnel connecting the resort to Moresby, and that rig is located in the parking garage at the hotel.

Follow the dotted line on the map to reach the entrance of the hotel. Here, you will spot two things hanging around. On the ground near the two thugs, there will be a hotel keycard that you need to pick up in order to gain access to the hotel. Lure the two thugs away from it, pick up the keycard and then use it on the keycard slider at the door. DO NOT ENTER THE HOTEL. This is where the second part of training begins.

Pick up this keycard.

Use it on this keypad but don’t go in the hotel.

Equip all of your Deo-Bombs, kill the two thugs and then reload the last checkpoint (you can loot them too if you want). After you have used the keycard on the keycard slider, the game will update, and whenever you load a previous checkpoint for this quest, you will spawn right outside the entrance and the two Thugs will have respawned as well. Rinse and repeat this process until you are at a level that you are satisfied with.

Say hello to the fastest experience in the game.

That’s it! This is the best method in the game for quickly reaching level 60. It takes no more than 10 seconds to send these two Thugs to Old Spice Hell, so it will hardly feel like a grind. You should be able to reach level 60 from level 40 in around two to three hours depending on efficiency.

If you don’t want to do the entire level 40-60 grind in one session, then feel free to go off and do other stuff. Just make sure not to enter the hotel, and whenever you feel like level grinding again, just make Born to be Wild your active quest, and you will respawn here again.

Get to level 60 and use Chad weapons like this crowbar

I don’t think that reaching the level cap in Dead Island is necessary, as every character has a lot of pointless perks, and some perks are honestly overkill that are just cherries on top, but if you want to do it, this is the way to go.

Hopefully, this guide will help you guys get off on the right track and make your Dead Island experience more enjoyable. The game definitely has flaws, but it can be a fun romp to go through, especially with friends. I have got some other Dead Island guides as well, like a weapon chest farming run guide (For after you have just left the prologue), an infinite firearms guide, and a millionaire guide. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing any of those.

Have fun and remember to aim for the head!