- Probably best to go with Sam B as a first-time character because most of the weapons you end up using are blunt.
Actually any character besides Purna is perfectly viable and fun, in different ways.
- Later in the game, once she's skilled up a bit, Xian Mei becomes a maniacal jumping one shot machine and Logan just tosses his entire inventory at enemies and they all die before getting anywhere near him. Plus, his combat skill tree makes him probably the most "all-rounder" of characters.
- There are some less than stellar levels and for those I suggest grouping up with people just to make it more fun. As in if you see yourself going into a sewer see who is online.
- The survival skill tree should be avoided until you have most (if not all) of the combat skills you want to have because most of the abilities there aren't really that useful and the points are better invested in other skills (I've only played as Logan so far but I think this applies to all characters).
- Guns are fairly useless against common zombies but your best choice against human enemies. Also, most human enemies carry guns and ammo so you're pretty much meant to fight those with guns. For anything else, use melee weapons.
To give an example, a headshot with a late-game pistol on a human enemy does about ~2000 damage, resulting in an instant kill. The same gun delivering a headshot on a common zombie did about 400 damage. Also, killing the human usually results in ammunition drops to offset whatever you spent shooting at them, while zombies never drop ammo.
- Thugs can be a bit tough to take on initially, don't be afraid of using molotovs / grenades against them (which pretty much instantly kill them), you'll eventually find plenty of those anyway.
- Somewhere on your skill tree is the option to stomp on a zombies head to insta-kill them. Zombies fall down a lot so go for that skill.
- When you come across tough zombies its probably best to break their arms so they can't do much. There is one late-game zombie that this strategy won't work on, as its limbs are exceedingly difficult to break.
PC only: Play on an xpad or find that mod that lets you use analog on your mouse. The point of the game is swinging at enemies with clubs and knives and if you are just left clicking that isnt much fun. It also makes it easier to break and chop off arms.
- Never ever sell weaponcrafting materials. It can be tempting to sell your L400 batteries and such in the early game for a quick buck, but you'll regret it when you get a high ranking weapon mod that requires them and you have none left.
Early on, you can replace any weapon that's too damaged for you to affordably repair. Later on you'll find so much money on zombie drops you can afford to repair several weapons on a frequent basis.
- Speaking of weapon mods, there are a lot of them that are way too well hidden. If you're an OCD completionist type, look up a guide, especially for the weapon mods that require placing the hidden skulls.
- Don't save up your Rage too much! Using it gives you an EXP multiplier depending on how much stuff you kill during it. Whenever you see a reasonable sized group of enemies, just let loose with it.
Even without really leveling up the skills, Rage builds relatively quickly. There's hardly ever a reason to save it for a later horde, as you'll refill the meter long before coming across that second horde.
- Always keep an eye out for repeatable quest items. There's no reason not to grab most of them, and it's pretty much effortless money. Of special note is champagne, make absolutely sure to keep an eye out for it, as every bottle nets you 1000 dollars and a diamond, IIRC.
- Don't forget about your kick! It's a pretty useful tool in many ways. A jumping kick will pretty much always knock down a regular zombie.
- Get the mod 'Dead Island Helper'. It doesn't change the gameplay, but fixes a crap ton of minor bugs and annoyances. I got motionsick from the game (which almost never happens to me) until I got this mod installed.
- Your best weapons will almost entirely be found in stores or as quest rewards.
- Explore a little. If you see a white skull on your mini-map, it usually means that it's a zombie attacking survivors who will reward you for saving them.
- When you start getting guns, keep a pistol and another gun of your choice handy, sell everything else. Rifles sell for quite a bit.
- By the time you get to use guns, it'll be too late to really enjoy them.
- Most cutting melee weapons do the job.
- Do all your side quests so you don't miss out on any weapon mods (though I doubt you'd actually use most of the weapons you make).
- Jump kicking works really well when trying to escape.
- End game is ridiculously boring. The zombies (common and special) ramp up in number but not difficulty; the only real "challenge" involves having leveled up the +durability perks and upgraded your weapons so that you can progress from repair table to repair table without running out of weaponry.
- If you play solo, the +exp talents really come in handy. Unlock your "fury" talent right away, and go towards the headstomp talent (I think all characters have it). Don't bother with gun talents, guns are mostly bad in the game anyway. Stamina talents are really helpful, you will be running a lot.
- The difficulty spikes horribly when going from Resort area to the City. You'll probably need to "grind" the Resort for a while, just to find some good quality weapons. Even then you'll mostly want to run away from the enemies in the City, or they will overwhelm you.
- Have a few different weapons on you, for different types of enemy. A short range blade for normal enemies, a big long hammer for staggering bigger foes and probably something small and stabby for enemies on the ground. Also, once you have guns, make sure you keep one with a few bullets on hand at all times for the one zombie you don't want to melee.
- Your back jump actually has a lot more speed than you would think, that's what you use to get out of their range. They also don't have many different attacks so your best bet is to learn the two or three that they have, after which they are open for a good couple of smacks, jump back repeat. Weapons with electric or poison also sometimes make them either shake or puke which can give you enough time to hit them hard. Mangling their arms also makes their attacks a lot weaker.
Related: you can dodge by jumping while making a sudden movement. Very useful for getting out of the way of a certain zombie headed straight for you if you can't lead it astray in time.