Dead Island - Playable Characters, Skills and Upgrades

Dead Island - Playable Characters, Skills and Upgrades
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Four Distinct Choices

Each character in Dead Island allows for a different and unique playthrough; one that may be easier or tougher depending on characters’ skills. Every one of these guys has a weapon specialization and different skill-upgrades, which allow for a varied experience every time.

You may want to choose Sam B if you are the type who takes damage, or perhaps Logan Carter if you like to keep enemies at a distance. Purna is ideal for those who enjoy a more FPS style playthrough with pistols, rifles and the like. Maybe you like your game to be more difficult, especially at the beginning, in which case Xian Mei is the character for you.

Keep reading to find out what character suits your style best, and what each of them can do best.

Logan Carter

Logan Carter Concept Art

Logan starts with 100 Health, 100 Speed, and 90 Stamina. He is a specialist at throwing weapons, since he used to be a football star, and you can use him to deadly effect if you take the right upgrades. These allow you to have an improved chance of critical damage, longer throws, and damage to surrounding enemies – the latter with the Economical Throw upgrade.

First, it’s good to get the Fury skill, and upgrading it all the way to Dead Eye Bullseye, effectively allowing you to hit up to four enemies with a single thrown weapon. Wings of Death allows you the possibility of instantly killing an enemy with a projectile when using your Fury, and before that there are Longshot and Furious throw which increase your throwing range.

In the Combat skill tree, it is worth taking the first blunt upgrade Heavy Hitter, then Kicker and maybe Fencer though you won’t be using blunt weapons as much as throwing ones with Logan. The rest include many firearms upgrades and things like Shinobi, which is the same as Wings of Death. While the firearms skills can be useful, the character is still not good enough with them so faster reloading and accuracy makes no ultimate difference.

In the Survival tree, Boomerang is definitely worth it since you’ll get your weapon back; with Reliable Boomerang, it’s a 30% chance, which goes up to 50% with Righteous Boomerang. Coupled with the skills in the Fury tree you can do a lot of damage with one single modded weapon. Discipline gives you extra health, while Medicinal Purposes enables regen when you drink alcohol. Something to consider is Drunken Master, which you can take early on and use to damage your foes further while being drunk.

Xian Mei

Xian Mei Concept Art

Xian starts with the lowest HP, at 90, and a Speed and Stamina of 100. Xian Mei is not recommended if you are new to the game, as she is the most difficult character to play. The first two things that spring to mind are her low health, which can be a pain at the beginning, and her high speed and stamina. The last two means you need to run and move all the time to play successfully with this character.

Once you start upgrading skills though, it begins getting good. She is a master with blades and slice weapons so in the Fury tree take Bloodrage, for increased chopping damage, and Lightening Moves for more speed.

In Combat take everything you can; Blade Fighter, Flying Strike and Sharp Expert all give you great special attacks with blades. Telling Blows and Pressure increase your critical hit chances while Blade Master increase damage and decreases stamina cost.

In the Survival tree, the two things which I think worthy for this character are First Aid and Field Medicine, which increase the effectiveness of MediKits. The second one is a little further on in the tree, but the first upgrade is definitely worth it.


Purna Concept Art

Purna starts with 100 Health, 100 Speed, and 90 Stamina. She is the firearms specialist and the ideal character for those who like a run’n’gun style. However, since you won’t be able to use guns early on it’s good to pick up Blade Fighter in the Combat skills tree, so you can dish out more damage with knives and such.

Take fury early on, as she is devastating with guns using fury. Inspiring kick is also useful early on for the reasons mentioned above, no guns. Lastly, Guardian Spirit allows you to use fury for longer.

The Combat skill tree is important for this character, so chase it all the way to Gun Kata if you can. Gender Wars allows increased damage against males or male zombies and Firearms Training, Executor and Piercing Shot are great for more damage in general.

The Survival skills are also important here, especially Picklock for weapons stashed away in cases or chest. Providence is essential because it allows you to find more ammo, and even more so if you are taking Rain of Bullets (carry more ammo). Jackpot increases the chance of finding epic weapons or rare items.

Sam B

Sam B is the tank in your game, and in multiplayer or Co-op, it’s good to employ him as such. His starting stats are 110 Health, 110 Speed, and 90 Stamina, and he is a specialist in blunt weapons. Upgrades are mostly about defense and health here, meaning this guy just doesn’t die.

Sam B Concept Art

From the Fury tree, get Haymaker, which allows you to knock-down enemies with Sam’s punches. Also, get Pain Killer to regain health when killing and Grim Inspiration, to generate more rage with each blunt-weapon kill.

In the Combat tree, get Heavy Hitter, Devastation, Blunt Expert and Hammer Blows for a killing machine. The last upgrade is Earthshaker, which can kill enemies instantly with a stomp on their head, a special move. The latter is available when enemies are knocked down.

Sam has vital skills in the Survival tree, especially for a tank. You can regen health with the Recuperation, Regeneration and Rebirth all the way up to 20% health per minute. You can also take Bone Breaker for increased XP on an enemy’s broken bones.

That’s All There Is

Those are all the playable characters in the game, though we did not list all the possible skills in every tree. The ones that count for each character are there, rest assured, and you should be able to make the most of your playthrough with what’s given.

Of course, you don’t have to take those exact skills but can mix and match depending on how you like playing. For some players Picklock or Fence become essential skills for every character they play with.

Now grab your weapon of choice and watch yourself: I hear something shifting around that corner…


  • Images - Concept Art - Copyright 2011 Published By Deep Silver
  • Dead Island Official Strategy Guide” - Brady Games - ISBN**:**0744013267, 2011