Dead Island 2: Best Skill Card Builds For Every Character

Dead Island 2's skill card system allows for some fascinating and powerful character builds. Here are some of the best in the game.

Dead Island 2
Photo: Deep Silver

Dead Island 2 ignores the traditional skill tree system in favor of the kind of skill card “deckbuilding” system we see in games like Back 4 Blood. While it takes a little while to find and equip all of those cards, the payoff is worth it. You can really come up with some creative skill card builds in this game if you’re willing to experiment.

Even if it takes you most of the game to acquire all the skill cards you need/want, you can still work toward an ideal character build while you’re filling your card collection. That being the case, here’s a rundown of some of the best late-game character build options and the basic strategies that each build is trying to pull off (so you can make the most of them along the way). Oh, and if you need any additional information on what these cards do, here’s a breakdown of every skill card in Dead Island 2 and their effects.

Dead Island 2: Best Amy Skill Card Build

Abilities: Dodge, Drop Kick, Dash Strike, Surgical Focus, Overhead Smash

Survivor Skills: Bob and Weave, Lightning Strike, Shin Shrapnel, Vivisuction

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Slayer Skills: Breakdancer, Second Wind, No Mercy, Hunting Season

Numen Skills: Corpse Blossom, Born Survivor

This skill card builds largely relies on Amy’s high Agility and Critical Damage. 

Dodge and Dash Strike are the foundational pieces of this build that largely focuses on moving in and out of battle (which is what Amy should always be doing). Skills like Bob and Weave, Lightning Strike, and Second Wind reward you for staying on the move and picking your isolated targets (Amy deals more damage to solo zombies). Meanwhile, Shin Shrapnel and Breakdancer make dash attacks absurdly powerful. 

Hunting Season takes advantage of Amy’s unique ability to regain stamina from thrown weapons. It’s not a terribly useful skill on its own, but it works very well with what Amy is trying to do. Throw a weapon, get your buffs, and go into the fray.  

Numen Skills are kind of a crapshoot (they’re rare and come late in the game), but I like the Corpse Blossom and Born Survivor combo. Corpse Blossom is a natural companion to the status effects you’ll be dealing with Lightning Strike, and Born Survivor makes Amy nearly unkillable when she’s battling groups of enemies. 

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Dead Island 2: Best Bruno Skill Card Build

Abilities: Dodge, Drop Kick, Dash Strike, Blood Rush, Overhead Smash

Survivor Skills: Bob and Weave, Lightning Strike, Vivisuction, Ravenous

Slayer Skills: Second Wind, Air Assault, No Mercy, Pyro

Numen Skills: Corpse Blossom, Seismic Stomp

Bruno is an odd character, but he definitely benefits from the right combo of skill cards. 

Much like Amy, Bruno is ultimately trying to bounce between enemies and make the most of his powerful critical strikes. The game actually gives Bruno and Amy some shared skills, so their builds are relatively similar. 

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However, Bruno’s build features more “Smash” attacks. Because Brunos benefits from attacking enemies from behind (and he can easily build Heavy Attack charges), it’s often best to knock enemies down whenever possible. That lets you make the most of some of his timing and position-based abilities. 

Corpse Blossom is a natural companion to the fire attacks we’re taking, and Seismic Stomp works well with the other Smash abilities. Overall, this build is fantastic for dealing with large groups of enemies, but it still lets you hold your own against bosses. 

Dead Island 2: Best Carla Skill Card Build

Abilities: Block, Drop Kick, War Cry, Blood Rush, Scream

Survivor Skills: Rallying Cry, Warhead, Wrecking Ball, Ravenous

Slayer Skills: Voltaic Scream, Volatile, Janus Rage, No Mercy

Numen Skills: Seismic Stomp, Glass Cannon

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This Carla build is a personal favorite. It leans into Carla’s ability to walk into a mob of zombies and make some crazy things happen. 

The “Cry” package is the star of the show here. War Cry, Rallying Cry, and Voltaic Scream make you tougher and your enemies weaker (as well as electrified). Use it to open every battle, and you should be good to go. 

Drop Kick and Wrecking Ball work together to turn your dropkicks into powerful AoE attacks that can often end battles before they really start. It’s a really powerful combo of core abilities, though you can play with those spots if you find other skills that strike your personal fancy.

Glass Cannon isn’t the obvious choice here, though that’s kind of the point. It takes advantage of Carla’s natural toughness and parlays that toughness into some always-helpful extra damage. 

Dead Island 2: Best Dani Skill Card Build

Abilities: Dodge, Drop Kick, Dash Strike, Blood Rush, Scream

Survivor Skills: Ravenous, Group Therapy, Vivisuction, Hack and Dash

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Slayer Skills: Breakdancer, The Limb Reaper, Heavy Hitter, Corpse Bomb

Numen Skills: Glass Cannon, Born Survivor

Another personal favorite, this Dani build leans into the Glass Cannon philosophy that we eventually fully embrace with the Numen skill of that name. 

The name of the game here is to boost your attack speed and stamina through Group Therapy and Hack and Dash. Breakdancer also contributes to that basic strategy. You’ll basically become a hot knife of death after only a few early attacks. 

Dani’s unique health regeneration restrictions mean that we’re leaning a little more heavily into health generation abilities. Limb Reaper is actually the MVP of this build so far as that goes, though Vivisuction will help you out in the meantime.

Finally, our Numen choices allow us to pull off an absurd amount of critical damage while reviving and healing ourselves when we do eventually fall. Again, this is just an incredibly fun build. 

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Dead Island 2: Best Jacob Skill Card Build

Abilities: Dodge, Drop Kick, Dash Strike, Surgical Focus, Scream

Survivor Skills: Lightning Strike, Ravenous, Group Therapy, Hack and Dash

Slayer Skills: Corpse Bomb, Janus Rage, No Mercy, Carnage

Numen Skills: Corpse Blossom, Anger Mismanagement

Again, Jacob and Dani actually share somewhat similar builds. However, Jacob’s high health pool means we get to lean into status effect attacks just a little more. 

Lightning Strike is the key to this build as it allows you to quickly build up lightning damage on large groups of enemies. From there, you’re basically letting Corpse Bomb and No Mercy turn your enemies into massive grenades. Corpse Blossom also synergizes with that strategy quite nicely. 

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Anger Mismanagement is kind of a flex spot, but if you have the extra health, it really helps you push for a little extra damage during longer fights against tougher enemies. 

Dead Island 2: Best Ryan Skill Card Build

Abilities: Block, Drop Kick, Ground Pound, Blood Rush, Overhead Smash

Survivor Skills: Short Fuse, Steadfast, Wrecking Ball, Quake

Slayer Skills: Carnage, Unrelenting, Far From Done, Pummel

Numen Skills: Seismic Stop, Anger Mismanagement

You can actually take advantage of Ryan’s tank-like nature to try a few health sacrifice strategies, but this build leans more into his pure defensive capabilities. 

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Much of this build is designed around the Block ability. By learning to block attacks, you can greatly increase Ryan’s overall power level and make him nearly unkillable. Meanwhile, skills like Overhead Smash, Quake, and Ground Pound let you keep zombies off their feet so that you can punish them with Unrelenting. 

Seismic Stop is the obvious Numen choice here, but Anger Mismanagement is kind of a flex spot. Again, it’s mostly there to help out in fights against tougher enemies.