An in-depth guide mainly focused on intermediate players who want to take already fairly good zerking to masterful zerking. While this guide focuses mainly on the highest level of play (6p HOE), beginner zerkers will still find this guide very helpful as it describes the general usefulness of all the perks and weapons and how to deal with dangerous zeds.
Berzerker has always been seen as a rather easy class, both in KF1 and KF2. It has been described as having a low skill ceiling, and that anyone can play bezerker decently as long as they know how to parry.
This is true, and to play a decent bezerker capable of winning HoE games, you don't actually need to be all that good. Most bezerkers I see these days just run Katana +3 and go around M1 mashing everything, not exactly skillful gameplay.
However, trust me when I say that bezerker, contrary to popular belief, actually has one of if not the highest skill ceilings in the entire game. While it doesn't take much to get to the level where you can fairly reliably win HoE games with a good team as a bezerker, there is a huge gap between a "decent" bezerker and a "masterful" bezerker. And this is why so many people say bezerker is a low-skill class, because if what you're doing is already good enough, why bother going above and beyond?
This guide however will show you how to get from being "decent" to being "masterful". Unlike most other classes, bezerker requires an immense amount of practice to get to the highest level.
The Berzerker's Purpose
The berzerker acts as 3 things:
That is all you need to know about what berzerkers do. They are the vanguard. They are the first ones in and the last ones out. If the berzerker needs to back up, then chances are the entire team also needs to back up.
Beginner's Section (Part 1)
This assumes that you have never played berzerker before so you need a run down on how they play and what skills to go.
Dreadnought vs Skirmisher
On most maps and in most situations, Skirmisher will be the most useful. The huge amount of movement speed you gain from Skirmisher will allow you to kite every zed except raging fleshpounds, and also allows you to get out of sticky situations much more easily. The passive regeneration is also a huge boon as it lets you stay in the thick of it for much longer by healing chip damage from blocking and parrying.
Dreadnought does have its uses however, as when it comes to tanking and taking massive amounts of damage in a short period of time, Dreadnought will keep you alive more times than Skirmisher ever will. However, the lack of movement speed and regen means you have to rely on a medic to keep your health up as you will be constantly taking damage from not being able to run from zeds and not being able to regen passively. Dreadnought generally speaking, is only used on maps where the team has a particular hold point with only 1 or 2 entrances. In these scenarious, Dreadnought will beat Skirmisher every single time, even with just off-heals from commandos or medic pistols from the rest of the team.
Vampire vs Butcher
Both of these are quite useful honestly and it comes down to personal preference and team set up when deciding which one to use.
I personally use vampire most of the time as the damage loss is negligible against trash as long as you are using parry, smash and a good melee weapon like the Zweihander or Bonecrusher. Vampire will keep you more independent from the Medic so they are able to focus on healing others, and in some cases if you are killing fast enough, you are able to outheal the damage you are taking. This has saved me more than once when I've gotten myself trapped in a corner and the only way out was to fight my way out. With parry and smash, you will be killing trash in more or less a single hit and when trapped in a corner, you will be pretty much taking constant damage. Without vampire to slow the rate of damage I was taking, I would have been dead in those situations. It is also an extremely good option on pubs where teammates don't tend to buy medic pistols to heal others, so vampire will keep you healthy for longer before you need to rely on others.
Butcher's main usefulness is to patch up the damage you lose from not going Parry if you're a beginner and running Resistance. Otherwise, it's other draw is that it allows all of the top tier melee weapons to kill fleshpounds in a single combo. It is also more useful for fast attacking weapons like the Katana as there is an appreciable difference in number of hits to kill due to their lower damage. But then again, weapons like the Katana are mainly only used by beginners or lazy berzerkers.
Resistance vs Parry
This one is simple. If you're a beginner and can't quite get the parry timing right, go resistance. Once you've gotten some practice and can reliably parry zeds, go Parry. The bonuses that come with Parry are simply way too strong to be ignored, and because of how easy it is to parry most zeds in the game, it isn't even that hard to get the bonuses. At the end of the day, even though Resistance seems more focused on tankiness, Parry will actually make you much harder to kill than resistance ever will. Just look at the stats:
Not only does Parry makes you more tanky than Resistance, but also lets you kill Zeds faster, which further minimizes the damage you take by reducing the time spent in combat.
Resistance if you're an absolute beginner, Parry once you've gotten even a bit of practice.
Smash vs Massacre
Smash wins. Every. Single. Time. There is ONE weapon that I can recommend massacre on, and that is the Katana (or the Road Redeemer, but that weapon is just a worse Katana), and that is because it is the only weapon with a light attack speed of 144 swings per minute, outclassing every other weapon in this regard (except the knife). The only way for Massacre to beat Smash is if the following criteria are met:
And that's not even considering animation cancelling, which can increase heavy attack rate by up 50% (More on that later) or headshots, which are 25% stronger for a total of a 75% damage increase.
There are 5 melee weapons in the entire game that fit this criteria: Knife, Katana, Road Redeemer, Fireaxe and Crovel.
Why would you even use this as a berzerker? You start with a Crovel silly.
Even with massacre, the weapon's dps is still about 20% lower than all of the top tier melee weapons like Zweihander, Strikers and Bonecrusher using Smash. With animation cancelling, there isn't even a contest.
Worse than the Katana.
Most of the weapon's power comes from its heavy attack and its stun power, so using massacre on this weapon is simply not playing to the weapon's strength.
Massacre just barely beats out Smash in terms of DPS, but if you animation cancel your heavy attacks, Smash wins by a landslide.
If you consider the fact that DPS across all melee weapons are actually quite low compared to other weapons in the game, and that berzerkers will kill most groups of zeds in a single swing if using Smash and Parry, Smash not only offers greater DPS on most weapons, it also offers greater safety as you will be killing most zeds in a single swing rather than multiple swings, meaning you reduce the time you have to stay in range of a counter-attack, potentially risking more damage taken if you're using Massacre.
If you aren't using the Katana or Road Redeemer (which aren't great weapons to begin with), use smash.
Berzerker Rage vs Spartan
If you're using Dreadnought, Berzerker Rage can be potentially life-saving in some situations, but otherwise Spartan beats it out every time. It's just better - it gives you a huge spike in DPS, lets you run away from anything and is less disruptive to precision perks you may be in front of.
Just use Spartan.
Beginner's Section (Part 2)
What to do when starting out as a berzerker
Berzerkers get their power spikes at levels 15 and 20, when you gain access to Parry and Smash, where you get a major spike in tankiness and damage in Parry and another spike in damage with Smash. Before you are level 15 however, berzerkers will have a tough time staying alive on HoE servers due to how much damage zeds do and the fact you won't be able to kill them very quickly without Parry and Smash. As a result, it is recommended to play on Suicidal or lower if your perk level is below level 15.
While you are on lower difficulty servers, practice parrying low threat trash like clots and slashers to get a feel for the timing and identify which zeds are most dangerous to berzerkers. There are 2 zeds in the game that are extremely threatening to berzerkers and that are:
Their bile spit is extremely damaging, especially on Sui/HoE and can end a low level berzerker in a matter of seconds if you don't kill them or get out of their range quickly. Their bile also covers up your screen which, without resistance, makes it incredibly hard to see. Don't attempt to engage groups of zeds where there is a Bloat behind them; find a way to kill them first or simply get in with a quick hit and get out before they can spit on you. This will often aggro the zeds in front of it on the Bloat itself, neutralizing the threat.
When trying to kill them, rush them with heavy hits to the head. Most weapons will stumble them, stopping them from spitting and allowing you to get a follow up headshot to decapitate them. Once you get Smash, all of the top tier melee weapons are capable of a OHK on a horizontal swing. Mid tier weapons like the Fireaxe and Pulverizer will require a forward heavy to OHK.
These guys are extremely risky to engage at close range. On Sui/HoE, they gain access to the flamethrower move, which deals incredible amounts of damage up close, capable of killing any perk in the game with only a couple seconds of exposure. Not only that, if they take enough damage, they will attempt to self-destruct on players. The Husk explosion has a base damage of 190, already making it instantly lethal to every perk in the game except on Normal difficulty, Max level Swats with both armor perks, or Dreadnought berzerkers with either Resistance or the Parry bonus up. On HoE, this damage jumps up 285 due to the 1.5x damage multiplier they gain, making it impossible to survive except for Dreadnought berzerkers with the Parry bonus.
It is imperative to eliminate Husks as quickly as possible, for the safety of both yourself and your team. If you must engage them alone, either rush them with a forward heavy headshot to kill them as quickly as possible, or use your melee bash to prevent them from using their flamethrower and then get in as close as possible to them; this will force them to start doing melee attacks, which are parriable and far less dangerous than its flamethrower. You can then go for a headshot to kill them quickly. It is EXTREMELY important that you go for headshots against Husks, for if you deal too much body damage they will self-destruct, which has a very short wind-up animation and practically guarantees death if you do not manage to kill them before they explode.
Scrakes and Fleshpounds
Berzerkers are able to wall these zeds for an extremely long period of time, allowing other perks to either focus on trash around them, or kill them while they are distracted. However, berzerkers should not engage scrakes and fleshpounds unless they are at risk of breaching the team's defenses. Precision perks like gunslingers and sharpshooters have a much easier time killing them when they're docile and not moving their head all over the place whilst attacking berzerkers.
If you must engage a scrake at close range, simply parry their attacks to keep them in place, don't actually start hitting them unless your team starts first. If you are alone, there are 2 weapons the berzerker has access to that can brute-force a takedown without risk of retaliation, and those are the Static Strikers and the Bonecrusher. More detail on that later.
Your job is to de-rage them by letting them hit you rather than your comparatively squishy teammates. Do not attack immediately afterwards as that can cause a chain-rage, where they start attacking immediately after a rage without a rage animation if they take enough damage immediately after hitting a player.
Berzerker is not a class than can easily kill big zeds without sufficient practice with their takedown combos, thus act in a supporting role to perks that can actually kill big zeds easily (Sharpshooter, Gunslinger, Demo, Support with Doomstick) rather than trying to kill them themselves.
Almost every weapon in the game has an animation cancel that will shorten reload times. By the same token, melee attacks can be animation cancelled to shorten the forced attack duration. For weapons with magazines, people will use the bash button animation cancel. For melee weapons people will usually use either the reload button or bash to animation cancel.
What does it do for melee weapons? Well when a melee weapon swings, there is a point in time where the melee weapon actually hits, and then there is a cooldown before you can swing again. If you animation cancel just as the weapon hits, it circumvents this cooldown and allows you to swing again immediately. This mechanic is a cornerstone of good berzerker play, and any berzerker who doesn't simply play as a Katana M1 masher will know how important it is to use animation cancelling, as it effectively increases the swing rate of your heavy attacks by up to 50%.
Animation cancel is essential in both trash clearing with high-tier weapons and taking down big zeds.
Berzerker Takedown Combos (Advanced)
The bezerker has without question, the hardest takedown combos in the game (Except with the Eviscerator). Most combos have a very small margin for error and it is unlikely for you to be able to perform them perfectly in every scenario. However, the bezerker is mistake tolerant, and all combos shown are self-contained. If you do not get them right in your first engagement, simply wait for the next parry to engage. These combos show you not only how to take down large zeds, but also deal the most amount of damage in a single engagement without taking damage yourself. Even if you cannot land headshots as it is very difficult to do, these combos will help significantly with killing large zeds regardless as they teach you how to prevent them from attacking you alongside how to kill them.
Most combos are doable if using vampire as well, only you may need to add in an extra bash or heavy attack to finish them off.
Important info concerining takedowns
Some melee weapons are capable of interrupting fleshpound attacks whilst they are raged with their melee attack (usually their bash/stab). During this interrupt the fleshpound is still capable of moving, but cannot attack for around a second. This is called melee locking. The effect is not well understood and the underlying mechanics of what causes it are not known. From experience, it tends to happen only if you manage to hit them in the head while they are raged at least twice depending on weapon. Most weapons can only perform a melee lock once. Some weapons cannot perform this at all. (This effect is separate from the Melee Hit effect, which all melee weapons and bashes can perform)
Classic Zweihander Fleshpound Combo
For most melee weapons, this combo is the one that will be used when dealing with fleshpounds.
2x Forward-heavy -> Right-heavy -> stab/bash (Melee lock) -> 2x Forward-heavy. Most melee weapons are capable of performing this combo against fleshpounds, with varying amounts of damage. Generally speaking, if this combo is performed correctly, the fleshpound will only need 1 more stab/bash or light attack to finish off, or a heavy attack if the weapon does not have enough damage.
Weapon effectiveness will be rated based on 3 things:
1 and 2 are the most important factors here. However, a reliable scrake takedown is generally more important than a reliable fleshpound takedown - this is because fleshpound takedowns for all bezerker weapons (except the Vlad Nailgun) are quite slow (leaving you vulnerable to trash around you) compared to other classes' takedowns and can only be performed if your team does not interfere. In other words, in a team environment bezerkers should only attempt to kill fleshpounds if they are isolated with no trash around and your team does not have a better fleshpound takedown/are too busy dealing with other problems to focus on the fleshpound.
Takedowns for scrakes on the other hand can be extremely fast with certain weapons, many of the top tier weapons taking only 2 seconds to kill them if you perform them properly. Weapons like the Static Strikers and Bonecrusher have properties that also allow them to simply brute force a scrake takedown if all else fails.
Trash killing is the least important as most bezerker weapons are capable of handling trash just fine with appropriate animation cancelling. This will only affect a weapon's score if the weapon is markedly better or worse at killing trash than their competitors.
Melee weapons have different attack ranges. These ranges will be separated into tiers.
Weapon Overview (Part 1)
Watch the takedown video before reading this, as much of the information will reference the video.
A very solid melee weapon. Fully upgraded, it is able to takedown both scrakes and fleshpounds effectively without taking damage. It is also one of the weapons that are able to melee lock fleshpounds more than once, sometimes even 3 times if you manage to time it properly. This gives the weapon the ability to kill fleshpounds in a single combo quite easily with a forgiving margin for error.
The drawbacks of the Crovel is that it has a very low attack range of only 1.5m, making it difficult to use against trash like crawlers at times. It also cannot parry stumble large zeds.
A below average melee weapon. Good for beginners but otherwise doesn't do anything other weapons can't do just as well or better, even in trash clearing. The Crovel is generally better after being upgraded just once, and is 150$ cheaper.
The Katana has extremely poor melee hit and stumble power, the second lowest in the game, just above the knife. This means the Katana has NO effective takedown combo for scrakes, which require stumble power in order to kill in one go. It also means that some medium zeds like the husk and bloat can resist the Katana's poor incap power, making the weapon extremely risky to use against them.
Surprisingly, the Katana is actually one of the few weapons that can melee lock fleshpounds multiple times, and thus is also one of the few weapons that can kill them in a single combo. However, the second melee lock seems have an incredibly tight window and requires near perfect animation cancels beforehand to pull off. The combo also takes longer than other similar combos due the katana's low damage, leaving you more vulnerable to trash around you.
The Katana has an interesting quirk where its forced animation time for blocking is very short, making it possible to be almost constantly parrying if timed correctly.
Pretty much a worse Katana. Has the same damage but swings slower in every regard. The only difference is that its bash actually has stumble power which gives the weapon a viable scrake takedown.
The weapon has a very slow heavy attack relative to its damage and its bash/slow has an incredibly slow start up animation compared to the katana. While the weapon can do the classic Zweihander combo for fleshpounds, it is much more difficult to perform than the Zweihander, and the weapon's low damage means fleshpounds will require another 2 headshots to finish off even if its combo is performed perfectly.
Its takedown against the scrake is incredibly unreliable, with a large hitbox on its swings, it makes it very difficult to hit them in head. The hit register sound for headshots is also indistinguishable from normal hits, making it impossible to tell whether or not you've succeeded in a headshot and to gauge how many more hits you need to kill.
The weapon does have a Zweihander-style combo against fleshpounds, however due to its very low damage it requires another 2 forward-heavy headshots to kill them.
A very interesting albeit not great weapon. It is the only melee weapon with stun power on its heavy attack and can therefore stun scrakes in 2 well timed headshots or simply with repeated hits. This gives the weapon probably one of the easiest takedowns against scrakes, on par with the battleaxe.
The weapon can take down fleshpounds quite well, however its combo is difficult to pull off as your animation cancels have to be almost perfectly timed due to the weapon's very slow start up on its heavy attacks. Its ability to melee lock fleshpounds multiple times with its light attack however means it is capable of killing them in a single combo, without even needing to be perfect.
The weapon has an incredibly slow light attack swing speed relative to its damage, making it perhaps one the hardest weapons to use against trash. Because of this, it lowers the weapon's versatility.
A very solid weapon both on-perk and off-perk. The weapon allows bezerkers to heal their team very quickly without needing to switch to a medic gun. Coupled with a panic button in the form of the medic explosion which heals, deals heavy damage and almost instantly toxic-panics any zed, you've got a formidable sidearm to your primary melee weapon.
Fully upgraded, the weapon is capable of taking on scrakes fairly decently, though its damage isn't quite enough to kill in 3 headshots, so you need at least 1 bash to hit its head in order for you to kill it in one go. It has however a very poor takedown combo against fleshpounds. The weapon cannot melee lock fleshpounds due to its poison power, which means it takes 2 perfect combinations and one more light attack in order to kill them. Because of the weapon's rather strange hitbox, headshotting fleshpounds in their rage animation is very difficult. Overall, the Hemoclobber isn't recommended for big zeds.
An interesting quirk about the Hemoclobber is that it has the highest attack range of any melee weapon, at a whopping 2.3m, the only one in its class. This allows the Hemoclobber to actually outrange scrakes that have an attack range of 2m and makes it an incredible trash-clearer, able to clear out entire swathes of zeds in just a single swing.
All melee weapons have a slight variance of 1-2 damage on each of their swings. This doesn't affect takedowns, however occasionally the Hemoclobber will fail to kill Bloats in a single horizontal swing if you do not have the parry bonus.
Weapon Overview (Part 2)
The bread-and-butter, the deagles of the bezerker class. This weapon can do everything and do it well. This is the weapon that all bezerkers should practice with first as its combos are what many of the other zerker combos are based on.
With the second highest heavy hit damage, second highest range tier, an intuitive melee hitbox and a relatively fast swing speed, this weapon is capable of easily taking down scrakes, fleshpounds and anything else the game has to throw at you.
What makes this weapon great is that its combos for both scrakes and fleshpounds are not incredibly difficult and can be done reliably given enough practice, particularly the scrake combo. It can kill scrakes in about 2 seconds and can also kill fleshpounds in a single combo without taking damage. It is able to melee lock fleshpounds more than once with its stab as well, meaning you have a much larger margin for error if you miss some headshots.
While its light attack is slow compared to other melee weapons, its stab attack is very quick and can be used in conjunction with light attacks to repel swarms of crawlers easily. Against groups of anything else, a wide swing of the heavy hit will kill pretty much anything in 1 or 2 hits.
A rather unremarkable weapon by all accounts, but its not bad. It is slightly stronger than the Hemoclobber with an identical move set, only slower.
The weapon has a decent takedown combo against scrakes if a little hard but where it shines the most are against fleshpounds. Like the Crovel, Katana, Fireaxe, Strikers and Zweihander, the Pulverizer is capable of melee locking fleshpounds multiple times, giving it the ability to take them down in a single combo. It has also has a very high stumble power on its bash (200) given its speed, giving it the ability to actually stumble raged fleshpounds if you hit them enough times during your combination and hit the bash on the chest core.
Otherwise, the weapon's decent swing speed, solid damage, decent range and good incap power lets it take on groups of trash and medium zeds just fine.
Did I mention the alt-fire explosion? No, because it's not worth mentioning. Just don't use it.
A unique weapon with unique properties. Quite good as well. The weapon gives you essentially infinite EMPs and what this means is that it can be used as a solid support weapon to setup either scrakes or fleshpounds for precision perks to take them down without risk of retaliation. On its own, the Strikers are more than capable at taking down scrakes through brute-force due to the EMP and the weapon's high knockdown power. In fact because of this, the strikers are one of only 2 weapons that can take down scrakes through sheer DPS without risk of retaliation, the other being the Bonecrusher.
If not being used in a supportive role however, the EMP is more of a detriment to taking down fleshpounds than it is helpful. As the EMP prevents the fleshpound from raging, you do not gain the safety of the long rage animation to hit its head. The combo for fleshpounds thus requires you to prep the fleshpound to rage with your bash and light attacks before attacking with your heavy hits. This requires precise timing and is not easy to do. However, if you manage to pull it off, the Strikers is a weapon that can melee lock fleshpounds multiple times, thus able to kill them in a single combo. The weapon's high damage and the fleshpound's slight weakness to bludgeon damage compared to slashing means you will only need 4 forward-heavy headshots and 2 more light attacks to kill.
The Strikers are also a very good weapon against Patty, Hans and KFP(King Fleshpound). With its very quick back-heavy, it has perhaps the highest DPS against bosses, but that's not the main reason why the weapon is good against those bosses. The reason is the EMP; it won't apply in a single hit, but because of how quick the back-heavy is, you can apply EMP in about 4 - 5 hits without much trouble. EMP prevents those bosses from doing their special attacks if they aren't already doing one and prevents KFP from raging. This gives your team more time to deal damage to them without needing to retreat due to them using a special attack.
The main drawback of the strikers is their very low attack range of 1.5m, tied with the Crovel. The weapon thus has a hard time dealing with crawlers and large groups of zeds.
A bit a of lazy weapon in my opinion. Sure, it can kill scrakes in 3 headshots with all damage buffs and is extremely easy to perform, but it cannot kill fleshpounds before they finish their rage animation and you can't melee lock them with the weapon either. Its trash clearing capabilities are also incredibly sub-par; the saw deals low damage, is limited in ammo and only effective against the target in front of you. You could carry a Hemoclobber or Pulverizer to help with trash,
But on its own it's just not that great of a weapon.
Basically the only use for the Eviscerator is to kill scrakes quickly and easily. If you're playing as a bezerker who is holding a choke, you should never use this weapon as it requires you to back up from your position in order to use it. It can only kill fleshpounds safely if you are sufficiently distanced from them, which only happens if your team is kiting.
The one good thing I can say about it is that it has the highest parry damage reduction at 70%, tied with the Bonecrusher. However, the animation is horrendously wooden and not nice to use at all.
Weapon Overview (Part 3)
The only weapon that has a 70% block rate from both normal blocking and parries. The Bonecrusher is a really strong weapon in almost all circumstances.
Like the Strikers, the Bonecrusher has a very easy matchup against scrakes, having an easy takedown combo against them as well as simply being able to brute force a takedown through knockdown and sheer damage. The Bonecrusher has a high enough knockdown power on its bash attack that it is capable of knocking down both scrakes and fleshpounds with a single bash to the legs. It can also knock down scrakes in just 2 shield bashes anywhere on the body. Not particularly useful when fighting them yourself, but might save a teammate's life from a raged scrake if you manage to hit them in the legs with your bash.
The Bonecrusher has a very effective combo against fleshpounds, however it requires you to first stumble the fleshpound before you engage. This is because if a fleshpound is stumbled, take enough damage to enrage and is in range of a melee attack at the same time, there is a very high chance they will attack immediately, rather than play their rage animation. This can also happen if the fleshpound is already attacking and takes enough damage to be raged if they are not stumbled during the attack animation. This mechanic is not well understood and seems inconsistent across some weapons.
Regardless, once you stumble them, the combo is the same as the Zweihander. The only issue is the bash attack is comparatively slow, making timing the melee lock difficult and requiring precise animation cancels beforehand to pull off. Otherwise, the Bonecrusher is capable of killing a fleshpound in only 4 headshots and a light attack.
The weapon's trash clearing ability is also incredibly good. Its huge knockdown and stumble power makes it one of the best weapons for pushing through a horde of zeds on a kite route or reclaiming a lost hold point, as even if you do not kill them in a single hit, you will most likely knock them down, letting either a teammate to finish them off or for you to kill them with another hit. Its ability to block husk fire is also very handy if you're suddenly caught at close range with them and cannot risk engaging them without dying.
The most expensive piece in the bezerker's arsenal alongside the Ion Thruster, this weapon isn't really worth the price, but it isn't a bad weapon.
Its main draw is its absolutely massive heavy hit damage, so high that it can kill scrakes in just 2 headshots and kill most lesser zeds with a single horizontal swing to the body. However it doesn't really have a combo for fleshpounds due to how slow it is. A Zweihander style combo seemed possible after further testing, but the timing is so incredibly tight that there is no conceivable way one could perform it reliably. Like the Bonecrusher, the Battleaxe needs to stumble the fleshpound first before attacking and only needs 4 headshots + a light attack to kill a fleshpound.
Its light attacks are also strong enough to one hit kill all low level trash so its trash clearing capability isn't bad either. The weapon however has a very slow draw/undraw animation, which makes healing yourself in the middle of a fight very risky. The stab attack also has pushback momentum so it can be used in a pinch to push back big zeds to give you some breathing room, otherwise not particularly useful. All in all, a decent weapon.
After the buff this weapon received in the Grim Treatments update, where it got a damage buff as well as compatibility with Skirmisher's movement speed, this weapon has become a much more compelling choice for berzerkers than before. (Strangely, the movement speed bonus on applies on sprinting, and for normal walking the Vlad doesn't seem to gain any bonuses. It is unknown whether this is a bug or intended)
With the new buff, the weapon unupgraded can kill scrakes in 4 headshots (All damage buffs) and fleshpounds in 5. Here is the list for headshots with upgrades:
So the only upgrade that really matters is the first one. With only 3-4 headshots needed to kill big zeds, a +1 Vlad is a very solid and reliable method for taking down big zeds as a berzerker, and is also much faster than using melee weapons. It also gives berzerkers a very formidable ranged weapon against trash or medium zeds when they can't risk engaging at close range for whatever reason. As vampire also works with ranged weapons, this could be a very safe method of regaining lost hp against trash zeds.
Ion Thruster (DLC)
I have tested this weapon a bit and it seems rather lackluster. The weapon just feels like a bigger, buffer version of the Katana, that is to say, better than the Katana but not even close to the true top tiers like the Zweihander and Bonecrusher. The weapon lacks the damage needed to kill scrakes in 3 forward-heavy headshots, requiring either another stab or light attack to finish them off. Its light attacks also lacks any stumble power, meaning it is unable to pull off a Zweihander style combo on scrakes that would be much more reliable than what it has to do at the moment. The burn also doesn't help with the takedown, as if you hit them too much they flail around fire-panicking, making subsequent headshots almost impossible to hit. You can finish them off after the second headshot if you have the special charged attack ready to go, but that takes a while to charge so you won't have it up every time.
The weapon is also terrible against fleshpounds. It requires 7 headshots to kill fleshpounds with all possible damage buffs and like the Hemoclobber, the weapon's burn damage makes it almost impossible to get a reliable melee lock. Not to mention, you can't even rage fleshpounds in a single hit like the Katana, so you need to prep them before hand by jabbing them with a poke or a light attack before attacking. Unlike the Katana, it doesn't have a fast enough attack speed to be able to do this in one go. This means the weapon requires 3 perfect engagements to kill a fleshpound, the worst of any melee weapon currently on offer.
The one redeeming factor about this weapon is that it is really good against trash, about on par with the Bonecrusher, though the BC is still better in most circumstances. Its extremely long hit range of 2.4m means it is able to outrange any melee zed you come across, and its burn power will lockdown any zed that isn't a Husk, allowing you to kill them without fear of retaliation. However, it is just barely missing the damage needed to kill Husks without the parry bonus in a single horizontal heavy attack headshot, though this isn't too big of a deal as a forward/back heavy will do the trick just fine.
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