Back 4 Blood – The Ultimate Brawler (Melee Only) Guide

Philosophy

One thing you should understand right away is that being a brawler means taking a lot of risks and mitigating those risks to keep yourself alive. You’re trading the safety of distance from the Ridden for more damage. You’re going to be out in front of the team a lot facing down tons of Common and Mutations. Familiarizing yourself with the map layout, objective points, typical mutation spawns, corruption cards, and special events is crucial to staying alive. You also need to know how each mutation behaves and how to deal with them. This only comes with a lot of practice and patience, so don’t feel frustrated if you don’t get it right away.

You need to be team focused. You’re going to essentially be a tank for the other three cleaners, which means you’re going to take hits; help them take down Mutations; and keep Common hordes at bay so they can secure objectives. That means you need to be good at managing your health and surviving on your own. This guide has a few tips for doing that, including weapon, item, and card recommendations.

That being said, do not be a lone wolf. You should not run super far ahead and abandon your team. Either they will get overwhelmed and killed or you will get pinned down and killed before they can save you. You can’t take on the entire level on your own anymore. You need your team as much as they need you. Work with them and stay close.

Brawler is incredibly fun and cathartic once you establish a decent deck and understand the nuances. I hope these tips help you get into this complicated class.

Getting Started

First things first. Understand that you cannot jump straight into Recruit with the Starter deck and immediately excel at being a Brawler. Unfortunately, the only card in the Starter deck that benefits melee characters (Battle Lust) is not sufficient for sustaining you in the campaign long-term. You will, unfortunately, have to start out playing with guns to get supply points. Use the time you spend playing with guns to familiarize yourself with all the stuff I mentioned in Philosophy.

Once you start getting supply points, though, you can start building a decent deck. The best supply lines are the top and bottom lines. These contain the majority of the core cards you need to set your deck up. There are a few cards in the middle that help, but these two lines should be your main focus for a while. I recommend focusing on the top line first because it contains a really fantastic card (Face Your Fears) that will be the crux of your melee builds. Alongside that, focus on the bottom to get cards that help you manage stamina. Once you have Face Your Fears, you can start focusing on the middle to get some excellent melee-boosting cards.

Best Difficulty

You should be playing on Recruit until you have a decent understanding of how to play Brawler and how to navigate the maps. In Veteran and Nightmare, friendly fire is turned on, which means you could accidentally chip away huge chunks on your teammates’ health if you aren’t careful. Recruit is the safest difficulty because there is no friendly fire. It’s also more friendly to Brawler because of the overall lower difficulty. While this means you’ll be grinding for supply points longer, you will not be ruining the experience for more experienced players trying to get through the tougher difficulties.

Once you start building a decent deck, Veteran is your best option. While Nightmare is absolutely viable, it is much more difficult and should be avoided until you’re an expert at playing with only melee.

Best Acts

I recommend running Acts 1 and 2 for the most supply points and easiest experience. Act 3 is infamously difficult for Brawlers because of Charred and Bile ridden, which will quickly cut through your health (even post update, this is still true if you aren’t careful). Act 4 is only one mission, so you won’t get as many supply as running through Acts 1 and 2 in their entirety. It’s also, from the gameplay footage I’ve seen, not particularly friendly to melee builds.

Between those two options, I recommend Act 1. You get more supply points on average due to the presence of more missions, and the difficult scales nicely to allow your build to come online. The first few levels don’t require a ton of cards, so you won’t have to worry about not being prepared. You can handle Common easily, and there’s a smaller variety of corruption cards. There are many opportunities for a melee-only build to excel in this act. 

Who to Play

While you can play Brawler on any cleaner and more or less succeed, there are only three that I recommend using, one of which is a backup in case the other two get taken.

Holly

She should be your main choice every time. Holly’s passive (gain 10 stamina for every melee kill) is vitally important for managing stamina before you unlock Adrenaline Fueled (and even after, she’s still the best for this passive alone). She also starts with a melee weapon. She has damage resistance and provides the whole team additional stamina, which makes her perfect for being out in front and taking hits. She also starts with a stun gun, which I recommend having on whoever you play if you aren’t running Breakout or aren’t the dedicated toolkit jockey.

Evangelo

Weirdly enough, Evangelo is also built for melee. His passive (essentially a stronger form of Breakout) is incredibly helpful from escaping grapples, which you may find yourself in a lot since you’re usually in front of the team. He comes with stamina regeneration, and he also makes his whole team move faster. Movement speed helps everyone, but it especially helps as a brawler. He’s a great choice if Holly isn’t available. If you’re solo queuing, I recommend him over Holly simply for his passive. He does start with a machete, which I consider weaker than the bat, but you can grab a bat at the start, so this is irrelevant.

Karlee

She’s not really built for melee, but Karlee does have some useful abilities that help out with melee. Her passive allows you to sense mutations, alarmed doors, and other horde-triggering hazards (outlined in red) through walls. Since you’ll be in front most of the time, this gives you valuable information that you can use to protect both yourself and your team. She starts with an extra Quick Inventory slot, which means you can take two Stun Guns to protect yourself or take two Tool Kits to keep your team stocked on resources. She also provides the whole team with a 50% boost to use speed, which will help in finales where you have to complete objectives. She also starts with a tool kit, which I recommend keeping if you’re running Breakout or have a good time.

Outside of these three, I don’t recommend any of the other cleaners. While you could potentially make a melee build work on them, most of them are better suited to guns or support. If you aren’t able to get at least one of these cleaners, I recommend switching to guns or just leaving the campaign before it starts and trying again in another campaign.

If you don’t want to do that, then your best bet is either Mom or Doc. Mom gives the whole team an extra life, which is good in case you’re getting overwhelmed frequently. Her instant revive is extremely useful for getting in the middle of a horde, saving a downed teammate, and fighting off the Ridden to let them escape. Doc is a good option as well since you may find yourself reviving and healing teammates often during a horde or after you clear one. Being in front also lets you act as a healer tank, so you won’t need to worry as much about keeping yourself and your team alive. (This build is a bit harder to pull off, though, and won’t feel as rewarding as running pure melee.)

If you choose someone who doesn’t start with a melee weapon, remember that there is usually one available at the start of the level. In 1-1, for example, right across from the KSC shop container is a weapon box that always has a spiked bat. You could also ask for a melee weapon from someone who doesn’t intend to use theirs to the extent that you will by typing in the chat or using your mic.

Best Melee Weapons

There are five melee weapons that serve different functions. Each has its own unique pros and cons, so you should pick which ones work best with your play style and what you envision for your melee build.

Something to keep in mind about melee weapons: they can be upgraded just the same as guns (i.e., you find a higher-rarity version in the wild or in the KSC shop), with the exception of the Combat Knife (you never need to upgrade it anyway). Something else to keep in mind: you should always be looking at the firepower and mobility of each weapon you pick up to ensure that you’re actually picking up a stronger weapon. A higher-rarity melee weapon may not deal as much damage as your current low-rarity weapon. This will typically come into play when looking at machetes, hatchets, and fire axes.

Quick Chart

WeaponDamage (by Rarity)Mobility
Bat15/19/25/33Low
Machete18/23/30/39High
Hatchet50/65/84/109High
Fireaxe85/110/143/186Low

Bat

The bat has the weakest overall damage of all melee weapons. It also has lower mobility than the machete and hatchet, which means you move slower. What the bat lacks in power, however, it makes up for in stumble damage. This damage is what causes Mutations to hesitate because of your hits. If you’ve seen the card Heavy Hitter, then you might know what this is.

The bat offers the highest stumble damage of the horizontally swinging weapons, which makes it great for early game when you’re facing off against Mutations. However, its low damage means you’ll be swinging for a while to kill a Mutation, which may result in you and your teammates getting injured. If your stamina is depleted/low, you may not even do enough damage to kill Common. Stamina management is important when using the bat.

If you’re looking to melee Mutations (I don’t recommend it, but it’s possible), then this is your second best option. The machete and hatchet don’t have as much stumble. The fire axe is strictly better, but if you can’t find one, the bat is a suitable option. It is also the easiest melee weapon to find.

Machete

The machete is your best option for crowd control against Common hordes. It swings horizontally like the bat, which lets you mow through Common hordes easily. The main downside of the machete is that its low firepower makes it harder to take out Mutations, especially Crushers, Bruisers, and Tallboys. It also does not deal as much stumble damage as the bat, so until you stack up damage cards, the Mutations you hit won’t stumble, leaving you open to attacks. This means you’ll have to rely on your teammates and other offensive options to take Mutations out safely or stack a ton of damage-boosting cards to be effective. 

However, if your team is able to handle the Mutations, the machete is a great way to prevent hordes from overwhelming everyone. It slices through Common in one shot easily and cuts down massive hordes, letting you protect your teammates whether they’re being surrounded while still walking or swarmed when incapacitated. Its high swing speed (especially when boosted by cards) lets you slice through hundreds of Common with ease.

Hatchet

The hatchet occupies a weird space, hitting harder than the bat and machete but not having the needed horizontal swing to effectively manage hordes and only being occasionally better than the fire axe. Unlike the previous two weapons, the hatchet swings vertically, from top to bottom, which means Common hordes are harder to deal with. It swings faster than the axe and has higher mobility, which means you can move quicker with it.

Generally, the fire axe is better if you’re looking for higher firepower; however, there is one exception. Higher-rarity hatchets sometimes match or exceed the firepower of lower-rarity fire axes but offer higher mobility, which essentially lets you move a bit faster and swing faster while still dealing the same damage. If you find a hatchet with matching/higher firepower than your fire axe, take it. You’ll deal the same damage faster.

Keep in mind that the hatchet does not have as much stumble damage as the fire axe, so melee Mutations is a bit tricky.

Fire Axe

The fire axe is your best option if you want to absolutely obliterate Mutations. Even at its lowest rarity, it still packs more of a punch than the machete and bat, only occasionally being matched by a higher-rarity hatchet. At its highest rarities, nothing can match its firepower. It swings vertically and slowly, and it does cost a lot of stamina, but the core cards I recommend later fix this easily, making it incredibly dangerous and making you a complete juggernaut. It deals high stumble damage too, so you can actually melee close-range Mutations easier than you could with any other weapon.

Keep in mind that the fireaxe slows you down significantly. Hatchets can pack a similar punch to fire axes while offering higher mobility, so keep that in mind when selecting weapons. At its lowest rarity, the fireaxe has the same damage as the second-highest rarity hatchet, so you can swap that out.

Combat Knife

The combat knife used to be considered a trap card. Before the December update, it could only kill one individual Ridden at a time, and it had no bash, so you couldn’t push back other Ridden. Strictly speaking, the fist bash was better.

Post-December update, however, the combat knife is now (in my humble opinion) the best melee weapon you can get. It now has a bash, and it can hit more than one Ridden at a time. This makes it exceptionally good at clearing hordes, almost as good as the machete. Unlike all other melee weapons, you do not slow down when attacking with it, so you have much higher mobility. It also does not deal friendly fire damage to your teammates, meaning it’s extremely viable in Veteran and Nightmare. It also has a super slow stamina cost per swing, which can be improved with stamina efficiency cards.

My main suggestion for playing melee in the current meta is to use the combat knife with a shotgun. Until future updates adjust melee cards and weapons, the combat knife is absolutely your best option for melee.

Best Primary Weapons

When you’re playing Brawler, the best weapon to use is a shotgun. Your melee weapon – at least at the beginning – is not strong enough to handle Mutations. Shotguns are great because they have high stumble (super important for dealing with Mutations) and can fire relatively quickly. Throw on one HP ammo attachment to increase your stumble damage and you will stop most Mutations in their tracks.

Of the shotguns, I recommend using either the 870 Express or the Super90. The 870 is a great gun to start with, boasting high damage and stumble with a decent clip size. However, I find the Super90’s faster fire rate and reload a bit more suitable. It ultimately depends on how you like to play, however.

I don’t recommend the Tac because of its short clip size, and I don’t recommend the AA12 because it will bleed through your ammo and doesn’t have a ton of stumble.

In terms of attachments, look for HP ammo to increase your stumble and tactical stocks to increase movement speed. The sight can be whatever you want (it doesn’t matter since you don’t have ADS), and the barrel can be whatever suits your preference. I like laser sights or long barrels for the shotgun. Compensators are best saved for the rest of your teammates because they’re extremely useful and help them shoot more accurately.

Best Items

Even though Brawler isn’t fully dependent on items, they can help in the early game when your melee attacks aren’t strong enough to one-/two-shot Mutations.

If you find yourself with leftover copper or intend to just scavenge these items in the wild, drop your copper for your other teammates. Brawler is not super dependent on items, so you can get away with just giving away your copper in favor of letting your teammates stock up on items and upgrades.

Offensive Accessories

Grenade

In my experience, grenades are the best item for Brawlers for a few reasons. First, they will immediately kill all Mutations up to Tallboys (on Recruit and occasionally Veteran – on Nightmare, they won’t do that until you upgrade them). If you have a team that isn’t great at handling Mutations, this is a quick and easy way to deal with them on your own. Second, they will stun Breakers and Ogres. For the former, that will give you an opportunity to move in and start swinging, dealing massive damage. For the latter, it will help you escape if the Ogre starts chasing you down, or it’ll finish it off if it’s low on health. Third, they do not cause a puddle of flames like the molotov does, meaning you won’t have to worry about passive damage (you do still have to worry about explosive damage if you throw them too close to yourself, but that rarely happens unless your aim is awful). Fourth, they are the cheapest offensive accessory, so you can get a lot of them for almost no copper, opening up opportunities for you to purchase team upgrades.

Flashbangs

These can be useful for stunning Mutations and giving you an opportunity to move in and start swinging. For Breakers especially, these help you get in close to a Breaker and start hitting it unimpeded. If you want to go the route of meleeing mutations, this is your best option. You can lob one at a Tallboy and swing away (with increased damage due to the Flashbang’s vulnerability effect). This is especially useful if you have a fireaxe and you won’t need to dodge hits to get close.

Pipe Bombs

If, for some reason, a horde is overwhelming you, this is a good way to get them off your tail. I find these not as useful since Brawler is a class designed for taking on hordes, but situationally, they help. If there’s nothing better available, taking these is fine.

Firecrackers

Same as Pipe Bombs, though these are typically not worth taking over something that deals damage or stuns. It’s a good distraction if you need to run to the safe room, but pipe bombs do the same thing and also kill whatever surrounds them.

Support Accessories

Pain Meds

If you have Face Your Fears, this is my recommendation. It’s the cheapest support accessory option, and it allows you to mitigate or ignore trauma damage and keep your health high, even if only temporarily. Pop them if your health is low before a horde or boss battle and use Face Your Fears to keep that temp health high throughout.

There are cards that provide additional effects for pain meds. If you have room in your deck, these are a nice way to boost the utility of pain meds.

Medkits

If you don’t have Face Your Fears and are relying on Battle Lust, this is your best option. Battle Lust is not going to sustain you quite as well as Face Your Fears, so you’ll need a lot of fast healing to make sure you don’t get knocked out. Once these get upgraded, they heal trauma, so if you’re not using Face Your Fears, this is a good way to heal up that trauma damage on the go.

If you have a Doc on the team that’s fulfilling a support role, buying Medkits for her is a great way to spend extra copper. She will be better at healing you than you will be at healing yourself. Hold on to the medkits until you or a teammate needs them and then drop them for your Doc.

Bandages

If you have nothing else, this will do. Again, if you have a Doc on your team, give these to her to heal you.

Quick Accessories

Stun Gun

I recommend a stun gun for pretty much every Brawler because it’s the only accessory that gets you out of a grapple by yourself, and it also allows you stun Mutations outside of grapples, giving you an opportunity to start swinging. If you play as Evangelo, you don’t need this; if you play as anyone else and you aren’t running Breakout, you need this.

You can also use the stun gun outside of being grappled to temporarily stun a mutation. This is great for stopping Tallboy variants and even Exploders and Reekers if you can time it right, and it provides an opportunity for you to start swinging away. Be wary, though, that doing this may consume your stun gun, which means you won’t have it later.

Tool Kit

If you aren’t using a stun gun, bring a tool kit. You will usually find at least one, if not two, stash doors in each level you come across. Having these on hand will allow your teammates to use more useful quick accessories (like the stun gun). You can also use them on higher difficulties to prevent an objective that triggers a horde from triggering said horde. For example, in 1-1, you can use a toolkit on the bridge to prevent the horde from spawning.

Currently, because alarmed doors cannot be broken by Common outside of a horde, tool kits are a lot more useful. However, I still don’t think the Brawler should be hanging on to tool kits. Let a teammate with a flexible quick item slot carry them instead.

Razor Wire

The value you get out of razor wire depends on when you use it, and I’ve heard differing opinions on it. On defense levels, it is obviously incredibly useful. If you have the Mugger card, you’ll get major value on these levels as razor wire will drop regularly while you’re thinning the horde. In the average level, though, you may not have many spots where you’re sitting down in one spot and defending. You may also be defending an area with huge open spaces that can’t be covered by razor wire (think the barn on the farm in Act 3). Razor wire’s utility will be limited in those scenarios.

Unless you’re on a level where you’re holding out for a long time, you probably don’t need razor wire. Use it if you find it in the wild, but stun guns and toolkits give way more value in my opinion.

Best Cards

There are a large number of cards that benefit Brawlers, so you can actually make a pretty varied deck suited to your playstyle. There’s a core set of cards I recommend for every melee deck, but the rest can be tailored to match your individual preferences. The best way to figure out what preference cards to take is just to play as a Brawler and see where you’re struggling the most. Then, take cards that fix those issues.

Core Cards

These are cards that I recommend taking on any melee deck you make. They boost your melee capabilities enough to take you through entire campaigns. Combat Knife is not listed here because I treat it as a weapon more than a card.

Meth Head & Brazen

There is not a single melee build in which I do not recommend these cards. They provide an insane amount of attack speed and prevent you from losing too much stamina early on with the efficiency boost. The tradeoff of losing ADS from Meth Head is, in my experience, completely worth it. You aren’t designed for taking out enemies at long range to begin with, and the only enemy you can’t melee (the Ogre) is so big that you don’t need ADS to shoot it. Offensive accessories and decent teammates can cover long-range Mutations for you.

You could also throw in Slugger, the weakest variant of these three, if you want, but these two typically suffice. Pre-November patch, Meth Head was more than enough on its own, but it got pretty heavily nerfed when the devs balanced melee cards, so now I usually recommend running both of these cards.

Face Your Fears

This is single handedly the most important card in your deck. Because you’re playing melee only, every single kill you get with your melee weapon will give you two temporary health. In a horde, this means you can shoot right back up to “max” health and stay there as you keep slicing your way through Common. Temp health ignores trauma damage, so even if you’re sitting at 50 max trauma health out of 100 max total health, you will still be able to reach 100 health using this card. This means that you basically never have to worry about healing as long as you keep killing Ridden. This frees up tons of medical resources for the rest of your team, who don’t have a way to ignore trauma damage as easily. This also allows you to tank hits easier, again saving your team from excessive damage.

Battle Lust

The only downside to Face Your Fears is that it’s buried deep in the top supply line. You will have to grind for a bit before you get it. Battle Lust is the only viable alternative as it does essentially the same thing but with your regular health instead. Unfortunately, Battle Lust does not let you ignore trauma damage, so you’ll need to stay on top of utilizing med cabinets/upgraded medkits and avoiding friendly fire (on higher difficulties).

I recommend taking Battle Lust even after you get Face Your Fears. You’ll need as much healing as you can get, especially on Veteran and Nightmare. On Recruit, you might get away with not taking it if you’re careful.

Battle Lust was buffed in the February patch. How much health it heals is now affected by healing efficiency. This makes cards like the new Medical Expert and the buffed EMT Bag extremely viable. For example, if you stack a ton of healing efficiency cards to get 100% healing efficiency, you’re healing 4 health per kill. With Face Your Fears and Vanguard, you are healing around 7 health per kill. Absolutely incredible. This also opens up the possibility for a hybrid healer/melee role, which was previously much harder to achieve.

Vanguard

This card adds 1 temporary health to you and any nearby teammates when you get a melee kill. It isn’t super powerful on its own since you’re only getting 1 temp health per kill, so it’s not a great replacement for Face Your Fears. That being said, it combos extremely well with Face Your Fears, giving you 3 temp health for every melee kill, which stacks up rapidly. 

While the temp health itself won’t be enough to, say, stop a teammate from going down, it does help them avoid taking trauma damage. Because your teammates likely don’t have many cards to mitigate that, you’ll be helping them do so with this card.

This is especially useful on defense segments, as Vanguard has a wide application range. Holding down a chokepoint and killing tons of Common will give your teammates a huge stack of health, letting them focus on objectives unimpeded. For example, in Hell’s Bells, you can hold down one of the windows and get tons of temp health for you and your teammates, allowing them to focus objectives without going down.

Batter Up & Spiky Bits

Combining these two will give you the same power spike as Mean Drunk and still let you sprint. Spiky Bits also provides you with a bit of damage resistance, which is nice. If you’re using the knife, you can omit Spiky Bits as the bonus damage resistance won’t apply to the knife. 

With the knife, you actually don’t need to take either of these cards. The damage resistance from Spiky Bits doesn’t apply to the knife since you aren’t holding it out constantly (you’ll usually be holding your gun), and the damage boost from both is irrelevant since the knife always deals 40 damage, which is higher than even the health of monstrous Common on Nightmare. Knifing mutations other than Stinger variants that get too close is usually too risky unless the Mutation in question is already stunned, and your shotgun will do more damage, so you don’t need damage boosts for the knife.

Alternative: Mean Drunk

The 60% damage boost of this card is not to be scoffed at. It also provides you with cleave through damage, which makes it easier to hit more Common at once as it makes your attack deal damage in a slightly larger area (think one or two additional Ridden versus what you normally kill with the axe – you will not get the horizontal swing you get from a machete or bat unless you run Heavy Hitter). Having this as the third card in your deck means that by the second mission in Act 1 and by the first missions in Acts 2 and 3, you’ll be dealing massive damage to everything.

 You will lose sprinting, however, which means you may struggle with kiting specials if you’re trying to melee them. Sprinting is more of a necessity on higher difficulties, especially Nightmare. Typically, this card is best used on Recruit. Outside of that, consider if you can truly keep up without sprinting. Movement speed cards and Marathon Runner are your best friends for this.

Adrenaline Fueled

The usefulness of this card depends on which Cleaner you’re playing. As Holly, this card will simply power up her already-strong passive and essentially make it impossible to run out of stamina. She can go without it, however, if you want to take other cards. For other cleaners, it’s a requirement to keep up with the late-game hordes that progressively get larger and larger.

Alternatives

There is no other card that achieves what this card can. The only thing that comes close is Holly’s passive ability, and her passive is markedly better. If you don’t want to use this card, Stamina Regen cards are your best bet, but honestly, this should be enough.

Preference Cards

While some of these cards are highly recommended (namely the damage resistance cards), which ones you take are up to you. Ultimately, you will have to play around with what cards work best for your playstyle, and you can only do that by testing them out.

If you want to suggest a card to include here, please do! I only included these cards because I know they synergize well with the core cards, but I’m happy to test some other ones or write up ones I’ve tested but didn’t include.

Marathon Runner

Marathon Runner removes the movement penalty for backpedaling and strafing, meaning you walk the same speed when moving forward, backwards, and sideways (normally, moving backwards and sideways slows you down slightly). This card is underrated to me. The movement penalties can be particularly punishing when facing Retches or trying to backpedal during a sprinting sequence or kiting a Mutation, and Marathon Runner solves that. Plus, you can now trail behind your team during a sprinting sequence and kill off any Common or Mutations trying to sneak up from behind. Any card that boosts your movement speed will synergize with this card. 

This card used to disable sprint, but it no longer does. It now has zero downsides, making it an excellent card not only for Brawlers but for everyone. The freedom of movement will help you avoid taking damage in so many different situations. I can’t overstate how useful this card is now.

Broadside

This is a fun card to run on melee builds. Because you’re often thinning out hordes alone, this adds some more kick and lets you take out Common faster. The 20% chance to cause a small explosion happens often when you’re playing melee, and it will really mess up Common up and make them so much easier to kill. Plus, the little explosion when it happens is so satisfying.

Down in Front/Hunker Down

This synergy is specifically useful for Veteran and Nightmare more so than Recruit. Hunker Down is good for Recruit, however.

Down in Front makes it so you don’t deal or take friendly fire damage when crouched. For Brawlers not relying solely on the combat knife, this card is a requirement in Veteran/Nightmare. Your melee attacks likely deal a huge amount of damage, which means that friendly fire attacks will chip away your squishier teammates rapidly if you aren’t careful. Likewise, since you’ll be in the midst of zombies that are also getting shot at by your teammates, you could also end up taking a lot of friendly fire by accident. This is a great way to avoid that. (On Recruit, this card is useless since friendly fire is already disabled).

Hunker Down gives you 40% more accuracy (somewhat useless) and 10% damage resistance while crouching. This obviously combos with Down in Front to make you even tankier than you already are. Alone, it’s actually quite useful for patching up the accuracy of your hip firing, which is likely getting affected severely by some of the cards you take. That eases the pain of taking out long-distance Mutations without ADS. The extra damage resistance is especially useful because you’ll be in the midst of a horde most of the time, so taking less damage is always good.

Breakout

If you aren’t playing Evangelo and you’re playing solo queue, this card is a good way to keep yourself alive if you get grabbed. You can break out of grapples at 50% speed and can do so again after a 60-second cool down. While there are other options for escaping grapples, this is a good option if your team isn’t dependable or if you get separated accidentally or if you run out of stun guns.

Numb

This card gives you 15% damage resistance whenever you have temporary health. This is a fantastic card to use once you have Face Your Fears because you will almost always have temp health. The damage resistance will cover up some of the damage resistance reductions provided by some of your other cards too.

Motorcycle Helmet

This card provides 15% damage resistance and 10 health at the cost of disabling your ADS. Since Meth Head already disables this, you essentially get great damage resistance for free with this card. If you don’t take Meth Head, this card is still worth it since you honestly don’t need ADS as a Brawler. The alternatives to this, Padded Suit and Motorcycle Jacket, are perfectly fine to take, but since this offers the most resistance with essentially no downsides, I see no reason to take the other two over this. Padded Suit also reduces your stamina efficiency, which isn’t a huge deal but could be hurtful if you’re not playing Holly.

Scar Tissue

It’s basically damage resistance in a different form. Anything that mitigates damage is good for Brawlers.

Healing Efficiency Cards

With Battle Lust’s healing getting buffed to scale with healing efficiency, cards like EMT Bag and Medical Expert finally have a role in a melee deck. Honestly, EMT bag alone should suffice as it will bring you up to 3 health per kill, which boosts to 6 health when factoring in Face Your Fears and Vanguard. But if you really want to keep yourself alive or fill a hybrid melee/healer role, then you can stack even more for nutty results.

Killer’s Instinct

This gives you free weakspot damage and disables your ADS. This card is a no-brainer if you want to melee Mutations. If you use the combat knife, this card won’t be super useful since you are usually using the shotgun on Mutations anyway.

Ignore the Pain

This card increases melee damage against Mutations by 20% and grants you 1 health and 3 stamina for each hit (not kill) you land against a Mutation. This lets you take on Crushers, Bruisers, and Tallboys with a bit more ease, especially during hordes.

One thing to keep in mind is that once you start getting stronger melee weapons, you will regularly one- or two-shot most mutations (at least with the hatchet and fire axe). That means you won’t feel the effects of this card as much as you would if you take it when your weapon isn’t as strong. It’s great early game and it always helps against Breakers, but overall, it won’t be as effective once you get better weapons. That said, if you primarily run the machete or bat, then this card will give your hits a bit more oomph. Stack these with some weakspot damage cards and you could really hurt some Mutations and keep yourself alive in the process.

Sunder

This card causes enemies to take 20% increased damage for 5 seconds when hit with a melee attack. This will mostly apply to Mutations as most Common die in one melee hit anyway. For Breakers specifically, this will let you chop down their health rapidly and let your teammates chip away at them faster. Its usefulness outside of that, though, is pretty limited unless you’re sticking to a machete or bat. Fire axes and hatchets typically cut through most Mutations in one or two hits anyway.

Berserker

I used to recommend this card as a core card, but now I think it’s more preferential. It’s definitely great for thinning hordes faster and giving you more mobility, especially if you’re using a hatchet or fire axe. However, it doesn’t help with Mutations (Ignore the Pain is better for that), and if you’re using the machete, bat, or combat knife, you don’t need it since you’re already swinging pretty faster with those. Grabbing green versions of the machete and bat will put you at enough damage to always take out Common, and the knife also always takes out Common regardless.

Pep Talk/Smelling Salts

A situation you will likely run into while playing melee is your teammate or multiple teammates getting downed and being surrounded by a bunch of ridden. As a Brawler, you can clear that mini swarm with complete ease and get the revive. Smelling Salts speeds up that revive process so you can get yourself and your teammates back into the action or out of a hairy situation while taking minimal damage. Pep Talk lets you essentially become invincible while reviving your teammate. These are great cards for Brawlers since they will be in the midst of the horde anyway.

Multitool/Screwdriver

These cards increase your use speed by 75%/50%, with the former giving a 5% penalty to damage resistance (easily mitigated with other cards) and the latter giving you +10% stamina. I often find that I’m the first to reach objectives because I’m walking ahead of my team, so having a speed boost to completing those objectives is nice. This makes boarding up windows during Hell’s Bells and the library scene in Act 2 incredibly swift as well.

While Headband Magnifier might be tempting for that 125% boost to use speed, keep in mind that it has a chance to blind you for 1 second when you take damage. Although 1 second doesn’t sound like much, you could get blinded a lot because you’ll be getting hit by tons of Ridden all at once in the middle of a horde. That could easily snowball into a team wipe if you aren’t careful.

Combat Medic is a viable alternative to Screwdriver. It still gives you 50% use speed, but it also gives any teammate you revive an additional 20 health. Since you will often have to dive into a small group of Ridden or even a whole horde to save a downed teammate getting swarmed, this will make your revive more effective and prevent a complete wipe. The health boost you provide your revived teammate synergizes with Pep Talk/Smelling Salts to give you a niche role as an emergency reviver.

If you play as Karlee, none of these cards are necessary as your whole team already has a 50% boost to use speed. If you want extreme use speed, then sure, but 50% typically is enough to do objectives faster and unlock those supply crates quicker.

Bomb Squad

This card boosts your explosive damage by 100% and improves your explosive resistance by 35%. The fact that this card has no negative penalties is insane to me. Not only does it make you deal way more damage with grenades and pipe bombs (more than any other explosive-enhancing card available), but it also makes you take less damage from explosives (which includes explosions from Retches, Reekers, and Exploders dying; friendly-fire explosions; and gas barrel/gas can/propane tank explosions, all of which you will can easily get hit by). If you go with my recommendation of running grenades, this card will make them even more effective at taking out Mutations (even on higher difficulties).

This card also applies to fire barrels and propane tanks, so it’s good on pretty much anyone. I also believe it increases the overall radius of explosives, but I haven’t confirmed that yet.

Mugger

This cards gives your melee kills a 3% chance to spawn ammo or razor wire. This will be of more benefit to your team than you, but it will still benefit them nonetheless. Taking out a horde means you could end up with quite a few ammo drops left behind that could keep your team well-stocked for the next big fight.

The razor wire drops will be extremely useful on defense levels, but on the average level – at least in my experience – you won’t see much value from constant razor wire drops. You’re likely already carrying a stun gun or toolkit, and I believe those items are of higher value. But if you don’t take either of those, then being the razor wire jockey could potentially be helpful for surprise hordes.

Heavy Hitter

This card is simple: it adds stumble damage to your melee attacks. If you’re looking to stumble Mutations up close, this is your card. On a bat and fire axe, it will boost their already-high stumble. On a machete and hatchet, it will give them a bit more oomph and make stumbling more frequent. All around a good card if you’re trying to melee mutations.

From what I can tell, this card either doesn’t apply to the combat knife (either intentionally or by accident due to a bug) or has little effect due to the knife’s lowstumble. I haven’t tested enough to confirm either theory.

Mad Dash

Mobility is super important for melee, and I think Mad Dash is the best card you could ask for in that regard. You already have a lot of stamina, no doubt, so the lower sprint stamina efficiency won’t hurt you that much. The extra speed you gain while sprinting is extremely helpful for kiting Mutations and avoiding long-distance attacks. It also helps a ton during running sequences.

Note that this does not affect your melee stamina efficiency, only your sprinting stamina efficiency, so it won’t conflict with Meth Head and Brazen.

Hellfire

This card, surprisingly, has a lot of synergy with Brawler decks in a niche way: the Super90 shotgun. Because the Super90 has a faster fire rate than the 870, you can actually get a lot of value out of this card. I sometimes run Hellfire to make kiting Tallboy variants much easier. Combined with Marathon runner, you can backpedal quickly while shooting down a Tallboy and avoiding its swings. I’ve even kited sideways using this method. It’s a neat trick you might want to try when you feel like you grasp the basics of melee more.

Apparently, this card also works with Heavy Attack, which could open up some interesting possibilities. 

Dash/Fleet of Foot/Run Like Hell

Movement speed cards are very hit or miss for me. Before November, I recommended Run Like Hell 100% of the time, especially if you ran Mean Drunk. Now, however, its reworked effect (+12% speed but lose 12% speed for three seconds when damaged) carries significantly more risk. You are going to take hits as a Brawler – is losing that speed constantly worth it? Fleet of Foot also has a new lower movement speed boost and a high damage resistance penalty (not a huge deal for Brawlers, who typically stack a ton of damage resistance, but directly contradictory to the whole tanking role they typically play). Personally, I find it more helpful to just nab a movement speed attachment for your gun and walk around with that (this is especially great if you’re playing with the combat knife because your gun will be out all the time anyway). However, movement speed can make kiting significantly easier and open up more opportunities for attacks, especially if you have Marathon Runner, so they shouldn’t be entirely overlooked.

Combat Training

This card got reworked and now provides +5 melee stumble damage (in addition to +1 bullet stumble and +5% bullet damage). Overall, this is a pretty good card if you need some more kick on your hits.

Knowledge is Power

I used to think this card was pretty useless (after all, if something’s alive or dead, I can usually tell). However, I think the ability to see Mutation’s health is extremely important for melee. You get a unique ability to make split-second decisions about whether to run or fight. Here’s an example: Imagine that a Bruiser is approaching mid-horde. As you start firing, you notice that it starts at close to full health. You can use the health bar to determine not only how much damage your gun is dealing but also when it will be stumbled (usually around the 15-25% mark) and if you can kill it before it hits you. This kind of information makes a huge difference in avoiding damage. (Honestly, this card is great for any role you play.)

Heavy Attack

I have no experience with using Heavy Attack, but it does have some interesting effects. This video by SwingPoynt explains it more in depth than I can. It feels a bit gimmicky to me, but it could definitely find its way into a build.

Buckshot Bruiser

If you’re opting for the shotgun, this is a great card that synergizes with your other cards. Since you’ll primarily be using your shotgun for Mutations, you’ll get a lot of free temp health just by shooting them as you normally would. This synergizes with Numb extremely well since you can shoot your health right back up rapidly and get damage resistance at the same time. This also pairs well with Face Your Fears and Vanguard to keep your temp health at optimal levels.

Wounded Animal

This card has a super niche application, but it comes in handy when the time comes. Any kills you make at critical health give you 1 health. While this may not seem like much, it actually pairs well with your other healing cards. You may find yourself in a situation where your teammates are down and you’re the last person standing during a horde. This card will boost your comeback chances by providing extra healing when you need it most. The difference between 5 (Face Your Fears + Vanguard + Battle Lust) and 6 (those three + Wounded Animal) isn’t a huge difference, but it gets you out of danger a little bit faster. In dire situations like this, that matters.

Stamina/Stamina Regen/Health/Trauma Resistance Cards

While it may be tempting to take cards that boost these stats, ultimately, you will not need them due to the core cards and how they function in the Brawler class. Face Your Fears already covers the issue of health by just keeping you at max health with temp health by nature of how the Brawler class works. Adrenaline Fueled, Meth Head, and Brazen pretty much guarantee that you won’t run out of stamina unless you’re swinging wildly at the air for a whole minute. These cards are good if you don’t have those cards but useless if you do. Rhythmic Breathing is nice on knife builds due to its fast attack speed and its tendency to drain your stamina quickly if you aren’t careful.

It may be worth adding one card to boost your max health, but honestly, the basic intel health cards and team health upgrades will be enough.

Sample Decks

Knife Only

This is my current build utilizing the combat knife as my main melee weapon with a shotgun as backup for Mutations. I recommend this as a current “meta” build. The combat knife is incredibly strong and boasts a lot of advantages over other melee weapons after its rework. Until further melee changes either nerf Combat Knife or buff other melee cards/weapons, this is my go-to build and the one I recommend all starting Brawlers aim for.

  1. Combat Knife
  2. Face Your Fears
  3. Meth Head
  4. Battle Lust
  5. EMT Bag
  6. Brazen
  7. Vanguard
  8. Rhythmic Breathing
  9. Knowledge is Power
  10. Marathon Runner
  11. Broadside
  12. Scar Tissue
  13. Motorcycle Helmet
  14. Numb
  15. Smelling Salts

I always try to get Face Your Fears, Meth Head, Brazen, EMT Bag, Battle Lust, and Vanguard before anything else. After that, it depends on what the run is looking like.

Normal Melee Weapons

If you don’t want to play with just the knife, this build is more suited for general melee weapons. I designed this for Veteran, so if you play on Recruit, you can take out Down in Front and Hunker Down and replace them with something else.

  1. Meth Head
  2. Face Your Fears
  3. Down in Front
  4. Battle Lust
  5. EMT Bag
  6. Brazen
  7. Adrenaline Fueled
  8. Vanguard
  9. Spiky Bits
  10. Batter Up
  11. Heavy Hitter
  12. Motorcycle Helmet
  13. Hunker Down
  14. Numb
  15. Scar Tissue

As before, I prioritize getting the first seven cards and then switching up the order I take the remaining cards. Melee damage is a lot more important when using normal melee weapons, so I tend to take Spiky Bits and Batter up as soon as I feel I need them (if I find upgraded weapons, I may skip Batter Up until the Ridden feel less easy to kill or corruption cards make them stronger). I stack damage resistance towards the end since I usually don’t feel like I need it until then.

Gameplay Strategies

Here are some strategies I use to handle the different types of Ridden. Keep in mind that this is all written with Recruit in mind since I played that difficulty the most before the December update made Veteran easier. Most of these strategies should transfer over, but you need to be more mindful about taking damage and not hitting your teammates than you do in Recruit. Adjust these strategies accordingly (and feel free to suggest some of your own if you’d like).

Killing Common Ridden

Common ridden are a bit of a beast even on Recruit. Even though they die in one hit to most melee weapons, they can easily overwhelm you with sheer numbers and confusing pathing. Even though they don’t deal a ton of damage individually, they will still hurt you a bunch with their individual damage grouped up.

The main thing you need to know about Common ridden is their pathing. Typically, an individual Common will rush directly at you – easy kill. The issue comes when multiple Common run at you. They will fill in around you in a circle, requiring you to turn your camera to hit them. Occasionally, individual Common will do this too, so either kill them quickly or turn in anticipation. For multiple ridden, the machete and bat avoid this issue easily.

Common have a short charge up before they swing on you. During this brief animation, you can take a step back to avoid the swing and then kill them. This will prevent you from taking any damage as you go in for a kill. This is particularly effective if they’re the shambling variant, as you can do this even when multiple Common are approaching you at the same time. For hatchets and fire axes, this strategy works great outside of hordes to avoid needless damage.

In hordes, you will need to be a bit creative with your pathing to avoid getting surrounded. A very easy way to avoid getting surrounded is to back yourself into a corner. While this would be bad for a shooter, for a Brawler, this strategy actually allows you to funnel all the Common right in front of you, where you can slice away. Face Your Fears will keep your health high, so even if you’re taking damage, you will most likely survive unless you’re getting cornered by a Mutation and have no way to take it out. If you can’t find a corner, putting your back against a wall will help too. It’s easier to hit Common in front of you and to your side than it is to hit ones behind you. (This strategy is a bad idea if there are Mutations nearby, but if they’re dealt with, this could be good for Common.)

Instead of cornering yourself, you can take perpendicular paths to keep Common in front of you. For example, say that you’re approaching a group of Common head on. If they all start running directly at you, move to the left or right while backpedaling. This will change their pathing and keep them in front of you, which gives you the opportunity to start killing them. If more Ridden are coming up on either side, you can move diagonally to keep them in front of you. (Marathon Runner makes this extremely easy.)

Common can sometimes spawn behind you, just like Mutations, and sneak up for easy hits. The counter to this is knowing your position relative to your team. If your team is behind you, this won’t be a huge issue because they’ll see the Common and (hopefully) take it out before they get to you. If your team is in front of you, then you should be watching behind you to make sure you’re not getting snuck up on. If your team is beside you to your left or right, try to maneuver yourself either in front of them or behind them, as these spots are where you’ll be most effective and less exposed.

In hordes, you want to utilize chokepoints as much as you can. Chokepoints are tight areas where Ridden funnel into as they path towards you. These are so essential to understand as a Brawler because they will put a large group of ridden right in front of you, and they cannot dodge or path around your hits. A good example of chokepoints is in 1-3, Pain Train. On the top platform where you activate the gravel dumper, there are three chokepoints: the stairs leading up to the platform, the collapsed roof leading up to the platform, and the window in the small room on the platform. These are the only three places Ridden can get onto the platform, so these are great spots for you to supervise during the horde.

The best way to utilize chokepoints is to sit slightly off to the side of them. For example, if you’re at a doorway chokepoint, instead of standing directly in the doorway, crouch just to the left or right of it. This provides two benefits: 1.) It allows your teammates to shoot through the chokepoint without shooting you. Regardless of whether friendly fire is on or off, this is good. You don’t want them sweating bullets into you because you’re in the way. 2.) It causes Mutations to hesitate slightly before entering. Because so many Common will be funneling into this point, the Mutations’ AI will perceive that it doesn’t have enough room to enter, and they will wait for an opening. This will primarily affect close-range Mutations like Bruisers, Crushers, Tallboys, Exploders, Reekers, and Stalkers. This is extremely beneficial during a horde because it means less damage-dealing Mutations will infiltrate your ranks and you can focus on taking them out when there are less Common in your way.

Keep in mind that you can use elevation to your advantage when playing Brawler. All Ridden tend to climb up onto elevated surfaces in the same spot. Once you identify this spot, you can sit at it and hit down, killing them before they even reach you. You can also use elevation to get a drop on Mutations when they don’t expect it or escape a horde that would otherwise overwhelm you. Climbing and dropping buys you a few tiny pockets of time that can either let you go on the offensive or flee a dangerous situation.

Finally, if things get too overwhelming and your melee weapon can’t keep up, it’s okay to use your gun to clear out some space. Just don’t use it constantly as you won’t be reaping the benefits from your cards. Don’t be afraid to use your bash either. You might think it’s pointless since you literally have a close-range weapon, but it actually has a lot of utility. Not only does it give you some space in tight quarters or allow you to switch from gun to melee weapon when facing Common, but it also sometimes stuns Reekers and Exploders and makes them stumble back, allowing you to potentially avoid an explosion that would disrupt your positioning or call a horde.

Keep in mind that Face Your Fears is not exclusive to melee attacks. If you kill Ridden within 2 meters using your gun, you will still get temp health. If you need to quickly clear out a horde surrounding you and your melee weapon can’t keep up (usually only happens with hatchets and fireaxes), then your gun is a viable alternative.

Mutations

Each mutation is its own unique beast when it comes to melee and requires different strategies. For the most part, damage is the same for all mutations: machetes and bats will take longer to kill, hatchets and fireaxes will kill relatively quickly, bats and fireaxes are more likely to stumble, et cetera.

Because you’re going to be in the front a lot, get used to marking Mutations. Your melee cursor has perfect accuracy, so you can mark them a lot easier than your teammates. You can also switch to the dot reticle to make it easier (my personal recommendation even if you only play with guns). You are also usually the first to see them, so give your team advance warning.

Bruisers / Tallboys / Crushers

These three Mutations are the ones you will be able to help with the most. They are the easiest to melee because they always attack at close range.

Bruisers / Tallboys

These two generally play the same. They will approach you and swing their huge fist to knock you and anyone else back while dealing massive damage.

The best way to deal with these up close is to kite around them by strafing to the non-dominant arm (i.e., the smaller arm with no weakspot). This will let you avoid the hit and the knockback and cut right through to their weakspot. You’ll need to practice this, but once you pull it off, you will be able to do so consistently. You can also run under their arm as they swing, but I find this much harder. 

Another strategy is to bait their hit and backpedal to avoid it. This is much harder as they can swing forward pretty far ahead. Marathon Runner and movement speed cards/attachments make both of these strategies much easier. You will eventually start to instinctively know the range of their hitbox. Once they are in their swing cooldown, slash away at their weakspot.

A selfish strategy that you can do in desperate situations (i.e., health is low, too many Common to strafe around to the side, etc.) is to let a teammate with higher health take the hit. When that happens, you can move in during the Bruiser’s/Tallboy’s cooldown animation and take it out. Don’t do this too often if you want your teammates to like you and keep you alive.

If you’re using shotguns (which you should be), absolutely lay into these things with them. They will most likely stumble before they can get a swing off, and you can finish them off quickly afterwards. Knowledge is Power will help you perfect this.

If all else fails, throw a grenade. On Recruit, Bruisers and Tallboys die to one grenade. This is especially viable early game when you don’t have as much damage as you need to take them out up close. You can also use your gun like normal, but you won’t get as much benefit from your cards that way and it will take much longer, giving them more opportunities to do damage.

Flashbangs also work great against these and provide you a large window in which you can shoot/slash them down with increased damage.

Crushers

Crushers are only slightly different in that they grab you and restrain you rather than just hitting you. The strategies for killing these are mostly the same as for Bruisers and Tallboys. You can strafe their grabs the same way (the backpedaling strategy is much less effective but still possible) or rush under their arms as they try to grab, and you can also be selfish and let them grab a teammate.

Teammate shielding is actually a viable strategy for dealing with Crushers if you have enough damage to take them out quickly. If you get grabbed, your gun-toting teammates will take more time to free you, sapping away all your precious health. If a teammate gets grabbed, you can usually free them in a few swings (one or two with the fireaxe and hatchet), meaning they barely take damage for a moment of being grappled.

Playing as Evangelo, running the Breakout card, or buying/taking stun guns are the best ways to prevent grapples from ending you. They will be one of your biggest issues throughout the game, so know how to deal with them. 

You can also circle around a Crusher pretty easily without getting grabbed. Not only does this let you attack them when they miss their grab, it also lets your teammates attack it unimpeded.

Again, grenades and flashbangs are viable options as well. Crushers always die to one grenade on Recruit, so you can take them out from long distance and focus on the Common. Flashbangs give you a large window to attack them up close. Shotguns also help a ton and can even stumble them out of a grapple before they die.

Retches / Reekers / Exploders

These three will be the bane of your existence.

Retches

Retches will be your least favorite Mutation when playing melee only. They attack at range, slow you down with their vomit, and run away when they’re done attacking. You will very rarely be able to melee kill them, so get good with hip firing at their weakspot or lobbing grenades at them.

If you do somehow manage to miraculously get close to one without melting, swing away. Their death explosions don’t cause any damage, only knockback (and left-behind bile puddles), so you don’t need to be afraid of meleeing them. They aren’t super sturdy, so you can usually take them out with a few melee hits.

Avoiding their puddles will take some practice, but generally, you can path around them or jump over them while taking minimal damage. If you have movement speed cards/attachments and Marathon Runner, their movement speed debuffs will be less punishing. You can also use Mad Dash to sprint jump over them.

They can’t vomit through objects, so make sure to utilize the environment to minimize the damage they do. There’s no shame in hiding behind a pillar until their vomiting is done.

If you’re fairly close, your shotgun can stumble them out of their vomiting, but this is a lot easier said than done, and other methods work better.

Exploders

I personally find these quite fun to deal with when playing melee. Although they can be a major nuisance, they aren’t super hard to deal with. They run in a straight line without stopping until they either explode or run far enough away. They are super easy to kite, so you can sometimes just let them run straight into a wall and kill themselves.

If they’re charging straight at you and you can’t move out of the way, try to bash their weakspot (located on their chest). If you time it correctly, you will stagger them, stopping their charge and causing them to stumble back. From there, you can move out of the way and start shooting. This will also give your team time to shoot as well.

Shotguns are great for stumbling them out of their charge and then quickly killing them. Just make sure to stand back so their death explosion doesn’t get you.

I don’t recommend melee killing Exploders as their death explosion does cause damage. If you have to, though, they are usually pretty easy to cut through and will go down in a few swings. Grenades are a good long distance option if needed, and flashbangs can stop their rush and give you the opening you need to killer them.

Reekers

These play similarly to Exploders and are handled in similar ways, but they’re a bit harder. They actually don’t charge without stopping. Instead, they will charge to get close and then either bash you out of the way or, if their charge was interrupted, start swinging. Therefore, kiting them is a bit more difficult. They also don’t have a weakspot, so you can’t bash them the same way you can bash Exploders and stumble them unless your damage is super high.

Shotguns make easy work of these guys and usually stumble them out of their charge from enough distance away that you don’t have to worry about them exploding on you. Just be wary of exploding them near teammates. Grenades also take them out easily at range, and Flashbangs stop them from doing anything. You’re better off letting your teammates handle them if those aren’t options.

Stingers / Stalkers / Hockers

These ones aren’t as difficult to deal with anymore, but they’re still annoying since they’re harder to deal with when you can’t ADS.

Stingers

These are challenging if they’re somewhere in a horde and you can’t see them. They might snipe you down before you realize, too late, that they’re slowly killing off you and your teammates. Your best bet here is to take them out with a grenade or nearby explosive before they chip away your health. Ideally, though, your teammates should be dealing with these.

If they do get close for whatever reason, they’re extremely fragile and will die easily to your melee attacks or one/two good shotgun blasts.

Stalkers

These are only problems if they’re lunging at you from far away. Up close, they’re easy to take out. If they’re lunging, you basically have to sprint away and hope for the best. Backpedaling almost never works, even if you’re running Marathon Runner and have high movement speeds. Sometimes, however, you can move out of its lunge distance (usually 18 meters) as it’s charging its jump and pull it out of its animation, forcing it to move closer and restart the animation.

You can kill these mid-air, especially if you have a high-damage weapon like – you guessed it – a shotgun. This should be more a last resort, though. You also might be able to stumble them out of their leap if you jump and bash their weakspot mid-jump. This is not only an extremely effective last resort but also extremely hilarious.

Hockers

Treat these as a more dangerous Stinger. Hide behind objects (and even teammates) and sprint away to avoid getting hocked, take them out from a distance with grenades, or let your teammates deal with it. If they get close, they’re super easy to kill.

Sleepers

The best way to avoid getting caught by one of these is to familiarize yourself with their typical spawn locations. This is good for any class but especially for Brawler. Playing as Karlee, either with or without a Brawler build, can speed that process up.

Snitches

Super easy to deal with. You can smack them in the throat repeatedly to shut them up (just make sure you have a high-damage weapon like a fire axe or hatchet, a high-stumble weapon like the fire axe or bat, or a lot of stumble damage cards first), or you can stumble them with shotgun blasts before they can scream.

Hag

If you have a fire axe, you will absolutely shred Hags. Just wait until she starts attacking another teammate and go to town on her weakspot. She will be dead in a few swings. If you don’t have an axe, you can still deal a lot of damage by attacking her weakspot. Just make sure you don’t get surrounded by Common as you’re doing this, and be careful not to smack your teammates if you’re playing on Veteran or Nightmare.

If the Hag targets you and you get caught, use your stun gun or Breakout ability. If you’re using the card, make sure you hold square immediately, preferably before you even start getting devoured. The Breakout card is super slow, and if you start it too late, you won’t escape before you get swallowed. This does not apply to Evangelo’s Breakout ability.

I haven’t confirmed this, but some people say that if you do enough damage to the Hag’s stomach with your melee weapon, you can free a swallowed Cleaner. I also heard you can do the same thing with a stun gun. Again, no confirmation on this.

Breakers

These used to be a lot easier to deal with. After the various changes in the November patch, they’re less easy to immediately kill. My best advice is to kill them how you’d normally kill a Breaker: with guns, grenades, and flashbangs. If you have a fire axe, you can still deal a lot of damage up close, but it’s far riskier than it used to be. Try not to get smacked around too much, and make sure to sprint out of the way when it jumps.

There are some locations where the Breaker’s pathing will break, making it way easier to handle him. One such location is in 1-5. When the Breaker comes out of the garage, stand behind the gas pump directly across from the garage. He shouldn’t hit you through it when he jumps, and if you circle around this and move in to hit him only when he swings his fists down, you can actually avoid taking damage and kill him relatively easy. Basically, look for spots that put something between you and him and don’t allow him to climb over to your side.

Ogres

Do not try to melee an ogre or you will die a horrible, painful death and all your teammates will make fun of you at your funeral and you will be the laughing stock of your local community. Thank you!

These things suck. You literally just have to shoot at them and use grenades/flashbangs until they flee or die. Find a place with a roof to hide in, stand back so it doesn’t yank you out and yeet you across the map, and fire away.

If you get downed and an ogre decides to station itself overtop of you, you can actually deal quite a bit of damage by meleeing it. I do not recommend getting downed just to do this. That would be silly.

I hope this was helpful to you!

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13600 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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