Killing Floor 2 beginners guide: Ten tips to help you survive and level up faster

Killing Floor 2, the popular co-op horde shooter from Tripwire Interactive, is now available on Xbox One and other platforms. Surviving waves of killer Zeds can be tough, especially when you're just starting out. We're here with 10 tips that will help you win matches and level up faster!

Use melee weapons to conserve ammo (and parry)

Each character in Killing Floor 2 starts with a melee weapon, and the Berserker class even specializes in it. To use it, you'll have to manually select it from the weapon wheel (press and hold the weapon select button).

Why expose yourself to danger by switching to melee? Early in the game, dosh (money) is hard to come by. You might spend nearly all the money you make during those first rounds simply on ammunition. Switching to melee for weaker enemies will help save some of that ammo and thus, money. Don't bother attacking tougher enemies like bloats and sirens with melee attacks – you'll want to keep your distance from them.

During later rounds, things get too hectic to melee in safety. But a katana (the Berserker's tier two weapon) is still useful against bosses thanks to its parrying ability. Press the block button just before the boss charges into you to parry the attack, saving yourself from a massive wound.

Pistols are perfect for weaker Zeds

Everyone begins with two types of guns: a class-based one and a regular pistol. Although your instinct may be to use the class-based weapon until it runs out of ammo and then switch to the pistol, that's not the best approach. Instead, try to use the right weapon for the right foe.

Weaker Zeds can be killed pretty easily with pistols, especially if you score headshots. Use your pistol ammo on them and save your better weapons for stronger enemies like scrakes and fleshpounds. And remember that when playing on consoles, you can tap the weapon select button to instantly switch between the two styles of weapon instead of holding the button to access the weapon wheel.

Reload guns after buying ammo

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

This practical advice is easy to forget, especially when you're still learning the game. Between rounds, the team always heads to the shop to buy more ammo and supplies. Buying ammo for your class-based weapons is super important. But just as important is actually being ready to use those weapons when the battle resumes.

After you stock up on bullets, switch to every gun that uses ammunition and make sure it's reloaded. The last thing you want is to get stuck in a reload animation right when the bad guys start invading your personal space.

Wait to buy armor

Another instinct among beginners and even veterans is to stock up on armor every round. After all, a little armor can make the difference between taking a minor hit or a major one. But here's the thing: armor costs money, and you probably don't need it right away.

During the first few rounds of the fight, not only is dosh scarce, but the enemies are weaker and less plentiful. Thus you can probably wait until the third round to start investing in armor. You'll probably take a few hits before then, but nothing that a little self-healing can't handle. The money you'd have spent on the armor for those hits is better put towards ammo or a new weapon.

Share the dosh (money)

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

Normally, you want to accumulate as much dosh as possible so that you can buy weapons, ammo, armor, and grenades. But Killing Floor 2 also gives players the option of tossing money at each other by tapping right on the D-Pad (consoles) or the B key (PC). You can also request dosh from other players using chat presets (left on the D-Pad, select message with the right stick, then release the D-Pad).

When should you share money with others? After you've bought all the important stuff. With your weapon of choice purchased and inventory fully stocked, there's no other use for dosh than giving it away. That especially applies at the start of boss waves. You want everyone fully equipped to fight the big boss, so throw your money at anyone who needs it before the final battle starts.

Non-medics can buy medic weapons too

All classes can self-heal using the med-syringe – press and hold the healing button (X on Xbox) to restore a small amount of life. You can also heal others by manually equipping the med-syringe (up on the D-Pad on consoles) and then pressing the primary fire button (right trigger on consoles). But healing teammates this way isn't very effective when things get hectic since you need to be close and the med-syringe takes time to recharge.

Thankfully, every class can buy weapons from other classes in the shop, which means that field medic weapons are always an option. The HMTech-101 pistol (found under the field medic tab) only takes up one inventory space, and it's cheap. Buy one and you can use its alternate fire to heal friends from a distance. If everyone on the team carries a healing pistol, you can get by even without an actual field medic.

Take one for the team by balancing the squad

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

In general, most players select a single class and then try to level it up before switching to a different one. Higher level perks get access to extremely useful skills, after all. But even more important than building yourself up is making sure the team is balanced enough to handle the challenges that lie ahead.

When you join a game and see any obvious weaknesses in the class lineup (especially multiples of the same class), consider switching from your current perk of choice to one that the teams needs more. For instance, the following classes are especially useful to the group: commando, support, demolitionist, and field medic. Fill whichever void the team needs and everyone has a greater chance of success. You'll start out at low levels on alternate classes, but they'll level up over time just like your main class.

Know when to lone wolf it

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

Conventional thinking is to stay with the group in order to increase your chances of survival. This makes sense, after all, since nearby players can watch each other's backs. Definitely, choose someone to follow when you're just starting out and learning the ropes. Splitting up into smaller groups or going solo has its advantages too, though.

Sometimes one or two members of the team will dominate the game, killing everything before their teammates can get hits in. When that happens, you definitely want to split off and score some kills of your own. Dividing and conquering is also the fastest way to clear a wave, taking the fight to the Zeds instead of waiting for them to come to the group. This works best during the earlier waves, since the greater enemy density and stronger enemies of later waves can lead to quick deaths if you're caught without backup.

Rack up assists

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

When an enemy gets killed, anyone who scored a hit on that enemy gets credit for an assist. That should be obvious. Less obvious is that you don't have to be the one who finishes off a bad guy to get XP for the kill. As long as you've scored an assist on a foe, you get full XP when that enemy dies.

Thus, you should prioritize hitting multiple enemies in the horde over just killing them off one at a time. That doesn't mean to ignore immediate threats, but you can often score hits on multiple enemies before they close distance. The additional XP from assists will help you level up quite a bit faster than focusing solely on kills.

Kill the bosses before they can heal

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

Killing Floor 2 has two bosses at present: the Patriarch, the mutated creator of the Zeds, and Dr. Hans Volter, an exo-suit-wearing mad scientist. Both can be tough to beat, especially when new to the game. And one reason for that is they can heal themselves, even as they become more vicious later in the fight. But under the right circumstances, the team can finish off a boss before he gets a chance to heal.

How to know a boss is about to heal:

  • The Patriarch: He cloaks himself and runs away from the group. Once he reaches a safe spot, he'll use one of his syringes to fully restore his health.
  • Dr. Hans Volter: He activates a shield that can withstand a fair amount of damage from the team. Then he'll fly towards a player and impale them, draining their life for himself.

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

The key to stopping the Patriarch early is keeping him from getting away. If possible, seal the nearby doors so that he has nowhere to run. Try to freeze him with the Sharpshooter's freeze grenades or the Survivalist's freezethrower, if either of those classes is present. Otherwise, just do your best to stay close and shoot him no matter where he goes.

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

When fighting Volter, destroying his shield as quickly as possible is the priority. Keep your distance and use weapons with a stun effect if you have them. If Volter catches someone and drains them, the team should try to heal the affected player and get some quick hits in before the boss resumes his attack.

See our full boss guide for more tips and strategies!

Bonus tip: Play on Hard instead of Normal

This tip is for slightly more advanced players, since playing on Hard difficulty is naturally more challenging than Normal difficulty. But on Hard difficulty, you'll earn XP almost twice as fast as on Normal. So if you've played the game a little and are comfortable with all the mechanics, feel free to switch over to hard so that you level up faster. If you're not sure you have the skills to pay the bills, perhaps get your class of choice up to level five or ten so that their skills will bring more to the table.

Welcome to the killing floor

Killing Floor 2 beginners guide

Killing Floor 2 is a horde mode-style first-person shooter that can be played solo or cooperatively with teams of up to six players. It features a whopping 10 classes, 14 characters, and 15 memorable maps to fight through. Our detailed review named it "the best horde game" on Xbox One and awarded it a score of five out of five. If you're into co-op shooters, you can't afford to miss it!

Killing Floor 2 costs $39.99 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam. The retail version is exclusive to GameStop in North America.

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!