Dead Nation’s nonstop shooting and scrambling will test the mettle of even a veteran gamer — and that’s part of the fun! I’ve compiled my battle-tested tactics gleaned from beating the game on the “Grim” difficulty, plus bonus tips shared by PlayStation Twitter followers. Earn more gold, find more health, beat back mobs efficiently, and choose the right upgrades. Be sure to leave your own battle-tested tips in the comments!
- Rush makes you (briefly) invincible. Pressing L2 grants you a burst of speed that makes you untouchable for a nanosecond. Use it to dodge angry Bombies, power through a zombie crowd, or sprint over flames. But even the Rush won’t save you from the dreaded Cutter…
- Master the Melee. Melee attacks (R2) knock away all zombies, even those lurking behind you, so it’s a must for crowd control. To be a real melee monster, collect fashionable ExoGear armor pieces hidden throughout the game and equip them at the Weapon Shop.
- Melee while reloading. Stuck in a reload animation just as a mob is closing in? Jam on the melee button (R2) to fend off the onrushing zombies — it won’t interrupt your reload progress. So no excuses: Reload at every opportunity!
- Learn to love car alarms. That telltale red warning light is your cue to open fire — the resulting racket will bring every nearby zombie running, giving you time to slink away before the ensuing explosion.
- Trick the Jumper into smashing other zombies. When you hear its distinctive shriek, Rush away. With practice, you can use this technique to direct the Jumper right into a zombie crowd with lethal results.
- Listen to the music. Dead Nation’s dynamic soundtrack gets the blood pumping. But, more importantly, it can give you clues about the next threat. If you hear the music kick into overdrive, ready a powerful weapon!
- When all else fails, throw a grenade. It’s tempting to solve every problem with bullets, but equipment like flares and mines are absolute lifesavers. Use them regularly or suffer the consequences!
Cash is King
- Keep your enemies close. Those gold and red orbs that gush from defeated zombies? They boost your cash and score multiplier, respectively, but their value decreases rapidly over distance. For maximum cash, stay as close as possible to the carnage.
- It pays to wait. Glowing blue boxes always carry ammo; all other boxes alternate between red (score multiplayer) and gold (money for weapons and upgrades). If you’re strapped for cash, wait for each box to turn gold before opening it.
- Cash 4 Health. Topped off on life? Don’t let that health kit go to waste. Tap R2 — you’ll squash it and gain bonus cash. Protip: This doesn’t work in real life.
- Junk in the trunk. Car trunks always contain gold, so be sure to loot them at every opportunity.
- Leave no gravestone unturned. Take some time to venture off the main path. Dead Nation is riddled with secret nooks and crannies loaded with item boxes and cash, and you’ll need every last dollar if you want to max out all of your gear.
- Ammo comes first! Remember to buy ammunition and items before spending all your cash on upgrades and new weapons.
Tips for Healthy Living
- Rest a little. Your character automatically regenerates 20% of his or her life bar. If you’re low on life and facing long odds, grab that next health kit after you regenerate and you’ll come out ahead.
- Health-o-Matic. Soda machines are scattered throughout the environments, and can provide one of two effects. Shoot it to create a noisy diversion; Melee it (R2) to gain a quick health boost.
- Max out your Endurance. If you’re having trouble surviving, equip ArmoShell armor upgrades at the next Weapon Shop to boost your defense.
- Rush the flames away. Flames and poison goo will melt down your health bar in milliseconds. Rushing (L2) will slough off any harmful substances and get you back in the fight.
- Rifle: Limitless ammo makes this a handy fallback, and its charged “powershot” drills through a crowd like a hot knife through butter. The powershot can also snipe out a dangerous target in the middle of a crowd. Upgrade it early, but don’t rely on it.
- Shotgun: Upgrade early and upgrade often. Perhaps the single most useful weapon in Dead Nation, the Shotgun makes mincemeat out of the toughest zombies. Don’t get trigger happy, though: ammo is painfully limited.
- SMG: This rapid-fire weapon is best used against weaker zombies such as skeletons. On higher difficulties, the SMG will barely faze tougher enemies — use it with caution and upgrade it gradually over the course of the game.
- Flamethrower: This specialized weapon fits a niche role. You’ll need to top off every upgrade to reach its full potential — a pricey proposition. It’s best for crowd control, as flaming zombies move slower and tend to scatter.
- Blade Cannon: A keeper! The bladed projectile will carve through an entire horde, instantly killing all zombies — including the dreaded soldiers and fat men — with one well-placed shot. It’s also a one-hit kill against Bombies, though Jumpers and Cutters will barely shrug. It’s definitely worth upgrading.
- Launcher: This powerful rocket launcher is the ideal choice against Cutters and Jumpers, though it starts with only five shots. Upgrade the ammo capacity posthaste, and always fire from a safe distance!
- Shocker: This lightning gun can flash-fry a huge horde in seconds — if you have the cash to max out its upgrades. The Shocker will also immobilize lesser enemies, making it a powerful alternative to the Flamethrower.
- Flare: Invest in the Duration upgrade to keep zombie mobs distracted longer, then let loose with the Shotgun, Blade Cutter, or Shocker.
- Grenade: Zombies will lunge for the blinking light, making Grenades a great choice for redirecting rampaging mobs. Stay clear of the red explosive radius!
- Mine: Upgrade these bad boys as quickly as possible, especially to gain multiple Explosive Charges. Even though mines don’t attract special enemies like they do with zombies, you can still utilize them by standing behind mines and luring them in.
- Molotov: Handy in a pinch, but self immolation is a constant risk. Molotovs are perhaps most useful for creating a literal firewall between yourself and an angry horde. Use with caution!
- TNT: This screen-filling explosion inflicts the most damage of all, making it valuable against the rock-hard Cutters. As with the other items, zombies will be attracted to its blinking light.
Co-op and Community Tips
- Make sure to balance the weapon loadouts for co-op play, so you can handle all types of zombies (via @EGjonas)
- In co-op, play back-to-back to keep lights surrounding the area and you’ll have fun mowing down hundreds of the undead. (via @MeatRations)
- Pump the first few rounds into the cars BEFORE you need them to blow up. Prime ‘em. (via @BenKuchera)
- Always exploit the exploding cars AFTER you’ve looted them. (via @Geofortean)
- Use a charged shot to quickly set off a car alarm or a soda machine. (via @psnstores)
- Upgrade the default Rifle to max power, then use bottlenecks in the environment to line up the zombies. Boom! Multi-kill! (via @Essmithsd)
- Always be moving while engaged in combat. If you need breathing room, melee and rush are an effective way to buy precious seconds. (via @driftingdrafts)
- Reload, switch weapons, and switch back to the original. The weapon will be at full stock without the wasted time. (via @Taggart451)
- In co-op, stick side-by-side in a narrow alleyway and lure the zombies in while backing up. Using Molotovs for a line of fire and Mines (via @GameOnGreggy)