Dead by Daylight: Introduction & Beginner Survivor Tips

*Content Warning: This article mentions violence, death, and killing of humans in the context of gaming. Graphics may be uncomfortable for some readers due to horror or blood elements.*

Watching gamers stream Dead by Daylight (DBD) has been my favourite pastime for the past couple of years, though I haven’t played this game myself since the new school year kicked in. Speaking from my own experience talking to other people, DBD seems to be a game that most people have either never heard of or have not played (unlike popular games like League of Legends, Valorant, Minecraft, etc.). This article was written with the hope that by the time you finish reading it, there will be one more person in the world who has at least heard of this game!

The loading screen of Dead by Daylight.
The loading screen of Dead by Daylight.

DBD was first released five years ago in 2016, developed by Behaviour Interactive Inc. Throughout the years, many new original or trademarked chapters, bug fix or update patches, and tweaks to player interfaces transformed the game to what it is today. In essence, DBD is a 4vs1 multiplayer online horror game. In the simplest words, there are 36 maps (which decreases to 35 maps after mid-November), each equipped with generators, hooks, and exit gates. 

For the four survivor players, the goal is to fix any five generators, then escape the map through the exit gates. For the killer player, the goal is to sacrifice the survivors on the hooks before they have a chance to escape. Speaking from personal experience, each match takes about 15-30 minutes depending on how fast the killer gets to you. A player’s performance from each round is converted into Bloodpoints (bps), which are used to level up perks (traits of a character) and gain items that could help the player through the match. It takes quite a while to get used to the gameplay and become good at it. For an online multiplayer game like DBD, the amount of old and new players is especially crucial to consider, since such a game could not run on only a handful of people. 

In this context, the good news is that a lot of recent changes seem to have attracted some new players, and the daily average of concurrent players has surpassed 50K since July 2021. For instance, in early September, a new skill-based matchmaking algorithm was implemented, leading to heated arguments about its pros and cons in comparison to the previous rank-based matchmaking system. The new killer character Cenobite or “Pinhead” from Hellraiser went viral because of the nostalgia and its… interesting outfit and voice line. Contents from the Stranger Things Chapter, which was initially released 2 years ago in September 2019, will no longer be available for purchase after 13 days from now on (after November 17th, 2021), which led to some impulsive purchases due to peer pressure. 

That being said, while there are a lot of reasons for new players to join DBD out of curiosity or fame, there are a few things to note that would greatly impact new players’ experiences, which also affect whether they would continue to stay with the game. Let us have a look at some key tips for you as beginner survivors so every match in DBD can be the best experience possible. 

Tip #1: Watch & Learn!

For a newbie, the first step is to get acquainted with how the game works. At this stage, it is not exactly necessary to understand the lore behind the Entity, the Fog, or why “Death is not an escape,” which is the motto in the lore of DBD

Instead, try to practice controlling your character with hotkeys on your device. That includes action keys, movements, gestures, and camera angles. The prerequisite to becoming proficient in DBD is to make decisions with not only logic but reflexes. Afterall, you may find Michael Myers or “The Shape” standing right behind you as you work on a generator, or having to dodge a flying axe from The Huntress. 

In addition, it is important to have a general idea about what each character’s perk does. For a survivor, a deliberate and smart combination of perks can make escaping much easier than a random selection. For instance, the player can try to have a blend of vagility, altruism, stealth/healing, or escape-oriented perks. As each player only chooses a maximum of four perks for each match, it is important to get acquainted with the most common perks and understand when to use them. Speaking from experience, rather than re-reading the description of a perk for hours to understand it, it may be better to watch how other players did it (i.e. from YouTube or Twitch) or try it out first. 

Overall, the key for a newbie is to not be afraid of making mistakes but rather learn from them. See which playstyle you like better, try experimenting new strategies, navigate around maps to get familiar with possible spawn locations of generators… There are countless things you could do, and the best part about it is that you can start all over in a new match. 

Tip #2: Team Mindset

As someone who used to be a newbie survivor at DBD, I was definitely intimidated by the horror element of the game and developed some questionable play styles. For instance, when my teammates were on the hook, I crossed my fingers that someone else would go save them and worked tirelessly on the generator to avoid entering a chase with the killer. I would also aim to bring perks that allow me to detect whether the killer was nearby and hide into the shadows as soon as I sense danger. 

I mean, I guess that’s probably what you would do in reality anyways, so I suppose it can be justified. 

But in the context of DBD, if you do the above, your survivor team will most likely lose, unless a very strong player is present. Speaking broadly, the greater number of players on the survivor team versus the killer team is balanced by the amount of tasks and coordinations they need to have in order to escape. As such, each player must have a role and consistently work for the benefit of the common goal of finishing all five generators and opening the exit gate. 

Of course, in the best case scenario, all survivors will simply go and fix generators. However, because the killer is present, they interfere with that progress by hindering one or more survivors from their goal. As such, team mindset is important for the game to progress. Some of the things that could be kept in mind during decision-making moments are:

  • How far is the killer from me, and what could they be doing?
  • Is this generator safe to fix, or should I migrate a bit further to prevent disturbance to my progress?
  • What are my teammates doing, and what can I do to support them?
  • Am I wasting time with the activity I am currently doing? (I.e. sneaking, hiding, opening chests, self-healing, etc.). 

The answer to the above questions will determine what you should be doing at the moment. Unfortunately, sometimes your answer may point to the need of you to act as a distraction so your teammates can complete the generators. In that scenario, instead of worrying about your own health states or whether you will be sacrificed or not, analyze the bigger picture and think about the direction you should distract the killer so that your teammates have as much time as they need to fix generators. There are some common “loops” that are known to catch killers for a while before getting to you, and you can experiment with different ones to get a sense of how to loop the player who is chasing you. 

Tip #3. Respect, not Toxicity

By the time you learn how to loop killers and earn precious time for your team to escape, as well as doing generators while your teammates are looping the killers, you are now pretty good at the game. Occasionally, you may even bump into newbie or poorly-skilled players who are either killers or survivors. This is the perfect time to laugh at them, right? After all, you worked so hard to be where you are at, and you can finally show-off your skills to someone.

Here is where the line becomes blurry. For sure, new players tend to have basic skill levels and be less equipped to win against you. It is natural to take this weakness to your advantage and win against them easily so you could escape with your team. But from the new or poorly-skilled player’s perspective, the match is a nightmare. After all, how could one enjoy a game where they have never experienced the joy of an achievement? Usually, they choose to disconnect due to the frustration and disappointment of the progression of the match. Or, some players may never return to the game at all. 

A killer's game ending abruptly because all four survivors disconnected from the match. Sorry, Wraith (the character's name).
A killer’s game ending abruptly because all four survivors disconnected from the match. Sorry, Wraith (the character’s name).

Even after watching countless streamers commenting or playing in DBD matches, I still found it hard to distinguish between skills and toxicity in a player. Is looping a killer toxic? Is blinding a killer with a flashlight toxic? Is bringing strong skills and having teammates on mic toxic? Without the context of cheating, is simply being overly powerful a sin in the world of DBD?

After some contemplation, I personally think that the main difference lies in respect and fair-play. This is often seen in killers (which may come soon as the second part of this DBD tips series), who deliberately let their prey go to ensure they are not always chasing the same survivor. I have seen some survivors who could have escaped, yet stayed behind so the killer can have at least one successful kill out of the four survivors. Some survivors leave their supplies behind as a token of appreciation (even though this means nothing in-game, since the killer cannot use it). 

Even if you as the survivor are unwilling to give up your winning status, not engaging in toxicity is already a step towards respectful gameplay. A common thing that some survivors do is to humiliate their opponent, such as when they quickly crouch and get up (as per the PG-13 explanation), or blind the killer for an extended amount of time by taking turns surrounding the killer with a flashlight. Of course, these actions are often unnecessary for the survivor to win the match. In fact, these actions are oftentimes performed by survivors whose victory is in sight. In that scenario, there are less questions about the toxic nature of the act. In contrast, an act that directly helps the player in their escape is normally considered fair-play. 

Tip #4. Just a Good Game

While DBD does not have any in-game chats (with the exception of survive with friends (SWF), where you can communicate mid-game over an external platform like Discord), once the game ends, players will be free to analyze each others’ stats and debrief. Usually, players will send each other a message of “gg” or “ggwp,” which means “good game” or “good game well played.” Sometimes, players will have suggestions or comments about a memorable moment during the game, which can be comedic to survivor and killer alike. After all, even if players are opponents, an enjoyable round of game deserves a virtual hand-shake by the end.

That is, if they are respectful players. 

As you may have guessed, toxic players will take this opportunity to swear at other players, diss their performances during the game, or throw around insults just because they feel like it. When I was initially exposed to these hurtful speeches, I took them seriously and stopped playing for months as I felt disappointed at my poor skills. I entered games with the fear that my teammates are disappointed and frustrated at me, or that they are laughing at something I did. I quickly exit the end-game chat out of the fear of seeing people’s comments, but I also lost the opportunity to know if I ever did well in a game. 

What changed my mindset was other streamers. To mention a few of my favourite gamers to watch (not sponsored at all), Otzdarva, ZubatLEL, CoconutRTS, No0b3, Monto, and Demi revealed an entire new world of gaming for me. With the fame that they had, it is only natural for them to receive an equal amount of hate. Seeing them hit back and maintain the confidence of their skills regardless of what haters say really made me reflect on my fear of failing. As I watched their gameplay, not only do I learn about how to be a better survivor, but also how to be a respectful player who could face their mistakes with a non-judgemental attitude and bounce back. 

But after all, DBD is just a game. A game with a lot of bugs and shortcomings, with rooms for improvements, but also with unlimited potential for fun. 

There is no need to argue back and forth with that toxic player when you could have started another match. There is no point in blaming yourself over a mistake that led to your teammates losing the match when you could have practiced again to be better. 

The beauty of a game like DBD is the unlimited chances you have to fail and improve, until you reach that one match when you open the exit gate by yourself, having looped the killer for several generators. The killer slowly nods and does a moonwalk backwards at the exit gate as you run towards the end of a match and the beginning of a new one. 

Are you ready for a good game?

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