How to play Killer in Dead by Daylight

person wearing a ghost costume

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

Playing Killer in Dead by Daylight, for a lot of players, is not an easy task. In theory, the Killer has an immense advantage, but in practice, you realize how the Killer needs strategy and well-calculated actions to sacrifice all Survivors.

When you play Survivor, the gameplay is not that different from any other Survivor you may play, but when playing Killer, the character you choose will change how you play the game.

Every killer has a different power, and some have a different playstyle.

If you are playing a Stealth Killer you will have to think in a different way than when you play a Non-Stealth Killer.

So how do you play Killer after all? I will give some advice and tell you how I learned to play this role, and from there, you can try to find which Killer is the best for you, and focus on playing that Killer to practice.

How to patrol generators in Dead by Daylight

The Killer must stop Survivors from escaping, by sacrificing all four of them to the Entity.

The Survivors must repair a total of 5 generators so they can power one of the exit gates and escape.

Generators are an important part of the Dead by Daylight gameplay loop, they are the core objective of the Survivors, and knowing this, the Killer can attempt to stop the generator's repair process while chasing and sacrificing Survivors.

When the match starts, you will notice that generators are highlighted, that is the generator Aura.

An Aura in Dead by Daylight is when you can see someone's or something's highlight over the map, ignoring walls and distance.

the aura of a generator

Only the Killer can see the Aura of all generators during the entire game, the Survivors must find the generators.

Knowing where the generators are, you can define which ones you will patrol.

Patrolling the generators is going through a path towards multiple generators to find the Survivors, but this must be done wisely.

The generators can often be in unfortunate positions, as their locations are somewhat random.

You will want to patrol through the generators that you know the Survivors are around, but how?

There are multiple ways to identify that Survivors have been around a generator, and the most undeniable one is that generators that have been through some repair will start to make a noise.

When you hear a generator making noise, you can know Survivors tried to repair it, they may have tried to repair and moved on, or they are hidden since they heard your Terror Radius and know that you are approaching.

Hearing a generator when it is working means that if you are close to the Aura of a generator, and you don't hear any noise, you don't have to bother checking around, in most situations.

Keep in mind that when a generator is completed you will hear some sort of a notification stating that the generator is repaired. There is nothing else for you to do with the repaired generator, it will make noise, but it lightens up around and you don't see its Aura anymore.

One great strategy that revolves solely on generators, is leaving the last 3 generators to be close together, making the shortest path for you to patrol at the end of the game.

How do you make sure that the last three generators are close together? You can make sure of this by defending and patrolling these generators, if a generator is too far from the others, you may even let one survivor repair it while you patrol other generators that are more "useful" for you, chasing survivors trying to repair them.

How to find survivors

One big struggle of new Killers in Dead by Daylight is finding Survivors. Sometimes you can patrol all generators and still have no signal of life, the generators are making noise as they are being repaired, but nobody is around, why?

As a Killer, you have something called a Terror Radius.

The Killer's Terror Radius is an area around you that will propagate your Terror Radius soundtrack or the sound of a heart beating.

If you have trouble understanding the Terror Radius, play as Survivor! Go close to the Killer and notice how you hear a heart beating, and the closer you get, the faster is the sound of the heart beating.

Some Killers may have a cool Terror Radius soundtrack, for example, Michael Myers from The Halloween.

Understanding the Survivor's perspective is essential to know why they know where you are.

But if the Survivors can hear when you are getting close because of your Killer Terror Radius, how you will find them if they have enough time to hide?

There are multiple ways to find Survivors or at least have some idea of where they are going, let's take a look at some.

  • As mentioned previously, if a generator is making noise, some Survivor attempted to repair it, and if this is recent, they may still be around
  • When you play as Survivor, you will notice that you can run, walk, or crouch. When a Survivor runs, they will leave Scratch Marks. The Scratch Marks are hints of the path that a Survivor is running through, resembled in-game by red marks on the ground, that looks like scratches. Be aware that the Scratch Marks aren't straight and correctly placed, they are all over the place, but you will learn how to follow them after some practice.
Scratch Marks behind a Survivor
  • When a Survivor fails the Skill Check of a generator, they will give you a sound notification, it sounds like if the generator is breaking (an impact sound), this means that a Survivor is trying to repair that generator.
generator exploding
  • When a Survivor that is injured (after you hit them once) walks around, they leave blood trails, different than Scratch Marks, these are clustered together and make a perfect trail. This is useful to track Survivors around and to know that a Survivor is hiding in a drawer.
  • If you heard a failed Skill Check, and you go there and no Survivor is around, with no Scratch Marks, they probably walked or crouched to hide somewhere, you can search for them around the generator
  • Some Survivors use Customizations that are dark and attempt to hide into dark corners, so pay attention to certain places where they may be hiding. This is not that common, but something to keep in mind

As a new Killer, it can be troublesome if you can't find Survivors in your games, but after some practice, you will get better at that and recognize their patterns to know where did they go, or if they are hiding around somewhere.

The game also has drawers/lockers where Survivors can hide, by opening one of them you waste precious time, so it is not recommended to open all drawers that you see around unless you know that a Survivor may be there.

If you are playing a Killer like the Huntress, opening drawers will reload the number of hatchets you have to throw, it may be useful to open a drawer where a Survivor might be in certain situations, making it less of a waste of time, as you are reloading your hatchets.

What is a good Killer for beginners?

I recommend playing any Killer that you find fun, but some Killers are more difficult and can make learning the game frustrating.

The Trapper himself is a good Killer to learn how to play Killer.

His Killer Power is the Bear Trap, and you learn how to use it by playing the Dead by Daylight tutorial.

The Trapper setting a Bear Trap on the ground

You can place lots of traps around generators that are close together, or try many different strategies to avoid Survivors experienced in the game to loop you and waste some of your time.

The Trapper's Power is great because it will teach you more about the maps as you think about how to set your bear traps in a place where Survivors may pass through or may try to loop you.

When a Survivor steps into one of your bear traps, you can quickly approach and hit, causing them to fall into Dying State.

Another great Killer for newbies is The Wraith, his Power is effectively becoming invisible by cloaking himself.

The Wraith has good movement speed and can secure hits after spotting Survivors when cloaked.

Some more experienced Killers may have critiques towards him, as being difficult to play against high skill Survivors with The Wraith, but as a new player, you are supposed to play against new players like you.

The Wraith has a suppressed Terror Radius when cloaked, this means that when you are invisible, you also don't have any Terror Radius, so the Survivors don't hear the beating heart that indicates your presence.

But as a drawback, when you uncloak yourself, you will ring your bell, something that alarms nearby Survivors that you are going to chase or hit someone.

Which DLC to buy first for a Killer?

I would recommend buying The Leatherface.

If you play on Steam, you can buy The Leatherface DLC at the Steam store.

I recommend this DLC because it comes with a great licensed Killer character, and he also happens to have a great Perk.

The character you get from this DLC is Bubba Sawyer, he is a licensed character from the Chainsaw Massacre movie and often is referred to as just Leatherface or Bubba.

The Leatherface character info

Licensed characters cannot be bought with in-game currency. Iridescent Shards is a currency that you are awarded when you level up in-game, but you are only able to buy the non-licensed characters with it.

All perks can be obtainable in-game through the Shrine of Secrets, a tab on the in-game store that has 4 random perks available for you to buy every week, two of the perks are for Survivors, and the other two are for Killers.

The Leatherface only happens to have a great perk available, and as he is a licensed character, it makes him a great first buy if you like his playstyle.

He is a Killer able to instant down Survivors with his chainsaw, and you can also use the chainsaw to instantly destroy a pallet during a chase.

The good perk you get from him is called Barbecue & Chilli, his other perks are good too, but this one is great on many different Killers.

After you reach level 30 with a Killer, you can unlock Teachable Perks from the Bloodweb, after getting a Teachable Perk, they can randomly appear on the Bloodweb of other Killers that you own.

Barbecue & Chilli is a perk that will show you the Aura of all Survivors for 4 seconds after you hook a Survivor, as long as they are farther than 40 meters.

When you use the Barbecue & Chilli perk, every time you hook a Survivor, you will get a bonus of 25% Bloodpoints to everything you do in the current trial. The Bloodpoint bonus has a maximum limit but it makes Barbecue & Chilli a unique and great perk to have.

But as I said, you can just get any DLC that has a Killer you would love to play, it can be hard to unlock the Killers using Iridescent Shards as it requires a lot of them.

What are good Killer perks?

Some perks are called meta perks, these are often the best perks being used, and you happen to see them a lot because they are just better and there's no other perk you could be using.

You can play without meta perks, or even perform better with different perks, but it's good to know which are some exceptional perks to get for a Killer.

Barbecue & Chili cannibal perk

Great perks to have as a new Killer, not all of them are meta:

  • No One Escapes Death: Often just called NOED, this perk is a Hex that will let you instantly down Survivors after the exit gates are powered. You do not have to buy a DLC to get NOED.
  • Hex: Ruin: This is a Hex that will make generators automatically regress at a certain speed when Survivors are not working on them. This perk is from The Hag, available from the Of Flesh and Mud Chapter DLC, for $7
  • Pop Goes the Weasel: After you hook a Survivor, the next generator you damage will lose 25% progression. This perk is available from the Clown, his DLC is called Curtain Call and costs $7
  • Barbecue & Chilli: BBQ allows you to see the Aura of far Survivors after you hook a Survivor. It helps to increase the Bloodpoints you earn by a % for each hooked survivor. BBQ is available with The Leatherface DLC for $7
  • A Nurse's Calling: This is an awesome free perk from The Nurse. A Nurse's Calling will show the Auras of nearby Survivors when they are healing close to you
  • Enduring: This is a free perk from The Hillbilly. Enduring will reduce the amount of time you get stunned after a Survivor throws a pallet on you
  • Hex: Devour Hope: As a newbie, you may not want this one straight away, but it is a good perk to put your eyes on. Hex: Devour Hope gives you tokens when you are close to a Survivor being unhooked. When you get 2 tokens you get bonus movement speed for a short period after a Survivor is unhooked. With 3 tokens you can instantly down survivors. With 5 tokens you can kill Survivors with your own hands.
  • Brutal Strength: A free perk available from The Trapper. Brutal Strength lets you break pallets and doors faster, and damage generators faster
  • Save the Best for Last: This perk will reduce the cooldown from your successful attacks when you hit anyone except your Obsession.

There are other great perks, but these are good ones to keep around and they help you in certain situations, I suggest searching for perks that are good for the Killer you are playing, or taking some look in all perks and deciding which one you want to use.

As a new Killer, you won't have all perks, but you can get some good ones from the free available killers that come with the base game, by leveling them to level 30 and unlocking the teachable version of their perk.

If you do not want to buy DLCs just to get perks, you can buy Teachable Perks from the Shrine of Secrets, but keep in mind that it can take some time to get some good perks from the Shrine, as it refreshes every week with only two Killer perks.

How the hex perks work

Some perks start with Hex on their names, but what is that?

Dead by Daylight has totems spread along with the map, these totems can hold a curse, this curse is the hex that you have from your perk, with its specific effect.

There are three types of totems:

  • Dull Totem: A Dull Totem has nothing special going for it, it has no effect. A Dull Totem is unlit and it can also be cleansed by a Survivor, but it won't be detrimental for the Killer if they have no hex perks.
  • Hex Totem: When a totem is lit, it indicates a Hex Totem. When one Hex is applied to a totem, it will activate the effects of the perk, as long as the totem is not cleansed. Once a Hex Totem is cleansed, you lost the Hex effect and you cannot enable it again
  • Boon Totems: Boon Totems belong to Survivors. Some Survivor perks give the Survivor the ability to bless Hex Totems. A Hex Totem is turned into a Boon Totem when it is cleansed and the Survivor has a Boon perk. After becoming a Boon Totem, the effects from the Survivor perk will apply. As a Killer, you can remove the blessing of a Boon Totem the same way a Survivor can cleanse a Hex Totem, but Survivors can further bless it again

Certain Hex perks, like the No One Escapes Death perk, are only enabled when certain conditions are met. NOED only activates when a Survivor power one exit gate, so NOED will find a Dull Totem (if available) and apply the Hex to it.

Other Hex perks are enable since the start of the game.

With this information, you can make the conclusion that it may be great to check if a Survivor is trying to cleanse your Hex totems if you are using perks that have hexes.

Survivors will sometimes work around the conditions needed for your Hex perk to activate if they are not activated since the game start. NOED needs the Survivor to power the exit gates to activate, so they often will not do it before cleansing the Hex Totem, or having all Survivors close to the exit gates.

Dull and Hex Totems are sometimes in an unfortunate place, they spawn at random when the game starts, and they can be right close to a generator, where a Survivor will suddenly spot and cleanse it.

There is nothing much to do if your Totem is close to a Survivor, that's why it can be risky to have too many Hex perks.

How the Killer ranking work

When I started playing Dead by Daylight it was confusing to me how to know if I am improving at the game.

Two indicators show your "progress" on the game, grades, and MMR.

Grades aren't that important anymore, and they don't indicate if you are good or not, having a good grade in Dead by Daylight only shows that you have been playing the game a lot since the last grade reset.

Picture of the Dead by Daylight Gold IV grade

Grades are the "badge" close to your name on the game, and that show close to everyone's name in the after-match screen.

Dead by Daylight stopped using grade to represent skill, in favor of MMR when they implemented Skill Based Matchmaking.

MMR is an invisible value calculated based on how many kills you got in a game. For the Survivors, it gets higher if they can escape through the exit gates.

The MMR is calculated differently for each Killer that you play, as Killers have different gameplay. If you play Survivor, your MMR will be the same for all Survivors.

There is no way to know your MMR, so there is no real way to know your progress in the game, so I recommend playing for fun!

How to not let the Survivors get the Hatch

When there is only one remaining Survivor, the Hatch is an alternative escape.

If you are planning for a 4K (killing all four Survivors) it can be a great idea to look for the Hatch before sacrificing the third Survivor.

When the Hatch is available, a Survivor can jump through it to escape by getting close enough.

A closed hatch on the left, and an open hatch on the right

As a Killer, you can close the Hatch, which will make the last Survivor unable to escape through it but will also let the Survivor open the exit gates, regardless of how many generators are left.

If you don't know where the Hatch is, and there is only one Survivor left, you can walk around and try to hear the Hatch's sound, it has an indistinguishable noise, so you don't have to visually spot it.

The spawn locations of the Hatch are random, so each match the Hatch will be in a different spot on the same maps.

Is it harder to play Killer?

The difficulty of playing Killer is different from player to player.

Some players easily learn how playing Killer works and can improve a lot quicker, while on Survivor they have less improvement, while others can experience the opposite.

I would say Killer is more difficult, to start and to keep playing, as many useful perks are from DLCs that you probably won't buy when you start playing.

Killers have different mechanics and when you try a new character you may not perform that well and may end up having to learn a lot of new concepts, this is great! But Survivors are the same, as the characters don't have special differences, so you don't have to learn how to play a different Survivor character.

If you find it difficult to play Killer, but you still have fun doing it, I would advise you to just keep doing what you have fun, as a new Killer, you will get to know some different terms:

  • Camping: When you're too close to a hooked Survivor
  • Tunneling: When you are targeting the same Survivor too much
  • Face-camping: When you stand right next to a hooked Survivor
a hooked Dead by Daylight survivor

Do not worry about any of this as a new player, just play the game your own way! As a game with opposing sides, Dead by Daylight also has certain toxicity, which happens with every multiplayer game, but play the way you have fun and don't worry about labels.

Resources to learn Killer

The most consistent way to learn how to play Killer is by practicing.

If you want to learn more from someone who has many and many hours in the game, you can browse on Twitch or YouTube, where players with thousands of hours broadcast.

Otzdarva is one of the best Killers in Dead by Daylight, and he has a YouTube channel where you're able to learn different characters and follow his in-game process of thinking.

He also has videos on Survivor, and as a Killer, it is an opportunity to know what the high skilled Survivors are doing.

In the video above he goes through each Killer available at the time that video was uploaded, and gives basic tips and advice for each one of them.

The video is very long, but you can use YouTube's timestamps to quickly jump to the Killer you want to learn more about.

Have fun playing Killer in Dead by Daylight! If you have any feedback for this guide, please let me know.

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