Welcome to Survivor Strategy 101! In this guide, you’ll get detailed instructions on how to stay alive, do generators, and escape the trial.
Dead by Daylight is a game with a relatively simple premise, but a lot of complex moving pieces behind the scenes. The goal with Survivor 101 is to outline a strategy that will help new players figure out what they should be doing at any given moment. Experienced players may also find this guide reminds them of some DBD fundamentals, too!
For this guide, we’re assuming you’re comfortable with getting a loadout ready. If you need help figuring out what perks and items to bring with you to a trial, or even how to do so, check out our Survivor Loadout guide or our Beginner Survivor Perks guide.
In case you aren’t into reading long stuff, and just want the basics, here ya go:
Hide at the start of the trial.
Try to do gens in such a way that the gens left over are spread out.
Be selfish and finish gens as a first priority, but unhook teammates if no one else is going to (or if you’re the only one who isn’t injured).
Split up to open both Exit Gates once all the generators are finished — if there are two people at your gate, one of them should hide in case the Killer comes.
Leave the trial.
If you really want to improve your game, however, I suggest you read on!
The First Few Minutes
The difference between escaping through the gate and dying on the hook can often be a matter of seconds in Dead by Daylight, so what you do when the trial first starts is important! Depending on the Killer and their perks, there are a number of approaches you can take to the start of the game.
Getting on a Generator
It’s very likely that you, and perhaps some of the other survivors, will spawn next to a generator. It can be tempting to get on the generator right away, and this can sometimes be a perfectly acceptable thing to do when the trial begins. However, there are a few things to consider before you do so:
Is this generator in a corner by itself?
If it is, it might be better to leave the generator for later, especially if it’s by a jungle gym or a safe loop like the shack.
Is this generator near other gens?
Conversely, if you can see a few other generators in close proximity to the generator you spawned near, it can be a good idea to get it done ASAP, in order to prevent a 3-gen.
Is this generator safe?
If the generator isn’t safe, and you aren’t running Sprint Burst, it is usually better to figure out who the Killer is, and where they are, before you work on an unsafe gen (a “safe” generator is a generator that is near a loop (either with a pallet or a window vault). A generator could also be considered safe if it’s near a drop and you have Balanced Landing).
Basically, if you aren’t breaking up a 3-gen, and the generator isn’t close to a loop, you may not want to start working on the generator. The reason for this is simple: The Killer wants to find their first Survivor, and begin their first chase, as soon as possible. If every Survivor gets on the first generator they see, it will be easy for the Killer to begin a chase. If they get to start a chase that isn’t near a loop, they’ll get their first down quicker.
Instead, if Survivors hide, and only work on a generator after the Killer has checked it, the first chase is delayed, and Generators get worked on while the Killer wastes time. While this is unlikely to actually occur in solo queue, it’s still better to play optimally whenever possible (and this way, at least you won’t be the first one chased).
If at any point during the first few minutes, the Killer enters a chase, you should get on a generator as quickly as possible. There are two ways to tell if a Killer is chasing a Survivor (besides actually seeing it yourself): someone gets injured, or the Obsession gets chased.
How to Find Generators
Finding generators can be a serious challenge when you’re first learning Dead by Daylight, but there are some tricks you can use to help you find them. You can also take the perk Deja Vu (which all Survivors have access to). Deja Vu reveals the aura of 3 generators at the start of the trial, and after a generator is completed.
On outdoor maps, this shouldn’t be difficult once you know what to look for. The generators all have tall lights that are visible from a fair distance away:
There is almost always a generator in the main building on the map, though it’s important to note that the main building isn’t necessarily going to be in the center of the map. Generators also tend to be spread somewhat evenly throughout the map, so if you simply pick an edge of the map and head in a circle, you’ll find one eventually.
On indoor maps, it can be tricky to find generators, since naturally you can’t see them from across the map. Luckily, there are two tricks that can help you find gens even when walls block your view.
Flickering Lightsindicate nearby generators that still need to be repaired.
Large Sliding Metal Doors are present on the map The Game, and indicate a nearby generator (if there isn’t one on the side of the wall you’re on, simply make your way around to the other side and you’ll find a generator. These doors open once the generator is finished.
In either type of map, learning where generators usually spawn is something that just takes practice, and after a few months of play, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to find generators!
Frequently, you’ll find that the generators you spawned near are blocked. This is due to the Killer perk Corrupt Intervention, which causes the 3 gens furthest from the killer to be blocked for 3 minutes at the start of the trial. Again, the correct thing to do in this situation is simply hide for the 3 minutes (though it’s very unlikely that your teammates will do so). Use this time to find totems or chests, find the killer, and try not to get found.
One of the biggest challenges in DBD is figuring out what you should be doing in the midgame. Often, Survivors fail because everyone is doing gens instead of unhooking, or everyone is healing each other, or everyone is trying to save people from hooks. Your goal, especially as a solo survivor (not playing with friends on voice comms), should be to figure out what isn’t being done, and do that.
One of the easiest ways to ensure that you’re always doing what you need to be doing is to run the Kindred perk. This guarantees that, when someone is on the hook, you know what everyone else on your team is doing. Otherwise, you’ll simply have to make your best guess based on what you’ve seen people do, and what you can see from where you are.
You can also get quite a bit of information from the character portraits on the left side of the UI. For example, if a teammate was unhooked, and a few moments later you see that they’re healthy, you can assume that one of your other teammates is there healing them (though if they have a med-kit or the Self Care perk, they can heal themselves). Someone taking damage lets you know where the Killer is, assuming you know vaguely where the now-injured Survivor is.
Your task in the midgame is simple, if difficult to execute: Do as many gens as possible, and unhook/heal other Survivors when it is convenient or when you’re the closest.
Managing Hook States
Hiding is a great tactic, and will help ensure your survival. However, there are times when you need to go and find the Killer in order to keep your teammates alive. The more people alive when the last generator is done, the easier it is for everyone to escape, including you!
Therefore, managing hook states is important. If you’ve been hooked once or twice already, hiding is probably your best bet, but if the game’s nearing it’s end, and you haven’t been hooked yet, you may need to go and get the Killer’s attention. If no one on your team has been hooked, then obviously this doesn’t apply, but if you’ve got a teammate or two on their last hook, try to get the Killer’s attention and lead them from your teammates.
Will this sometimes get you killed, with your ungrateful teammates leaving you to die on the hook? Definitely. But it will also give you good practice looping, and is, in the author’s opinion, the optimal way to play.
When to Unhook
Let’s take a look at when you should stop doing generators to go for unhooks, via a series of questions:
Are you close to the hooked Survivor?
If you’re fairly close to the hooked Survivor, it is probably a good idea to try to go for the unhook. Make sure you keep in mind that if you were on a generator, it’s very likely that the Killer will check the gen you were on shortly after hooking the Survivor, so maneuver in a way that puts you out of their path to the gen.
If you aren’t close to the hooked Survivor, it’s usually better to just stay on the generator you’re on. The only time you should get off of a gen to get to a hooked survivor who is far away, is if you’re fairly certain no one else is saving them — for example, if you see that the other two Survivors are injured, or in a chase with the Killer.
All that aside, if you’re the only healthy Survivor, you should assume that you’re going to be the one that needs to save the hooked Survivor.
Are you healthy?
If you’re injured, and other Survivors aren’t, it’s better to let one of the healthy Survivors go for the unhook.
If all unhooked Survivors are injured, the best move is to heal one of them, and then the healed Survivor goes for the unhook. Healing one another takes too long, and will usually lead to the hooked survivor running out of time and losing a hook state/dying.
What hook state are you at compared to your fellow Survivors?
If you’re one hook from death, you should let someone else go get the unhook. Conversely, if you’re the only Survivor who hasn’t been hooked yet, it should be you going for the unhook.
Despite all these possible questions,if there are ever two players downed/hooked, you should stop whatever you’re doing and go help, even if you’re injured. Once two players are hooked, it means that the Killer can patrol between them — if only one Survivor goes to help, it’s possible they get caught as well, and then your team will be in big trouble.
When to Heal
It’s tricky to give specific, actionable advice on when to heal, since it depends on such a large number of factors. That being said, here are a few things to consider before deciding to heal:
Does the Killer rely on sound to find Survivors?
Against a Killer like Spirit or Nurse, who are likely running the Stridor Perk, and rely on hearing Survivors to track them, it’s worth healing more often than it otherwise tends to be. This is one reason why the Iron Will perk is so good — it removes the need to heal as often, since you can hide effectively while injured (normally, being injured makes your character much easier to hear).
Does someone need to be saved from the hook?
If a Survivor is currently hooked, having someone healthy go and save them is important, since the healthy person can protect the unhooked person, and can risk being discovered while going for the unhook.
Is there something better to do?
If there is a nearby generator, it’s usually better to do the generator, and heal when it’s finished. This is because generator progress can be halted and regressed by the Killer, while there’s no downside to waiting to heal (assuming you don’t get found and downed by the Killer, of course).
Do you know where the Killer is?
Getting found by the Killer while healing is one of the worst possible situations, because the Killer now knows that there are two Survivors not doing generators, and is free to chase for longer than they usually could. If you don’t know where the Killer is, you’ll need to find somewhere safe to heal, which wastes valuable time.
Will the injured Survivor die if caught again?
If the injured Survivor is on death hook, it is usually worth healing them to ensure them getting caught won’t immediately result in them being removed from the trial.
Strategically-minded Killers will frequently let survivors do 4 of the gens relatively uncontested, and spend most of their time protecting 3 gens in close proximity to one another. This is because when there’s only 1 gen left for Survivors to escape, there will be 3 generators left on the map — so protecting 3 generators that are all close together means the Survivors will have a hard time finishing their last generator.
To prevent this from occurring, it’s important to try and identify 3-gens early, and break them. This isn’t particularly complicated, you just have to remember to do it! If you see a gen that is far from any other gens, skip it. Continue until you find a generator that is near other gens, and do that one instead. Once you complete a gen, instead of doing the next gen you find, skip the next gen you find, and do the one after that. This helps ensure that the last 3 generators are fairly spread out, and therefore difficult for the killer to defend.
If you notice that a Killer is refusing to chase you far from a few generators, then you can be pretty confident that those gens are part of a 3-gen. Don’t do anything else at this point besides pressure the 3-gen! You might even want to use the two gestures to communicate your desires to your teammates when possible. Try to get the Killer to chase you away from the 3-gen, or else hide near it, and work on one of the gens in the 3-gen whenever the Killer isn’t looking.
The endgame is where all your hard work pays off, and you escape — or not. It can be hard to practice the endgame, since often Killers will give up at this point if it seems like you’re going to win, and games where Survivors lose badly won’t have an endgame at all.
For this section of the guide, we’ll break the endgame into two parts: the last gen, and escaping through the gates or the hatch. We’ll then go over what to do as the last Survivor if everyone else has died.
The Final Generator
Doing the final generator is usually the safest point in the game for Survivors, assuming the Killer knows what they’re doing. This is because the Killer can’t chase you for long without the final gen popping. The trick at this point is to know where all 3 remaining generators are, and always run from from the killer away from all 3 generators. That way, if the Killer commits to chasing you, they will leave the gens undefended.
This also means that it is not a waste of time to run around the map until you know where all the remaining generators are. This knowledge will not only help you lead the Killer away from them, but will also allow you to pressure all 3 gens, depending on where the Killer is.
Try to track the progress of the 3 generators. If the generator you’re working on isn’t close to finished, it can sometimes be better to sneak over to one of the other 2 gens, and see how close they are. Sometimes teaming up to finish a gen is a better strategy than splitting up — it really depends on the map, the Killer, and the progress of all 3 gens.
Opening the Exit Gates
Once the final generator pops, you’ll be shown the location of both Exit Gates. If you’re lucky, they’ll be on opposite ends of the map. If you’re unlucky, they’ll be relatively close together. In either case, the strategies tend to be the same. If at all possible, heal everyone before attempting to open the Exit Gates.
Half the survivors should go to one gate, and half to the other. This way, whichever gate the killer goes to defend first, the Survivors who headed there can run to the other gate, and by then it should be open or nearly open. If there are two or more survivors at the gate you’re at, one person should open the gate while the rest hide nearby, in a locker or behind cover.
If the Killer comes to a gate, the Survivor opening the gate can run away from the Killer, either towards the other gate, or else just to a loop near the gate. After taking a hit, they can use the speed burst they get to make it to either the near or the far gate, depending on positioning and gate progress.
If a gate is almost open, and everyone is healthy, it can sometimes be an effective strategy to simply body-block the Killer so that they cannot attack the person opening the gate — this can be risky though, since many Killers have the ability to 1-shot down Survivors, and many killers also choose to run perks like No One Escapes Death, which allows them to down Survivors in 1 hit once the Exit Gates are powered.
Tracking the Exit Gates
Even though the location of the gates are briefly shown to you when the final generator is finished, it’s a good idea to know at least vaguely where the exit gates are before the last generator is done. This will help you decide which generator to do last, and can also help you lead the Killer in the correct direction if you’re buying time for your teammates to open the gate(s).
Your whole team won’t make it every time, and sometimes you’ll even find yourself alone with the Killer. Luckily, there’s a simple strategy that can get you out of the trial fairly often, if done correctly. You can also escape through the Hatch sometimes, but that’s often as much luck as anything else.
It’s important to understand how the Hatch works if you want to escape as the Sole Survivor:
Once there are 1 fewer survivors in the trial than there are generators finished, the Hatch will spawn (but not open). I know that’s confusing, so here’s a few examples:
If all 4 Survivors are still alive and in the trial, the Hatch will spawn (become visible) once 5 generators are completed.
If only 2 Survivors are left alive, the Hatch will become visible if at least 3 generators have been completed (you’ll see the number ‘2’ next to the generator icon in the bottom left of the UI).
Note that the hatch doesn’t open when it spawns. Instead, the hatch only opens when there is one Survivor left alive in the trial.
If there are enough completed gens — and few enough Survivors — for the hatch to have spawned, you’ll be able to search for it. It can’t be on a second story (though it can spawn on the top of a hill), and it can’t spawn in the basement, but it can spawn anywhere else on the map.
Escaping Through the Hatch
If you’re pretty sure your team isn’t going to finish the final generators, it can sometimes be smarter to search for the Hatch instead of trying hopelessly to finish gens.
Once you’ve located the Hatch, it’s still good to work on gens or otherwise earn Bloodpoints, but focus on staying near the hatch; once the 3rd survivor is taken by the Entity, the hatch will open after a few seconds, and you’ll be able to escape through it. Note that the Hatch also makes a distinct howling sound, which can help you locate it (especially if you have headphones on).
If you’re confused about whether or not the hatch is currently open, you can also look in the bottom left of your UI. If the hatch is available, you’ll see its icon in the bottom left of the UI.
Escaping Through an Exit Gate
Remember that simple strategy I told you about? If you don’t know the location of the hatch, or if you believe the Killer has probably seen the hatch, it’s better to try to escape through the Exit Gates instead. Most Killers will close the hatch when they find it, and the Killer closing the hatch will power both Exit Gates.
With that in mind, a solid strategy is to stand at an Exit Gate, ideally the one furthest from the hatch (assuming you know where it is). There are then two options for you:
Try to fully open the gate and leave
You should only risk fully opening the gate if you’re certain the hatch is on the other side of the map, otherwise you’ll rarely open the gate in time.
That being said, if the two Exit Gates are close to one another, this is probably your only shot, so just go for it!
Open the gate to 32%, then hide, and finish opening the gate once the Killer checks it
The exit gates have red lights that indicate their progress. If you progress the gate to just before the first light appears, and then hide, you can finish opening the gate once the Killer checks your gate for the first time. To do this, open the gate to just before halfway through the ‘A’ in “ESCAPE” above the progress bar, then hide.
Don’t hide in a nearby locker unless you have to — it’s too obvious. Instead, pick somewhere you can easily see the Killer, and ideally somewhere that’s not in between the two gates.
Whew! I realize that this guide, taken as a whole, probably feels like a lot — and it is. Instead of trying to learn all of this at once, it’s best to pick one thing to focus on, and practice doing them in your next few games. You could specifically practice getting generators done, or managing hook states, or breaking 3 gens. Once you feel you’ve got a good handle on that aspect of the game, move on to another aspect of the game to practice!
We hope this guide was helpful. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please drop us a line in the comments section below.
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Unabashed FromSoftware fanboy still learning to take his time with games (and everything else, really). The time he doesn't spend on games is spent on music, books, or occasionally going outside.