When Dead by Daylight released in 2016, the game had a humble three killers and four survivors. It was intended to be a hide-and-seek style game where the survivors outwitted the killer and escaped the map. Very few could have foreseen how the game would blow up. Dead by Daylight has transformed into what some call the "Super Smash Bros. of horror."
Sporting 24 killers and an average of 62 thousand players as of July 2021, Dead by Daylight shows no signs of slowing down. The game sports a decent tutorial that explains the basics of gameplay, but doesn't go into the complexities of each killer. Without friends to play with, it's nearly impossible to test out new killers, as there are no bot matches inside the game. It can be intimidating to choose from a list of 24 characters, but there are a few that are easier to start with.
The Cannibal — Leatherface
Players who have purchased the "Leatherface" DLC will have access to The Cannibal. One of the easier killers to learn, he also has one of the best perks in the entire game with Barbeque & Chili, which is useful on almost every killer in the entire roster. Against new survivors, Leatherface can feel borderline unfair with his ability, but be warned, he doesn't scale well with more experienced players.
How To Play Leatherface
Leatherface has the ability to use his chainsaw in a sweeping dash attack. He begins with three charges at the start of each match. Spending a charge sends him into a 2-second chainsaw sprint, during which he waves his chainsaw back and forth and gains a significant boost to movement speed. Any survivors hit by the attack are instantly downed.
It should be noted that Leatherface builds up another meter while using his ability, the "tantrum" meter. Once full, Leatherface stops moving and swings his chainsaw wildly, downing any survivors hit in the tantrum but also halting his movement. Balancing Leatherface's power with his tantrums can be tricky, especially against survivors that know how to properly loop killers.
Released as part of 2020's Chains of Hate DLC, The Deathslinger is a distinct killer. Many killers have ranged abilities, but only The Deathslinger can aim down the sights of his weapon in classic FPS style. New players to Dead by Daylight should definitely give Deathslinger a try if they enjoy FPS games. Though he won't be slide-canceling across the map or shooting from cover, his entire ability is dependent on good aim.
How To Play Deathslinger
Deathslinger's perks aren't exactly meta, but they will certainly suffice for new player lobbies. His ability is easy to learn and understand, but can be hard to actually use. His weapon has a single shot before needing to be reloaded, so misses can cost the player a lot of time.
Successful hits with his harpoon gun allow the Deathslinger to reel survivors in. They can then be hit, leaving them injured and suffering from Deep Wounds. Unless mended in time, Deep Wounds will down an injured player.
For a long time after the Trickster's initial release, he was widely considered one of the worst killers in the game. July 27, 2021 brought a big buff to Trickster, making him a much more viable pick. In addition to his bumping menu theme and zany visual design, the Trickster is host to a powerful ranged ability called the Showstopper.
How To Play The Trickster
When activating Showstopper, The Trickster can throw many small blades into survivors, building up their laceration meter. Once full (six successful blade hits), they take damage, which can either injure or down them depending on their initial health state. Trickster can throw one blade at a time or hold down the power button and continuously throw blades, slowing himself down in the process.
Using his ability builds the Trickster's Main Event special. Activating Main Event allows Trickster to throw an unlimited number of blades quickly, downing survivors within a small space nearby. Keep in mind that his blades aren't infinite though — he will need to open lockers around the map to restock.
The Huntress is available to all players who purchase Dead by Daylight. She can be instantly identified by the haunting tune she hums while hunting down the survivors. She's one of the harder killers to master, but is fairly easy to learn as her power is simple and easy to understand.
How To Play The Huntress
Holding down the power button allows the Huntress to prime a throwing hatchet. Releasing the button launches the hatchet forward. Because Dead by Daylight doesn't have a crosshair and the Huntress can't exactly aim down any sights, hitting survivors might be a challenge at first. There are also many maps that make it challenging to survivors with a hatchet, thanks to all the clutter.
Though the Huntress is difficult to truly master, her intuitive power and decent lunging attack make her a great choice for new players. Her hatchets can catch unsuspecting survivors off-guard, guaranteeing that she is a threat from nearly anywher. Keep in mind that hatchets must be restocked at lockers.
Legion stands as one of the most mobile killers in the game. Though they can't teleport like The Hag or blink like The Nurse, their speed on foot is nearly unmatched. Legion's power is easy to learn but can become frustrating at higher levels.
How To Play Legion
Legion can enter the Feral Frenzy, gaining the ability to sprint and chain attacks together. They lose sight of scratch marks and blood pools left by survivors, but gain the power to slide across pallets and vault windows just like survivors.
To add to the power, survivors hit during Feral Frenzy will get injured and become afflicted by Deep Wounds. Any other survivors in the terror radius of Legion will be temporarily marked, allowing Legion to sprint over to them next. This may sound overpowered at first, but it is balanced by the fact that Legion cannot down survivors while in the Feral Frenzy. Legion players will have to finish survivors off while not using the power. This makes Legion one of the easiest to learn, but also one of the weaker killers in the game.
The Doctor is universally considered one of the harder killers for most survivors to face. He can easily wipe new lobbies and his ability is extremely powerful if used correctly. The in-game description classifies the Doctor as "Hard," but this is mostly because there is a lot to understand about his power's effects.
How To Play The Doctor
The Doctor can use two powers to induce the Madness effect on survivors. The first is Static Blast, which hits inside The Doctor's terror radius. Survivors hit will scream, revealing their positions and take Madness damage. Put simply, Madness has three tiers, and survivors will suffer worse and worse effects based on their level of Madness.
The Doctor can also use Shock Therapy while Static Blast is on cooldown. Shock Therapy also induces Madness, but only does so in a hard-to-see area in front of the Doctor. As Madness builds, survivors will be plagued with negative effects. A few include backward skill checks, hallucinated pallets, and fake terror radius notifications. Madness essentially is a constant passive debuff that the Doctor just has to induce a few times to be effective.
The Pig — Amanda Young
Fans of the SAW franchise will recognize Amanda Young as The Pig. This stealthy killer is a bit tricky to play, but rewarding The Pig is one of two killers that can crouch, giving her the Undetectable effect. This removes her terror radius and red killer light, and masks her aura to survivors. Though she moves slower while crouched, she can spring surprise attacks on unknowing survivors who walk past.
How To Play The Pig
From the crouched state, The Pig can activate the Ambush Dash, which allows her to sprint forward at a heightened speed and attack a survivor. This either injures or downs them depending on starting health.
Once she has downed a survivor, The Pig can place the iconic reverse bear trap from the movies onto their head. These traps start inactive, but go live once survivors complete a generator. Active reverse bear traps will instantly kill the survivor wearing it after 150 seconds unless they find the right key in one of many Jigsaw boxes around the map. There's more to learn with The Pig than some of the other killers, but her ability is easy to understand and the bear traps do their own job once placed.
Before the developers of Dead by Daylight gained the licenses to many iconic horror franchises, they worked on killers that mimicked these brutal icons. The Hillbilly was clearly inspired by Leatherface, but his power works a little differently than Leatherface's within the game.
How To Play The Hillbilly
Hillbilly has a chainsaw rush just like Leatherface, but it works much differently. Instead of dashing forward while waving the chainsaw, Hillbilly zooms forward at twice his regular movement speed in a hard-to-control line.
Running into survivors while in the chainsaw sprint will instantly down them. It will also destroy pallets and breakable doors, and if used correctly, can do so faster than simply kicking them. The Hillbilly's power is about as easy as it gets: players simply hold the power button and launch forward. That said, it should be noted that he can be easily dodged or baited into running into walls. While the Hillbilly is user-friendly, it can be hard to beat good groups of survivors with him.
The Shape — Michael Myers
There is perhaps no slasher icon more recognizable than Micheal Myers. As such, it makes sense that he was the first licensed killer in Dead by Daylight. His power is simple to learn, making him a good choice for a new player. He plays differently than many other killers, and is commonly considered a late-game killer. Survivors will finish generators against Myers because his power takes time to charge. Once charged, though, Myers is a frightening foe.
How To Play The Shape
Myers is a meter character, meaning that over the course of the game, players build meter via stalking survivors. Stalking can be activated with the active power button. While stalking, Myers moves slower and survivors are highlighted. White-highlighted survivors build meter faster, while red-highlighted survivors build it slower (usually from already being stalked). Players simply must stalk the survivors to build Myers' power meter.
At tier three, Myers raises his weapon up and his iconic piano tune plays across the map. All survivors will now be downed in one hit until his meter burns back to tier two. Tier three can be reached multiple times in a match, but it becomes harder to get there as the game goes on. There is very little high-level skill involved in using Myers's power, as it is simply stalking survivors. The true skill comes with knowing when to activate tier three and how to move as Myers.
The Wraith was one of three original killers in Dead By Daylight. His power is very forgiving, especially against new survivors. He is by far the best option for a new player looking to learn the ins and outs of playing a killer.
How To Play The Wraith
The Wraith can cloak himself after ringing his Wailing Bell. While cloaked, the Wraith is granted the Undetectable status and becomes nearly invisible. Survivors will really need to keep their eyes open when playing against him.
The Wraith cannot attack from the cloaked state, and must uncloak to deal damage. Uncloaking gives the Wraith a short-lived but huge speed boost, allowing him to injure or down survivors even if they've spotted him uncloaking. The Wraith is a great all-around option for new players learning the game, and he is available to everyone. His power is easy to learn, and he's generally a fun killer to play with.