Home Editorial Know your perks: Killing Floor beginner’s guide

Well, I’ve covered the enemies and their various sundry tricks, but of course I’ve left the best for last.

This may be a zombie-esque apocalypse, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of fun.

Killing Floor features seven unique perks for all your zed destroying needs, and here’s where I do the breakdown of all the glorious violence to be sown.

And trust me, there’s a lot.

I’ll be giving a breakdown of each perk in no particular order, and for the purposes of this guide I’m going to be assuming fairly high level play — generally at least level four — because ideally you should be using a perk of at least that level when you’re playing on a normal or hard server. There are exceptions of course, like going to a server to specifically level a perk, but the only objective I’m gunning for is survival and victory. With that out of the way I think it’s time to get down to business.



The only perk to be added to the game after the initial six, Demolitions does roughly what its name implies: it blows shit up. Demolitions is somewhat of an odd perk in totality though because of many factors. Although the damage it can dish out is sometimes utterly insane, Demolitions is somewhat limited in that it is, bar none, the most money hungry perk in the entire game. Limited amounts of ammo with each weapon and the sheer expense of buying loads of pipe bombs to place round after round means that cash is almost always going to be an issue, especially on higher difficulty levels when kills yield less money overall. Demolitions can also be a highly suicidal perk, since if your explosives hit team-mates or cloaked Stalkers the Demo can suffer huge self damage.

For the above mentioned reasons I tend to classify Demo as a mid-to-late game perk. It’s generally advisable to spend the first rounds as a class that you can mostly stand as self-sufficient with. Any class will likely do in a pinch although since Berserker spawns with body armour and doesn’t use ammo it can be the best perk to transition into Demo later. You’ll also probably have to rely on the generosity of your team-mates to fully stock yourself and to top off each round, so make sure that their contributions don’t go to waste.

The play style of Demolitions also takes some getting used to, although when played effectively they are one of the most powerful perks in the game by nature. Ideally, anyone playing Demo should be staying at mid to long range because although they do receive some explosive mitigation if they’re forced to use their perks at close range it is invariably suicidal due to the high self-damage they take. After finding a good vantage point — a location like the top of the police car in the tunnel of West London is a good example — it’s best to then use your weapons sparingly.

There are two reasons for this: first is that due to your limited stock of ammo; you can’t just waste shots on a single Clot or Crawler. Waiting for large groups of specimens to gather around a choke point or swarm around a Berserker can prove fruitful in terms of targeting. Secondly is that all your explosives produce smoke which is highly obstructive to sight. Commandos won’t mind as much since they can see the health bars of oncoming enemies, but perks like Sharpshooters will throw fits over a constant fog of war if you’re reckless with your rounds.

Of the two larger specimens Demos are more suited to dealing with Fleshpounds over Scrakes, since the latter has a high explosive resistance. Line up as best you can and then empty your clip, a Commando is a huge boon as they’ll be able to tell if you outright killed a Fleshpound or be able to generally mop up a severely weakened one after your explosive barrage.

The other major role a Demo plays is planting pipe bombs. In later waves these traps are incredibly useful for weakening major threats like Scrakes and Fleshpounds. It’s important to always keep a small stock of pipe bombs, using them up at the beginning of a level is unwise due to the random nature of specimen spawns. You’ll also want to get a couple of team-mates to defend pipe bombs from enemies like Sirens, Bloats, and Husks, which can nullify or set off your traps at inopportune times. Traps should be generally two pipe bombs that aren’t stacked on top of each other but close enough to affect the same general area.

Although the LAW might seem like an attractive option, the sheer size of it means that you’re not going to be able to carry anything else. An ideal set up can be found with an M32 as the heavy hitting weapon, and the relatively new weapon the M4 203 as a non-lethal close range defence option. There’s plenty of different combinations though, so some experimentation will determine what suits you best.



The Medic stands as a sort of odd man out. Not only is Medic the only perk that you cannot level up on your own since it only counts damage healed from team-mates, but it also doesn’t have any weapon bonuses to its name, instead gaining higher proficiency with healing and armour. The Medic can be played straight or sort of serve as a jack of all trades, master of none to fill a gap while still possessing some decent benefits.

The Medic has a move speed second only to the Berserker, this is mostly because when the game first came out you had to be right next to someone to heal them, rather than having the option of long range alt.fire healing from guns like MP5M and MP7M. Because of this increased move speed and additional protective bonus provided by the body armour the Medic makes an interesting choice as a somewhat moderately effective tank, being able to take and shrug off hits that would prove seriously damaging to other players. The provision here is that as soon as the Medic is out of armour he’s just as squishy as everyone else (again barring the Berserker).

Although it is advisable to carry at least one of the healing guns, sometimes Medics will be found sporting Crossbows and Katanas, a combination that allows them to defend themselves from all ranges. Medics can generally take whatever weapons they feel comfortable enough using, although it’s often more proficient to get a perk to buy the weapon for you since the Medic only gets discounts on body armour and the healing weapons.

A Medic can be a front to midline fighter, but he’s often best paired with a heavy hitting class like a Support Specialist or Berserker. It’s generally fine for a Medic to take some potshots and get some kills of his own, but thanks to his incredibly boosted effectiveness and regeneration of his heals it’s always a top priority to make sure that people aren’t dying on your watch. For this reason sticking with the main group is the most effective place for a Medic to be. If anyone decides to go Rambo against the group’s wishes, then simply leave them to their fate; they arguably deserve it. That being said, deploying a Medic and a Berserker to lure specimens away from the main grouping by using their superior move speed is a legitimate tactic, but must be generally agreed upon so that the core group knows they won’t have the Medic backing them up to heal them if things get particularly rough.



BBQ tonight? For that little (or large) pyromaniac in all of us, the Firebug is there. Although this perk originally only had the Flamethrower, the additions of both the MAC-10 and the Husk Fireball Launcher have somewhat rounded out the Firebug’s arsenal and made it more of a stable and potentially viable perk in the long term.

The Firebug excels at mid range crowd control, dousing waves of Zeds with fire and watching them burn for damage over time. The largest issue with a Firebug is ammo conservation: it’s easier than any other weapon to waste a ton of Flamethrower ammo when you didn’t need to just by keeping a continuous stream of fire going everywhere. To counter this it’s advisable to both learn to target enemies further away from you by learning how to control the arc of flame effectively, and also to pulse with the Flamethrower rather than go all out. Tapping the mouse a couple of times often proves just as effective as letting the entire thing fly, and if you play a lot of Firebug you’ll get a feel for how many puffs it will take at what ranges.

I cannot stress how invaluable the additions of the new Firebug weapons are. Choose a combination of a MAC-10 and either the Flamethrower or Fireball Launcher. The MAC-10 allows Firebugs to take on Husks without wasting a lot of ammo, and also gives them a weapon that can deal headshots and ignite Zeds at the same time. The Flamethrower represents a stable and economical choice, but the Fireball Launcher is also capable of dealing headshots and explosive splash damage on top of fire damage as well, making it an attractive endgame option.

Now, despite all of these new weapons a Firebug is still ill suited to take on a Scrake or Fleshpound alone. He can certainly help kite them a little thanks to the damage over time, but the big guys just have too much HP for the burning to take them down before they become enraged and pose a huge threat to the party. Certainly you can concentrate fire and help take one down, but as it stands Firebug is more about toasting all the little nasties so other classes can focus on the big ones.

As I mentioned earlier, roasting enemies take damage over time and can also become ‘crisp’ which will be reflected in a brown texture map over the skin. Crisp enemies move slower and burning enemies can also panic and flail around if not damaged by another player (although don’t count on this to save you from an enraged Scrake or Fleshpound, it won’t). A crisp enemy that’s still on fire might run around and die before getting in range of anyone else, but it’s still a good idea to just take down enemies as quickly as possible while maintaining a good ammo economy.

One last thing to mention is that at higher perk levels the Firebug is the only class that as the advantage of being able to drop literally all of their grenades at their feet and live. In fact since Firebug grenades are incendiary after level 3 and a 100% immunity to fire after level 5 if you grenade yourself at level 5 you will take absolutely no damage whatsoever. If you ever find yourself in the unenviable position of being surrounded as a Firebug, don’t be afraid to utterly abuse this to roast your would-be killers and clear a path for your escape.



Standing as another jack of all trades is the Commando. This perk deals exclusively with assault rifles ranging from the Bullpup all the way to the SCARMK17. The Commando perk also has multiple advantages including larger assault rifle clips, faster reload times with every weapon, and the ability to see both enemy health, and cloaked enemies as well.

The Commando can leisurely choose the range that suits their respective style of play best, as they can be any combination of a close, mid or long range. The SCAR is the undisputed best weapon that a Commando can take that benefits from his damage bonuses, and with the scope the thing becomes a headshotting machine. It’s not uncommon for a well versed Commando to land headshot after headshot into an oncoming horde to thin out their numbers. In making multiple headshots the Commando can also hopefully trigger one of his inherent abilities: he’s one of only two perks that can chain the slow motion Zed-time effect more than once (the other being Berserker). While not incredibly useful it can allow a team enough of a window to coordinate and land better shots on incoming targets.

A Commando really shines when the team has voice chat and uses it often and effectively. Since he can see enemy health from a decent distance at high levels he can inform the team of the best times to coordinate and strike against larger threats like Scrakes and Fleshpounds. Using his abilities to see through cloaks he can also inform Demos of incoming Stalkers that might disrupt their shots, or even more importantly spot the cloaked Patriarch in the last round when he’s trying to sneak in and gut a team member.

Although the Commando has no trouble mowing down lesser Zeds, he can’t really take on either of the big guys alone without getting them enraged and almost certainly taking more than one clip. For these reason it’s more important for a Commando to organize in situations when facing down a Scrake or Fleshpound than it is for him to be dealing damage. That’s not to say that he shouldn’t participate in any group efforts to take them down or that he shouldn’t try to unload on a Fleshpound after it’s just had a huge chunk of its health taken out with some well placed pipe bombs or grenade shots, but a Commando isn’t going to be winning any toe-to-toe battles without backup or taking some serious and perhaps even fatal damage.

A somewhat attractive option for a Commando is to have another class, like a Support Specialist or Demolitions, drop him one of their weapons like a shotgun or M32. The Commando doesn’t get damage bonuses with these weapons, but can readily and happily abuse his faster reloading capacities with them, making for some interesting load out choices that can be surprisingly effective. A Commando shouldn’t be without at least one assault rifle of course, but beyond that feel free to get a little inventive.

As mentioned earlier, a Commando is one of the perks that plays quite nicely with a Demolitions perk. Using his ability to see health bars he can easily pinpoint specimens through the smoke created by explosions and pick any weakened survivors off. He can also prove pivotal in being able to tell whether an incoming Scrake or Fleshpound survived a pipe trap or grenade barrage. Keep this synergy in mind when playing at higher difficulty levels.



A Sharpshooter is perhaps the most powerful class in Killing Floor although that doesn’t mean that they can completely get away with everything, especially on higher difficulties. What they can do is bag the immense threats of Sirens, Scrakes, and Fleshpounds with a little more ease than most of the other classes. Sharpshooter is also one of the classes that does have nerfs in place on the Hell on Earth difficulty level. Namely, Scrakes and Fleshpounds gain increased Crossbow headshot resistance, and the Sharpshooter also loses his godly 140% headshot bonus with the 9mm, instead receiving only 40%. These nerfs don’t stop Sharps from being considered one of the core classes to take into any difficulty, but it does prevent them from completely throwing the balance curve out the window.

In just about any other mode other than Hell on Earth it’s entirely possible for a Sharpshooter to simply go the entirety of a match with the weapons he spawns with. The default 9mm pistol with precisely aimed headshots can pretty much kill any of the smaller specimens in a single pop, and the Crossbow can pick of Sirens and Husks from afar while still turning the heads of Scrakes and Fleshpounds into chunky kibble.

Sharpshooters prefer to fight from a distance when possible. The iron sights on a majority of their guns let them snipe at a leisurely pace, landing headshot after headshot. Sharpshooters can help thin herds, but their main responsibility is taking down threats like Sirens, Husks, Scrakes and Fleshpounds. As strange as it sounds a Sharp on higher difficulties should consider Sirens to be the highest priority target when they spawn with other threats like Scrakes and Fleshpounds. Certainly a Fleshpound will rage, but it doesn’t have a long range attack that affects more than one team member at a time. A Scrake can also be handled by a competent Berserker in most cases, so getting rid of the annoying screamer is generally the main objective, then dealing with the big guys when you don’t have to worry about your eardrums exploding.

There’s generally a split right down the middle in terms of Sharpshooter loadouts. A 9mm or Handcannon serves as the primary gun, or occasionally the Lever Action Rifle, but there is a choice in top tier weapons between the Crossbow or the M14 EBR. The Crossbow offers extremely powerful but slow attacks that can generally one shot or nearly one shot anything short of the Patriarch on all but the highest difficulty level. The M14 on the other hand offers rapid fire and a laser sight that makes thinning out large crowds of specimens incredibly simple. With enough practice it is also possible to use the M14 to land headshot after headshot on larger specimens until they die. It’s not unheard of for a Sharpshooter to empty an entire M14 clip into a Fleshpound while it’s in the throes of its rage animation, effectively killing it; not unheard of, but far from simple.

The Sharpshooter is one of the classes that is going to be in a decent amount of trouble if a specimen or group of specimens gets right up in their face. To this end some Sharpshooters choose to dual-weld Handcannons or Colts, this is a compromise though as it greatly reduces accuracy and also reduces overall ammo. It’s a personal choice whether or not to dual-weld, but a lot of Sharps tend to prefer using a single pistol and relying on their team-mates to make sure they are not overwhelmed.



Like to get up close and personal with the shit you kill? Then you’ll enjoy Berserker. The melee driven class stands as the main tank of the team and one of the most self-sufficient perks that you can choose (although of course not without its own set of drawbacks).

The Berserker is the fastest moving perk in the game, getting a 30% boost to move speed and a 25% boost to melee attack speed at the highest level of the perk. Due to always going toe-to-toe with specimens the Berserker also receives all around damage immunity of up to 40% at the highest level; this damage resistance is not as high as the Medic armour bonuses, but unlike with the Medic he always retains this bonus and doesn’t have to worry about losing it if he loses armour. The Berserker also sports an impressive immunity to Bloat bile, which renders it more of an annoyance to him even on the highest difficulty levels, as opposed to a huge threat to most of the other perks. Like the Commando the Berserker can also chain Zed time, getting up to five in a row under the right circumstances. Finally the Berserker can never be grabbed by Clots, as suits his improved mobility.

The high level Berserker spawns with a Chainsaw and Body Armour (although not with Armour on Hell on Earth), and from there it’s relatively a matter of taste as to which selection of the top tier Berserker weapons a player wants to use. The Katana is generally considered one of the go-to weapons in terms of crowd clearing thanks to its high damage and attack speed. The Chainsaw is a heavy option and can stun, but reduces the high move speed of the Berserker by quite a bit which is somewhat counterintuitive. Before the most recent array of weapons came out a popular choice was the Katana/Fire Axe combination. The Katana made fast work of smaller specimens, while the Axe could be used to stun Scrakes and deal with larger, bulkier things like the Husk. With the addition of the Claymore to the game though the Fire Axe has become slightly outdated, although still not a bad choice.

The Berserker’s main goal is to act as a damage sink and cut swathes through oncoming hordes. Thanks to his speed he can excel at hit and run attacks, but he also makes an excellent “doorman” in some situations when backed up by the entire team. For instance if a team welds one of the manor doors shut in the eponymous level, then sits the Berserker in front of the open door, the specimens are mostly funnelled to him like a meat grinder. Another offensive class provides backup, while a Medic maintains constant healing while the other team members pick off specimens that come from other spawn points to make sure the team isn’t scissored by enemies. This tactic remains effective through most of the game, although tends to fall apart after round seven.

There is a reason for that of course. As strong as a Berserker is, a Fleshpound is still an incredible threat that he generally cannot handle on his own without a lot of skill. A Berserker can take down Scrakes thanks to being able to chain stun them with the Axe, Chainsaw or Claymore (and are in fact preferred in doing so since they can do so without taking damage or using ammo). Against Fleshpounds though, even they cannot out damage a raging Fleshpound, and need to either have it weakened up first, or learn to successfully kite it, which takes a lot of effort and falls apart if other specimens — especially a second Fleshpound — are around to interfere.

Berserkers also have a really hard time dealing with Sirens and Husks when they can’t hide around a corner and wait for the offending specimen to round it for a surprise attack. A Berserker does have enough speed to rush out to meet these specimens, but runs the risk of getting held up by other specimens and not making it back to relative safety. Also needless to say that although you hit hard, the Patriarch hits harder, and will completely fuck you up if you get into close range combat with him, especially on higher difficulties.

It’s for these reasons that Berserkers make excellent early round perks: they can build up money and can even disregard buying armour if they are supported well enough. Transitioning from a Berserker once you have enough money to buy the high tier weapons from another class is a fair strategy, and if you choose to remain Berserker throughout the match then the team can generally come to you for money for their own expensive weapons. You just need to be aware of what you are and aren’t capable of and not get in over your head.


Support Specialist

Boomstick time. The Support Specialist is another class that most groups won’t want to do without for a variety of reasons. The Support Specialist makes his trade in shotguns of all shapes and sizes, but that’s not the only part of his job. He also has the important but somewhat more mundane task of welding, which he does with more speed and efficiency than any other perk.

Aside from the obvious bonuses to welding and shotgun use in general the Support Specialist also has a couple of other unique benefits. First of all is the increased carrying capacity: a level six Support has a carrying capacity of 24 as opposed to the normal 15 for every other class: this is mostly to allow him to carry more than one shotgun, but in a pinch a Support can serve as a pack mule in case someone dies and needs their high tier weapon drop brought back to the Trader so that they don’t spend half the time after respawning getting the weapon only to find that they can’t buy armour or ammo for it. This increased carrying capacity means that the Support can carry their choice of two shotguns and a Katana, meaning that they excel at close range skirmishes more than anything else.

Finally, as a holdover from the times when there were no Demos Support has and retains an affinity for grenades: at the highest level his grenades do 50% more damage and instead of five he can carry a staggering eleven. This means that alongside Demo, Support is a class that shouldn’t be afraid to throw a grenade when things are looking hairy.

Indeed, the frontline is normally the place to be for a Support in any offensive situation. Thanks to the increased damage and penetration that his perk gives to shotguns he can often mow down multiple specimens in a single blast as long as they’re crowded together closely enough. That being said it’s best not to get overzealous.

Even with the increased ammo capacity that Support provides for shotguns, you will find yourself needing to reload constantly. Make it a habit to reload whenever you’ve got a spare moment, even if it only means getting one more shell into the weapon that you’re currently using, it can mean the difference between taking a lot of damage or laughing over the corpses of specimens.

The Shotgun and the recently released side-grade the Combat Shotgun are going to be the meat and potatoes of this class. The Shotgun carries eight shots loaded and is more affordable than the Combat Shotgun, but the latter is semi-automatic although it only holds six shots and also has one hell of a kick, even at high levels. These are the weapons that should be used to take out the small fry, which is basically anything short of a Scrake, Fleshpound, or Patriarch.

For those latter three you’ve got two options: the Hunting Shotgun, or the AA12. The Hunting Shotgun is something that delivers an amazing amount of damage in one huge blast. Although it only has two shells, unloading both of them at once can cut down five to ten normal specimens at once, and two or three consecutive double barrelled blasts will take down anything short of the Patriarch himself. The long reload between each blast pretty much ensures that a raging Scrake or Fleshpound is probably going to get one or two good shots in, and that’s all it needs. I myself prefer the AA12, since with 20 rounds and fully auto capability it is probably one of the most damaging guns in the game aside from the M32 or Crossbow. A full clip of AA12 ammo can severely weaken or outright kill a Scrake or even Fleshpound on almost any difficulty. Even on Hell on Earth during a six man game, if every shot of an AA12 clip hits it deals 4800 damage, to put that into perspective a Fleshpound on Hell on Earth with six people have 5906 hit points. So with a little softening up beforehand an AA12 clip is enough to take down even the worst threat in the game with just a little coordination.

Of course, there’s another, far less glamorous but no less important job for a Support Specialist to do in some cases: keeping a door welded. I’m not going to lie, if you’re on door-duty then you’re probably going to be in for a boring/semi-annoying time. You can probably take a couple of shots at stuff here and there, but the main concern is maintaining the weld. At higher levels a Support can easily hold a door against multiple specimens (although nothing survives too long once a Fleshpound decides it doesn’t like it). Keeping a door welded isn’t fun, but it can keep a match from going completely to hell. So even if it doesn’t seem like much, remember that it still makes you credit to team.


Get more Grahf

Enjoyed this article? Check out Grahf Games for more awesome content from the author. And don’t forget to read Part 1 and Part 2 of his Killing Floor strategy series!

4 replies to this post
  1. 2 Additions:
    1) I wouldn’t say “only go in normal or hard with lvl 4”
    Leveling alone is boring! And Normal isnt so bad if your only lvl 2. what youshould do however is always start in wave 1 with the berserker or sharpshooter perk to have some kind of bonuses for the weapons you spawn with. Once you have a lvl 5 perk, you can spawn with that one to have a better weapon, which you can also sell should you decide to change the perk.

    2) Combat Shotgun is shit. It costs almost as much as the AA12 and has smaller clips. I usually run a shotgun and a Hunting shotgun, which I switch for the AA12 once I got enough dough.
    Generally for ammo-chewing perks I recommend buying only guns and then split off to look for ammo. Just make sure you can re-unite with the team once the horde’s are coming

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  4. For the Firebug, I use the Mac10 and fire single shots at everything. All the small ones will fall and die pretty quickly.
    For the big guys, a few shots from the Trenchgun will bring them down.

    I Love the Bezerker! Katana and speed is unstoppable. I do tend to shoot the bloats and the crawlers though, they’re hard to kill without taking damage.

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