“What the … ?” is a question that Sebastian Castellanos asks often, and you’ll be echoing the protagonist’s sentiment. The Evil Within 2 presents you with a nightmarish world where the normal rules of reality don’t really apply. It’s a lot to take in, and you’ll be learning constantly.
But there are rules to the madness. There are ways to think about the game and things you can do to keep yourself alive — especially in your first several hours. In this guide, we’ll teach you what we learned and help you figure out Union faster so you can stay alive longer.
Go slow and steady is our most useful piece of advice. It’s both how to play it and the philosophy for coming up with your strategies. Sebastian isn’t a superhero. He’s just a guy who can’t run fast or for long and isn’t particularly handy with a knife. We like him. We relate to him. But it means you have play carefully.
That’s not to say that he’s weak. You just have to approach the game differently than you would if you were playing some muscle-bound murder machine. The Evil Within 2 rewards patience and carefully considered actions. (It rewards you by not immediately killing you.) Think about each encounter as a puzzle to solve. The pieces you’re fitting together are zombies’ lines of sight, their movements and your hiding places.
Especially early on, you’re only going to survive an encounter if you’re trying to handle one zombie at a time. And that’s going to take some work. You’ll have to wait until its back is turned and its friends aren’t paying attention. Then, you can slip in, thin the herd a little and move on to your next victim.
You’ll survive longer if you chip away at these encounters with a chisel rather than smashing into them like a sledgehammer. Like we said, you’re not a superhero. Break any encounter down into bite-sized chunks and handle it one step at a time.
Embrace stealth, and test its limits early
The Evil Within 2 is a survival horror game, so even essential items like ammunition are sparse. You’re limited to what you can find or what you can make, but even then, your ammo pouch maxes out at 20 (though you can expand it later). During your first several hours, your weapons are weak, too. Unless you’re an amazing shot, you’ll probably empty a clip from your pistol before defeating even the weakest zombies. And you just don’t have the spare bullets.
So there it is: You don’t have much ammo, and your weapons aren’t great. What to do?
Only one weapon in your arsenal escapes this fundamental scarcity: your knife. Unfortunately, it’s a nearly useless weapon — except when it’s essential, like a desperate fight for your life or when you’ve got the drop on a zombie. Sneak kills will kill most workaday zombies with one attack. Stay crouched, stay careful and be patient. You’ll be able to take out a lot of zombies without firing a shot.
Every enemy you sneak up to and kill with your everlasting knife is a bullet you’ve saved for a time when stealth isn’t an option. So be stealthy. It’s in your best interest.
Understanding what captures a zombie’s attention is not only going to keep you alive, but it’ll also save you a lot of time. Learn it early and push the limits. Figure out how close you can get before a zombie can see you. Figure out when it’s OK to run. Watch and learn the way the various kinds of zombies move, and figure out how to sneak past them or sneak up on them. Understand what to push and what to avoid is going to keep you alive.
Use your gun sparingly, but don’t be afraid to use it
Ammo considerations (you don’t have any) aside, the amount of noise a gun makes is problematic. It isn’t as loud as you’re afraid it is, but it’s still going to draw some attention. Don’t limit yourself to only your knife if you’re afraid of drawing in other enemies — that’s a sure way to die. Because …
You’re not going to win a knife fight
Sebastian gets two swings with his knife before he needs a breather (same!), and that’s invariably when the zombie gets its second wind and kills you. A head-on knife fight is a recipe for disaster.
Use your knife on an enemy to stun them for a moment, and then get some distance. If you can knock them down, a stomp will take them out. But a frontal assault with a knife is suicide.
Axes win most fights
An axe is powerful where a knife is weak: face-to-face with a zombie. But they break after one kill. Even so, don’t treat axes as precious — especially if the enemy you’re about to hit is carrying one. Use the axe, kill the zombie with one hit, and collect the axe it drops.
And pick up any axe you see if you don’t already have one. They’re life savers.
You can’t stab around corners (yet)
When you’re starting out, stealth kills are your surest way to take out zombies quietly. But you can’t stealth kill from the side or around a corner. And that’s a hard (and frustrating) lesson to learn. When you visit Nurse Tatiana, upgrade your stealth to include ambush. This lets you stab from cover and will make your life a lot easier.
Keep stabbing until you see loot
When you do end up in a fight, either stabbing or shooting in nature, don’t stop until you see some loot drop. Just because something you shot falls down, you can’t assume it’s dead. Horror movie rules apply here. Zombies have a nasty habit of jumping back up and continuing to attack like nothing happened.
The way to be sure is to watch for loot. Zombies will drop some items like green gel or gunpowder when they die.
Getting spotted isn’t (always) a death sentence
Union is full of places to hide. You don’t ever want to get spotted, but if (and when) you do, don’t panic and don’t give up. You don’t have to immediately switch to your loudest gun and start ringing the dinner bell, and you don’t have to start wildly slashing with your knife (it won’t do you any good anyway — we’ve tried). Try to stay calm and find someplace to hide. Get around corners, break line of sight and stay hidden. Zombies are scary, but their attention span has limits.
Bushes are great and also terrible
Bushes are a great place to hide, but be careful of the tall ones. The zombies might not be able to see in, but you will also have a hard time seeing out. Aiming whatever weapon you have handy seems to help, but you’re still going to have limited visibility. Bushes can save your life, but they can also trap you.
Getting grabbed doesn’t have to be a death sentence either
When a zombie gets too up close and personal, things get really neck-bitey. You can survive one of these attacks, but it’s a pretty serious blow to your health. As soon as you can, upgrade to the stealth skill bottle break. This will automatically consume a bottle out of your inventory to break a zombie’s hold on you before you get bit.
Use the HUD to stay safe
Just because you can’t see a zombie doesn’t mean they can’t see you. They’re sneakier than you expect and they’re (even more) terrifying when they catch you by surprise. But you’ve got something that can help you out here.
The enemy alertness eye icon at the top of your HUD will let you know if anyone sees or hears you. If the eye is scanning back and forth, someone’s looking for you. If it’s unblinking and staring straight ahead, someone sees you and is heading your way. The parentheses around the eye indicate if you’re making enough noise for a zombie to hear you.
Be aware of your surroundings
You don’t have a minimap, so you’re at a disadvantage from the start. More often than not, though, you can spot a zombie before they spot you. Use that. Keep looking around and try to keep track of where your enemies are.
Let sleeping zombies lie
The Evil Within 2’s zombies have an annoying habit of laying down in tall grass. If you’re not careful, you’ll step right on top of them (and then things get all interesting). Because, even if it’s sprawled out on the ground or slumped against a wall, you have to assume it’s still dangerous.
If it looks like and zombie and it’s acting dead, assume it’s just waiting. Never trust anything you didn’t kill yourself.
These passive zombies aren’t a threat until you step on them or attack. You can sneak past them without too much trouble (assuming nothing wakes them up), but it’s usually best to just find another way around because you can’t sneak-stab a sleeping zombie, which is just the worst.
(Almost) always take the long way around
Parading down the middle of the street is probably going to get you killed. Luckily, Union is full of alleys and back yards that you can sneak through. Get a sense of the direction you’re heading to find your goal, then start looking for alternate routes. You don’t have to go as far out of your way as possible, but there are plenty of ways to get anywhere in town. This will let you avoid danger.
And pay attention to what the game is telling you. Is there a herd of zombies and a lament between you and your goal? Try approaching from a different direction.
Remember that this is an open world game
There’s a bit of a paradox built into every open world game: You’re rewarded for exploration, but you’re limited by your progression. This holds true in The Evil Within 2 as well. You need to balance some things that sound like conflicting advice.
Explore any building you can get into. Chances are you’ll find something inside that makes it worth your while. Don’t go barging in like you own the place, though — there’s more than likely a zombie waiting for you inside. But you shouldn’t pass up any chance at free loot.
That said, you’re going to spend the entire game in this same small town (more or less). A later mission or chapter will probably lead you back across any part of town you’ve missed so far, so it’s not up to you to explore every square in on foot as soon as you arrive. You don’t have to go out of your way to explore something just because it’s there. Keep your destination (and your long-way-around-route) in mind and try to generally stick to it. Explore as you go, but always work toward your goal.
This same advice applies to killing zombies. Most of them will drop goop called green gel when they die, which you use to purchase upgrades to things like Sebastian’s max health or crouched walking speed. Even if they don’t, they’ll drop something useful like gunpowder.
And all of that means the rewards (usually) outweigh the cost of the ammo you’ll spend. That’s not to say you should run in with guns blazing every time you spot a zombie, but you also shouldn’t shy away from dropping a zombie when the opportunity presents itself.
Sometimes, a large concentration of zombies or an extra-tough enemy will show up. That’s the game telling you to find a different way to go. Just like exploration, you’re rewarded for killing zombies, but that doesn’t mean you should go looking for a fight. Kill or avoid the ones that are in your way — and even some of the ones that are just convenient — but don’t worry about taking down every single one in town.
Side missions are worth your time
There are optional tasks that will come up as you play The Evil Within 2. They’re not quite side missions, but they’re not pointless, either. When they show up, do them. The first two you get will get you the warden crossbow and the sawed-off shotgun.
Later (but still early in the game), you’ll start getting locations for Mobius operatives. They’ll have things like pouches to expand the number of bullets or syringes you can carry, or just ammo (which is always at a premium).
You’re never safe, but you can make the streets safer
While it feels like there’s a zombie around every corner for a lot of your trip through Union, over time you’ll see fewer and fewer. Let us stress this first: Never assume you’re safe. But you can definitely clean up the streets during a chapter to the point where you can move a lot more freely. Just don’t forget to watch rooftops and tall grass.
Like we said before, you stay more or less in this one small town for the entire game. Your missions and side missions will lead you all over it at some point. If you kill zombies and explore abandoned houses as you go, you’ll just be making the end of the chapter easier and easier for yourself.
When the next chapter starts, you’ll see new zombies (and zombie-like monsters) literally bubble up from the ground in a cutscene. Then it’s time to worry again.
Craft one of everything
The Evil Within 2 has a collecting and crafting system. It’s simple: Gather loot, and use it to make things. Eventually, this will be easy, but it’s difficult to know how to spend your precious resources at the beginning of the game.
You can craft in the field, but it’s more expensive. So it’s better to try to plan ahead whenever you come across a workbench. That said, you never know what you’re going to need or what opportunity will present itself. As your resources allow, try to craft at least one of everything. You might not need that shock bolt right now, but you might soon.
During your first several hours with the game, focus on crafting ammo, specifically handgun bullets. It’s your workhorse weapon and you can carry the most ammo for it. Don’t worry so much about all of the various bolts for the warden crossbow until you’re more comfortable using it — they’re made from rare(r) materials and have specific uses.
Can you pet the cat in Sebastian’s office?
It’s bullshit, but no.