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  • Writer's pictureStephen Machuga

Evil Dead: The Game - Beginner’s Puppeteer Guide

By: Stephen Machuga (ShanghaiSix)

Okay, a streamer told me that Evil Dead was like the 4v1 hunting game Evolve, and I insta-bought it. I loved the mechanic of being a badass creature, and every minute that went by, you got stronger and stronger until you just mopped the floor with the opposing hunters. Evil Dead is very similar, except there is so much more going on as the Kandarian demon: laying traps, demonic energy management, finding and keeping track of four separate targets; it can get pretty busy.

So now that I’ve gotten some wins under my belt and have a little better understanding of the basic mechanics and some favorite strategies, I’d like to share them with you here.

Why The Puppeteer?

The Puppeteer’s Boss and Elite units are exemplary. The Boss, Eligos, is fast, and most importantly, he disappears when he moves. I cannot stress that enough. Sure, melee units can still randomly swing around and nick you while you’re moving, but there’s nothing funnier than watching a player trying to draw a bead on where he thinks you’re at as you’re flanking around behind them. During a chaotic fight around the Dagger or Necronomicon pages, his ability to get in, pummel someone, then quickly zip away to safety is crucial. I started playing as the Warlord, but all of their units are far too slow to disengage a fight: the number of times I would be chasing after a lone player, they would get past me and then run away, or I would get gang “stunlocked” by 2-3 players just beating on me where there’s nothing you could do? Yeah, once I figured out Eligos, it was smooth sailing.

Most importantly, the Boss’ speed to get in and charge support or ranged characters. As you start learning the character classes and which characters and skins are who (for instance, everyone is using Cheryl right now for her healing abilities), the goal is to kill healers and ranged characters quickly, and they usually are fairly squishy versus tanks. So zoom around, find your squishy targets, do a combo, then either continue to punish/pummel or escape and let your cooldowns recover and repeat on another character who is busy with another minion.

Here’s a little taste of the “divide and conquer” concept with the Boss:

I wasn’t exactly sure if the Demi-Eligos “Elite” mob was going to be worthwhile, but the number of times I’ve been able to drop a Thunderstruck then split into two for double trouble has been great. I’ve caused some serious problems with the Elite mob before when I wasn’t sure if his Thunderstruck targeting only stationary survivors would work. But you can keep cloning yourself and hitting the humans from a distance, and your AI-run Elite will do the same. Some fun facts that are not readily apparent but only visible when you look at the Elite stat sheet in the Collections tab: Demi-Eligos are resistant to ranged attacks and can only be knocked back when their balance bar is fully depleted!

The basic minions are expendable to a tee, and while they are great for detonating on folks, the Puppeteer (and most demon lords) are better off with multiple demons on the screen at once. They may be weak and not do a lot of damage or have a lot of health, but the name of the game is to disrupt. Break Ash as he’s trying to reload, interrupt someone when they are trying to bring up another player, or use an amulet. All of which your Basic minion can’t do if they’re dead. Sure, they did a bunch of damage, but the player will likely wipe the muck off and drink a cola to recover their health. So, in the end, was it worth it?

Puppeteer In-Game Build Order

Infernal Energy (IE) first. Your trap and summon energy are critical, and getting to level 5, where you’re automatically regenerating IE, is a lifesaver towards the middle and late-game stages. The number of times I was running around an area, even at end game where there were just no IE orbs laying around, just a bunch of unusable traps, was staggering.

Portal: Elite is your next buy. It sucks because your initial knee-jerk response at level 3 is to unlock Portal: Basic to get that countdown timer started. But as I said above, those Basic units are best used as support units for your Elites and Bosses. They’re great for detonating, but then that just leaves you standing there with nothing to do. Get your Elite timer running quickly, and a lot of the early 1-15 levels on the Puppetmaster talent tree involve strengthening the Elite.

Once you unlock Elite, start leveling Possession. The Puppeteer’s active ability involves you turning one of your units into a super unit, so as you level up Possession, you can really make your Elite that you possess a problem for the home team.

Boss is your next spend (yes, if you’ve got the discipline to not get Portal: Basic first), for all the reasons I said above. Get him and rain hell upon 1-2 man groups with Eligos. Enjoy! After that, just bounce around.

And We’re Off!

As soon as the opening animation completes, open your map and see where you’re at. Before I knew better, I would zoom off in a straight line, just gobbling up red IE orbs as fast as possible like Pacman. Wrong. Take a second and figure out where you and the key items (the Dagger and the Necronomicon pages) are on the map. Generally speaking, players don’t start at any of the key items, so you can mark those off as places where the humans are at. There’s a pretty good chance that you are literally on opposite sides of the map, so start working your way over there.

Trapping All Willy Nilly

In the early stages, each trap costs you a lot of IE, and while it’s important to level and grow in power (which you get experience with everything you do as the Demon), if you have one of the above key items between you and where you think the humans are mucking around, work your way over that direction and start setting up traps around those items. You 100% know that the players will have to spend a lot of time around those locations, so that trap you laid in the middle of the woods is less likely to get tripped vs. the traps around the key items. The name of the game is resources, and the more resources you spend wisely and don’t waste makes your job easier.

Get In Front of Them

It’s not a perfect plan, but generally, players run in a straight line, whether down the road (not advised) or through the woods. It’s simpler and keeps any demons who might be trying to chase them down behind them. You can take advantage of this behavior by getting in front of the straight line you’re predicting them to run and dropping an Elite trap in their path.

Houses are Great!

Your Elite’s Thunderstruck ability can shoot into houses, so if you’re controlling your Elite and see some survivors inside a house, keep outside and safely let it rip. They likely won’t even know you’re there or how they’re getting hit.

Don’t Forget About Power Possession!

The tooltip popped up enough times to remind me, but Power Possession is critical to the Puppeteer, not just for beefing up the unit you’re possessing (you ARE possessing an Elite, aren’t you?), but it causes the possessed unit’s hits to do Fear damage, which makes it easier to then grab a player when you eventually get dumped out. Honestly wish there was a better way for it to let you know when your timer is popping; the current graphical flash over the counter gets easily lost in the shuffle if you’re not staring right at it, waiting for it to re-pop.

IE Management Tips

Sure, dumping a four-person party out of a car is disruptive and a hell of a lot of fun, but make sure you’ve got a stockpile of IE for your car takeover, or you’ll do little more than just take them out of the car for them to get back in and drive off. Same goes for possession of players: boy, it sure is tempting to just leap into a player who is freshly scared from a Demonic Charge, but if you don’t have the IE to hang out for a while, you’re going to get bounced out of your new toy fairly quickly.

Don’t Fight the Campfire

Not even the Evil Trees in the game can scare players while they are standing around a campfire. You’re doing very little. Let them get their Fear managed and move on, save your resources for further down the road.

Summoning Complete!

When you’re trying to stop the players from grabbing the key items, there’s a point where you cut your losses and call it. Do NOT summon your Boss when they’re about ready to finish grabbing the item because you’ll lose everything when you get exorcized out of the area and have nothing to show for it but a bunch of spent timers.

Keep an Eye On Player Weapons

When you possess a player, take a quick look in the lower right on which two weapons your ride has. Sure, this Ash has a common double-barrel shotgun, and boy, is it fun dumping players ranged ammo, but he’s got a legendary chainsaw. That means pound for pound; it’s your job to take that chainsaw and melee focus on enemy players with it. Sure, you’ll do damage with the shotgun and waste precious ammo, but you’ll do far more damage with the higher-tier melee weapon in this case.

Well, It’s a Start

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope this guide is somewhat helpful as I’ve had a lot more wins than losses since putting more time into Evil Dead. It’s still a lot to take in, and time and experience will win the day, but I went from “I dunno, I’m just mashing buttons” to using a strategy and being effective at it.

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