The Volatile is an infected that only emerges during the night. Most infected can be easily killed when encountered by the player, however, this is not the case with Volatiles, and the player's best option is to run to the nearest safehouse when spotted, as Volatiles are able to take several hits from high powered weapons and can quickly cause significant amounts of damage.
Volatiles are broad-shouldered and slightly taller than the average Biter. Other physical markers include full-bodied nudity, exposed bone and muscle and a mandible jaw that are used against non-infected humans. They can audibly be identified by their heavy breathing and loud screeches. Volatiles are extremely fast; they can navigate through the dark at high speeds and can match the agility of the player, scaling obstacles and buildings in the same manner. They have a special pounce attack that is very unlikely for low-level players to escape from. However, after the second mission, you will get a UV flashlight which can be equipped and used when a volatile pounces, pushing them back and giving you enough time to escape. Players at higher levels with the appropriate skill can shake their attacks off relatively easily, but a low level player will need an incredibly powerful weapon in order to have any chance of survival. In the event that a Volatile can see a player but not reach them, they will use a powerful spit attack similar to a Toad. They often do this while the player is climbing.
When time progresses to day, Volatiles will become frightened, they will start running to the nearest dark zone such as a tunnel or cave. While running for shade, Volatiles will always ignore the player even if they attack them during the day until they reach said dark zone, where they will become as aggressive as they are during the night. If one were to chase a fleeing Volatile at sunrise, you can sometimes see them die from the sun before making it to a dark area.
Alpha Volatiles are a new form of Volatile encountered in The Following and the Enhanced Edition. Compared to its normal counterpart, Alpha Volatiles have a more arachnid appearance with more prominent fangs, a spiked carapace, and an inky black growth over its skin resulting in an even less human appearance than the normal variants. They rarely appear in Hives, though are encountered often during the night. They are faster, stronger and more resistant against melee weapons and especially firearms, such as military rifles and pistols due to their unique body armour similar to that of a demolisher. Their hits inflict more damage and they can notice you through camouflage. They are also far more reliant on their highly accurate and highly damaging spit attacks, making them extremely difficult to escape from. Fortunately, they suffer from the same weakness as normal Volatiles — their vulnerability to UV light can allow players to blind them and hold them at bay for a brief moment. The best way to deal with Alpha Volatiles is to simply avoid them where possible, use UV traps, and only fight back with the assistance of a UV flashlight, a height advantage, or extremely powerful weapons if necessary. These infected can be found in groups of volatiles.
Using Volatiles for XP
Volatiles have around 2,000 health, requiring high-damaging weapons to kill them. Later in the game weapons such as shotguns, short swords, machetes, and knives work extremely well against Volatiles because of the amount of damage per hit. Volatiles are quickly dispatched when using these weapons, making for good Power XP, 1000 for Volatiles and 1500 for Alphas, but can still prove problematic as fighting multiple can lead you to take some hits, especially if one pounces you. It is recommended to use flares when fighting them, as this gives you an area to stop and regain stamina or switch weapons. Volatiles will spit at you if you are in an area they can't reach, or if you're far from them. The spit can quickly drain your health, especially if there are multiple Volatiles. Fighting Volatiles can also cause multiple Night Walkers to show up, distracting you from fighting them if not dispatched first.
- When fleeing Volatiles, keep in mind that they are significantly faster than you are, but that unlike you, they slow down quite a bit when taking corners. When being pursued, make sharp turns around buildings, and try to break the line of sight as much as possible.
- Fire Crackers can actually be more useful than flares in certain cases, as both variants of Volatiles behave just like all the other infected towards them, that is, they will completely ignore all humans and run after the Fire Cracker. This can sometimes backfire though, as it could get the attention of more Volatiles than you intended, and when the Fire Cracker burns out, you could have a horde to deal with.
- If you are on a roof that a Volatile is climbing up to, you can attack it while it is still climbing to knock it off the building. Any damage will do this, and it can be pretty amusing to kick one in the face and watch it plummet. Putting a flare down on the roof can have a similar effect, as once the Volatile climbs to the top, it will recoil from the light and usually back right off the roof.
- While amusing, fall damage is an extremely ineffective way to kill a Volatile. They are very resistant, almost immune to fall damage, and even knocking one off the hydro dam in the Countryside does not seem to be enough to kill one. Knocking one off a roof onto spikes, However, can prove effective.
- Sometimes, when fighting Volatiles, one may drop to the ground and not get back up. This does not mean it is dead, however, as they sometimes ragdoll and remain motionless for a short time. The easiest way to determine if it is dead is by simply using your Survivor Sense. If you see an orange skeleton, it is still alive.
- Nearly all of your abilities, like tackle, drop kick, and death from above, are ineffective against Volatiles, and using them is ill advised due to most of them having a recovery period after use that leaves you vulnerable.
- On Nightmare difficulty, it is ill-advised to attack Volatiles. Volatiles have double the amount of health, and due to the damage reduction of weapons, fighting one can be extremely difficult. Very commonly, multiple Volatiles will show up, as well as at least one Evolved Volatile. Evolved Volatiles are especially dangerous, due to the fact that they can kill even the most experienced players in only a couple of hits. Fighting an Evolved Volatile should never be an option, as they have an exorbitant amount of health. In any case, your best option during the night is to avoid any and all contact with Volatiles.
- Both types of Volatiles are susceptible to Shock. When shocked, they will remain unable to attack for a few seconds, giving the player(s) time to attack the stunned Volatile.
- Ultraviolet lights and flares can cause harm to the Volatiles similar to the Night Hunter; the UV radiation can cause the volatile to walk into traps or off roofs, giving the player room to breathe. Also, using Survivor Sense will outline Volatiles in-game as well as on the minimap, making it easier to avoid them which is mostly the best option. If a Volatile must be engaged, be warned as they have very high amounts of health and can perform a high-damage pounce. Use projectiles and save any rare and mighty weapons for such encounters during night runs.
- The grappling hook is the one of the best tools to use if encountering Volatiles; it will get the player off the ground in seconds and aid in making long distance jumps, allowing some time to breathe. Without it, Volatiles will likely catch the player if their parkour skills are not great or they have not yet obtained higher free running perks that allow longer sprinting.
- Experienced players will have a multitude of options for fleeing from or fighting Volatiles. These include UV lights, flares (or Zaid's flares that last longer and burn brighter than the standard flares), firecrackers to draw them away from an objective or the player's path (sometimes going around is the best way, even if it is longer, it decreases the chance of being killed), and firearms. Firearms should be a last resort at night and should only be used if escape is guaranteed (don't get trapped in a small area or room and consequently be swarmed by a pack of Volatiles). Until the player is of a high level or has high damaging weapons, it is always best to simply stay away from the Volatiles
- Sometimes instead of running away from flares, Volatiles will simply stand at the edge of the light and do nothing, allowing the player to damage the Volatile without it reacting. Be aware that it may spontaneously decide to attack, in which case one can throw another flare and repeat the process. It is recommended the player takes on one Volatile at a time using this strategy.
- Do not treat flares as a complete safe zone, as Volatiles can still sometimes attack you while in flare light. This seems to happen much more often with the evolved Volatiles than with the normal ones.
- Using camouflage can be helpful if you need to interact with something near Volatiles, but using it to wander about unseen at night is ill advised, as the evolved Volatiles can see right through it, and if they spot you, your camo is rendered useless.
- If the player is being chased by Volatiles and they happen to be near a large body of water (i.e. — one deep enough to dive in), the player can dive into the water as, like other Infected, the Volatiles will be unable to pursue them. They will simply roar at them from the edge of the water and will eventually lose interest. Keep in mind that they may sometimes still attempt to spit at the player while they are in the water.
- If you absolutely need to kill Volatiles, the easiest way to do so is with a powerful, one handed weapon with an electricity modifier. Engage volatiles as quickly as they would engage you, this means one on one combat, kill it before it kills you. If a volatile can not reach the player it will spray a toxin at you without stopping, even an experienced player has no chance at winning. The DLC Volatile Hunter Sword mod on a High damage sword should work nicely. This allows you to stun lock the Volatile while repeatedly hitting it, and it should die after enough attacks. This is best done against a single Volatile, on a large, open roof, where you can see more Volatiles coming, and where the one you are killing wont fall off, because as stated in an earlier tip, they take minimal fall damage, and the time it takes to climb back up is time for more Volatiles to arrive and ruin the fun.
- Another very effective way to pick off Volatiles is with a powerful shotgun, killing them in just a few shots up close, even on nightmare.
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