|Speed||Very Slow to Slow|
Thugs are large, brutish variants of Walkers. They provide decent amounts of experience when killed, but are also some of the toughest enemies for the earlier portion of the game. The Thug is the first special zombie the Heroes will encounter, being found in the Lifeguard Tower. It is first seen in a small cutscene, eating a tourist's body, when the Hero activates the Lifeguard Tower garage door to enter and complete the quest "Exodus".
Thugs are physically larger and much tougher than most of the other zombie types. They exhibit increased muscle and bone growth, making them tower over their lesser brethren, but otherwise differ little visually from most Walkers and Infected. They are perpetually enraged, and will roar periodically, giving away their position.
Thugs are capable of knocking the Hero to the ground with a punch. If both arms are disabled or dismembered, they will attempt to head-butt or bite the Hero instead, so it might be better to try cut off its leg as this will automatically kill a Thug. Thugs typically attack with a single punch or a series of three flailing punches, and will regularly stop to roar leaving itself vulnerable to attacks.
Thugs can be found all around Banoi Island. They are first encountered while the player is clearing out the Lifeguard Tower and later when the player enters Saint Christopher's Church. They can often be seen patrolling areas of interest, or holding vital items, such as keycards, needed to open certain quest-related doors. A Thug dressed in a police uniform and riot gear is fought in the Square abandoned house during the side-quest "A New Broom Sweeps Clean" and in the Police Station. Mayor Todd Tanis turns into a fairly short one in the Town Hall missions.
- When fighting a Thug, it's best to make sure all other enemies in the area are dealt with, so as to not have any interruptions during combat. Thugs are, however, much slower than regular zombies and can be considered low priority in open areas. Kicking a Thug can also make it roar quicker than normal, leaving itself vulnerable to attacks. Note that in many cases a jumping kick attack will knock them down, making them much easier to deal with, and one can stomp on their heads. Also, Thug's attacks are also predictable enough for the player to jump backwards and avoid them.
- If you are new to the game one of the best ways to kill a Thug is to find a weapon that has a longer reach than his arms, then if he gets close enough for him to hit the Hero, one should either jump back or kick him. If using a longer melee weapon type, such as a baseball bat or long bladed weapon, the player can crouch and strike the Thug with little to no retaliation. One could run around the thug, repeatedly striking him for a quick kill. Certain weapons such as the large sledgehammers or fire axes have such a long range that a careful player can beat/chop at Thugs with complete impunity while remaining out of their reach. Just remember to eliminate any other enemies first.
- Another effective tactic is to take a blunt or sharp weapon and attempt to cripple or sever both arms. Wait for him to swing, jump to a certain side then swing directly at the arm (best done with a cleaver, machete, sledgehammer or morning star). Once both arms are crippled the Thug is a much easier opponent, although he may still attempt to bite the player.
- It is often most efficient to kill Thugs with thrown explosives or firearms. If a Thug is standing near an explosive item such as a barrel, a vehicle, or a propane tank, exploding the item will typically kill him.
- A good technique later in the game (when Thugs have significantly more health) is to make use of the Sticky Bomb Mod. When used they can easily dispatch a Thug in one shot, providing you aim well. Another good technique is to throw a Plague Bearing Military Knife (No. 4 Craft) at a Thug, then hit it with an incendiary weapon. This will set the Thug on fire, and prevent it from doing damage for a substantial period of time. Other elemental weapons have similar effects, allowing the player to attack without risk while the Thug is incapacitated by the elemental attack.
- Vehicles can also be used to attack Thugs while incurring little to no damage.
- If playing as Logan, activate his Rage and one should kill the Thug within a few knife throws.
- A Thug can be killed in at least 6 hits with a blue highlighted weapon or purple weapon, if properly aimed.
- If you manage to critical strike a Thug with an electrical weapon, you might "freeze" it in place. This gives you a time of uninterrupted attacks. Even better yet: there is a chance that you can with the help of a shock-modified blunt weapon, such as a sledgehammer with the Magic Wand Mod, send him to the ground on a critical hit, thus leaving him vulnerable to stomps.
- When using a shotgun, aim and shoot at the head of the Thug. This usually causes a critical hit scoring an instant kill.
- When a Thug hits a wall with its arms, there is a chance that it may fall to the ground. Also, when climbing up stairs, they may fall as well. Both of these can grant easy kills for the hero.
- If the players throw sharp weapons at the Thug impaling him and then get killed, when they run back to the Thug to kill him and get the weapons back, the Thug may be gone and the weapons can be levitating in the air where the Thug was.
- During the quest "Make Yourself at Home" the Thug may just stand at his place, even if you are constantly hitting it.