Changes to the Zombie Apocalypse in Project Zomboid
Project Zomboid is a zombie survival game which follows the Dwarf Fortress method of learning. In other words, you learn from losing. Project Zomboid is a demanding game on a number of different levels, and it takes very little to make things spiral out of control for you. Hunger, infection, sickness, are among some of the things you will have to pay careful attention to. As I pondered on this title I came to ask myself the question, “What has been happening with Project Zomboid?”. Since my purchase some time ago I did not see a new update, for a moment thinking that maybe Desura failed to update my version.
After a quick investigation, searching through the Project Zomboid forums and blog the answer became clear. There is a lot of work going on Project Zomboid, but the current Public Test versions are not yet fully stable, and it is safe to assume that the designers do not want to release a new version on Desura untill enough features have been added. The current Public Test Version is numbered 0.2.0g, with 0.2.0.h already announced (at the time of writing, h was released with a new version announced). What has changed since 0.1.5d? I jumped into the Public Test versions to discover for myself what is what. I last played 0.2.0f so some of the things mentioned here might be out of date.
Let us start with the zombies. Remember how in one of my videos I said how easy it was to crowd control zombies? This changes. When I first started in an empty house, searched for weapons and went outside the first thing I saw was a zombie. I chuckled to myself as I prepared my baseball bat, but to my shock the zombie did not stumble at its usual pace, it ran. This sudden change of speed did not put me off enough not to react to the zombie, and as I met more and more undead I found how each zombie can have a slightly different speed. This speed was not “running”, per se, but very rapid stumbling. Outside it might not seem like much, but inside a building you hold out your weapon ready at all times, untill it is cleared.
Another idea, which I fully support, is that zombies can now drop an item. Not every single zombie will do this, but it is a nice relief that lady luck could reward you with something useful. Zombies might now randomly bang at doors and windows as they stumble about. This creates an overall effect of, “Are they chasing me, or just stumbling about?”. A few times I checked the perimeter of my safe house to make sure a zombie crowd was not forming. The zombies are becoming real and demanding foes, making survival much harder than before. Although you still have a wide selection of weapons to deal with them, you are no longer a god of war.
Pencil to the eye!
What about weapons? Let’s just say we have a much wider selection. A lot more items can be used as emergency tools of carnage… like the pencils and pens you found previously. Among some of the new weapons we have a butter knife and kitchen knife. The baseball bat is still my weapon of choice, but lacking that I have more than enough different weapons lying about.
“Are we there yet?”
Another thing which has changed, and added a lot more management to the zombie apocalypse, is boredom. Your character will get bored if you stand around in your safe house doing nothing. It might not seem like a problem, since you survived in the entirety of primary school, but sitting in an empty house with no television, internet or radio will get to you sooner than later. What do you do then? Make yourself a fancy dinner, like a steak or pop-corn, read a book or magazine, go outside, talk to other survivors, or drink your sorrows off.
Boredom will lead to unhappiness and eventually depression. Going insane during the Zombie Apocalypse is not a great idea, so you have to keep an eye on your sanity. Your character will get bored rather quickly, so be sure to have plenty of exercise, or a sizeable library.
Food has been slightly reworked, adding many more meals, some of which will influence your mood. A cooked steak will make you happier, while a heated TV dinner will make you unhappy. Some kitchens will come equipped with a Microwave, opening a new chapter in survival cooking. You could make yourself Salmon with peas over a candle-lit dinner, or make yourself a bag of popcorn while you read last week’s newspaper, or maybe a goo’ ol’ bowl of warm ramen noodles before bed?
Thirst is a new “moodle”. Your character needs water in order to survive now. You will find plenty of containers to fill water into. Bottles, bowls, kettles and mugs will all serve you in this task. Unlike with foods, water is drank steadily from containers it is added to, so long as they are in your inventory. I did find coffee and tea bags, but lacking any idea if it’s possible to make yourself a mug of either one, it’s either not yet implemented, or I do not know how to do it!
As I stumbled around the world my eyes caught glimpse of an interesting house. It had all of its windows covered in bed sheets. Normally windows have curtains, and at first I did not understand the need for such operations. Then it struck me, some windows do not have curtains! Instead of having to find boards, to properly board-up your house, you will have an option of using bed sheets to create a poor cover-up. I did not try building them myself, nor do I know how will zombie bumping affect hanging bed sheets.
I also noticed an odd new feature, which allows the player to open windows. I did not see any real use for that, but I imagine that in the future you will be able to enter through this alternative pathway. There is also a question, what benefit will there be to keeping an open window? Fresh air perhaps? Who knows if in the future seasons will be added, and keeping the cold out will become a challenge? Zombies are capable of entering via destroyed windows, but that is it.
Other (numerous) changes
There is much more coming up for Project Zomboid than what I mentioned here. An expanded map, with some locations being refurnished to add new items. The entire look of Project Zomboid has been reworked, some houses feel unkept, dirty and deserted. You will also have the option to play in a number of different visual settings, where the High setting is indeed awe striking when compared to 0.1.5d. There will be a save option (yay!) which has a test version in the current Public Test version. You can now also take fall damage, so pay attention to any edges, there have been stories of characters falling off the seventh floor, on the forums. There is also an experience system (!) and plenty of new music to strike both fear and confidence in you.
I wanna play NAOW!
If you want to try the Public Tests yourself all you need to access them is a CD-Key, which you get when buying the game. If you bought Project Zomboid on Desura you will have to download a Public Test version on your own, the CD-Key will work normally for it. These versions are not stable and might be prone to crashing or not working at all, and have plenty of bugs. Check the forums if you have any doubts or problems. The game costs only five pounds, so go hand out some leaflets or newspapers if you cannot afford it just now. A stable version might make an appearance in the upcoming weeks, so patiently waiting is also an option.
Alex “WriterX” Bielski