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Before starting Project Zomboid, a character will need to be created for the player to use. The character creation screen will allow the player to give the character a name, choose an occupation, as well as select certain traits (both positive and negative) for the character.
The player will need to eat, drink, sleep, medicate, heal and entertain themselves regularly to survive. Players can run, sneak, craft, open/close doors and windows, attack with weapons, equip items and consume items.
The Player is the only entity in the game with the ability to improve their skills. Experience is gained in each of the various skills, once a box is filled, the option to "level up" that skill is enabled. However, skill points are only awarded at your characters generic level up, which means assigning the skill points efficiently is important and gets progressively more difficult.
No matter which mode you choose, whether it be Survival, Sandbox or Last Stand, a character must first be created unless you have done so previously. Here is a quick guide to help you through the character creation process before you jump into the game.
When creating a character you will first be greeted by this screen:
- This is what your character looks like.
- This is your character's name.
- This is the character's gender, either male (as shown here) or female.
- Random, this just gives you a character with random choices, if you just want to jump in to the game.
- The clothing your character will start with, with a variety of choices for color as well the type you want vest/ sweater etc.
- Skin color, and where you are growing hair.
- Type of hair, and color of said hair.
After clicking the next button on the character builder, you will be sent to this screen:
- Different occupations, all of which having different benefits. See Occupation
- These are the positive traits, which require a certain number of points to take.
- These are the negative traits, which give you points.
- These are the traits you currently have selected.
- These are your skills, with each dash representing one level of that skill. See Skills
Once you hit next, you will be sent into the game.
The player requires an equipped weapon to fight, which can be done from the inventory. Holding CTRL will put the player into a combat stance, allowing them to sneak, or aim, clicking the LMB will attack with your chosen weapon. There are three ranges of combat, extreme close combat, close combat and ranged combat.
Extreme close combat refers to small blade or improvised stabbing weapons, such as the Kitchen Knife and pencil/pen, the close proximity to the zombie increases likelihood of scratches, bites and infection; this is a high risk strategy and should be avoided at all costs, however, a knife is better than nothing.
Close combat refers to weapons that can be swung in an arc (such as the spiked baseball bat, axe etc.) meaning there is still a good distance between your character and the zombie, this is often the optimal method for dealing with zombies as it is quiet, lower risk and relatively low exertion, excluding use of the sledgehammer which is high exertion and not recommended for combat.
Ranged combat refers to guns and Molotov cocktails; guns are effective in dealing with large hordes of zombies very quickly, especially the Sawed-Off Shotgun, however the large amount of noise will almost certainly attract other zombies, and possibly close-by hordes this is generally a last ditch solution.
The players movement is controlled with WASD. The default movement speed is walking, which makes relatively little noise unless the player has the clumsy trait. By holding CTRL or Z, the player enters sneak mode in order to make less noise, this mode is also used for attacking. By holding the shift key the player is able to sprint for a limited amount of time before tiring, this also makes much more noise.
Players can interact with the environment, using E for climbing over obstacles such as fences and opening windows, which can be climbed through, 2nd floor and above windows can be jumped out of, which causes severe damage to the player, but can be mitigated by using Sheet Rope to climb down through open windows.
With continued use of sprinting, the player levels up his sprinting skill, which directly affects how long the player can sprint for before they become overexerted.
Using sneak will increase your nimble and sneaking skill. The sneaking skill determines how well you avoid detection, and while avoiding detection, you level your nimble and light-footed skills, you also gain experience in nimble by climbing fences and moving through windows while undetected. Light-footed is leveled by moving at any speed while being undetected. Light-footed reduces the amount of noise made by the player when moving.
As the player improves skills in the game (carpentry, sprinting, etc), the player will gain a skill point at each level up. These can be used to improve on a skill (if there is a skill available for improvement). Each time a player gets a skill point or level up, getting the next skill point requires 100 more experince points.
The next time the Player opens his or her "skills" tab in the UI section, the Skill Point Allocation Panel will appear, allowing the player to distribute Skill Points to the category that has been trained, which will be greyed out but depicting a small plus symbol.
Gold Squares are already obtained Skills. Black Squares are skills that have yet to be trained. Partially white squares are skills that are being trained but have not been trained enough to get a skill level increase in. White squares with a black cross in the middle indicate that you can spend one of your skill points in it. Skill names that have arrows beside the name indicate that there is a multiplier applied for the xp you earn in that skill. You earn this multiplier by reading skill books.
Sleep management is a vital part of the gameplay mechanics, the player will get tired everyday, and the level of tiredness affects the player's spatial awareness, greatly increasing the chance of being caught out by zombies. The player must choose when to go to sleep and requires a bed, sofa or chair to do so, sleeping will initially get rid of the tired moodle and then gives between 6-8 hours of regular sleep, provided you are not attacked or otherwise panicked. The only action that can be performed whilst asleep is the assigning of skill points.
In Multiplayer (as of Build 29), the player does not need to sleep and when a bed or other piece of furniture is clicked on the message 'You're not tired enough to sleep.' will appear even if the player has taken sleeping pills.
The player can acquire various resources and tools that the player can use or store for future use. Carrying items will encumber the player when carrying beyond their encumbered limit, which is governed by the player's strength. Items are not given weights, but encumbered values, this can be overcome by using baggage. Baggage (such as Plastic Bag and Duffelbag) allow for the storing of items in the player's inventory while greatly reducing the encumbered value of the item.
The encumbered moodle appears when the total encumbered value exceeds the player's limit, which reduces the player's speed. Food and drink can be consumed by dragging the item from the inventory and from various containers to the player's heart, this can also be done via a right click contextual menu in the item interface. The player can store items in containers to prevent themselves from becoming encumbered.
The inventory area also doubles as a crafting panel where the player can use a right click contextual menu to modify items. In the clothes panel you can see the items the player is currently wearing, this is used to keep the body temperature of the player at the right level, vests allow you to cool down and Sweaters keep you warm.
Safe House Fortification
A safe house is a defensive structure that the player can construct as a base of operation. The player is able to build or secure a safe house with carpentry. It usually started by closing all windows and doors and securing them. The player can secure windows and doors by barricading the with Wooden Planks, a Hammer and Nails are required to do so. The player can further secure a safe house by putting sheets over the windows. Where there is either a sheet or a curtain on the window, the player will be able to close and open the curtains by right-clicking on them. Players can further refine their stronghold by placing doors, windows, and wall pieces, in addition to crates. Players can also destroy their walls by using a sledgehammer.