A Zombie is the player's main antagonist in Project Zomboid. These once human citizens of Knox Country roam the landscape in the thousands. They have an insatiable hunger for human flesh and will not hesitate to kill.
The Zombies are inspired by Max Brooks, the author of "World War Z" and "Zombie Survival Guide". Many of the game's mechanics are inspired by such books.
In the beginning of the game, Zombies heavily populate the west side of Muldraugh and thin out from there throughout the town as the meta-game plays its role to spread the zombie population around. However, the west side will usually have a considerable amount of more zombies than the east side. Around the outskirts of town (farms, lumber mills), only small pockets of zombies will spawn naturally.
The vast wilderness around Muldraugh is more or less considered a "safe zone" from zombies, because zombies never spawn in this part of the map and they will rarely move here because not much happens in the meta-game around these parts. However, the player will find much less in terms of supplies and housing, forcing the player to live a "camping lifestyle".
This is to simulate where most citizens would have died/would have been at the time of turning and that most citizens will attempt to seek safety in the most loot-rich areas of Muldraugh.
Movement and Horde Behavior
The default zombies in the game are traditional shamblers, but newly-turned zombies shamble a lot faster, almost at about an alive human's walking speed (about 1.5m/s). Zombies are attracted to noise, bright light (particularly from a flashlight or fire), and the sight of humans.
Zombies will prioritize their pathfinding needs. The sight of human flesh will always be first priority- both the flesh of the player or a NPC. Then, they will prioritize any noise they may hear, regardless of whether that noise is man-made or not.
With the introduction of wandering mechanic in 0.2.0r RC126.96.36.199, zombies will occasionally move around without hearing anything. Where as before hordes were idle, now they will wander about, breaking windows and doors that happen to be in the way. When it is raining, zombies will wander even more.
At times, helicopters flying overhead, gunshots being fired, dogs barking and humans dying in the distance will attract and move hordes of zombies. This is zombies reacting to the metagame, so that the zombies will migrate around the map. The metagame is in charge of creating zombie movement patterns around the map, to properly distribute them and make a balanced gameplay.
Combat and Damage
Zombies fight by coming up close to the player and then extends its arms. Damages from zombies can result in three ways: bites, scratches, and "punches". Bites are the rarest, and are 100% lethal (Rumors stated the infection chance was 96% but was later disproved), so you obviously want to be careful so you can avoid getting a festering bite. Scratches are quite frequent, but they only have a base 25% chance to infect you, but they are still very dangerous even so. "Punches" are just wounds that do not break through skin, and having the thick skinned perk can help you turn the more dangerous bites and scratches into less dangerous "punches". Punches do not have a chance of infection, and deals a small amount of damage. Unlike bites and scratches, "punches" do not require bandaging or first aid of any kind, just some time to heal and (occasionally) some minor pain that can be dealt with by utilizing pain killers.
When attacking a survivor, a zombie will grab that survivor and will hinder the survivor's movements. While it is possible to shake off a single- or even a few uncoordinated zombies, zombies in large numbers will prevent movement- and escape- altogether, dooming the survivor while he or she gets eaten alive.
Zombies are also able to deal "door damage" to doors and player-made walls. Although they deal relatively little damage, they can deal a good amount of damage if left alone for a long time or if in larger groups. Zombies banging on doors will attract other zombies, and it will convince them to bang on doors/windows or just mill around until something happens (if there are already too many zombies banging). Fortunately, there is a small chance NPCs and players can dissuade the zombies by staying absolutely silent for a good amount of time, but that is not reliable. A single zombie can destroy an un-barricaded window in seconds.
Zombies have very quiet footsteps. Therefore, a survivor always has to be on guard for zombies. However, they tend to moan and alert their prey of their presence. Furthermore, they tend to make a lot of noise while moving, because they carelessly reveal their positions by doing noisy things such as brushing against trees or thumping on doors and windows. These noises are good to look out for.
Occasionally, zombies may be turned upside, on its stomach or on its back, and may approach a survivor or a source of noise- by crawling. Sometimes, after a zombie is knocked down, instead of getting up, it can decide to crawl around. Other times, a crawler might just "play dead" by lying down and may emerge when it hears a noise or some prey. These zombies are even more dangerous than the standard walking variant.
This type of zombie moves extremely slowly, at about a fifth of the speed the standing zombie may move at. Therefore, when a crawler is in a horde, it will usually straggle behind and separate from the rest of the horde. However, because it moves slowly, it makes little noise. Although it may moan every now and then, its method of movement makes little noise and its slow speed makes it harder to hear- even if it were to make a lot of noise to reach its target. Furthermore, this type of zombie can be submerged by tall objects such as crops; survivors should be cautious when exploring unsecured/obscured territories. Because a crawler does NOT get knocked back when hit by a non-fatal blow, it is risky to fight even a single crawler head on with a melee weapon. In addition to this the crawler's main method of attack is to lunge at the player. This attack has a much higher chance to break the skin or result in a bite on the first attack when compared to walkers. However, a crawler is NOT capable of sieging a structure's door or window.
One weakness is that it has trouble turning around. Unlike the regular zombie, a crawler has to push its entire body 180 degrees to turn around. A survivor can manipulate this by going behind the rotating zombie and finishing it off quickly, if the survivor has time. However, this approach will only work on an one-on-one situation. If there are more zombies- regardless of whether they are crawlers or standard walkers, this approach is too risky since it takes a lot of time.
It is unknown whether a crawler is able to get up and walk around like a regular zombie again, but there is at least 1 case where a zombie who was previously knocked down and became a crawler has decided to get up.
Humans (the player and the NPCs) who get too close to zombies may be bitten, scratched, or otherwise injured. Bites guarantee infection, but there is only a 25 percent chance of infection when scratched. The thick skinned trait reduces infection by scratch chance to 12 percent.
As of Alpha 29, the following formula is used to calculate scratch chance:
scratchChance = 100 - (75 + meleeDefense)
The meleeDefense variable is dependent on the user's guard skill for the weapon type they are currently wielding.
- Level 1 = -2
- Level 2 = 0
- Level 3 = +2
- Level 4 = +5
- Level 5 = +7
If the character has the thick skinned trait, they have a 15 percent chance of being scratched. There is always a 25 percent chance of being bitten.
When a character is infected the sick moodle appears to verify it, and the moodle's intensity will slowly increase, until the character has a full blown fever, and will succumb to it. However, the sick moodle can also happen because the character ate raw or rotten foods, although sometimes the moodle appears out of the blue. When this happens, there will be no zombification, and the moodle will usually go away by itself with rest and by being well fed, and won't be of much harm to the character except decreased abilities for a small amount of time. If the Human has the Hypochondriac perk it is possible to have infection symptoms after a scratch without actually being infected.
After a zombie is killed, its corpse will become a container. Usually, the clothes that are worn on the zombies are the only loot. However, occasionally, useless items such as wallets and wedding rings can spawn on certain corpses. Even more uncommonly, useful items such as weapons, nails, or packs can spawn on a zombie's corpse. A zombie's corpse has a capacity of 8.