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Project Zomboid Beginners guide

Project Zomboid is a hardcore survival game set in a world filled with zombies, and you are left for dead. The game definitely has a great variety of gameplay elements such as stealth, combat, base building, and vehicles. This may all sound overwhelming, but this Project Zomboid beginner’s guide shows you some tips and tricks we wish we knew when we started playing.

Why you should choose Apocalypse mode

We choose apocalypse every time purely because it provides the most hardcore experience. If you get bitten, your character will die. Think of playing Diablo with a hardcore character, all the skills you gain is lost when your character dies. It can get frustrating when you spend 10+ hours building your character only to die because you took a chance at the wrong time. But this is also where the beauty lies, risk and reward is central to the Project Zomboid experience.

Get used to the game

A good mindset to adopt for your first couple of runs in Zomboid would be to accept that you will die while learning the game. This is probably the best part of the game, discovering all the mechanics for the first time. What we mean by getting used to the game is trying out both the one handed and two handed weapons, see which you prefer. Get bitten by a zombie and see yourself turn. Disinfect lacerations and hope that you don’t turn! So go out there on your first runs and try out as many mechanics as you can.

Zomboid guide to Life and Living

When you start out your first session, the world you spawn in will still have running water and electricity. After a couple of days in this world everything will grind to a halt, that is why it is important to make the best use of the electricity while it’s still on. When you break into a house to scavenge for cans of food and books, be sure to always do the following:

  1. Turn on the TV
  2. Turn the volume up/down to 2 (smaller chance of attracting zombies)
  3. Select Life and Living channel from the list. Life and Living is the only channel you need to be concerned about
  4. Press Tune in
Project Zomboid beginners guide Life and Living

Now that you’ve set up the TV to broadcast Life and Living, your character will actually learn skills while listening to the TV. You can still loot the house, as long as you are in earshot of the TV broadcasting Life and Living, you will learn the skills. This is a great way to level up your carpentry, cooking, fishing, farming, foraging, and trapping with minimal effort. These shows will broadcast through the first couple of days at 06:00, 12:00 and 18:00. Once you are used to the broadcast times, be sure to make your way to a house just before the show starts. 

You might ask, “How do I know the time in Zomboid?” Well, this is luckily super easy. Kill a zombie and loot his/her corpse for a wristwatch. Once you have the wristwatch in your inventory, you will get an added UI element at the top right on your screen, displaying the in-game time. It is important to note that eventually the TV won’t broadcast shows any more..

How to learn and level skills in Zomboid

Read, read, read! This Zomboid book guide will help you read in peace. In Zomboid you have a multitude of skills which are required to survive in these harsh conditions. The best way to level your skills in Zomboid is to read books. You can find books in any house with a bookshelf, the jackpot would be finding a bookstore in the inner city. If you have 0 skill, start with the beginner’s version of that book before moving on to the next skill levels. Here is a guide to which books you need to read in which order:

  • Skill 1-2 requires a Beginner’s book
  • Skill 3-4 requires an Intermediary book
  • Skills 5-6 requires an Advanced book
  • Skill 7-8 require an Expert book
  • Skill 9-10 requires a Master book

Reading a book takes time and there is a level of risk involved. Before reading a book in Zomboid do the following:

  1. Pick the correct book for the skill level you are at, otherwise it won’t have any effect and you will waste valuable time. 
  2. Be sure to eat something and have a drink because some of these books can take up to 12 hours in-game to read.
  3. Rather read your books early afternoon, or in the morning to prevent your character’s sleep cycling from switching.
  4. Find a safe spot to read, because zombies can wander into the house while you are reading and they might even get a surprise bite in on you.
  5. Once you have done all the above, fast forward the time using the highest setting to make time pass quicker.

Once you have read a book in Project Zomboid, you will receive a boosted experience gain for 2 levels. Now, when you carry out the relevant activity that your level will increase quicker than it would have if you didn’t read any books.

How to heal your character

In Project Zomboid there are multiple ways to get hurt and most of them are preventable. Here is a list of simple ways you can get hurt that might cost you your character’s life.

Project Zomboid beginners guide Health

Jumping through a window

While it might seem like an obvious way to gain entry into a house, jumping through a window without removing broken glass will cause bleeding. You can prevent this by having any weapon equipped in your hand, right click on the broken window and then select the option “remove broken glass”. Now you have safe entry into the building.

Breaking a window without a weapon

If you have to break the window, please ensure that you have a weapon equipped before doing so. If you break it with bare fists, you run the risk of getting cut and you’ll have to bandage up.

Carrying too much

At some point you will start carrying logs, TV’s and even couches. While carrying these heavy items, they will overburden your character and if you are severely overburdened, you will take damage until you have put those heavy items down. Carrying too much is sustainable for short periods, but be careful when you are carrying too much and you have to run away from a zombie horde.

Getting scratched or bitten by zombies in Zomboid

You will find yourself in some unfortunate situations where you might get scratches or even bitten by zombies in Project Zomboid. When it’s just a scratch or a laceration, don’t worry too much. Getting bitten in Project Zomboid is a different story. The big question everyone is asking is, do you turn once you get bitten?

When you get bitten in Project Zomboid, your character will turn into a zombie after a day or so. You will first start to feel queasy, then nauseous, and then it’s over. The best use of your time is to clean up around your base if you have one, or even sacrifice your life by drawing large zombie hordes away from a specific location to set the stage for your next character. 

What happens when you die in Project Zomboid?

When you die in Project Zomboid, you have two options. The first option would be to start a whole new world from day one, meaning the power and water will be on, but any changes and progress you made to the world with your previous character will be gone. The second option and this is the option we prefer is that you can start a new character in that same world and timeline, meaning If your previous character died on day 7, your new character will enter this world on day 7. Everything you built, collected will still be in place as well. Heck, you will even run into your previous character that will now be a zombie. 

How to heal yourself in Project Zomboid

Now that we gave you some tips on how to prevent damage, here is how you can easily deal with any damage you might have taken. When you see a red debuff on the right-hand side with little blood drops, address it urgently, otherwise your character will bleed out. 

In order to treat yourself when bleeding, you’ll need a bandage or ripped sheets. You can either loot bandages or craft them yourself. You can craft bandages by looting a zombie’s corpse right clicking on their t-shirt and selecting the option that says “Rip Clothing”. If there are lots of zombies stacked, your character will rip all their clothes and create lots of ripped sheets that can be used to treat your wounds.

You can heal yourself in Project Zomboid by doing the following:

  1. Press H to open the Health menu
  2. You will see red text stating what is wrong with you.
  3. Right click on the red text to have a menu appear of options you can take to deal with the wound. These options will vary depending on what you have in your inventory.

To prevent an infection, swap out the dirty bandages with clean ones every now and again.

How to forage in Project Zomboid

Depending on your location and situation, you might have to turn to the wild as a source of food. You can forage and find some berries that will help manage your thirst and hunger. 

Project Zomboid beginners guide foraging

You can forage in Project Zomboid by doing the following:

  1. Find a piece of forest on the outskirts of town, you cannot forage in a garden or backyard.
  2. Right click on the grass until you see an option that says “Forage (100% full)” 
  3. When you select this option, a menu will appear, giving you some options for what you want to forage. When you are worried about hunger, only select berries. 
  4. Press Ok to start foraging.
  5. The same as reading a book, be sure you are far from any zombies so you can fast forward the time because foraging takes some time.

Fishing in Project Zomboid

In Project Zomboid you can also catch fish as a great source of fresh food to stay alive. Finding a fishing rod is quite scarce, we found one in a hardware shop. Once you have your fishing rod, you can catch fish by doing the following:

  1. Equip the fishing rod as a primary
  2. Head to a lake
  3. Right click on the lake 
  4. The same menu as the foraging will appear where you can select which bait you want to use. You can either use worms gathered when foraging or if you have a Fishing Tackle, you can select that as well.
  5. Once you are happy with bait, you can cast your line and fast forward the time until you catch a fish.
Project Zomboid beginners guide fishing

Your fishing rod broke, what now? Well, with normal wear and tear your fishing rod will break and you will need to repair it.

How to repair a fishing rod in Zomboid:

  1. Read the magazine called Angler USA Magazine Vol.1 to learn how to repair and a fishing rod in Project Zomboid.
  2. You need twine, paperclip or nails in your inventory.
  3. Once you have read the magazine and have the correct items, right click on the fishing rod and select the “repair fishing rod” option. 

Plan your base

Once you are fairly comfortable in Project Zomboid, we suggest you do some planning before you head into your next run. Go to this website to see the entire map, all four the spawning locations are connected in the same world, meaning if you wanted to you can travel between cities. Look for places of interest or places that you will feel will be suited for your base. On our last run we wanted to settled down at the police station but when we got there, we set off the alarm, attracting hordes of zombies so we had to go for plan B. When you plan like this, you can start collecting books, food and other resources and won’t have to worry about leaving valuable things behind. The great thing about planning your base is that if your first character gets most of the base up and running and unfortunately dies, your next characters can continue to build on that legacy and they will have access to all the books and resources you collected on your previous run.

How to make a Molotov in Project Zomboid

Fire is your friend in Project Zomboid. You can use fire to burn stinky corpses or to deal with massive hordes of zombies. Here is how you can craft a Molotov in Project Zomboid:

  1. Find a bottle of Bourbon (kitchens and bars)
  2. Find a lighter (kitchens and zombie corpses)
  3. Craft a rag by ripping clothes from dead zombies
  4. Right click on the bottle of Bourbon and select the option that says “Craft Molotov”

Now that you have crafted the Molotov, you might wonder, how do you throw a Molotov in Project Zomboid?

Here is how to throw a Molotov in Project Zomboid:

  1. Equip the Molotov as a primary
  2. Equip the light as a secondary
  3. Hold down right click to aim the shot
  4. Left click to throw the Molotov
  5. Watch it burn

How to lose/gain weight in Project Zomboid

In Project Zomboid you want to maintain a weight between 80-85 to prevent being underweight or overweight. Being underweight will impact your character’s strength and being overweight impacts your character’s fitness. Our last run we basically lived off of ice cream and canned food, but as you can imagine those are high in calories. We were able to lose weight easily by leaning on our foraging ability and only eating berries for a couple of days. The same goes for being underweight. If you lived off veggies, then try to eat some more fatty foods and even junk food to gain some weight.

We hope that this Project Zomboid beginners guide helps you get through the first stages of the game. Don’t lose hope when you invest time into a character and they die, it’s all part of the fun! We are glad to see that Project Zomboid is getting a lot of traction on Twitch and we can honestly say that Project Zomboid is worth playing in 2021.