11 tips to survive the zombie hordes in Project Zomboid

11 tips to survive the zombie hordes in Project Zomboid
Images via The Indie Stone

Written by 

Tarran Stockton

Last updated 

8th Feb 2024 09:55

Our Project Zomboid tips will provide all the help you need to survive in this unforgiving survival-horror role-playing game.

Project Zomboid is a survival game where players are thrown into a zombie apocalypse set in Kentucky during 1993, forcing you to scavenge resources, fight the undead, and set up a safehouse away from the hordes.  

It's well-known for its complexity and in-depth systems, which only get more detailed with every update.  So, check out our Project Zomboid tips and learn how to last in during the end of the world. 

You can easily handle one zombie

fighting one zombie in Project Zomboid
Click to enlarge

One of the biggest fears you will need to overcome early during your time with Project Zomboid, is dealing with the zombies themselves. They present a constant threat, and one bite will end your game, however, you don't need to be afraid of a single zombie, and you should kill them when they appear.

It may take some to get used to fighting them, but once you've mastered the controls, killing a single zombie will be easy exercise, and will help you keep safe when scavenging and clearing buildings.

Another extra thing to add, is that standing on a downed zombie will prohibit it from standing up or attacking you, so use this trick too to regain stamina and scout. 

Perform 360s every so often

One of the easiest ways to die in Project Zomboid is to let a zombie sneak up on you, so we need to counter this. Considering you can only see in the direction you're facing, it's worth getting into the habit of periodically checking around you with a 360 manoeuvre.

During your turn, the surrounding fog of war will disappear and let you see any approaching zombies. This is important in closed-in buildings where you can be snook up on quickly, and especially in a fight, where you can be distracted just long enough for a zombie to hit the killing bite.

Zombies can't catch you at a walking pace

A car in Project Zomboid
Click to enlarge

The undead of Project Zomboid are very slow, moving at a walking pace and unable to sprint because of the decay of their bodies. This means that the base walking pace of your character is enough to get away from any zombies, so you don't always need to burn your stamina to escape them.

If you are encumbered (meaning you're holding more than your carry weight) or slowed down by some other means, the zombies will be able to catch up to you.

Learn to outsmart the hordes 

A potential problem players can face in this game is the zombie hordes. Random events like the noise of a barking dog can cause an entire horde to move across the map, and this can be a nightmare scenario for players.

Zombies also take the shortest path and will break through a house en-masse during their migration, so during a horde it's not always a good idea to hide.

One way of dealing with a horde is herding them. The best way of doing this is to move around the map in a circle until you corral all the zombies together. Once you've done so, break the line of sight with the horde and sneak away until they forget about you.

Fresh food first, canned goods next

Food in the Project Zomboid inventory
Click to enlarge

Despite being about a zombie apocalypse, Project Zomboid does attempt to hit a level of realistic grounding within the game, and this goes doubly so for food consumption.

You will need food to survive more than a couple of days, and once you've gathered some up - it's worth noting which ones you should prioritise.

Like real life, fresh food will rot quickly, so eat all the fruits and vegetables before starting on the canned goods. Following this method should be the most optimal way of survival, and will help you get more time of your food. 

Being a couch potato can help you survive

During the first eight days of Project Zomboid game time, the TV will still work as remnants of the old world hold on. One of the available TV stations is called the Life and Living TV channel, which displays a series of shows that will improve certain stats.

For example, watching a cooking show will improve your cooking ability, and this goes for the range of shows that cover carpentry, mechanics, foraging, first aid, and more.

There are also VHS stores and tapes, which can be found around the map and let you watch these shows after the channel goes off-air. It's imperative to use these when you get the chance, and they will provide well-needed boosts to your abilities, which help you survive in the long run.

Find a house and barricade it

a lone house in Project Zomboid
Click to enlarge

The first things you need to worry about in this game are acquiring food, water, and a shelter. Any house or building can be used as a shelter, but preferably you will want one that has a couple of exits, and the least amount of windows as possible.

This is because successfully staying in shelter requires some protection, otherwise, any zombie can wander in and end your game. Barricading windows and doors with nails and planks is a good start, and these are plentiful if you disassemble furniture with a hammer.

If you don't have immediate access to these, hanging a sheet over a window works temporarily, and will stop zombies from spotting you from outside. 

Secure a vehicle early

Vehicles are great for traversing the map quickly with a lot of defence and also allow you to store items, making for a strong mobile storage unit.

We have a guide on how to hotwire cars, but you can access cars with keys too, which can be found nearby or in the vehicle itself. Cars are easy to come by, as they will litter the streets and car parks around the map.

Noise is the most dangerous thing

a row of cars in Project Zomboid
Click to enlarge

Making noise in Project Zomboid can lead to a very early death sentence, and while it's unavoidable sometimes, watching carefully for the amount of noise you make can help you survive much longer.

Stepping on certain surfaces will attract zombies, like glass or twigs, so watch carefully for the ground you step on. Some houses and cars can also have alarms which are still active, so if you hear a house alarm sound - run away before the area becomes swarmed.

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Avoid the rain

You would think the rain would provide a good opportunity for gathering resources and items, as zombies would hear less and see because due to the downpour. However, the rain in Project Zomboid can cause you to die if you're not careful.

Two of the debuffs you can experience in the game are the statuses of cold and wet. Walking in the rain without protection will cause you to gain both statuses very quickly, and it can lead to worse sickness and even death if you don't treat it.

Start a farm if you want to survive for a while

a farm in Project Zomboid
Click to enlarge

After a while of searching the map and scavenging all the nearby buildings, food will start to become scarce, and a farm will become the necessary next step to continued survival. Farming takes a long time to pan out successfully too, so it's best to make it an early priority.

For farming, all you will need are seeds, a tool of some sort, and access to a water source. All of these can be found by scavenging the map, and a tool is especially important as digging with your hands can cause injury.

Check out our Project Zomboid homepage for more guides. We've also got a comprehensive beginner's guide, a list of the best traits, and the best base locations.

Tarran is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. He previously wrote reviews for his college newspaper before studying Media and Communication at university. His favourite genres include role-playing games, strategy games, and boomer shooters - along with anything indie. You can also find him in the pit at local hardcore shows.

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