1. Thou Shalt Loot
- You may have seen videos or pictures of fighting off hordes with sniper rifles, sub-machine guns, and landmines from mile high fortresses and rooftop gardens. But when you start the game you will notice your inventory and the resources around you don’t really cater to those items, so what is your game plan? How do you go from 2 jars of water to an impenetrable fortress?
- When you drop into the world for the very first time, you will probably be very lost and confused. The first items that you can get to make effective tools and weapons are grass, sticks, and small rocks. These can be quickly made into stone axes, camp fires, and crossbows. From there you should be able to protect yourself while you take down some trees and crush some boulders. With wood, coal, and iron shards you can start to create better defenses and craft better axes, picks, shovels, and clubs. Not a bad start for the first 5 minutes.
- Typically you will start out next to a car with a few lootable boxes, bags, and garbage. Loot everything and keep as much as you can, focusing on raw resources. Yes, you can create awesome bombs with pipes, hub caps, and air filters … but you have to walk before you can run or blow shit up. Consolidate those items so you are carrying either scrap iron or brass.
- You will also want to find a bed or a sleeping bag (these can also be crafted from items found in most houses). Pick these up and put them down as you go. You can spawn on your beds if you die, instead of starting at a random location far away.
2. Remember Food and Drink
- If you are playing this game you admittedly have a zombie plan of your own. You know the best hardware stores to loot, the highest buildings with fire access, and you are on a first name basis with the local militia/thugs/mob bosses/gangs or some guy named Ed. But do you know how to boil water to make it healthy? Can you skin an elk and make stew? Are you willing to eat dog food … the wet type? It is really easy to go through your food and water sources during the day and be left with nothing at night. (Hint: You don’t want to be harvesting your corn fields at night)
- Empty jars can be used to collect water, which will need to be boiled and purified. Depending on the length of the days (default is 20 minutes), you will want at least a stack of 10 jars of water stocked at night.
- Don’t underestimate ways to enhance your water. Goldenrod flowers and coffee can be combined with water to make highly efficient, energy boosting, refreshing drinks. And yucca juice can be created directly by combining with glass jars, skipping the need to boil or combine with water.
- If you have to drop food, review the effect it provides first. Crafted food items are usually more filling than raw fruit and vegetables, and while canned food is plentiful, it can cause you to lose hydration (Hint: Watch for the few exceptions to this including canned fruit and soup). Depending on your water supply, going with items that won’t dehydrate you will be your best choice.
3. Thou Shalt Not Get High
- When fight fails, often our natural flight reaction is to go UP. Many first time videos will show the genius who nerd polled into the sky or built themselves a great super tall building. Clearly going to survive the night, right? WRONG!! The developers were brilliant and evil all mixed into one. Zombies can dig, break shit, and naturally want to redecorate your living room. Then there is the fun little factor of gravity and the laws of physics. (Hint: Your house can and will crash to the ground, and if the fall doesn’t kill you, the zombies will)
- The best option is finding a basement to protect and set up camp in. In the current version, zombies don’t dig down, so even if they are above you, they won’t naturally go through the floor. The next option is a small attic. While this is higher, they typically only have one entrance. But you won’t be able to hold up there for long.
- Similarly, bigger buildings like the factories or courthouses are not going to be your best line of defense, at least at first. The bigger the building, the harder it is to protect and keep lit (campfires will slow them down, but take fuel to burn). Finding small areas that you can protect with limited defenses will be a better choice. Later when you are running with shotguns, sniper rifles, iron walls, giant spikes, and 3 friends, you can take over the cities and set up shop. For now, a cabin by the lake is fine.
4. Know and Honor Thy Biome
- Each location has pros and cons, and specialty items only found in that location. Knowing where you are and what you can loot and collect is imperative to immediate and long term survival. Even after you get comfortable and start setting up a base, you may want to visit other biomes routinely for resources.
- Desert: aged wood that can be picked up without tools, yucca, aloe, plant fibers, sand, sand, and more sand. The desert has some great natural defense positions and good lines of site, but limited lootable buildings and fewer options to find food.
- Wastelands: large amounts of cinder blocks and scrap metal on the ground. The wastelands are great late game because they have valuable building resources and great looting spots including two factories and the destroyed city of Gravetown. But water, food, and trees are limited, and zombie spawns near the city can be particularly potent.
- Burned Forest: cinder blocks, rocks and fields of coal ore. Most resources have been stripped from this biome, and there are very few places to loot or build a base. But it is a good place to hit on the way to the wasteland or desert as it contains valuable coal and cinder blocks.
- Forest: numerous lootable buildings, farms, lakes, and a central location. The forest is a balanced biome that will have everything you need to get started. It also is in a central location with easy access to other biomes and contains the large suburb of Diersville.
- Plains: good houses and public buildings to loot, large quantities of game. The plains biome is very similar to the forest but with less trees and occasionally more animals and plants. However, its real value is some great lootable buildings including a school and courthouse.
- Snowy Forest: snow, blueberries, and lots of trees. Limited visibility, tough enemies, and only a few valuable resources make the northern snowy forest a challenge compared with other biomes.
5. Thou Shalt Craft
- Looting will only get you so far, sooner or later (Hint: sooner if you want to survive) you will need to start crafting more advanced items and forging raw materials into weapons and defenses. Here are a few key things to remember.
- Forge and Molds: this should be a top priority when setting up a base. Finding some clay for molds and crafting a forge will allow you to smelt iron and lead, and create everything from glass jars to ammo and gun parts. The forge can easily be created with small stones and a short iron pipe, and clay can be gathered by digging up dirt.
- Weapons: you will find most of your weapons, but sooner or later they will break and you will want to either repair them, or deconstruct them to make molds to craft new weapons.
- Tools: a stone axe is a universally great tool that can not only be used to gather resources, but also upgrade blocks (although not as efficiently as a repair tool). But to get the most bang for your strike, you will want tools that fit the job; pick axes for mining, fire axes for wood, and shovels for dirt. And of course you will eventually need a good hoe so you can sow your seed.
- Building Blocks: almost everything you see in houses and buildings can be crafted but you need the proper resources, some of which require several steps to create. Reference the recipe list in your inventory, but be aware that some things can only be crafted after you find special books scattered throughout the world.
- Water: bring the water to you by creating a pool, pond, or personal lake. You can craft a bucket and make your own infinite water source to collect bottled water from (still needs to be boiled). Water can also be used as decoration or as a defensive strategy.
6. Thou Shalt Kill
- The stone axe you create for gathering resources works equally as well as a starting weapon, but very quickly you will also want to craft a simple crossbow. While easy to make the crossbow is useful even in late game as it is the only silent ranged weapon. As you progress, you will want to craft a more powerful melee weapon, even if you only use it as a backup. Upgraded clubs (barbed wire, spiked, etc.) are great options, as are sledgehammers and hunting knives. Regular wooden clubs and bone shivs are less powerful than the stone axe, so don’t even bother.
- You can find guns in safes and in many other lootable containers, and for the most part, they all kill equally as well, so choosing one over the other comes down to preference and resources available. A notable exception is the .44 magnum which requires a significant investment in time and a bit of luck to find all the components and ammunition, but is well worth it as it is much stronger than any other weapon in the game.
- You can sneak using the Ctrl key which will allow for increased damage or a chance to evade zombies and fight another day.
- As is true in most zombie movies or games, aiming for the head is the quickest way to bring down a zombie. Ranged weapons allow you to zoom or aim-down-sights making it easier to land a head-shot, but even melee weapons benefit from aiming for the head. When ammo is limited and weapons degrade with every shot/hit, take your time and aim for the head.
7. Thou Shalt Make Unto Thee a Fortress
- The simplest way to keep out zombies is to build a wall. There are many variations and designs you can choose from (rectangular wall, star fort, circular citadel) but each method comes down to putting strong blocks between you and the zombies. Wood frames and rebar work best as a starting point because they can be upgraded (right click using a stone axe or repair tool) as you acquire better resources. Existing structures can provide a good starting base but often don’t have the durability to withstand as well as a homemade fortress.
- Spikes and mines are a great way to protect your new base, but be aware of the pros and cons of each type. In addition, be sure to plan your defenses, as once you place traps you can’t easily relocate them.
- Barbed wires fences can easily be placed, picked up, and re-placed as needed, but work better as a solution for directing where zombies go rather than stopping or hurting them. If there is a nearby opening in a fence, zombies will flock to that, making it easy to create a kill zone.
- Pits and deadfalls are an easy, if somewhat time consuming, method to stopping zombies. Recent patches have changed the way zombies respond to pits, but they still remain an effective way to protect your base with very little ongoing maintenance or repair.
- Bunkers can be the ultimate fortress as they are well protected against zombie and human players. They often go unnoticed by both of these parties, allowing you to live, mine, and craft in peace. They do however take a significant amount of time to create and you will still need to come up to the surface to gather food and other non-mining resources.
8. I Am the Zombie Thy Doom
- Each different zombie type has a slightly different animation, so take time to learn their movements and where to aim to get a head-shot. In addition there are several special zombie types that you will want to watch out for.
- Spider Zombie: These long limbed scrawny zombies act like normal zombies during the day, but at night run on all fours making them difficult to hit. They can also climb walls making them a threat to many defenses.
- Zombie Dogs: These undead canines are fast and deadly. Although easy to kill, they can overwhelm you during the day due to their speed and tendency to roam in packs.
- Crawler Zombie: These slow crawling zombies are easy to kill, but hard to spot and don’t show up on radar.
- Bloated Walker: Fatty, tubby, or whatever stereotypical name you want to call these guys, they are big and mean. They take more hits but are slow and easy to land head-shots on. They also carry better loot than most zombies.
- Infected Police Officer: Similar in size to bloated walkers, these zombies have a unique ranged puke attack and when damaged will attempt to rush you and explode. They are tough to put down, so keep your distance and aim for the head.
9. Know Thy Status Effects
- In the heat of battle it is easy it miss the subtle status effects that can pop up on the left of the screen, but these can literally be the difference between life and death. Learn these and come prepared with the appropriate antidote.
- Bleeding: heart with an arrow through it. This effect is caused by being hit by a zombie and will drain your health and stamina for 60 seconds. This can easily kill you, but can be fixed by using bandages or temporarily reduced by using painkillers.
- Infection: bio hazard symbol. This effect is caused by being hit by a zombie but is much more subtle than bleeding and doesn’t reach its full negative effect until several days after infection. Pop an antibiotic to heal yourself and prevent further infection for a short period of time.
- Food Poisoning: skull with knife and fork. This effect is caused by eating raw meat, raw eggs, or moldy food. Food poisoning can kill you and the only cure is to wait it out (doesn’t last very long). But if you are stupid enough to eat rotten or uncooked food, you deserve to die.
- Caffeine Buzz: coffee cup. This is currently the only positive status effect, provided when you drink coffee. It gives you increased stamina for 180 seconds without all the real world negative side effects of crashing or caffeine addiction. Yeah!
10. Thou Shalt Commit to Multiplayer
- Bring a friend, die together. Whether you are playing over a local LAN connection, joining an existing multiplayer game, or renting your own server, having a friend is both practical and more fun. Two people can gather more loot, take down hordes, and explore at a faster rate. And there is the added bonus of hearing your best friend scream like a little kid when they are overrun.
For more in-depth information on crafting, weapons, and locations in the game, be sure to check out the 7 Days to Die Wiki.