SURV1V3 – Beginners Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks for Newbies

All credit goes to Omni!


These tips should be useful for both Survival and Story mode, but I have only played Story mode so far. Some are obviously only geared towards Story mode, such as how unlocks work in Story mode. I have played the game both solo and with others and the tips I give here apply in both situations. I also would ask that.

Pack Rat Life

The backpack, ammo pouch, and holsters can be a little confusing at first. Here’s some tips on how it works:

  • How to store stuff in the backpack: To put a small item in the backpack, grab it, and hold it over your left or right shoulder for a moment. You should hear a zipper sound, which means it’s been stored in one of the 3 general slots.
  • How to store ammo: To store some ammo, put it over your waist and let go. There are 3 slots for pistol ammo, 3 slots for rifle ammo, and one slot for shotgun shells which can store up to 30 shells. By default, the ammo you pull from your waist pouch will match the gun you are holding.
  • Storing melee weapons and the bow: If the item you put over your shoulder is a melee weapon or bow, it will go into either the left or right large slot depending on which shoulder. You can then pull the stored weapon by reaching over the same side shoulder again, with either hand.
  • Storing rifles: You can store one rifle (meaning, any semi/automatic rifle, shotgun, or sub machine gun) on your chest sling. This means that you can keep one primary weapon in your hands, and one on your chest. This will be useful as explained in a later section.
  • Accessing stored items: You can see everything stored in your shoulder slots, backpack, and ammo pouch by moving either hand over either shoulder and pressing trigger. Anything in any slot can be pulled out of its slot from this interface.
  • Slot Types: On the top left and top right are two long vertical slots. These are your stored melee weapons or bow. Other types of weapons cannot be stored in these. Between the two melee slots are your general storage slots. All small items (such as medical sprays) are stored here. Along the bottom of the interface are 3 slots on the left for primary (rifle) weapon mags, a small slot for shotgun shells in the middle, and 3 slots for secondary (pistol) mags.
  • Carrying more stuff: Later on, you will be able to increase the number of your general item slots (and only the general slots). I’ll go into detail on this in a later section. At first, you might think this is lackluster, because you just want to carry more ammo. But… Ammo mags and boxes of shotgun shells (but not loose shells) can be store in the backpack’s general slots! Remember to move your spare mags to your ammo pouch when there’s room so you don’t have to open your backpack in combat.

Weapon Handling for Dummies

Most of the weapons in this game are pretty self-explanatory if you have played any other VR shooters with semi-realistic weapon handling mechanics. I’ll add mostly non-obvious tips that are unique to Surv1v3 here, but maybe a few basic ones for those who aren’t super familiar with VR shooters.

  • Shotgun!: Don’t overlook the shotgun because you want to go with a rifle as your primary. There’s a special slot in your ammo pouch just for shotgun shells that can store 30 shells. A box of shotgun shells has 15 shells, so two will fill that slot.
  • Two primaries: It’s not too difficult to keep one primary weapon in your hands, and one on your chest. When necessary, you can swap between them, or set down the current one to do something else with your hands. My suggestion is to choose one rifle, load up on mags for it, and then sling a shotgun on your chest (when one is available).
  • Load up that shotty: The shotgun can have 5 shells in the tube and one in the chamber. So, load 5 shells, pump it, and load a sixth. Try to keep count as you fire it in combat, and load it up whenever you have a spare moment. Unlike a weapon that is magazine-fed, you can top up the shotgun whenever you like since it’s done one shell at a time.
  • Pump it: You actually need to hold down your offhand trigger and pull back to rack a shell. This prevents you from accidentally ejecting a live shell, but can be confusing at first.
  • Arrow handling: Similar to the shotgun, loading an arrow is not self-explanatory. It’s covered prominently in the tutorial, but I’ll explain it here, too. Again, hold down the trigger on your offhand (the one actually holding the bow), then reach your main hand over your shoulder and press that trigger. If you don’t do it this way, you’ll just open your backpack interface (where you could grab an arrow from anyway).
  • Arrows are economical: As far as I am aware, arrows are indestructible. Which means, if you have the patience to run around and pull all your fired arrows out of dead zombie brains, you technically have infinite ammo. This is on top of it being a silent weapon.
  • Bow vs. shotgun vs. rifle: I like the bow a lot, but it’s hard to justify bringing it if you are hauling both a shotgun and a rifle as I described above, and possibly using some of your general slots for extra mags that the arrows would take up. I still think you should try it and see how you like it, though.
  • Boom bullets: Red ammo mags contain explosive rounds. So don’t bother picking them up if you haven’t unlocked the ability to use them. I made the mistake of filling up on red mags and found out the hard way in the middle of combat that I couldn’t use them!
  • Deagle: The Desert Eagle (the large of the two pistols, if you don’t know) has incredible stopping power, but it comes with significant downsides. It has very limited ammo in each mag compared to the Beretta, and shooting it one-handed isn’t very effective due to its massive recoil. To me, the purpose of a pistol is to act as a backup when: Forced into close combat, your primary runs dry at a bad time, or you carrying something important in one hand… all situations where you want to use your secondary one-handed. For this reason, I always go with the Beretta. Like with the bow, you should try it and see if it fits into your playstyle.
  • Beretta: As explained above, I always go with the Beretta (which is one of the only two secondary weapons in the game that I am aware of). Despite its lower power, it carries more rounds, and is still capable of one-shotting regular zombies if you don’t hit a helmet. If possible, I keep two Berettas since you have two pistol holsters. That second holster basically translates to a fourth pistol magazine slot.
  • Awkward axe: Melee weapons that must be wielded in two hands to be effective (just the fire axe and the mace, as far as I know) you’ll soon find out are extremely awkward due to their programmed hold angle and grip order. If you plan to use such a weapon, I recommend keeping it in your left shoulder slot and grabbing it from that slot with your left (or right/right if you are left handed). This way, when you pull it out, it will be facing the correct direction, and your left hand will be on the lower part of the grip, which means your right hand will be on the upper part which is the most natural-feeling hold. Most melee weapons are actually very useful, I’d just avoid the two-handers.

How to Brain Zombies

So it’s time for some practical combat tips! Some might seem obvious… but you might be surprised. The game’s combat is not too difficult. The danger comes in when you start fumbling your weapons or reloads, get surrounded or surprised, or run into a lot of fast zombies. I’ll offer some tips on how to deal with all of that.

  • The golden rule of zombie slaying: Anyone who knows what a zombie is knows that you should aim for the head. Body shots don’t count for much, and this holds true in this game in a big way. It’ll stagger them and that’s about it. The limbs are good secondary targets though, and I’ll explain why later.
  • We got a runner!: Any zombie (even the “boss” varities) can decide to start running, which makes them a much higher threat. Sometimes they will stop running, usually after running in a random direction away from you, but I have no idea what causes it. I know for sure that just hitting or shooting them will not stop them running, which is why they are such a high threat. Because of the extremely slow running speed of the player in this game, you can’t really get away from a running zombie.
  • Option two: If a running zombie is making a bee-line for you, and you don’t think you can hit them in the head before they close the distance, aim for a bigger target: The legs. If you manage to blow off a leg, they will fall down and become a crawling zombie. Which is almost zero threat unless you stand still all day.
  • Get outta my face!: If a zombie manages to get close to you, it will be extremely difficult to get a headshot with a rifle or even a shotgun. This is especially true with running zombies, because they can keep pace with you as you backpedal, meaning you never gain any distance on them. Guns have a physical presence in this game, which means you can actually beat the zombie with your gun to stun them for a moment (it doesn’t do much damage). This also means that a zombie can nudge your gun around and prevent you from lining up a headshot. The biggest problem, though, is that the distance between you and the zombie will be shorter than the length of any rifle or shotgun. So, what I like to do in this situation is: Let go of the rifle with my main hand, while keeping the forward grip held in my offhand, so I don’t drop the gun. Then with my free main hand, grab a pistol and aim it point-blank at the zombie’s face, which is significantly easier to do with a pistol in close quarters. You can also go for a melee weapon in the same way, as long as it’s usable one-handed.
  • Brutal beatings: Aside from the awkward two-hand weapons, most melee weapons are actually very useful as backups, ways to preserve ammo, or a way to take out zombies (relatively) quietly. Zombies stagger when hit so if you go berserker on them, they tend to be pretty defenseless. Be mindful of getting surrounded if you do this. The better melee weapons (such as spiked bats) will take most zombies out in a hit or two, one-handed or not. The only melee weapon that feels super weak (that I’ve tried so far) is the machete.
  • Free fireworks!: Gas zombies are dangerous because of the gas cloud that surrounds them, their high health, and the big delayed explosion if you accidentally shoot the packs on their backs. That said, those explosions can be used tactically if a gas zombie is in the middle of a crowd of other zombies. Just make sure you’re in a situation where you can be clear of the blast by the time it finally goes off.

Learning How to Attach Stuff to Things

It’s kind of weird that your have to find a magazine with instructions on how to attach a scope to a rifle, but here we are. It is nice in the sense that it adds a small progression mechanic to the game and more reason to explore specific locations. There are other existing guides here that can give you more details on exactly what and where, but I learned a few oddities about the system in general.

  • It’s a circle!: White circles on your map will lead you to houses with unlocks of various kinds. When you arrive at one, you are looking for magazines (teaches weapon attachments or ammo types), red tote bags (increase your backpack size), or little statuettes of the playable characters (unlocks outfits). Backpack unlocks also have a small orange icon if I remember right, and outfits have a small pink icon. It seems there are always plenty of copies of the unlockable items around for everyone if you are playing in co-op. Magazines, statuettes, and tote bags cannot be put in your backpack if you have already collected them before.
  • Trophy hunter: On your tablet, under “Extras” is a section for Story mode unlockables, and a section for Survival mode unlockables. In the case of Story the story mode list, some text will actually tell you what chapter and episode they can be found on. Be aware that the white circles and other icons will remain on your map even if you have collected them already. Also I believe that each backpack upgrade can only be collected once per map: One in the city, one in the sewers, one in…?

Dumpster Diving Like a Pro

Moving around the map and scavenging is a big topic all on its own. It’s the main thing you are doing when not actively fighting zombies. So… here’s how to do it a little better!

  • Discretion is the better part of valor: You don’t have to engage every zombie you see. In fact, if you fire on a zombie that isn’t a threat, the loud gunshot will attract other zombies who will all become threats. So if a zombie hasn’t spotted you, or is moving too slow to be a threat to your safe travel, it’s better to just save the ammo.
  • Target acquired: Usually you can tell when a zombie is after you, even if you haven’t seen them. Their footsteps will suddenly be much louder and they’ll make different vocalizations. So keep your ears peeled and hopefully you won’t get surprised.
  • Anybody home?: If you see a house with lights on inside, generally that means you can break and enter. If you are running low on supplies, it’s a good idea to do so. They usually have a good amount of consumables and weapons/ammo to keep you going. I am fairly certain the door will always be locked, so always keep a drill with you (or at least one person in your group should, if co-op).
  • What is this I don’t even: I am not 100% sure on this, but I don’t believe containers with multiple vertical drawers ever have any loot in them. That’s good news, because this game is awful at determining which drawer you are trying to open. I’m sure I’ll keep opening them forever anyway. That said, cabinets and other containers often do have loot in them.
  • Auto acquisition: it seems very rare for civilian cars to have loot in them. Police cars sometimes have firearms in them, and army vehicles very often do. Ambulances usually have medical spray. If you don’t have a flashlight with you, it can be very hard to tell if there’s loot in a car. One workaround is to simply stick an empty hand in there and wave around. Any objects you can pick up will be outlined in white.
  • Shedding some light: Flashlights are usually not required… until you get to the sewers map. It is useful to have at least one gun with a flashlight attachment for rooting around in cars, though. I would definitely avoid filling one of your valuable backpack slots with a regular flashlight, as well.
  • Be a good house guest: Always close the door behind you whenever you go into a house or a shelter to pick up some loot. Zombies in this game have not figured out how to break down wooden doors, so you’ll be safe as long as the house/room you have entered is clear of zombies. You can take your time to loot if you just remember your manners!

Playing Well With Others

The best way to play this game, in my opinion, is cooperatively. Solo is very enjoyable, but co-op really amplifies that. Here are some tips to help you and your fellow survivors work better together.

  • Three’s a crowd: By default, two other players can drop into your game on Story mode at any time (for a total of 3 players). It is possible to go out to the main menu and up that to 4, but it is listed as “experimental” so there may be performance issues there. It is also possible to set the game to solo mode, if you want to.
  • Medic!: Medical sprays have three uses before they are empty. Most importantly, they can be used either on yourself or another player by aiming at them when you pull the trigger. Share the heals! Note that the nozzle points away from you like a gun, so you’ll have to twist your wrist back to use the spray on yourself.
  • Communication is everything: If you have an active microphone, by default everyone that is within earshot of you in the game will be able to hear you speak. If you want to communicate at long range, put your hand over your left (by default) chest area and hold down the trigger button. If you did it right you will hear the walkie chime at you, and everyone will be able to hear you speak until you release the trigger. If you did it wrong, you probably opened your backpack interface instead.
  • Friendly fire is not so friendly: In this game, you can damage your teammates with anything you can damage zombies with. So be careful where you shoot, and err on the side of caution if you are not sure if your teammate is about to cross into your line of fire. Likewise, stay aware of where your teammates are and don’t wander in front of their guns during combat. To reiterate the previous tip, keep in communication with your team so you can warn them of things like explosives, flanking zombies, and low health.
  • No kill like overkill: Try not to concentrate your fire on zombies you’re pretty sure your teammates are aiming at, unless it’s a boss zombie, or it looks like they’re struggling/in the middle of a reload. It’s better to find a different target, or just hold your fire to conserve the team’s ammo.
  • Down in front!: If you are in front of your group when you go through a door, and do not immediately go all the way into the room, press the crouch key (or duck for real) so your buddies can shoot over your head. You’ll be glad for the extra fire support sometimes if you can just learn to get out of the way!

Stuff I Was Too Lazy to Categorize

I have a bunch of other useful tips for you, but they are pretty random and don’t fit a particular category. So consider this the “miscellaneous” section.

Realistic gun volume is better.

Better gripping

Go to back to the main menu and change the grip mode to “realistic” to make it so that holding a weapon requires you to hold down the grip button. When you release the grip weapon, you will drop it or holster it. The default mode is awkward if you have played any other VR shooter games for the most part. I also recommend changing grab for ammo to “trigger only” so that you use trigger to pick up magazines and shells and grip for everything else. Makes it much easier to grab your sidearms.

Ghost radio

I’m not sure what happened, exactly, but one of my backpack slots got glitched out by an invisible radio. You see, it’s possible to put radios (the ones playing music) in your backpack so you can pop them out for some tunes while you’re looting a house or whatever. I did this in the sewers map, and eventually the radio disappeared in my backpack. However, the slot it occupied became unusable. Later on it reappeared and I was able to take it out again. I think what was happening was it was disappearing whenever there was another radio nearby in the game world… I’m not really sure, but I’d probably avoid putting radios in your backpack.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13971 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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