Do you wanna survive the flesh-eating hordes without too much reading or thinky thinky? You've come to the right guide! These are all simple beginner tips that I've stol- *acquired* from other people or found out myself through several slow and painful deaths. Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
Here are some general tips that you may or may not have known:
1. Making rope out of sheets is worth it. Find yourself a nice base with a second floor, have 2 sheet ropes on hand and a nail and you have a nice entrance and exit to your base that those damn meatbags can't use.
2. Furniture can be used to block doors. Sometimes the game is iffy about this, and you can walk straight through some objects, and so can the dead. Typically bookshelves, certain armchairs, refrigerators, low tables etc. can be lifted (on the top left of the screen, there is a table, click it to be able to lift certain items) and put down (cycle the options with TAB) wherever you want. Bear in mind that a) if you can walk through it, so can they, so it is no good as a barricade and b) if you can't seem to lift a fridge, make sure your inventory is really light, otherwise it will be too heavy to lift unless you have high strength.
3. Furniture can also be used to block staircases. Worried about the undead coming up and feasting on your tasty bits while you're snoozing? Drop a TV in front of the stairs and sleep safe and sound. It won't always block windows, however. If the object is a table for example, they can get through the window and go over the top of it. Therefore use a fridge or a bookshelf, anything the same height as you.
4. You can see out of a window, and be seen through a window with 2 barricades on it. 3 barricades means you can't see out of it, as does 4. The more barricades, the longer it takes them to get through. However, add a sheet to the window and you got yourself some dull curtains that stop them seeing you. Especially important if you're sleeping near a window.
5. Crafting a tent means you can sleep wherever you'd like. Handy if, like me, you thought some beds were 2 singles pushed together and tried to disassemble one, only to lose your only safe bed. And still only get a nail and unusable wood. >_>
6. Read, nerd! Magazines often provide you with crafting recipes, while skillbooks multiply your experience gain on your next action. So if you read a carpentry skillbook, the next time you hack a chair to bits like a lumberjack Jason Voorhes, you'll get more XP for it.
7. Familiarise yourself with the game. The tutorial gives you a quick run down, and that's great, but it doesn't explain a whole lot. Take 10 minutes to run around the tutorial map and see what you can interact with. Just don't go too far into it... You'll see why.
8. Zombies, like in most games, books and movies, are attracted to light and sound. Turn off the lights, put up some curtains and sneak as much as possible to reduce your risk of being spotted. Also, if you hear gunshots or a helicopter, go the opposite direction. Loud noises = hungry zombies. Also...
9. Beware of home alarm systems. If you break into an alarmed house, you're basically ringing a very loud, high pitched dinner bell. If you are so unfortunate, run. Hiding upstairs isn't viable as the undead will rampage through the house, and they can't starve to death either. You can. So run away.
10. Like climbing out a window, holding 'E' allows you to climb over waist high fences. Beware, zombies can follow you over them, so resist the urge to gloat until you're safely out of biting distance.
11. Nails are used in quite a lot of recipes, be sure to grab them when you can.
12. If you see barricades in Solo mode that you didn't put there, this implies previous survivors. The chance for weapons and food is fairly high, but if the house is boarded up, chances are they never left...
You'll start off in a building that has no zombies in it. That's already a good start. However, mere doors and windows will not keep the undead away for long. So, first we need to:
(a). Find a suitable building. I like a building that has a maximum of 2 doors and as few windows as possible, as well as a second floor. The second floor means that you can use 2 sheet ropes (one rope per floor) and a nail on a window to make a sort of ladder that only you can use. No more worrying about locking the front door.
(b). Keep your grubby hands off the junk! You don't need everything you can see in this game, you'll just die tired and sweaty, trying to haul your hoarding ♥♥♥ away from a rambling wall of teeth. The essentials are:
1. Water. After 2 weeks, the power and water supplies shut off, so refrigerators, freezers, house lights, televisions and taps will lose function. You can put cooking pots or bowls outside so they collect rainwater, or build a raincollector.
2. Food. Try and eat anything that says (fresh) beside it first, because that means it can spoil if not in a working refrigerator or freezer. Canned and sealed goods are preferable but don't carry too much.
3. Bandages. A simple scratch can cause you to lose your life sauce all over the floor, so be sure to make bandages out of sheets or clothes. Infected wounds will need some disinfectant or alcohol to help. Bites have a very, VERY high chance of turning you into a walking bag of ugly, but there is a very small chance you'll survive it.
4. Bags. You typically start out with a school bag, but you can find duffel bags or hiking bags too. These bags reduce the amount of weight your character is carrying, and are therefore VERY useful. You can also use plastic bags, trash bags etc. to carry things and they can even be renamed.
5. Seeds. That's right, you heard you me. When ♥♥♥ hits the fan, you're gonna wanna get real close with your sister and start planting some crops, because with no power, food will start to spoil and you'll need to grow your own supplies. It's hard to do, so maybe find a guide that tells you all about it.
6. Weapons of mass destruction. Or a simple baseball bat will do. All weapons have pros and cons. A sneaky character may prefer a knife as they allow stealth kills in 1 hit, provided the enemy hasn't turned and spotted you. Knives are quick and can 1 hit kill in open combat if timed well, but require you to get your squishy body right up next to our infected friends, and also meed repaired quite often. Bats and axes have a long reach and good knockback, as well as being able to hit multiple enemies, but require both hands to use properly. You can use 1 hand, but it turns a possible 1 hit kill into 4 hits. Firearms are loud, require ammo, and can miss if your character doesn't have any skill in aiming. And if you run out of ammo? You'll end up in a zombie's rotten digestive tract. Use only as a last resort or to attract zombies to your location (then run around them).
The sandbox mode is actually more helpful than some may realise. I, for one, was sick of zombies shambling past and headbutting my barricades into bits for no reason other than to ♥♥♥ me off. It made building defenses counter-intuitive, as they would go out of their way to slap my precious fences.
However, this can be turned off in sandbox mode, meaning that as long as you don't make excessive noise and keep your windows covered, you'll be left alone. Get spotted entering the house, moving around the house or sleeping however, and they'll come a-knockin'.
The developers have stated that Sandbox Mode is not there to make the game easier. It can if you wish, but that's not it's purpose. Survival mode is based on their ideas surrounding zombie lore. However, if you disagree with their ideas, boot up Sandbox mode and enable or disable whatever you wish. You can essentially tailor your whole Project Zomboid experience to your liking.
Want an easy time in the zombie apocalypse? Turn them all into shamblers with low toughness and low strength.
Want to be fighting the dreaded undead who swarm in numbers and are hard to kill? Increase the population and increase the toughness.
Want to spend your life cowering in fear and running for your life? Make all zombies into sprinters, turn their hearing, sight and smell to max and throw yourself in a padded cell you sick, sick freak.
Sandbox mode has more options than you can shake a stick at (if you're into that), so give it a go.