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Project Zomboid Beginner’s Guide: How To Survive Your First Day

Project Zomboid is a brutal survival sim, one where the smallest of injuries can lead to sickness and eventually death for the player. The game also plops players into its zombie-infested version of Kentucky without much guidance. Thankfully, surviving your first night in Project Zomboid isn’t terribly hard. You just have to be careful, thoughtful, and make sure not to bite off more than you can chew.

Make use of your starting area

When you first spawn into a world in Project Zomboid, you’ll start in a random house in the area you picked. Regardless of whether you spawned in a trailer or a two-story home, your spawn location will be loaded with the equipment necessary for survival in the game’s early days.

Check the refrigerator and cabinets of the house for any food, but don’t load up too much. It’s easy to get over-encumbered in Project Zomboid, and realistically, you don’t want to carry too much around. Grab a couple of pieces of fresh food (if available) as well as one canned product. Canned food can last forever in Project Zomboid, and should be hoarded as much as possible or at least used sparingly. Of course, you’ll also need a can opener to get to the grub in that can, so grab one of those too.

Make sure to turn some loose clothes into torn rags to use as bandages.

Once you have some food, it’s important to get a weapon and a water container. Just about anything can serve as a weapon in Project Zomboid, but naturally, a hammer or wrench will work better than a fork. Whatever weapon you find, make sure to equip it from your inventory immediately, since you never know when zombies could surprise you.

The kitchen of whatever building you spawn in should have both a weapon and something you can use as a water bottle, whether it’s a tea kettle or a simple coffee mug. With those supplies in hand, you just need one more thing before heading out into the big, bad, zombie-ridden world: torn rags. These can be used as bandages in a pinch and are made simply by finding some clothes and ripping them to shreds. You can do the same with bedsheets, though it’s a bit of a waste since clothes are so easy to find and sheets can be used to make ropes or cover windows.

Find a safe house

Once you’ve got some basic supplies your next step should be to find a temporary safe house. Take that first big step out the door, weapon in hand, and start looking for a decent house or building to set up in. Most larger buildings – like department stores or other retail locations – will be harder to defend from the undead thanks to their multiple windows. When you’re just starting off, it’s much easier to find a simple house, preferably with two stories and a fence.

But just finding a house doesn’t really make it a safe house. There’s a bit of base building that goes into securing a location for a few days rest. Find as many sheets as you can and use them to cover windows so zombies don’t spot you from outside. Similarly, use sheets to make an escape rope to hang from a window on the second floor. If zombies break in and flood the house’s first floor, you’ll have an alternate escape route.

Finding a house to hold up in is key in Project Zomboid's early days.
Finding a house to hold up in is key in Project Zomboid’s early days.

If your character is proficient enough in carpentry and you managed to find a hammer and some nails, you can also start breaking down basic furniture to use the planks as barricades. Board up doors so there are only two that can be used along with any windows.

With an established safe house, you now have somewhere to hoard basic provisions. Use the refrigerator and freezer to gather up fresh and frozen food, stock canned food in cabinets, and gather any medical supplies you can find.

Start learning skills

At this point in Project Zomboid, you’ve done pretty well for yourself. You have basic gear to fend off the undead with and a safe place to stockpile supplies. But nothing in Project Zomboid lasts. Eventually, the power and water will shut off, and when that time rolls around, you’ll have to be self-sufficient.

Whenever you’re not looting, take some time to sit at home and watch TV. While your parents may have said it’ll rot your brain, TV in Project Zomboid can be one of the best things to do during the game’s early days. Turn on the Life and Living TV channel, plop yourself down, and you’ll start earning XP when a relevant show comes on. Cook Show unsurprisingly teaches cooking, Woodcraft teaches carpentry, and the Exposure survival show teaches farming, fishing, foraging, and trapping.

Reading in Project Zomboid provides players with an XP multiplier.
Reading in Project Zomboid provides players with an XP multiplier.

While watching TV can give you a decent amount of XP, you’ll earn exponentially more if you read a book at the same time. A good number of skills in Project Zomboid have books associated with them, all of which are applicable to different skill levels. If you’re just starting to learn carpentry, for instance, grab and read a Carpentry for Beginners book. Reading it grants an XP gain multiplier for a couple of levels, guaranteeing that watching TV will give you at least two levels in whatever skill it’s associated with.

With these skills, you’ll be on your way to surviving each grueling day in Project Zomboid–for a while, anyway.

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