Zombie hunters, it’s your time to shine. State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition has arrived, collecting State of Decay and its two expansions, Breakdown and Lifeline, and bringing the whole package to Xbox One in glorious 1080p. If you’ve never played the game before, you’re in for a treat: It’s a surprisingly realistic game of survival, where the focus is on building community as much as it is slaughtering zombies. But since we’re all so used to the kinds of zombie games where you mow through shambling hordes with ease, State of Decay can take some getting used to. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a list of nine tips to help you keep your brains safely inside your skull.
1) Rotate between characters.
How do you think you would feel after an hour or so of running around a sprawling rural area in the midst of a zombie apocalypse? Perhaps just a little tired? Maybe a bit beat up? Well, State of Decay’s characters feel the same way; as you adventure, your maximum stamina (which governs your ability to attack, dodge, run, and such) will start to drop. You’ll need to take a break. But you can’t just drop into a cot and fast-forward six hours; instead, you’ll need to switch to a different character to let the first one catch up on some much-needed rest in real time. To do so, simply select a Friend character in the menu screen and hit X; you’ll take control of the new character, and the previous one will wander off for some shut-eye. This has the added benefit of keeping multiple characters leveling up evenly… which helps lessen the pain when one of them inevitably gets taken by surprise and dies. Forever.
2) Leave the guns at home.
State of Decay has other dramatic elements of realism, and one of those is that guns simply aren’t always the best weapon for the task. To take out a zombie, you have to get very good at pulling off headshots, which is possible but certainly not for everyone. And if you haven’t attached a suppressor, those missed shots could attract a passing horde. A sturdy melee weapon will serve you better in almost every circumstance. If you must, pack a shotgun for emergencies… but remember that you have precious few slots in your backpack, so don’t go crazy.
3) Back and fill.
Zombie Hordes can be a serious pain… unless you’re in a car. Preferably a big car. If you’re rolling, there’s a wonderfully satisfying way to wipe out a Horde in seconds. First, get close enough that they notice your vehicle. Next, back up until they clump into a small group; at least a block or so of clear space behind you is best. Finally, go bowling. You’ll take out most of the pins – er, zeds – in one goopy charge.
4) It’s dangerous to go alone.
As fellow survivors become Friends, you’ll be able to ask them to tag along on your outings. Do so whenever possible; mowing through zombies is more than twice as easy with a helper thanks to the grab-and-smash method (that is, your partner will grapple an enemy whenever possible, allowing you to finish it off in a single blow). Plus, it’s another way to keep multiple characters leveled up evenly.
5) Be nice to your neighbors.
Periodically, you’ll come across other enclaves of survivors. Be a good neighbor by helping them out when they call, and they’ll begin to trust you more. Once that trust level is maxed out, they’ll offer to join your group. This is pretty much the only way to substantially boost the size of your crew, which means it’s the only way you’ll be able to relocate to bigger, better, safer digs.
6) Plan your Outposts carefully.
Almost any building that you’ve fully searched and cleared of zeds can be turned into an Outpost. Doing so gives you a storage locker that mirrors the one at home, as well as a permanent safe zone around the new Outpost – a safe zone that can be expanded dramatically by setting traps through your Home menu (on a related note, don’t forget to order your watchtower to snipe zeds regularly; that expands the safe zone around your home in a similar way). With some careful positioning, you can surround your home with a no-go zone for zombies, ensuring that you never find a Horde at your gates.
7) Put the junk in the trunk.
Every vehicle has storage space; the bigger the vehicle, the more space it has. This space is perfect for dumping heavy, stamina-depleting rucksacks. If you’ve found a location with lots of materials, simply park near a convenient entrance and shuttle it all out to the trunk. Just remember to drive very carefully from then on. If you lose the car, you also lose all the goods. But the good news is that you won’t have to carry all that stuff into your base; just park in one of your home’s parking spots, and the materials will be delivered automatically.
8) Avoid Feral zombies.
OK, that’s easier said than done; in the course of your attempts at survival, you’re virtually guaranteed to come up against one. If you do, try dodging with B, which will cause the Feral to hit the ground. If you’re quick enough, you can use a finisher (LB + Y) to take it down. If you fail the roll, don’t panic; jack on the B button until you throw it off, then use your finisher. And be glad these bad boys are few and far between.
9) Don’t waste your progress.
Finally, here’s one tip specifically for those of you who have played State of Decay on Xbox 360: You can bring your progress right into Year One Survival Edition via a simple upload. Simply boot up the game on your Xbox 360 (make sure it’s updated to the most recent version), hit Start, and hit Y to upload your save. Then, go to your Xbox One and repeat the process to download that save. And there you have it: You can pick up right where you left off, agonizing mistakes, deceased friends, and all!
Ready to immerse yourself in a grimly realistic zombie apocalypse? State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition is available now on Xbox One.