State of Decay ten tips for playing the DLC Lifeline.

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Some time ago the game State of Decay got a new addon called Lifeline and it has a few changes that are surprising interesting given that this is only a small addon. One of the changes even carries back into the game and the first addon Breakdown DLC and is certainly an improvement on playing the game. It basically saves you a lot of to and fro driving.  Now this post is not a review. I wrote a review that I published on another blog, which I might move to this one, but in the mean time you can find the link here. The purpose of this post is to give a few game playing tips that have worked very well for me and you can apply to. Note that this might make the game relatively easy to play and this might be considered a spoiler.

Now for those who like a puzzle you can look at the picture abive. It shows the basic ingredients for beating the game. The only thing for you to do is to apply it.

For those who hate to puzzle I have below a few tips for making the addon a bit more easier to play, provided you need to.

But fist a few lines about what is typical about this addon. I assume you already know the basic game, so I will not explain the game mechanics here. The game mechanics is the same in the addon.

First, most obvious, the map has changed. The map is that of the city of Danforth. But the map is for a large part inaccessible. In fact the map consists basically of the road around the city and a about seven  areas branching of the central road. There are therefore far less buildings to explore unlike the basic game, that had a lot of places to explore and to scavenge.

Second, the addon has only one base and thus there is no reason to try and look for another one. This base has only a few option to builds. Basically you have only four slots to build something.

Third, the addon story is interspersed with attacks on your base at set intervals. The attacks by zombies increase in ferocity. The first attacks will see normal zombies, more zombies and more special zombies will join in the attack as the game proceeds. To deal with attacks you will recruit soldiers, artillery support, mortar support , air strikes and static defense around the base. I never use them since I found another way to deal with the attacks.

Fourth, and very handy, change is that vehicles now can carry equipment and especially resources. This mean that you can now drive to a shack and transport the resources in that shack in your car instead of having you to drive back and forth between your base and the shack for each resource. This change also works in the basic game and in the other addon Breakdown.

Fifth, the cap for influence is 10.000. Which is different from the basic game and addon Breakdown, as there the cap very low and slowly rose throughout the game based on your performance.

Six, the price for hiring a soldier to come with you is twenty influence, which is very cheap as compared to the 100 you need in the basic game.

Seventh, you can summon supplies from your base.

Eight, munitions shop now make munitions.

Nine, you will be pressed for time as you have to do quests within a short time and there is little time left to do other things until the story lines have finished.

And lastly: this game revolves mostly around doing missions to either save people or to gather supplies.

Now we come to the tips.

Tip one: disobey the first order you get.

The first order you get is to head over to the base at one as it is under attack. Instead of going directly to the base you are better of to use the moment to establish some out posts and gather resources. The reason to do this is because at this moment in the game the zombie threat is the lowest and you have two companions with you. Also, unlike in the basic game, you can already establish outposts and you need to establish outposts to drop off the weapons that you find. Also you have ample time to scavenge as there is no deadline on the first quest.

Tip two: Build outposts, but build them to destroy hordes and make areas safe.

Hordes get to be a serious menace in the game as they are the cause of infestations and infestations will make quests harder to do as. The only way to effectively deal with them is having outposts destroy as many as you can get. To do that you need to place outposts at place where hordes pass and this is in contradiction with placing outposts at satellite uplinks, artillery and drone sites because these are almost all on the edges.

Tip three: forget about the latrine.

There is a latrine in the game and it is suggested that not having it will make your soldiers sick. Well, I have had times where half my soldiers were sick, but that is a rare occurrence.  The soldiers will still help defend your base. The disadvantage of having a latrine is that it uses up a slot that can be put to better use.

Tip four: take a soldier with you.

Asking a solder to come with you cost twenty influence, which is cheap as compared to the hundred influence in the basic game.  So take a soldier with you. In addition this is an important way to make them playable characters and you want to make them playable to equip them.

Tip five: don’t hesitate to use your car and Molotov to save people by driving into a group of zombies.

In the basic came driving a car into a horde of zombies attacking a refugee or survivor would cause you to loose influence. In this game you can do that unpunished and you need to as the zombies get tougher and can easily kill a refugee and survivor later in the game. So throw that Molotov cocktail and drive a car into them.

Tip six: don’t worry about supplies.

With the exception of materials you do not need to worry about supplies because you will get resource when you keep the gather supplies function on all the time.  Materials you need at the start of the game to build your facilities. Once they are build they aren’t so important. You can break down all other resources.

Now follows four more tips that can be seen as game spoilers.

Tip seven: gather rocket launchers.

In almost all the games there are around five rocket launchers These are your key weapons to use in your defense as outlined below.

Tip eight: build a munitions shop.

You need to build a munitions shop to make 40 mm grenades. It might even be advisable to use a second slot for making another munitions shop so you can spent building your ammo on making more 40 mm grenades.

Tip nine: Make as many 40 mm grenades as you can.

Make as many 40 mm grenades as you can. If you don’t have ammo for 40 mm grenades make either silencers or flame fougasse.

Tip ten: don’t recruit soldiers.

You have only about 5 rocket launchers. So you need to keep the amount of soldiers low. Preferably not more than you have rocket launchers, but this is hard as the game will give you just a bit more solders then you want. Around two more on average.

The tactics that you now can use is equipping your small crew of soldiers(best is around six or seven) with grenade launchers. Because your npc never use and run out of ammo you have made yourself free artillery. The 40 mm grenades you make are for your own use as during most of the addon Sasquatch will be at the north gate and you can’t equip him and you will need to use the grenade launcher. In addition your npc grenades do little damage to Big Ones so you need to take them out yourself. In addition you have no control over how the soldiers will be positioned and this it might be you need to fill in the gaps.

Now go out and play.

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Zombie slaughter.
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Taking out a Big Un.

State of Decay: Breakdown: ten tips for playing the dlc

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Updated 11 January 2014!
Removed some typo’s and errors added some new I am sure.
Added some things to tips.

 

Hey, welcome to my post about Breakdown, the downloadable content for the video game: State of Decay.

In this post I will experiment with fragmentary story telling. And who better then to have that taken care by my nekos!

First off it might be handy to give a general idea of what the post will contain.

1 Three differences as compared to the basic game.

2 Ten tips that might be useful to remember.

3 And something else I forgot. Oh yes.. a commentary of sorts…

But first let me introduce Krisp. She is in the picture at the top..Krisp is a neko. For those who do not know exactly what a neko is let me tell you.. neither do it. Literally Neko is Japanese for cat and in a certain context it is used for a hybrid of a human with cat. A human with cat features so to say.. like ears, or whiskers or a tail. However, being completely inaccurate as someone pointed out, a Neko is sometimes used me to mean any human animal hybrid.  So Krisp is a neko because Krisp has cat teeth, cat claws, cat shoes(sometimes) and a nice fluffy tail.

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This picture shows the new things that make breakdown different from original game: heroes, levels and new goal(s).

While in the basic game survivors were also important, in Breakdown they are even more the focus of the game. When you begin the game you choose a random hero(the first time), start the game and run! For you are alone.  During the game you will be able to have more survivors join you and here in this there is a slight difference from the basic game. In the basic game most survivors came either via predefined quests or the occasional random quest. In Breakdown the most important source for companions are enclaves.  You will find that you are now actually able to gain their trust and recruit them after a while.

Secondly, Breakdown has levels. And I do not mean levels of the survivors, but levels of the game. Each level is slightly harder then the next. This is achieved by making the zombies slightly harder, spawn more, and spawn more special zombies, while at the same time, resources are harder to find and, especially, vehicles are harder to find. There are even levels where there are just a few vehicles to get. With each new level, you also start a new map. The only thing you will take with you from a previous game is a small group of survivors, their inventories and the supply.

Thirdly Breakdown has no story line.. hence the goal of the game is a simple one: find the recreational vehicle, repair it and then go next level. Sounds boring?
I thought so too.. but each and every level is slightly harder then the one before. And to make it more rewarding they threw in achievements, so that you have something to strife for.

So now the ten tips with their explanation below.

1 Bring a buddy.

2 Ready the RV.

3 Home, sweet home site.

4 Use your outposts!

5 Neighbors are your friends.

6 That vexing supply locker.

7 Take care of your cars.

8 Boom!

9 Guns guns guns.

10 Hand to hand.. choose your skills wisely.

————

1 Bring a buddy.

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Maybe you are a very exceptional fighter, but even the best fighters will tire eventually and it is a though job surviving on your own at higher levels.  Searching items in houses might be tedious task is you are continuously interrupted by zombies. Your survivor will break off the search to confront the zombie and you have to start the search again after it is killed. So bring a buddy to watch your back.

Buddies can be recruited in various ways. You can pay 100 influence to have on over your fellow survivors to tag alone. This has some disadvantages. It costs 100 influence and the survivor will leave the moment it is severely wounded, sick or  you accept a quest(the latter not always: sometimes they leave and sometimes they don’t).

Buddies can also be recruited as part of a quest. Most quests give you one buddy that stays until the quests is finished. The advantage is that it does not cost you influence and the survivor tags along even if severely hurt or sick. There are three disadvantages: the game does not save while your are on a quest,  you can not move a home site and you can not change to another avatar as long as you are on a quest.

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2 Ready the RV.

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Eventually you want to move to the next level. Readying the RV is a requirement.  
But first you have to find it! Unless you want to search the map for the RV you probably better of waiting for Lily to tell you where it is. She will do that within an hour of real time play. At the first level you only have to do one thing: fueling the RV.. but on higher levels there are more things needed. With each repair or preparation you need influence and materials. In all you will need 30 fuel, 30 materials and 10 medicine to prepare the RV on higher levels. Oh and some repairs require a lot of time and also some extra things that you are required to find.

The RV can only hold a small amount of survivors. In total eight, but there are two catches:. One of them is  that you have to take Lilya along(and Lily is not a playable character).  And when you take the full compliment of seven survivors along , one of them will get lost on the higher levels( this is changed now: on higher levels it seems the max characters you can recruit is six but you do not lose one anymore.). Who gets lost seems to be a bit random although my experience is that it is often one last one’s you assign to go with the RV. And the one you play will not be killed.

A word of advise. When you find the RV you do not need to get out of your car to have it added to your home site. Just driving along it is good enough. It is even advisable not to get out of a car as the RV seems to be a spawning point for zombies. Also be aware that when you are on a quest and you find the RV during this quest, it will not be added to the home site! And also, when you have a companion with you it will leave as if you accepted a quest.

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3 Home, sweet home site.

When you start on a new map, except for the first, you will be out in the open. So you have to find a home site sooner or later. Although there are seven home sites in the game, the choice is actually limited. The three biggest one’s(Fairgrounds, Trucking Warehouse and McReady) you can not get as you lack the materials and people to choose them. McReady Farm can only be picked from the start  at the first levels, but once you start to loose a survivor you will not have enough people to claim it. The two smallest are not really an option as they are too vulnerable. Unless of course you like that sort of thing. It comes down to either hold out in the open till you have enough people (McReady only needs one more survivor to the basic seven) or to either occupy Savini or Kirkman.  I prefer Savini as it is located in the town Marshall, where most supplies can be found, is protected from the rear and one side and comes with a watch tower. Also it requires only a few outposts to make it safe.

4 Use your outposts!

Outpost have a lot of useful functions. It creates a zone where no zombies will spawn, it will destroy a horde of zombies, it gives you access to your home site inventory and it generates materials for it. If you occupy one of the bigger home sites, you usually can have one or two spare outposts that you can move around when you explore further out, thus having a place where to stock up, fall back to, or put items you found.

5 Neighbors are your friends.

In Breakdown neighbors are even more important. They are a source for new survivors, quests, a way to get rid of excess items and  create a kind of  safe zone.  Especially handy will be their use to get rid of items that you can not or do not want to store in your own supply locker. In addition sometimes they even sell things you might have a shortage of, like bullets.

6 That vexing supply locker.

You will soon start to notice something annoying about your supply locker: it is limited in the amount of items it can contain. Since the supply locker travels with you from level to level. -that is from map to new map-, with it’s content intact, you will run into this problem again and again because you need to create influence by finding new items and storing them in the supply locker. This is where you neighbors come in. Their supply lockers are a way to get rid of excess items. However these supply lockers are limited as well so eventually they will be full too.

Now all of this would not be such a problem if the game did not automatically add items to your locker every once in a while. So even if you take out the cheap or worthless items out of your supply locker, the game will generate new items, some of which are cheap and worthless items. The only way is by taking them out and replacing with more expensive items..

On top of this the game will also top off certain items contained in your supply locker. Bullets, for instance, will be topped off at sixty. The same goes for snacks. It seems the game limits snacks to six. So stocking up on bullets and such is only possible for a short while otherwise you have to remove any excess and store it in the inventories of your survivors.

7 Take care of your cars.

Unless you like to leg it through fields full of zombies you probably value your car simply because you move around a lot faster. Cars are  vitally important and you will find less and less of them at higher levels. Since cars are also spread out over the map, retrieving the few ones that are on the map can be a tedious and dangerous task.  But you have to. This means that you might consider building a workshop(at least a basic one) or moving to the trucking warehouse, which is has a  full fledged workshop built-in.

Most cars are located in and around Marshall and I found that Marshall always seems to have at least one car.  I also found that when you do not have enough cars near your home site then the game sometimes gives you cars at your home site. How this exactly works is not known to me as it has only happened a few times.
14-01. When you move your home site the game will move the cars sometimes. I have moved my home site only twice during the games and in both cases the cars were moved the next day as well. Hence you do not need to get the cars you leave behind. However I think only the cars that are actually in the parking spots are moved. 
In addition the spawning of cars when you have none seems to spawn random new cars.. At first I thought it would a selection from the cars you drove past of occupied, but recently I tested this and non of the cars I actually drove past or sat into were moved. So they game seems to spawn new cars and not take the cars that are already in the game.

Big cars, like the modern pickup, are handy for using a cross country shortcut between Marshall and Spencer’s Mill.  This saves you a lot of driving over the road. This shortcut begins at the Tartan Mart that is located on the south-east side along the road leading to Marshall(see picture below).

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8 Boom!

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Gradually, when you go through the levels and discover it is getting harder and harder and resources decline, you start to appreciate the little things that did not really matter in the basic game.  Here are a few.

Gas-tanks are everywhere and they come in handy when a shed or another building is inhabited by a group of zombies. The blast kills everything except for the tougher freaks(Big Un and Feral) outright.. even through a wall. Watch out with cars though… they get destroyed too. The blast might attract nearby zombies, but not as much as firing a gun or an artillery barrage.  Funny detail..they reappear when you move away.

A nice weapon to have is a grenade launcher. They come in two versions: the one shot grenade launcher and six shot one. They both fire the same grenade. The great advantage of the grenade launcher is that you can actually fire a grenade inside a building. This makes them very handy for cleaning out infestations. Grenade launchers are rare finds. However the most likely place to find the six shot version is at the military camp in front of the fair grounds.
14-01: There are three stashes, one in the back near the fairgrounds and two near the entrance that is across the road where the crashed helicopter is. 

Of course the weapon of choice is the petrol bomb or Molotov cocktail. In state of decay there are a lot of them around and they are very effective too. You can wipe out a horde of zombies with one. Not only are there many to be found(some house have wine cabinets, that provide up to nine molotov cocktails) but also the game will generate them for you.
14-01: When you explore you will find fuel. Breaking down fuel will turn them into three of four Molotov cocktails. 

9 Guns guns guns.

You will find a lot of handguns like revolvers and pistols in the game. Equipped with a silencer most hand-guns are decent weapons. It is wise to equip you adventurers with different caliber guns so you will not run out of bullets because as said above: the game tops of the bullets at 60.  Revolvers and shotguns are weapons that can not be silenced and as a consequence they will attract zombies when fired. The exception seems to be the .22 caliber. which seems to attract less attention. .22 caliber gun are not very effective. I seldom use guns on ‘normal’ zombies but reserve them for the screamers and  bloaters, but considering that the game tops off your bullets you might use up bullets if you have too much.

To find the better types of guns or even military grade guns see the maps below.

10  Hand to hand.. choose your skills wisely.

Most of the time you will fight  the zombies with hand-weapons. During their use you will gain experience and once you gain a certain level you can choose a skill to enhance combat or be stealthy.  Most of these skills do not seem to do too much, but my preference is to use bladed weapons and pick the  skill that cuts of the legs of a zombie at random. The other option: decapitation offers up speed for a certain kill.. however in the higher levels you the delay usually results in a zombie grabbing you. If possible pick survivors with the power house skill as it increases their critical hits.

11 (Hey wait.. that is not ten?) Flow of the game.

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Perhaps a final tip is to pay attention to the flow of the game.  The game has moments that there are many zombies and hordes spawning and moments that there are non around.
Here are some observations:
– At night there are more zombies around than during the day.
– Around dusk, dawn and noon it seems there are far less zombies.
– Zombies have a tendency to spawn after you have arrived at a certain place. Sometimes there is a delay in the spawning that you can use  to quickly enter a place.. grab stuff and run before the game starts to spawn too much zombies. However this can also work to your disadvantage: sometimes a place seems to contain only a few zombies.. but a few minutes later more will spawn…a lot more.. An example of place where this is likely to happen is the Grange.
– When you are required to go to a place and it is crawling with freaks you can force the game to remove them by driving around a bit. When you are far enough away the game will remove spawns. However there will be new spawns.. so it might not solve your issue.

12 (Hey?) Quests and other assignments

Whenever you built a facility or repair a part of the RV there is a chance you have to find something to finish the job. Lily will tell you where to look on the map. I found that you are likely to find these items at any place you search. However it looks like that the places Lily designates have a higher chance to give you the object. But diligent searching at other places have almost always resulted in finding these objects.

Another interesting thing I found is that when you are assigned to hunt a particular freak you are instructed to locate it at certain place. I found that finding and killing a freak of the kind you are assigned to hunt at other places sometimes is enough to resolve the quest.
14-01: This seems to be the case for bloaters and ferals. The armored zombie quest is usually for a swat zombie and that seems almost only to be spawned for the quest. I do not know for big uns as I try to avoid them.

Be aware that with the hunt quest your companions will leave the moment the quest is resolved. This might mean that they leave you to face any remaining zombies. Sometimes they will help you fight, but as often as not they leave you to face the music alone.

Okies..

Now for some closing comments.

I like state of decay as it offers a combination of resource handling, character management, leveling and so on. The game does not compare to a big commercial game. This should also not be expected as the game is made with far less budget and market for about a third of what a main stream commercial game costs.  All in all Undead Labs, the maker of the game did a decent job.

Handy maps…

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Trumbull valley map.
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Trumbull Valley.. best places to find guns. Guns shops and police station in blue. Military camp sites in green.

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A state of mind 2: who needs the government anyway?

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The Night of the Living Dead has a kind of dark humor for at the end the hero of the movie gets shot by these vigilantes because they think he is a zombie. In the end titling you see vague pictures in the background that show what they do with the bodies. It is a kind of reminiscent of nazi practices as you see the people using meat-hooks to drag the bodies to stack them high to burn them. The corpse of the hero is among them.

In the previous installment of a state of mind we ended we the guys we see above. We see them hunting down the zombies in the Night of the Living Dead. So how about the government? What are they doing?

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Almost any interpretation of the zombie apocalypse has to deal with this. How do you explain away..
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these guys(and girls for that matter)
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or these..
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or this?

Of course anyone who tells a story of a nation like the United State being overrun by undead has to somehow explain how these undead can gain the upper-hand in face of the violence that the United States can bring to bear. Even considering that a substantial part of the men and women of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies are turned into undead themselves.

But an explanation is actually seldom given simply because when one starts to explain, one has then to fight fire with fire, because once one starts to reason one will find that most of what is happening in zombie tales is quite unreasonable. The best solution to this problem is thus to say nothing about it at all and merely mention that the government was unable to deal with the crisis.

And thus one gets pictures like these:

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An abandoned tank in the street. The mighty power of the army culled. A block of useless steel. There is a corpse of a soldier on the tank to underscore it even more.. it will be shown in close up with birds picking at it.. Just in cast you do not get it.
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and there is one inside… but this soldier is not quite dead though.
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Rick is actually a police officer himself.. and when he enters the city a burned out police car and a downed helicopter symbolize the inability of the government to maintain control of the situation. The movie makers love to scatter helicopters about.
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Another picture to show that the government was unable to deal with the crisis. It is curious that the building seems to be blackened as if it has been shot at. One wonders who would have the temerity to shoot at the United States army in the United States? Did you notice the helicopters?
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The law in State of Decay is represented by these guys. Sheriff Carl and judge Lawson. The sheriff seems a bit out of his depth, but then.. it is the zombie apocalypse!
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The courthouse  in Marshall is where the last remains of the local government is holding out. Which is about the only representation of the law enforcement agencies in the game. Incidentally it gets attacked during the game by zombies and the two leading figures, sheriff Carl and judge Lawson, die during the attack. The powerlessness is illustrated by the fact that the two guard towers never seem to be manned throughout the game and you can get attacked even right in front of entrance of the building and nobody comes to your aid even though there are two heavily armored guards  inside the building right behind the entrance.
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The US army is in most movies and stories often just ineffective..but in State of Decay its role is even nefarious.  In addition to throwing refugees out on the street without offering protection, the game almost suggest that the US army was actually the cause of much of the nastiness in Trumbull Valley.
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While it is not exactly told, it is laid on thick that the army was actually aware and probably let this happen. I can not recall the US army being depicted this black(but see below: the stand). A new trend maybe?
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Erik Tan, disillusioned soldier, tells us that the US army blocked off the pass leading out of the valley. Not only are we told about this, we are also told that they left many of their men behind unattended and uncared for. Something which is quite strange for an army that got drawn into a extended battle in Mogadishu because it did not want to leave behind men who were in a helicopter that got downed. In fact there seems to be a point with the US army to not leave (their) people behind. Might just be politics though.. as nay-sayers would say.
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In zafehouse diaries, a text based zombie apocalypse game, the military makes one appearance and is defined as a threat. “New dilemma — Outpost. Players of No Survivors have a new threat to watch out for. A group of ex-military troops may set themselves up inside a location in town, along with a nice cache of weapons and equipment. “
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In the stand the military is responsible for the extermination of humanity by failing to contain a tweaked version of the flu. During the story the army gets to be a symbol of oppression as it goes to extremes to contain the disease and citizen unrest. Eventually the government disappears because they are no longer needed for the story and we are left to watch a rag-tag band of religious fanatics fighting it out with another band of religious fanatics. One is ‘good’ and the other is ‘bad’. The good guys are the ones we see the most, oh and they have the pretty women. Just so you know. Personally I like the bad guy better when he was this black bird.
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In the crazies it is actually cops versus army as a plane-crash turns everyone in a village into crazies, except for the handful of survivors of course. The army tries to contain and remove any evidence of the disaster by any means, including using Apache Longbow choppers. This one fails to spot the police car in full daylight.

Basically the governments  sucks. If they do not cause the disaster, their might is usually ineffective against it  and often more directed against the rest of the population and survivors in particular. Cops seem to be a bit in between, but regardless of their attitude, they are simply ineffective as a force. Instead they become often survivors, if they do not turn into zombies. This climate, this state of mind pervades almost all movies, books and games. It even contaminates political thinking.  But if you think companies are any better….

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The mighty Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil can not control the outbreak of the T virus despite using soldiers, poison gas en a nuclear bomb. Well, the bomb is actually dropped by the government in the game, but in the movie it is the corporation itself that deploys the weapon.

But do not fear! We are about to reveal a secret.

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Irony is that the biggest adversary of the zombies and other rotting undead is never mentioned. It is mother nature.. and in particular this little critter. Producing itself in the millions it will have a field day with all the rotting flesh around.
In a warm sunny climate a rotting body will be gone in a month. The best way to survive the zombie apocalypse is just to sit it out and have the flies do their work. provided the zombies stick to the rules! Of course they don’t.

A state of mind 1: show time

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Zombie stories have been crawling out of the woodwork with impunity this last decade or so(yeah, I know cheap line). The appearance of the Walking Dead series shows that the zombie apocalypse has even intruded into the mainstream mindset. I do not know what makes zombies so popular nowadays and your guess is a good as mine, but perhaps it is all about the economy. It usually is..No doubt someone in the future will be far more able to define the reasons why.

There are many interesting sides to this type of end to civilization as we know it.  When our neighbors turning into unreasonable flesh eating creatures we can simple shoot  them down without any remorse.  Shoot them down? My, we can bash their heads in, burn them at the stake, impale them and do anything else we can think of. Things that in any other context would pass as crimes against humanity, but then zombies are not humans.. well not any more. Which is great because you can do all kinds of things you always wanted to do to that pesky annoying neighbor: Homo homini lupus est.. But this post will be not about wolves.

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The shuffling dead. They are very easy to recognize. And when they are like this we can show no remorse. These came crawling out of the burned coach on the left. Did they decide to return to their seats after it burned out? Odd.
Anyway.. what would the guys have done before they became undead? Does not look like they were from the same background. Undeadness is the great equalizer.. every zombie is the same..
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Rick in an episode of the Walking Dead sees a former colleague shuffling towards him. Lucky he used to be some kind of asshole… so…
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have a nice day, buster.
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And in Stake Land the protagonist Martin discovers this sleeping beauty in a house devoid of life because everyone inside is either dead or…
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…undead.
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Sleeping beauty does not turn int a rabid dog like creature unlike many others of her kind.. instead she approaches the hero as a curious innocent child. She is not evil yet.
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A touching moment almost when she reaches out for Martin but actually her hand goes to the dagger that he is clutching. As if..
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she senses what is about to happen?
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Once you are undead there is no mercy for you. Rick in the Walking Dead has to shoot this child zombie dressed in pajamas and a robe. Now go to sleep, already! See the cuddly bear fly away. Interestingly.. when played backward slowly one sees that the splash of blood is already on the ground. So.., no they did not shoot her in the head really. It is just a movie..
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In Stake Land the destruction of the undead is almost a casual affair. When the protagonists enter this rest stop along the road they pass a group of men who are busy tying a female vampire to this contraption. She is burned, almost like a witch was in days gone by.
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The next day, when the two heroes drive away they pass in front of the rest stop and we see this girl who sang in the bar the night previously. She is young, pretty and pregnant (as we later discover)… in the background to the left is the burned corpse of female vampire  An obvious glaring contrast..And behind the scared remains what appears to be the United Sates flag, much more visible in the daylight.
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Car meets undead. In Stake Land the vampires resemble zombies. In almost all movies, games and books cars are a humans best friend against the undead. If they get them to work that is. In Stake Land zombies do not seem to die as easily by being driven over as in other tales. This walking dead just scrambled to her feet after being run over by the heroes. They are giving it another try.If you do not succeed the first time.. try and try again.
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Fire works great to get rid of pesky undead regardless of how strong they are. It is also a bit dangerous for actors who play them. So you won’t see many Molotov cocktails being used in movies.
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I would say.. missed.. but those actors would have thought.. drat, that was close. Molotov cocktails are great crowd control weapons. Burn baby, burn.
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Tools of all kinds are used against the kind of undead that feature in those early zombie movies. They work well against the kind that are slow and alone. The faster ones that come in groups are much better dealt with with firearms.. or flamethrowers.. or by just hiding and pray that they have forgotten about you.
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The Night of the Living Dead has a kind of dark humor for at the end the hero of the movie gets shot by these vigilantes because they think he is a zombie. In the end titling you see vague pictures in the background that show what they do with the bodies. It is a kind of reminiscent of nazi practices as you see the people using meat-hooks to drag the bodies to stack them high to burn them. The corpse of the hero is among them.

Being undead means you are the great enemy. These stories allow us to clearly define who is the enemy and kill it with any means available. We do not have to feel remorse to kill something that is already dead and is hunting us and the job is a simple straight forward task. Kill, kill,  kill. No more complex society.. just you, it and a weapon. Perhaps that is what we miss. And that is it for part one and in part two we will talk a bit more about the guys you see in the last picture in the next post about A state of mind..

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Zombie movies often contain only a few touching moments like this one. In the first resident evil movie Alice goes through some strong emotional moments when she thinks Rain is about to die and turn zombie. It is curious as in the whole movie there are actually no moments of bonding between them. Later in the movie when Rain does turn zombie and Alice has to shoot her, Alice breaks down and cries. Yet this behavior might actually be very plausible for people who are under a lot of stress.

State of decay(for pc) 2: tips and tricks

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An introduction

Originally I had one long post that contained all, but I decided to split the post into separate items. This is the tip and tricks part.

Tips and tricks

So next follow some tips and remarks and if you are the kind that likes to suffer discover everything yourself then by all means: stop reading.

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Cars!

There are all kinds of cars in the game but  for durability the one in the two pictures above is the best one. The modern pickup, as the game calls it, is a big monster that can run down several hordes and show nothing for it.. ok.. a dent or two. All other cars break down far too soon.

When you leave the ranger station in the introduction game you will ride towards in  the Church of the Ascension and just before you enter the village Spencers Mill there is a car accident scene of two cars crashed into each other. To the left side you see a modern pickup parked.  Get it. Get all the modern pickups you can get your hands on! For you need a lot of them as you have one that you use and the rest will be repaired while you are squatting hordes.

Cars will be repaired slowly when you park them near your home base and you have at least a workshop. According to the rules only the car in the car space, but curiously enough any car parked nearby the Snyders trucking warehouse would end up repaired overtime.

Do not park too many cars near your home base.. I did once and one disappeared because someone took it out for spin and never returned it. At Snyders I got this event when I had eight cars parked around it.

The modern pickup has two disadvantages.. it is a big machine that can not move easily around in close spaces and it is not the fastest car,  although it is not the slowest car either.

Be aware that cars are zombie magnets. They will gather around your car while you are out doing missions or exploring a house.

Cars have a horn.. Press Q and it will make a loud noise. This is very useful during missions in which you have to lure away zombies or draw out zombies into the open.

(Update November 2013)
Be careful with driving cars cross country or over uneven terrain. The physics in the game are somewhat unpredictable and it could mean your car will end up belly up.. and you will be ejected and find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere.

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The first modern pickup you encounter is to the left in the picture. There is a catch because when you get close zombies will spawn. No worries though.. you have three people to deal with them: Marcus, Maya and Ed.. oh and Ed might look in a bad shape,  but he still can swing a bat around quite well.

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Outposts(and resource gathering)

When you acquire the first home base(the Church of  the Ascension) you still can not do everything you need to do. Noticeably you can not establish an outpost.  This option comes available after doing the first survey mission Lily gives you and before the Mission: Survivors. And you can establish an outpost via the Radio Assistance which is called using the LEFT ALT button.

Outpost also create resources. They work as follows. They will create 3 resources of the kind you see displayed on the map and only the first one. Even if more resources are shown it will just create three of the one that is shown on the map. To do this it needs 1 material.  When there are no resources left an outpost creates 3 ammo. You can also have 3 materials created in an place that has materials, which also cost 1 material for a net result of 2 materials. For the Trucking warehouse the cost of eight outposts is eight materials.. with which you can produce 24 resources so you gain 16 resources. It is one of the reasons I prefer the Trucking warehouse.

Note that turning a place into an outpost makes all items and resources in that place unavailable for gathering. So remove as much items as you can before you turn them into outposts. (Update: October 2013) a recent test shows them to be available.. which might have been due to a patch or a bug so now you can move items from the store you turned into an outpost into the store.
(Update November 2013)
In some blog posts it was suggested that resources re-spawn. The idea was not take all the items inside a container. Eventually new items will show up. I have run a few test games leaving items behind(mostly things like fire-crackers and  dolls.) I have yet to experience any regeneration of items. In fact items will simply disappear and buildings will be marked with nothing left and there will be no containers.
IMPORTANT: containers that have resources inside them will only disappear when you empty them of their resources. So these resources will not disappear during the game like items will. But mark this: buildings will be marked with nothing left even when they still contain resources. Thus the marking on the map that there is nothing left is about items.. and not about resources.

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Homebases

(change)

Homebases are the places where your group of survivors hide out, where you can stash supplies and equipment and repair weapons and cars. Most home bases have slots available to create a workshop, garden, watch tower and the like. Some of these can be upgraded. Some of these repair your cars, others you can use to make medicines and yet others allow you to make ammo.

There are several potential home bases available. The State of Decay wiki neatly lists them so you can select the one you like to have. I have played twice now and choose the Snyders trucking warehouse both as it is the biggest available early in the game, has a lot of space to store goods, can have up to eight outposts and can be easily defended by four outposts or even three. The other you can use around the map to create safe havens.

The option to relocate a home base appears only after your get the Mission: Home Away From Home. This mission will appear as part of the first quests but the real trigger is not clear to me.

A relocation does not cost the materials that are mentioned, it just requires you to have that many. So when you need 50 materials to have a home base relocated it will not use them.

Update(november 2013)

After some testing I observed the following in the game in regard to home bases..

In the game there are seven potential home bases. However the options are much more limited than this might suggest.

Choosing which home bases seems to have no impact on the resource needs. It does not matter if you choose a big home base or a small base.. they cost the same.. What makes a base more expensive is that daily resource costs seems influenced by what you build, your equipment, the amount of survivors and cars you have. Since a bigger home base has more slots to build it eats up more resources when you use them.

The Trumbull valley fairgrounds is  not a great option as it is only available later in the game after you have progressed on the army story line. This progress is somewhat unpredictable but in any event it is only available later in the game. The fairgrounds are actually not even a much better option then the trucking warehouse as it has hardly more building options. In addition because it is late in the game you either have to hold back on building and reserve materials for when you move towards the Fairgrounds or you have to waste resources on builds that you have to redo at the fairgrounds. Also the one time I moved to the fairgrounds I lost 50 materials.. so it is not true that moving does not cost materials. But there might be a reason as my move was from the Church of Ascension to Savini towards Fairgrounds.. it might be that either having to many resources caused this loss of materials or that a second move might have caused this.
There are even more disadvantages to the Fairgrounds. It is pretty distant from most places.. so gathering resources mean you have to travel a lot and considering that both bridges have obstacles(and one on both sides!) it is a hassle to get around fast. Also the town near the Fairgrounds lacks resources and items to boot. In fact  the entire office block at one side if the town is empty.

The Alamo is a small home base in the center of Marshall and it is almost no improvement on the Church of Ascension in regards to space and building options. It might be a base of someone who wants to play a hard game as it is basically open to all sides and you probably need all the four outposts it allows to cover the approaches to the base or see it constantly invaded by zombies..  It is therefore only an option for someone who likes a challenge.

Kirkman and Savini are on the same level and can be seen as the next step after the Church of Ascension and the Alamo respectively.  However Savini is probably the better option because it is located at Marshall while Kirkman is located at Spencer’s Mill. Since your game starts in Spencer’s Mill, it is likely that by the time you can relocate a home base you will have exhausted most of the resources in that village.  In addition most the middle game story-lines take place in Marshall and thus you would be required to travel a lot.  Next to that, the Savini place can be protected by just three outposts.. allowing you to use the other three as moving bases, while Kirkman is open to all sides and thus needs more outposts to protect it.

The McReady Farmhouse is the next step after Kirkman and Savini but has two big disadvantages.. the first is that you can not protect it with outposts like you can with the others and the other is that it is in the middle of nowhere with only a few roads.. Thus you will be travelling a lot.

The Trucking warehouse is probably  the best option overall. However there are a few issues to be aware of.  First.. the zombies are in the final release more dangerous than they were in the pre-release.. Hence it is imperative to make an outpost in the storage shed at it’s backside.. otherwise be prepared to see a lot of zombies filtering in from the back. Also it is probably wise to cover the whole front with outposts. I estimate that about four would be enough to protect the whole and this includes the one at the back. I you turn the petrol station near the bridge into another outpost you probably have a pretty save place. This still leaves you with three outposts that you can put anywhere you want.
There are even more reasons for the Trucking Warehouse and one is that it comes with an upgraded workshop. This can not be upgraded again or changed into a weapons workshop, but the fact that you do not have to spend 25(or was it 40)  materials on an upgrade means you save a lot. Because it has many slots you can build almost everything except for one thing. I usually do not build a training area(see below picture).

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Snyders Trucking Warehouse, personally my favorite.
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McReady Farmhouse is smaller then the Warehouse and more vulnerable as you have just one building near that you can turn into an outpost. 

Influence and fame

Influence is simply the currency of the game. You gain influence by doing missions or getting resources and items.

Influence will be limited by fame. You can have more influence than fame though, but that influence will drain away slowly. And remember the game keeps on running even when you are not playing. So eventually your influence will be reduced to fame.

Fame itself can be increased by doing missions.

One trick to prevent influence from draining away is using some of your community members to store items. These can be turned into influence later on.

Another way to manage your in influence is to stick to companions you get via missions and not recruit a special companion..Usually there are enough missions to go provide you with one, or even two, companions..

Missions

Missions come in two kinds: plot based missions and random missions. The first are fixed missions that you get when certain conditions are met and usually one follows the next.

Random missions are almost all aimed at killing of zombies or saving or protecting someone’s butt from zombies. There are only a limited set, so you will see them being repeated a lot during the game.

Random missions are on a timer, meaning that they will expire after a while. Plot missions are often not on a timer, except for one involving The Law. When a mission expires it usually has a negative effect on moral and might cause one of your members to disappear. Might, because I have never had this experience, but then I let missions involving community member seldom expire.

Be aware that when you team up with someone as part of a mission (of both types) that someone might leave you to hang out to dry the moment the mission is over regardless of what condition you are in or how many zombies are around. This can leave you to face a bunch of zombies alone without a car near. So  make sure that you always got a backup plan to get out. I always make sure a trusty modern pickup is parked nearby, but remember: they attract zombies so you might have to fight some to get to it.

It is wise to listen to Lily(the girl that speaks to you over the radio) for she sometimes give you advice that you better follow. So when she says to gear up.. gear up!

Companions

After a while you will be able to recruit other people to head out with you for 100 influence. This is a good investment because you can easily get them back by scavenging. Since you can switch between your companions when they are friends, as long as they are not tired or hurt, you can use them to store more equipment.

There are a few things to take note of.

When you accept missions of others companions might leave. Especially in all plot missions they leave the moment you accept and they can even leave the moment you just clicked the mission area on the map. Also survey quests makes them often leave you.
(update November 2013)
In some occasions the companion you recruited will leave when accepting a mission in, some case they do not. I have not find a predictable pattern.

Many missions give you a companion for the duration of that mission. Since most missions end after reaching a certain area(returning home for example) or killing a certain group of creatures you can take these companions along until that condition is met. While you can not do other missions with this companion or switch characters, you can take  these free companions with you to protect you while you scavenge, establish outposts and relocate bases.
(update November 2013)
In quests where you are ask to hunt a certain special zombie or to clear away an infestation the companion you get during that mission will leave you at once when the goal has been reached. This might leave you suddenly without any help. This can be annoying and dangerous.

There seems to be a catch in the game in that the more companions you have with you, the more zombies are generated around you. So having a companion around can be a bit of a mixed blessing.

(Update November 2013)
When you have to go home quick or find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, you can deal with the situation by switching to another character. Your old character will walk home, but there is no worry about him or her being hurt. Those characters are invulnerable.

Freak zombies

Freak zombie are special zombies. There are five types: armored zombies, rotter zombies, big uns, ferals and screamers.

Armored zombies are basic zombies but armored. Guns have little effect on them unless you shoot them in the face. Otherwise they just take longer to die.

Rotter Zombies are the type of zombies that explode in a cloud of toxic gas. Keep your distance from them and shoot them in the belly. Do not drive a car into them as you will get thrown from the car and the car is unusable as long as the cloud is in it.

Big Uns. Big and slow. although it can charge for a shot distance. A big un or juggernaut is very tough and very strong. The easiest way to kill it is to throw molotov cocktails at it. Four is usually enough to soften them up to be killed. Probably a grenade launcher might work as well,  but I have not tried that.

Ferals. Nasty, tough and fast, They might be mistaken for normal zombies. They jump around quickly and pounce on you. Once they have you in a hold it is hard to break it. They can take a lot of punishment.. perhaps as much as an armored zombie. However they are prone to be bashed to the ground with blunt weapons. Just keep bashing them.

Funny enough they have a predictable pattern of jumping. When you drive at them with a car they jump to the side and when you immediately swivel the car into the direction they jumped the car usually will intercept the feral in mid jump as it tries to go for your car door. It is surprisingly easy to kill with a car.

I also noticed that shooting it in the head from a distance will work too as it just seems to ignore you pumping it with lead until it is dead.

Screamers are by far the most annoying zombies. Screamers are often the center of an infestation and usually come in pairs. They scream to stun you and attract other zombies(hordes even). Usually they are protected by a large group of zombies.  The tactic is to lure the protecting zombies away and then shoot the screamers in the head. If you are handy with molotov cocktails that will work too. A grenade launcher worked also in once case. Cleared them out in no time.

Guns

Want a party? Bring a gun.

Guns come in all sizes, but break down in four categories: pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns.

Pistols and rifles can be silenced, revolvers and shotguns can not.

There are also grenade launchers in the game.

Making loud noises attracts zombies, hence firing un-silenced guns will get you their attention.

Interestingly the revolvers and shotguns usually make the most noise. On the other hand, they do usually more damage.

Getting automatic or specials weapons is hard task. There are only a few places where you stand a chance to find something special, which is the police station in Marshall, where I found automatic shotguns and grenade launchers, and the military camp up north that gave me a machine gun and a military grade grenade launcher. The loot seems to be random so you might find nothing much and the military camp is only available late in the game and swarming with freak zombies.

Later on in the game you can buy a few guns from others, but they are a basic selection probably to make sure you at least have the option to get them.

My experience with guns is that they only useful in special cases, but not as an option to replace hand to hand combat. For one; guns make loud noises that attract nearby zombies and in fact the game seems to generate zombies when you make a lot of noise(and a lot of them to boot, especially later in the game).

In addition there are no magazines in the game. Bullets are stored in your inventory as separate items and you can have 30 bullets per backpack slot. This means that even if you find enough bullets you can not really go on a killing spree unless you keep close to an outpost. In addition a gun can only be reloaded when you stand still and I found that when you need to reload you never get around doing that unless you can have something that keeps the zombies at bay, like standing on a platform or behind a barricaded window.

Next to that: zombies can take a lot of bullets unless you aim at the head. I found that at time a pistol with seventeen rounds could be as effective as a machine-gun with a hundred rounds. Just head shot them.

Shotguns are good weapons for rubbing out a horde if you keep your calm. You need to have them really close and then unload it at head level. What remains can be killed off by hand. Shotguns are especially handy when zombies are forced to use a narrow opening to get at you, like a window or a door.

Grenades, grenade launchers and Molotov cocktails

Thrown grenades and other incendiary weapons are handy to kill groups of zombies. Throwing needs to be trained though. The aim in the game makes you overthrow your target so you need to get a good feel of how to throw.  Molotov cocktails are somewhat better than grenades because grenades make a lot of noise.

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Grenade launcher in action
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Grenade launcher in action
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Grenade launcher in action

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Gathering and using resources and items

There are many places where you can find resources and items. Mostly they are inside buildings, but sometimes you can find them in fields and thickets.  There is a certain pattern to them. Sheds and construction sites will have resources and fuel, stores will have food, guns shops and the like will have ammo. Normal houses can have anything, but tend to lean to medicines and food. Fields have food.

Searching resources takes time. And usually it generates zombies nearby. They might not always find you though. The search time is reduced when your wits level increases.

When you search a house you can find two types of things: resources.. which is usually called a stash,  and items like weapons or bottles of pills.

Resources can be taken with you. You do that by pressing E and hold it down. Be aware that if you remove all the resources, the place will only generate ammo if you turn it into an outpost. You can only take one resource with you at a time and it makes you encumbered and you need to deliver it to your homebase. Items can however be dumped in outposts.

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I do not know if items become available again after you remove the outpost.Another unknown thing is if a house that is not researched in total will keep on generating items. I got the feeling that certain houses I searched, but not in total were searchable again.

A very important thing to be aware of is that when you leave items to be collected later that they might disappear. This is actually pretty logical. Some other group of survivors might have taken them.

Note also that you can not put items from your backpack into the containers you search. It is one way only.

Game pace

The game is relentless and it keeps on going even if you are not playing. During a play session, the only way to pause the action is by going in to the menu, but even if you do that a long time I noticed that you will find things have changed the moment you return to the game. So going into the map to get your bearings will not stop the game and therefore make sure you are at a place where you are not suddenly attacked by zombies.

Game saves

Normally there is just one save and with each event or mission the results are immediately saved into the save game. Hence you can not normally reload to a previous state after having your favorite character killed.

However on the pc you can locate the save game and copy it to another place. So if your favorite character is killed, you can copy the old save back to the original folder. This can also be used when you play the next day and you find the results to unfavorable. Just close the game, copy the backup again and see what the result is.

Not that you must be either in the main menu or have closed down the whole game before copying the old files.. otherwise the game will just write over these old files.

The save game is located here:

On a 32 bit windows computer:

<drive you installed the game>:\Program Files\Steam\userdata\108132632\241540\local

On a 64 bit windows computer:

<drive you installed the game>:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\108132632\241540\local

Night, day, dawn, dusk, noon.

Night is the nastiest time. There are more zombies roaming around and they are much harder to spot. Since light seems to attract them as much as noise, having your lights on will alert nearby zombies. Especially inside buildings you have a hard time to see what you are fighting. Zombies do have distinct glowing eyes, but who is counting those when you are busy clubbing them. The day and night cycle in the game in based on an one hour real time scheme. These represent in game days. The daily resource need as shown in the game for the needs of your home base are real time need. That is what one real day will require.

During the dark it is hard to see zombies.. the radar will not always reveal them until they are on you…so it is not 100% reliable. Which is a good thing really
During daylight you can see the zombies by eyesight.. the radar does not always show them. Wrecks blocking the road are also not shown on the radar.

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During the day the streets can look devoid of zombies. Do not be fooled though: linger at a place and you soon find more an abundance of zombies spawning around you.

Neighbors & Other survivors(Update November 2013)

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Neighbors.. this lot is lives at The Grange
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The Wilkersons… never mind about them.

One activity to do in the game is to gather survivors and deal with those that do not join your group.  Gathering survivors to join your group is a double edge activity. More people means you have more player characters to play with, but they also are more mouths to feed and more beds to fill. More player characters are nice as usually a few of your group will be tired, hurt or sick.

There are basically three groups of survivors. Those that are plot related like the Wilkersons, The Army, The Law and The Grange.  There are a few survivors from the Law that will join you after a certain plot related event, but the others will never join you. I have heard that the Wilkerson might join you if you pursue a certain route in the plot line.. but I have never tested this as I simply do not like them and they are way out in a zombie-horde infested place. In all it is too much bother to try and curb their favor.

The second groups are those that will join you.. these usually come available as missions like a group of survivors asks to join you, or a stranger located or survivor activity reported. These will join you at the end of the mission.

The third group never seems to join you.. These are invariably announced as neighbors, have their own base(called enclave) and  they are random groups that suddenly appear. I have never been able to have them join me. I even tried with one that had complete trust, but they did not want to join. Usually these enclaves of survivors disappear. They seem to get assaulted the whole time until they eventually die.  Sometimes they give you barricade missions and sometimes the dead survivors leave rucksacks behind you can take home.

State of Decay (for pc) 1: evaluation

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This post consists of:

An introduction

An evaluation of the game

An introduction

Originally this post was one long post, but I decided to cut it up into more manageable parts. This is the evaluation part.

Someone from Undead Labs requested to not review their early release of their game State of Decay for PC. An odd request because the game has already been out for over three months on the Xbox and one wonders what could be so different  between the two releases that merits this request? It is not like they are going to radically alter the game in a few months time. More likely they are just ironing out some issues that a port from xbox to pc will have and tweak it a bit here and there and then release it to the market. Time is money. Especially for a game that is going for 20 dollars a piece.

But I will humor the guys at Undead Lab and not make a review. Personally I don’t like reviews anyway as I just want to rant a bit and most of all remark on some things that helps you a bit getting around. Things about which you might have said: if I had known that before I would not have been torn to ribbons by flesh eating zombies so often.

Flesh eating zombies? Did you say… zombies?

Yeah.

Groan… not again..

Yes, it is another of those zombie apocalypse games, but it has a few things that make this game interesting unlike some of those others. But first let us see one zombie in action… A big one called a Big Uns or Juggernaut. And the girl with the dread locks is Sam trying to down a one with the aid of three soldiers.

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Have at you, you… you… you ugly big person!
Well.. he did not take that very well.. and neither did Sam.. Her life(vitality) just dropped by 50%.
Fat luck for fattie though.. he gets clubbed to death by the army.
That was the last of him. No zombie messes with Sam and the army.

Notice the bag Sam is holding? It is called a rucksack and that contains resources with which you run the base where your community of survivors are trying to get by. It is the reason you actually have to get out and expose yourself to danger.. well one of those reasons.

State of Decay is a game where you lead a ragtag collection of zombie apocalypse survivors until you decide to flee the place after which the story basically ends. Although you are free to continue the game afterward, there will be no further developments. In the game you gather and lead that group of survivors, set up a makeshift base and do some scavenging, random missions and plot based missions to get by. During all of this you have to deal with zombies of all kinds, scrounge around to replenish those ever dwindling supplies, keep the moral up and bail people out of (zombie related) trouble.

But who is you?

You are actually not one person, but a group of persons. At first that part of your group of survivors that have a friend status. Eventually that will be everyone in your community, but at first you can only play Marcus and Maya. Maya joins Marcus already in the introduction part of the game, so you basically start out with two characters. But you will find that your community will quickly grow in size for better or worse, for more people means more mouths to feed and more beds to fill. On the other hand, more people increases the chance of having one with that special skill that makes the garden grown more food or that can turn a workshop into a munitions shop.

But regardless of anything: your supplies keep fading away. In a fortnight(real time) most of it is gone. Lucky you can end the game before you run dry. You could of course stave of the end by having some of your lesser members ‘accidentally’ killed  but I sort of don’t like that.

Marelee Melissa consulting her ipad(?) containing an overview of all her fellow members. Some are tired.
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Eventually you end up with something like this place: the Snyders Trucking Warehouse.
Maya consulting the state of the home base. See my greenhouse in the back and to the left is the cooking area.
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Trumbull Valley.. that is where you at. Notice the little green symbols? They represent my homebase and all my outposts. The Snyders Trucking Warehouse can have eight outposts.
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A more detailed look of the warehouse..that is the green top left one: a small house with a green flag. The approaches are covered by outposts.Outposts are small bases that act as a resupply area, generate a resource, kill of hordes that wander into their zones of control and keep zombies from spawning in the area.
Oh Noes, a horde of zombies is on the loose..lets get them before they get killed off by the outposts. Hordes are at first very dangerous but in the end your best warriors wipe them out in no time. Something you probably want to do yourself because killing the hordes endangering your home base actually increase influence, moral and even fame but if your outposts destroy them it only increases moral.
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A horde streaming towards my car.. cars are zombie magnets.
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Unfortunately an outpost does nothing against individual zombies wandering into the area.. Like this rotter zombie.
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Well.. Sam did not get that one, the guy on the platform behind her was quicker on the trigger.
Another pastime is infestation cleaning. Here Marcus is facing of a few zombies with a companion.
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The most annoying zombies are screamers, they scream when you close with them and their screams stun you and attracts other zombies from all around. Shooting them in the head from a distance is an option, especially when you got a silencer. Throwing a molotov cocktail at them is another option. Or.. another fun way is blowing them to smithereens with a grenade launcher.

So that is the game down to the bare bones: resource gathering, crew running and zombie killing until the story ends.

An evaluation

State of Decay is classed as an Indie game. Indie is a buzzword nowadays and often covers companies that are as far away from the original sense of the word(independent) as mainstream companies are. A certain development among the games development world is to have new ideas developed by outsiders so that when all fails they do not financially bring down the house of mainstream developers. It is probably also used partly as an excuse to generate sympathy for crappy low budget games.

Undead Labs are actually in business with Microsoft Studios and you know who they are. It is Microsoft jumping on the indie bandwagon. Is that bad?  Well, I do not know, but do not be fooled by that word. This is not some zombie fanboy coding into the wee hours in his shed. These are professional programmers of the kind that used to work for Microsoft Studios, and they still work for it, but on paper they are no longer part of it.

So how about the game?

If I was to compare State of Decay to a meal, then I would say that it managed to get most of the basic ingredients into a right mix to make a decent meal, but there are no extras on the side.

The game gives you command of  a group of survivors and a base of operations that needs protection. You then get a few excuses to go around massacring scores of undead, but that is basically all that there is to it. There is hardly any story there and the many painful and revealing moments that one sees in movies or stories are only casually referred to. The whole plot is as thin as it can be  and the thirty plot related missions are often something like: drive to a person and hear what he has to say. You then get delivered a few lines of voiced text in which you have no options but to listen and your chosen avatar of the moment will be scripted to agree to do what is being asked. Only once will two different plot lines interact and you faced with a moral decision. This is not a roleplay game with heartbreaking decisions to any degree.

Random missions are generally of three kinds: go someplace and kill something, drive to a place and save someone from being killed or go there to trade and protect the trader(s).

The homebase you get can be established and provided with facilities. A few can be upgraded once, some twice. There are like eight home bases available in the game. That sounds like much, but down to earth there are actually only two that make any sense: McReady Farmhouse and Snyders Trucking Warehouse. All the others are actually too small and the only other big one, the Trumbull County Fairgrounds becomes only available (too) late in the game and would require to hold back upgrading facilities until you can move into it.  You will find however that you want to upgrade your home base as soon as possible and you will be done upgrading mid game. Hence moving to a new base to start again from scratch is hardly an option and would required a lot of extra materials.

Mid game I found myself actually staring at the clock wondering when the next plot related mission will become available. There is just so much fun in clubbing countless undead hordes to death, especially when it does not matter that you do.

There seems to be a certain randomness in when plot related missions become available. In my second playthrough there were already events happening in Marshall while I still had no option to move my homebase.This required me to drive around up and down the map.

In the first playthrough these events did not happen until I had established a home base at the trucking warehouse. It is part of the deal, but once you are staring at the clock you rather wished the game would get a move on.

One of the issues with the game is that  much of the fear and uncertainty that are part of a horror experience is taken away by providing us with too much information.

We get conveniently warned about freak zombies in the vicinity, for when you near one  it will make a certain noticeable sound that warns you. The same is with a horde, We get warned when one has seen us:

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And the radar provides us with an early warning system. While not every zombie will show up in the radar it will inform us about the ones that have noted us: they turn red.  And we have no fear of the horde seeing us the arc of vision(?) is pointing away. How convenient.

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And when zombie hordes are threatening our home base we are often neatly informed about it. We have a direct line with Lily over the radio so at any time we can open the map or look at the state of the home base.

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In addition the game almost lacks humor.  For instance; one would have thought that the game would have added a chainsaw for laughs. A noisy heavy zombie killer that kills undead by scores but attracts them by the scores as well, but there is no such thing. Nor are there zombies dressed up as Bozo the Clown. I would have expected at least one at the fairgrounds… but no dice. Erik Tan is about the only one who sort tries to crack a joke, albeit mostly sarcastic and cynical ones.

Most of what is in the game is basic. For instance the modern pickup comes in two colored versions.. that is about it. You can not tweak cars or weapons.

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One seriously lack is being unable to influence other survivor colonies.  They will show a trust bar, suggesting you can recruit them if they fully trust you, but except when they offer you a random mission(usually not more then twice) there is no way to increase their trust.  In fact it looks like that was never meant to be and the trust bar is a relation towards how much you pay for buying items from them, strangely enough some do not even have items to sell. After a while most of these colonies disappear because they are overrun by hordes, except when they are required for the plot. I tried to save one of these location by surrounding it with outposts, which went well when I was playing, but when I logged in the next day it was gone anyway.

All in all the game is a decent basic game for it’s money and well balanced to provide you with a basic zombie apocalypse experience for a short while. It has a limited replay-ability
, but really limited as the flimsy main story will play out the same way as it has done before and end in the same way.

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Confession time: Erik tells me about his neglect to read the field manual.. the shame!
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What else is new?
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And the game ends quite unresolved… you never know when you need a sequel.