Top Dozen Miscellaneous Tips to Make Your Game Experience That Much Better
This list started as a top ten, but expansion was inevitable, so enjoy your top twelve tips!
Back Dat Car Up! -- My absolute top tip! Cars take damage, and in higher levels (Nightmare and Lethal), cars take a lot of damage, to the point where they're extremely fragile. Cars can take damage in the front, and cars can take damage on the sides; HOWEVER, cars do NOT take damage from the back! This means you can use your car as an effective weapon when driving backwards, all while sitting safe and secure in the driver's seat. See a horde? Drive over it backwards, and goodbye zombie mob. Got a pesky infestation? Beep your horn outside the building enough so that the mob comes pouring out, then back the car over the mob (just give them enough time for the screamers to come out too). The best use of this trick? Repeatedly back into a Juggernaut, and in 6-8 hits, no more Mr. Juggie (just make sure to peel away before the Juggernaut strikes the car between hits). The safest and most effective way to kill zombies, with a little practice, you'll be tearing up the undead using a little "Car-Fu".
Running Out of Time? Quit and Reload-- I'll mention this a lot during the Trumbull Valley section, but if you have a list of quests you don't like or are running out of time to complete a quest for an enclave and you don't want to anger them, simply quit the game and immediately reload. This will reset all of your current quests (including any you are currently working on, so be aware of that). More than likely, you will receive the same quests again in short order (not immediately, but over time), and the clocks on everything will be reset, giving you time to complete everything you want. Keep in mind too that there is a maximum number of quests you can have up at any time (three I believe) so if your board is filled with stuff you don't care about, and you're waiting for a specific quest to pop up (specific traders, Trumbull Valley story quests, etc), simply quit and reload and the mission board will be clear, being refilled with calls in short order.
You Can Drive through Rivers and Lakes -- Especially important in Meagher Valley (and for a certain Heartland mission), but useful almost everywhere - all rivers and lakes in the land of SoD2 are about half a foot deep, meaning you can drive through, up, over and along any body of water. Lake in between you and home? No worries, just drive straight across the lake. That river bisecting your map? Feel free to pretend it isn't there and take all the shortcuts you want. You can also drive straight up rivers, making them a de-facto road if you wish. The best part? Missions on an island where they spring a pair of Juggernauts on you (hello, Heartland) suddenly become much, much easier when combining this fact and the tip above.
Locked door? Back door! -- Another beneficial weird quirk of the game: if you have a building with a locked door, instead of bashing it in and making noise, simply go around to the other side of the building and check for a back door. Not every building has a back door, but almost all do, and if one door is locked, the other is ALWAYS unlocked. A weird quirk, but it works to your benefit, especially in higher difficulty campaigns.
Solve Your Feral Problems with Gunslinger -- THE NUMBER ONE THREAT IN THIS GAME IS FERAL ZOMBIES. Again: THE NUMBER ONE THREAT IN THIS GAME IS FERAL ZOMBIES. Ferals move fast, hit hard, dodge effectively, are extremely hard to hit with a car, and cannot be outrun (unlike practically every other threat). Juggernauts may be the bane of NPCs, but they're easily outrun or out-dodged. As such, it's important to find an effective method to take out ferals - and the Gunslinger Firearms Skill is the way to do it. With this skill, use to bring out your gun, tap to instantly line up the gun with the feral's head, then press to shoot. Dead feral. This goes triple for Heartland and Lethal Campaigns, as Blood Ferals now have head armour and need 2-3 shots to kill. Learn Gunslinging, and practice the headshot sequence. It is WELL worth your effort to learn this.
Scentblock + Zombait + Bloater Gas Grenade = Goodnight Hostiles -- The OTHER great threat in this game is hostile survivors, who have all the traits of ferals (move fast, dodge effectively, etc) but are armed with guns, and on high levels can one-shot your survivors with head shots. Want an effective method of taking out their enclaves? If you can find a Advanced Biochem Station Facility Mod, or place a outpost on a Landmark Facility that allows for crafting advanced biochems, or find trades who will sell them, and/or complete quests that offer these as compensation, the Scentblock/ Zombait/ Bloater Gas Grenade combo will wipe out hostile enclaves in a few short seconds. Simply sneak up to the hostile enclave, apply scentblock to yourself (to avoid zombie attacks), and toss zombait into or at the base. In short order, zombies will flood the base, keeping the hostiles occupied and under constant attack. Once this happens, toss the Bloater Gas Grenade - the cloud does HUGE amounts of damage to humans but does not affect zombies (allowing them to continue their assault). Once the humans are dead, simply toss a firecracker into the gas cloud, and BOOM, no more zombie hoard (and/or a few barbecued hostiles if you're feeling particularly cruel).
NPC Survivors Do Not Use Bullets and Do Not Cause Friendly Fire (i.e., Get Them Guns ASAP) -- As long as a gun has at least one bullet to its name, followers and NPC survivors can use that gun as much as they want, without using up any inventory bullets. As such, arm them ASAP. This makes your NPC survivors at base extremely effecting during zombie sieges and base defence sequences, as armed survivors are needed to effectively use Watchtowers and Sniper Towers. As well, anyone following you on missions can defend you at distance with their gun (at least, until another zombie gets into melee range). Oh, and that .50 calibre sniper that it's basically impossible to find ammo for? Park it on a base defender and watch them mop the floor with any invading specials. Don't want to waste .50 calibre ammo on that pesky Blood Juggernaut that's hounding you? Just have a follower with a .50 calibre weapon shoot it for you, no ammo use required! A huge benefit for basically no cost, so don't forget to arm recruits immediately after recruiting them. And since there is no friendly fire in this game (aka your NPCs cannot accidentally shoot you to death), there are no drawbacks to implementing this tip.
Sniper Support Radio Calls are Your "Bestest Mench" -- I've mentioned this repeatedly in the guide, but it bears repeating: often you'll wind up in a jam - your surrounded by screamers, ferals, and or Juggernauts; your car is a flaming wreck; you're out of bullets and have broken weapons, and your health and stamina are well into the grey. Things look terrible, right? Not with Sniper Support! Build yourself a Sniper Tower Builder Legacy Project, get and attach a CLEO Support Transmitter Facility mod, and/or get an allied enclave that unlocks Sniper Radio calls, and WHAM, you have the best GET OUT OF JAIL FREE ability in the game! Simply call in a sniper support radio call and in a few seconds to a minute (depending on which sniper call you made), you can stand on a truck and watch as all of your problems are blasted away right in front of your eyes. Snipers one shot practically everything, including feral and armoured zombies, with the only exception being Juggernauts (about six shots) and blood ferals (two to three shots). I cannot overstate the awesomeness of these ability - remember you have it and use it often! Especially during tough missions, base sieges, and/or plague heart attacks!
Turn Off Multiplayer to Allow For Game Pausing -- Multiplayer in this game is on by default, which allows you to join other people's games, have friends join your game, or invite strangers into your game via the radio. The negative of this is the game cannot be paused while the multiplayer setting is on (most people aren't even aware you can actually pause in single-player mode). To switch this over, go into settings before the game begins and turn off multiplayer. Now, you can use the bathroom, get the door, etc without having to worry about being eaten alive while you're temporarily distracted.
Solve Your Material Problems with a Staging Area -- Again, another tip I mentioned before, but worth repeating. As your base gets larger, your material costs will start spiralling upward. The solution? Build a Staging Area. The main thing advertised with a staging area is that it allows you to build facilities faster (aka a big pile of "who cares"), it's secondary function, in smaller text, which should be WELL ABOVE the build speed text, is that it sets all maintenance costs of your base to zero. ALL. Got a mega base eating up 8-10 materials a day? Build a Staging Area, and DONE! Staging Areas, depending on the base you build, are possibly the most resource proficient buildings you can put into your base.
Don't Forget Active Base Abilities -- Easy to overlook in the hustle-and-bustle of daily zombie survival, most buildings will have some benefit you can get, but only if you activate them on a regular schedule. Do so! A large majority of these require labour only, and once your base is constructed, labour is generally a wasted resource, so make those lazy survivors work for you! Things like Satellite Broadcasts from your Command Centre will help raise all influence earned at a measly cost of one labour. Lounge activities can eat up to three labour to activate, but if they're doing nothing anyway, why not?
On Fire? (...like in a literal way?) Roll -- Last tip, and a quick one... if you ever catch on fire due to an exploding car or a misfired explosive, simply roll () and presto! Fire instantly out! See? Stop, drop and roll does work!
Bonus Tip Area -- How to Handle Each Zombie Type
First and foremost, before you ever leave base, make sure you carry a stack of both health and stamina consumables. The need for health restoring items is obvious - if you get bushwhacked by a feral or have a boater explode on you, pop one of these and get back to relative good health (outside the injury). Just as important, a stack of stamina items allows you to continuously clobber zombies without wearing yourself out or slowing down. Further, if you desperately need to run away, popping stamina consumables will keep you moving at top speed, getting you well out of harms way (or well back to a base/well toward a car if being chased down by a feral). Never leave home without either and make sure every survivor is carrying a stack of each.
Guns are hard to come by in the early stages of the game, but arm your survivors as soon as you can. Conserve the ammo as much as possible, as you'll need it to take out bloaters and ferals. With more ammo, you can start shooting screamers and zombie hordes, but in the early stages, save your ammo for the former two threats.
With that out of the way, on to the specific threats. In order of deadliness:
Ferals & Blood Plague Ferals
See the section on Solving your Feral Problems with Gunslinging above for the best answer to feral threats - in summary, use Gunslinging to line up headshots and pop them in the head to take them down (though with blood ferals, it will take a few hits due to the armour plating on their heads). If you have a car, ferals are normally one of the few things that can effectively dodge the car, but there are two methods to overcome this. First: if you're ahead of the feral, drive just slow enough that it almost catches you, then slam on the reverse - often this catches the feral off-guard and you can run it over. The other method is to let the feral catch you and grab one of your side doors - the moment they do this, sideswipe the car into a building or rock for an instant kill (just make sure a side swipe-able object is nearby or kiss your car door goodbye, along with you as you're violently torn out of the vehicle). If getting absolutely mauled by ferals, try jumping onto a car or truck (or anything that gives you height) for a breather and a chance to shoot the feral in the head from up high. Finally, blunt weapons can stun-lock the feral if you get a good swing rhythm going (and they're the only enemy you're currently fighting).
Oh, and they really hate fire, so anything that sets them on fire will cause them to roll around uncontrollably for a few short moments.
Not an everyday worry, but hostile humans can ruin your day if you're jumped while on a mission or need to take them out at their enclave. The best way to take them out is the Scentblock + Zombait + Bloater Gas Grenade combo (again, see the section above for details). Even two out of three of these items can be very effective. Barring that (i.e., you don't have or can't make these items yet), your best bet is to bring a rifle with a zoom and headshot the hostile humans from distance. This is especially effective if they only have one exit from a building - simply toss and explosive or Molotov at the door to get them stirred up, then plink them off as they exit the door one at a time.
I do not recommend melee, as hostile humans have tons of health and hit hard themselves, even if they don't have a gun on hand (and if they do, they can head shot you for massive damage). The car-fu trick doesn't work very well on hostile humans either, as humans can effectively dodge your car like a feral can (plus they can shoot you even if you're currently in your car).
Blood Plague Juggernauts
I've broken Juggernauts into two sections: Blood Plague Juggernauts and Juggernauts, because you can effectively melee the latter if you know what you're doing but cannot do this for the former, unless you really, really want heavy player damage and massive amounts of blood plague. So let's tackle the harder one first; the Blood Plague Juggernaut.
The most effective way to kill Blood Juggernauts is to repeatedly back into them with your car until dead (it will take about a dozen hits to do this). Bar none, this is the most effective way to take down a Juggernaut, Blood or otherwise. Barring this (assuming you don't have a car on-hand), you'll need to shoot them in the head with a high calibre weapon (preferably one that takes .50 ammo). Since that ammo is rare, a trick to avoid using your ammo up is to equip a different survivor with a .50 calibre weapon, then bring them along as a follower. See the NPC Survivors Do Not Use Bullets in the tips above about this, but in general, your survivor will keep shooting the Jugg with the .50 calibre as long as they're at a distance from any zombie, without using up any ammo at all. So keep the Jugg occupied and your follower will take it down for you (they're surprisingly good shots!). Barring this (i.e., if you have no high calibre weapons), the next most effective thing is explosives, especially sticky grenades or pipe bombs - 4-5 hits from these should stagger the Juggernaut, allowing for a takedown kill ( + ). Finally, if you have no car, no high calibre weapon, and no explosives on hand, just run.
Juggernauts are immune to fire, so Molotovs and the like are off the table. With small calibre arms, the damage is so slight you'll chew through your ammo supply well before the Juggernaut is dead, so you might as well save small arms bullets for ferals, bloaters and screamers. And you definitely don't want to melee a Blood Juggernaut, as Blood Juggernauts can hit you through a dodge (and apply huge amounts of blood plague doing so).
All the tips for the Blood Juggernaut work for Juggernaut as well, with the added bonus that you can melee them now as you can dodge Juggernaut attacks () with some practice. Bladed weapons and close combat weapons are better at juggernaut fighting, as they have much faster attack speeds. Given this, feel free to melee away on Juggernauts all you like, while dodging/rolling when the Juggernaut winds up for an attack. Rinse, repeat until dead.
Or, you know, just repeatedly back into them with your car.
Plague hearts are supposed to be the exciting action bits of the game, where you get in a tense standoff between destroying the heart and fending off the hordes of zombies defending it, but with a little fore-knowledge, you can easily defeat these blights. First off, the way plague hearts work "normally" is they're surrounded by blood plague zombies that you'll have to destroy. Then, upon attacking the heart, at specific intervals, the heart will "call out" and a wave of blood zombies (and possibly screamers and ferals on higher difficulty levels) will come crashing in to defend it. Once defeated, the plague heart will explode, killing all the blood plague zombies near it (though not the specials, you'll still have to tackle these).
With the right strategy, Plague Hearts are relatively easy to kill, hence why they're halfway down the list. There are two very solid methods to defeating them with ease:
1.) Plague Hearts are always inside buildings, but you often can see them through windows. If you can, great! Drive a car or van close to that window, get out, climb on top of the vehicle, then simply shoot the heart through the window until dead! This way, no summoned zombies or specials can hurt you while you're standing on the car, and you can take your time killing the heart. Once dead, all the zombies around your car will spontaneously explode! Now all you have to do is a bit of special cleanup (you may have some ferals circling your car at this point), and plague heart done.
2.) My favourite method. Simply plant a whole bunch of remotely detonated explosives around the Plague Heart (more or less explosives depending on your difficulty level and how many hearts you previously killed, but I'd start with four remote grenades or three C4 charges and work from there). Now move a safe distance away (even into your car) activate all charges. If the Plague Heart isn't dead by now (i.e., you misjudged the explosive cost to kill the Plague Heart), simply throw some pipe bombs or soda can bombs at it until it's dead. Now you'll only have to face the spawned ferals, which you can do by running out to your car and/or using Gunslinging on them. A great method to use especially if the plague heart isn't near any windows.
Bloaters & Blood Plague Bloaters
Shoot it anywhere. Head shots will take it down without exploding it, while body shots will cause it to explode. Bonus fun fact: bloater gas is highly flammable, so feel free to toss a Molotov into the gas if you want to roast a few surrounding zombies. Should you not have a gun/ammo, you can run around them and goad them into a diving attack, dodge rolling out of the way at the last second to avoid the gas. But really, just shoot them. Bloaters are only really dangerous if they catch you unaware, which will happen from time to time sadly.
Also, don't run over a bloater with your car. Should you do so, get out of your car IMMEDIATELY () and wait for the gas to clear up, or prepare to have a terribly rotten, very bad, no good day.
Screamers & Blood Plague Screamers
Screamers have no arms so they can't hurt you, but they can stun you and call over more zombies (boo!). One shot to the head, and they're down for the count. If you're without a gun/ammo, wait between screams, then run at them and start clobbering them before they bellow, as you can get to them before they launch a scream attack if you time it right. Screamers are also slow, so if you're clearing out an infestation with a car, they'll be the last ones out, and often out of car range unless you wait a bit. Outside of that, Screamers are only really dangerous when other special zombie types are around as they can get you overwhelmed if you're not careful.
The only enemy not vulnerable to headshots, it's best to just melee Armoured Zombies. Outside of this, Armoured Zombies are just more annoying zombies that take a few more hits to kill.
Armoured Zombies are not immune to Sniper Radio Calls (hint, hint)!
Vulnerable to everything, kill them in any way you like. If you start to get overwhelmed, simply jump up on top of a vehicle or other higher object and take a breather, then shoot them in the head from the convenience of your perch. Or jump down, clobber a few, jump back up for a breather, rinse, repeat. As well, whenever you see a zombie lunge or swipe at you, tap dodge () to avoid being hit or grappled. This uses up stamina but with stamina consumables (very common to scavenge), your melee/dodge combos can go on for a long time, and you'll avoid both damage and blood plague.
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