State of Decay Character Customisation Detailed

By Chewie, 5 years ago
Over the last few months we've had a steady stream of news coming from Undead Labs that detail various different aspects of their upcoming open-world zombie game, State of Decay. We've seen everything from weapon details, tactics videos, a survival guide and screens of the happy homestead.

In a new blog post, the developers have gone into detail about how you can craft your characters' various skills, abilities and traits to best survive the zombie apocalypse, as well as choose other survivors with complimentary skills to stay in your group or leave characters behind who don't quite tick the right boxes. You cold, heartless so-and-so, you.


There are a range of different skills that survivors are given a star rating in. Stars are gained by utilising that specific skill successfully, especially if you do so with particular panache. These stars aren't simply badges of honour; they give increasing bonuses to different Stats such as Vitality, Speed and Stamina. As well as Stat boosts, gaining stars in Skills will also unlock extra Abilities, such as the ability to Counter attack when you reach a two star Fighting level or the ability to Quiet Search when your Wits get to four stars.

The four key skills shared by all characters are:

• Cardio - You'll need a good strong heart and plenty of stamina to be able to stay one step ahead of the approaching hordes.

• Wits - Needless to say, being as dumb as sackful of hammers doesn't help when faced with any apocalyptic scenario, let alone a zombie-based one.

• Fighting - When the going gets tough, the tough need good melee skills.

• Shooting - When the going gets rough, the rough pick up a shotgun.

Traits and Personal Skills

A character's Traits are what define them and make them unique. Traits range from a person's personality (including Chatterbox, Coward, Born Leader, Braggart, Autocrat, Daydreamer and, the one every group seems to have, Selfish A**hole), what their job was before the zombies moved in, hobbies and interests, or natural aptitudes and ineptitudes. These Traits will give bonuses and penalties to different skills, such as active hobbies improving Cardio, or being a "Dim Bulb" making it harder to raise Wits. Some Traits will also have an effect in specific situations, such as having a "Bum Knee" affecting the ability to crouch for long.

Traits also determine a character's Personal Skills; skills that can be improved like the core ones but are unique to different characters. Examples of Personal Skills include:

• Bruiser - Comes from Natural Athlete, Brute or Strong as an Ox Traits and was probably a jock, lumberjack and/or cage fighter in their pre-zombie life. Boosting this skill unlocks unique combat techniques and improved strength to carry the biggest, pointiest weapons around with ease.

• Construction - Comes from Traits involving Architecture, Engineering and Mechanics, and is useful for building Workshops at home and romantic love-seat swings in the garden.

• Leadership - Comes from Presence and Born Leader Traits and is useful for, well, leading. This skill helps you gain the trust and support of you fellow survivors, enabling you to boost combat effectiveness from rallying the troops and say things like "Go take a look in that barn. I'm sure it's safe. Trust me." [winning smile]

• Sexting - Yes, really. Having the Sleaze or Flirt Trait gives you this 'Skill', which is an absolute necessity in a world with no phones or internet or people who are down with that.


Whilst the Traits and Skills of a character are pre-defined, State of Decay gives you the opportunity to choose Weapon Specialisations and Signature Abilities.

Each survivor can specialise in one particular type of ranged or melee weapon once you've developed far enough into the relevant basic skill (four stars on Shooting or Fighting). Once you choose the specialisation, a new skill path is opened that will lead to more stat bonuses and abilities.

Signature Abilities come in four different flavours - Offensive, Defensive, Utility and General - and can be set once you've reached specific levels in Personal Skills. An example is the Push Kick, which can be unlocked after one star is reached on the Bruiser skill, and is used to knock enemies back and thin out a clump o' zombies.

In Action

To see how it all works together, take a look at this screenshot of one of the character builds available.

16/02/2013 - Screen 1

Elliott's Traits show him to be a bit of a Daydreamer and a Golf player. I'd say straight off these are two good reasons to leave him behind. His core Skills show him to be pretty poor with the pistol he's carrying and his Wits and Cardio could be better. However, he also used to be a Funeral Director and is a Born Leader. These Traits give him the Gifted Leader and Counselling Skills, meaning he'll be good at keeping spirits up and preventing community conflicts. Personally, I'd still cut him from the group though. I can't do with having any wishy-washy, head-in-the-clouds Daydreamers in my rag tag group of survivors; especially Golf playing ones.

Be sure to check out the original developer blog for further details and some more example character breakdowns.

State of Decay is still without a release date, however in our last article we revealed that the complete version of the game is soon to be submitted to Microsoft for evaluation, so hopefully we'll get something more concrete soon.
Credit for this story goes to METAL MIN0TAUR
Written by Chewie
Chewie is a Wookiee from Kashyyyk. Since helping the Rebel Alliance defeat the Emperor, he has taken up Achievement-Hunting and Newshoundery on TA. Also, ice-skating.