Cities are basically unapproachable during the day

So I’m back to C:DDA after a few years. I think the last one I played was 0.C. Now 0.E-2. After quite a few starts, none lasting more than 2 in-game days, I think I can safely say that it’s MUCH MUCH harder now (default world settings). Used to be that the outskirts of cities were approachable. Dangerous, but approachable if prepared. But now the Zeds just don’t stop coming once you make a little noise. There’s just not enough ammo to shoot them all (if you have guns). The dogs and ferral runners will always outrun you. And they come in packs! There’s night raids, but you stumble across a couple giant cockroaches and you’re TOAST. Between harsh stamina limits and debilitating effects of pain, it’s just a death spiral if you agro anything. I keep hearing that setting fires will distract them, but the radius on that seems incredibly small. Maybe a block? And for what? The same boring loot you can find in in every other house? THere’s not much incentive to even do it other than food.

My best strategy so far is to get a beefy car and just mow them down until I’ve cleared a couple blocks worth of Zeds, but gas/diesel burns up quick! I had a Humvee with 7L of diesel and I burned it all just trying to get to a mansion on the edge of town.

And don’t get me started on how long it takes to heal if you do manage to get out of a tight spot. Am I just supposed to read and sleep for a week?

I don’t remember the game being quite this brutal.

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I haven’t played anything but 0.E2 stable, but my take on it is:

  • Don’t use weapons that make a lot of noise unless in dire need (and you can’t run away).
  • While on foot, lure one or a few zombies away from the rest and then kill them silently with ranged weapons while backing away. I was lucky to find a bow early, but before that I simply stayed away from any zombies, and then gradually started to sneak into a small number of houses at the very edge of a very small town.
  • Don’t engage in melee unless you absolutely have to or are engaging in “safe” training sessions.
  • I definitely don’t like the brutal melee stamina loss speed. It would be one thing if most of the 30 or so swings available until utterly out of stamina actually did hit, but as it stands now I can possibly take out 3 ordinary zombies before having to stand in a corner an huff and puff for 10 minutes. Ranged, however, can be kept up for as as long as I have ammo.
  • Run away. You can’t outrun zombie dogs and feral zombies, but you can run away sufficiently far that you only have to deal with those (but yes, you should definitely try to lure away dogs one at a time).
  • When using a bow or sling (at least staff sling), lure the zombies sufficiently far away from the pack that you’ll be able to pick up the ammo that didn’t break before luring the next one away.
  • I’ve tried a fire once, and while that sort of worked, it worked poorly and had lots of negative side effects. I won’t do it again:
    • The pack diagonally across the street didn’t react despite me making all kind of noises in the burning house. Only a few went into the fire. I managed to gradually lure a few others into the fire.
    • I’m not sure if any of the zombies lured into the fire actually was destroyed. Most rose again, although the pack was no longer around at that time.
    • Fire only progresses while in the reality bubble. It took months for it do die out, as looting the other houses in the very small town didn’t take long enough for the fire to reach the end of its burning.
    • Fire destroys loot, but on the other hand it “smashes” things for you. However, the reality bubble issues mean you’d probably be able to smash all that stuff manually and still spend less play time.
  • Upgrading to vehicles to smash zombies is definitely a good move, but yes, mind the fuel consumption. Gasoline is easy to come by as there are lots of fuel stations, and all of them have gas. Diesel, however, seem to only be available from manned fuel stations, and then only from a single pump with a pathetic amount of diesel (which they don’t charge for). Thus, you have to siphon it from other vehicles (I’ve found one facility with a comparatively huge amount of diesel, but it’s not an early game one: you have to deal with turrets and more).
  • I’ve progressed to winter, and have been able to customize my zombie bashing vehicle to use replaceable storage batteries and an enhanced electric engine, but I’m still working on battery recharging.
  • If you don’t have any reason to kill zombies, don’t. Only engage them to clear out the areas around target locations you actually are interested in. If you’ve got a customized vehicle that can smash into zombies without taking damage you can swerve a little to run down ones as you pass by, but if you don’t, avoid damaging your vehicles on enemies you don’t need to take out.
  • The main reasons to raid homes are books and medications, although building a base camp will make use of additional stuff, as will quests. I’m always at the lookout for atomic (reading) lights and coffee machines.
  • Roaches are definitely a huge pain in the butt. While they’re not a threat to a survivor with good armor, they make a number on any worn equipment (backpack, quiver, headlamp,…). They’re also hard to hit with ranged weapons, and good luck on actually hitting enough times in melee to kill one before you run out of stamina.
  • When forced into melee range combat, drop the backpack (reduces penalties and protects it from danger), as well as any other things you don’t need for the fight (back scabbard if you have drawn your sword, as well as quiver, for instance).
  • Back to the early time: I’d stay away from cities at night, as I think that’s a trap. While some gear allow you to see many zombies before they see you (IR, and, to some extent, night vision), there are just too many downsides, such as skeletons (no IR), and the ferals that are faster than you AND detect you before you detect them unless you use IR, and they still detect you before you get into bow range. However, you can use the cover of night to deal with the incredibly dangerous electric zombies, as they light up themselves. If you clear out the night time dangers during the day leaving the electric ones alone or with only normal threat zombies around (particularly if you’ve got IR) you can take out the electric ones with little risk.
  • Healing: Run away before getting hurt whenever possible. Bandaging wounds speeds up healing. I’m not sure poor nutrition affects the healing rate, but there’s some kind of hidden health stat that does, and nutrition ought to affect that stat.

Main four things you have to look out for if you’re starting out:


Some weapons take more stamina than usual, sledgehammers use so much stamina it’s not even worth it, swords and spears are much more manageable. Knives doubly so.

Weapons. Starting out you should grab anything you can, this means metal pipes, cast iron pans, cleavers, etc. work your way up from there. A go-to of mine is to loot a fire station for the axes after I have a small outpost set up in the basement of a house.

If you’re having serious trouble early game I recommend that you put 3 into dodge at character generation. It beats getting shredded by earlier zombies and/or grinding by putting on a million layers of clothes to pad yourself from scratches.

And lastly, armor. You want things that are light and unencumbering but protective. Leather clothing fits well, but if you’re an accomplished dodger you have a bit more leeway. Try looting armor from dead soldier/police/swat zombies for better Kevlar stuff. You can upgrade to survivor armor later, and if you’re like me in the late game, you can strip down to a tank top and some Jean shorts for summer. Protect your eyes.

You can always sprint away from danger in the new builds. I recommend taking fleet footed, quick, indefatigable, and fast learner at character generation. Anything to increase your speed will help immensely.

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Building some metal arm and leg guards early helps a whole hell of a lot and those don’t take any special equipment. Having cleared out an entire mall super early with the legit mighty bone shiv I think they still are approachable as long as there aren’t a lot of advanced zombs yet. Ordinary zombies have always been useless chaff and still are. The only danger they offer is tiring you out.

I do agree stamina is pretty sad right now, athletics skill really needs to become a real thing because even with the fatigue trait you can barely run. Suitable for an average joe of the modern world that never works out but definitely silly that it’s not something that gets easier to nighmarish degrees the more hardened you get. Seriously the whole chase something till it dies of exaustion has gotta be the scariest hunting style, humans are freaky. Ain’t no cataclysm human or nonhuman is ever going to be able to run the length of a house without dieing of exaustion even with road runner and indefatigable, I should know having both lol.

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Yeah taking 3 dodge at character creation drastically increases survivability in my experience. Especially early game when your “armor” consists of a T-Shirt and a jacket.

Yeah, but to GET enough scrap to make them usually means smashing a lot of things which uses a ton of stamina and attracts attention. And it also contradicts the other advice to avoid melee early game.

This is misleading as it implies that you’ll survive at all if you stop running to fight in town. If you fight, you lose stamina, making it impossible to run. What I’m gathering here is the the stamina system is broken.

I have not even seen a fire station in the the dozens of games I’ve started. I mean, ya, it might get cool on the off chance that you get one that’s accessible (on the edge of town), but you can’t rely on it. The few times I’ve managed to work my way towards a target I’m sorely disappointed by the available loot. Like I fought long and hard once, destroying perfectly good vehicles, to get to a gun store, but the place was cleared out. I got a half dozen guns and mods, but almost no ammo!

I always start out with 2 in dodge. Will 3 really tip the scales? Ultimately it’s going to come down to stamina. If I’m engaging enough that dodging is a major factor, I’m not going to have the stamina to run when giant cockroach, a pack of zombie dogs, or a feral zombie inevitably shows up. That’s the infuriating part of this game. No matter how good you think you’re doing, you realize you were just lucky that whole time and it’s going to run out. Your luck has to last until you can get kitted out with bionics.

What it comes down to is that I’ve found very little in the accessible parts of town to be worth the risk. I can loot a half dozen houses and find very little but tools that I have nothing to use on… and food. I have yet to find useful medications in a house. If I do find a first aid kit, it’s in the back of an ambulance. But I’ll only need the kit in the first place if take the risk to get it. The stuff I do get, I never really get aa chance to use.

Realistically, given the current game mechanics and RNG, I would just put all my points in survival, fabrication, hunting skills, etc and just do a wilderness start and rarely go near a city.

Getting scrap ain’t too hard and you can get it easily outside of cities. Between farms and just ramming junk cars into stuff metal should be your most plentiful resource. I’ll disagree with no early melee. As long as you know the cataclysm shuffle even basic zombies in the hundreds aren’t an actual threat. With bad weapons you’ll need to pace yourself and go frequently for breathers, two stam ticks and you back out. Seriously, do the cataclysm shuffle, wack wack back, wack wack back. Wack back wack back if you are worried about your ability to judge the situation. Should get hit rarely if ever and early game is when the zombies are at their weakest. Farms should leave you well enough equipped to clear out any area nearby. If you are particularly frustrated you could forgo needing early weapons and just start a mutant start with hooves and the hooves should carry you easily. They even somehow count as a negative trait despite being a very strong combat mutation.

Btw make sure to put on the brawling combat style when you get it. Brawling is awesome.

I’m not sure the stamina system is broken, but I definitely would like to see it tweaked so that you can fight about twice as long before running out of breath. That would still leave my character in a position where melee is a last resort, but at least it’s a reasonable last resort, rather than a desperate one.

Medications tend to be “hidden” in the houses, i.e. they are in the bathroom cupboard or bathtub, which means you can’t see them unless you’re adjacent: just looking into the bathroom usually isn’t sufficient.

My character stayed away from the large city and approached a very small town (about a dozen houses), and snuck into two of them from the back, while the rest were out of reach due to the zombies. Rural houses are a lot better choices for smashing activities, though, as they tend to be empty.

You can stop to fight in town as long as you’re using silent weapons and lure the opponent(s) away from the rest so you don’t pull in reinforcements. If you do that correctly you should be able to engage them at range using slings, staff slings, or bows.
It’s a lot of work to pull the zombies away in ones and twos from a 50 zombie horde, though.

Unless you aim for a stealth raid, I’d recommend clearing out the area around a house before entering it (which means the street for a bit in both directions). Chances are that any zombies in the house, and the neighboring ones, will make themselves known as you deal with the street, allowing you time to take them on gradually. One possible approach for houses with a basement is to make noise on the main floor and listen to noise from below. That should typically tell you if there are zombies down there (and might pull them up, so be ready to bolt). Roaches, rats, and snakes, are harder to detect, though.

[quotes]I’ll disagree with no early melee. As long as you know the cataclysm shuffle even basic zombies in the hundreds aren’t an actual threat.{/quote]

But it’s never just basic zombies, is it? That’s the point. Even the outkirts have tough zombies, zombie cops, feral runners, packs of zombie dogs, giant cockroaches… which all make the cataclysm shuffle extremely risky. I used to do this years ago when the outskirts were typically just regular zombies. But it’s just not worth it now.

Tough zombies and cops are slightly more dangerous versions of the basic one and have the same movements speeds (at least broadly). The runners will catch up with you, as will the dogs and roaches (it took a while before I encountered any roaches, but I might have been lucky). However, I don’t know if a runner is more dangerous in melee than a regular or tough one. I was usually able to take out the early zombies at range if I only lured away one, including dogs and runners.

The nice thing about zombie runners and dogs is they outrun their pals. Honestly never seen a roach early though they don’t seem particularly dangerous from what I’ve seen midgame. Toughs aren’t so bad, cops aren’t either though the best way to deal with a zombie you don’t want to fight is just locking it in a car for awhile. Zombie children are what you should have mentioned because dear god anything small is god aweful to hit in this game. Most outskirts raids early you’ll kill a few zombs and then transfer from house to house anyway closing doors behind you to keep things busy. Outside of zombie children or armoured dogs they shouldn’t be a big problem and doors on both houses and cars do wonders.

I really don’t like roaches, as they hit my character a lot and chew up carried equipment, and they’re probably harder to hit than the kids, but yes, kids are hard to hit (most anything is hard to hit in melee, even with my current much better melee skill of 6: it progresses incredibly slowly).

If you can’t regularly connect in general with 6 melee you ought to look at your encumbrance or combat style because something is really messed up. Against small targets ya the game is rigged there but you should be wrecking face with 6 melee skill.

Ok, so say I learn how to safely clear an area. Say a city block. 4 houses I loot and rest in. For what? What am I getting for all that trouble? I could spend hours working my way to a hardware store… for a hacksaw? A gun store that might not actually have much?

What is the next step? Maybe I’m just lacking useful goals here.

Eh houses are decent food and material farms and a fortified basement is well worth a lot of trouble. You’ll get better stuff if you know all the spots where things hide behind dressers for bonus loot and sometimes a bloody science lab or autodoc in basic house basements. Maybe someone with a tailoring hobby and have materials enough for a lifetime. Seriously houses have some rediculious loot. Start pulling sight blocking furniture out of things like closets or away from walls, you never know when it’s a going to be the biggest payday you’ve ever had in cataclysm.

Well, if you’ve got enough food, hole up somewhere and cram books. Once you’ve gotten some skills you’ll want to craft things, which means you’ll want to get the resources needed to craft them, which will give you some things to look for.

You may also want to explore the (non as zombie infested) surroundings. You may be able to find a car that’s in working condition or a condition that’s good enough that you can actually repair it up to working condition.

I settled on three vehicle models:

  1. An electric car in sufficient condition to be used for looting without fighting. No need to find fuel, but keep track of the batteries, as you may need to let it charge between trips.

  2. A (semi) military vehicle for zombie smashing. They tend to use diesel, and so you’ll constantly be checking suitable vehicles for fuel. My first one was a SWAT truck that I just repaired but didn’t modify, and so I didn’t much zombie smashing with it (but a lot of acid ants). The second one was a “Military cargo” vehicle whose cargo apparently were disposable soldiers, as it had no cargo space, but a lot of seat. However, any of the military vehicles would work. I’ve gradually modified this vehicle to my liking (no turret yet, though).

  3. A flatbed truck. Only really needed for base building, but if you want to slowly clear out a lumber yard that’s the one to use. I’ve just repaired it (initially only enough to work), with no intended zombie smashing use.

I holed up at a farm, though (well outside the house, stove that I could use for cooking, bed to sleep in). Hauled loot there and explored on foot until I got myself a vehicle.

If you’re looking for the game to provide you with goals you’re essentially out of luck, though: it’s a sandbox game that provides a small number of quests and a base building option, but beyond that it’s up to you to come up with your goals.
Explore a mutation tree? bionics? Clear an arbitrary area of hostiles? Play a wilderness game where you restrict yourself to only use what you can find in the wilderness or craft yourself (with your definition of how restricting “wilderness” is).

So I tried some advice from here and started a new game. Did a lumberjack to make sure I had a good weapon. Made metal arm guards (didn’t have quite enough metal for leg guards yet), football armor, 3 dodge, 3 melee, Indeflaatable, and just when I thought I was doing good at this isolated set of 4 houses… I attracted 3 feral runners that proceeded to tear me to shreds. THere was no escape. And I even had them one by one in a hallway. All before noon the first day.

Yeah, this game is bullshit. This is not fun at all. There are some serious balance issues. I’m done.

Football armor? You mean the one with 35 encumbrance? This is why you died. I know from experience in this regard. Why the encumbrance is that high for football armor, I don’t know, but it’s a killer.

After dying a bunch early game I found that it was encumbrance killing me. On the arms it increases the stamina cost for every attack, on the torso it reduces your melee and dodge skill while also increasing the movement point cost for attacking, on the legs and feet the movement cost go up so running is harder.

Seriously, try to keep encumbrance under 20 if you can. Drop you pack to fight. In fact, I’ll drop my pack outside a house I’m planning on clearing then I’ll clear it and only after I’m relatively safe do I go back for the pack, then loot.

Don’t worry about losing stuff in the pack, you can usually come back for it and if not it can be replaced. You acquired it once, didn’t you? You can acquire it again.

tl:dr Encumbrance is a killer, keep it down.

  • Shane
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I clear block by block, breaking into a house on the edge and setting it up as a killbox, luring the zombies over broken windows and tables to give them movement penalties and then taking them out. I’ve melee killed over 500 zombies mostly this way.

Having a friendly NPC with a combat knife has helped immensely.

Also, disinfectant or hydrogen peroxide and bandages make a huge difference in healing.

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Oof ya that football armour is rediculiously terrible. Probably your cause of death. A lot of things you’d think would be good are hot garbage in this game. Gotta keep a very careful eye on encumbrance.

I was serious though about the hooves last time. If you are this frustrated just go takes hooves. Dunno why you are so dead set on cities anyway. Rural areas are great for bases.