Early Game NPC Min/Max Advice Needed


Hey guys, I’ve just started playing with NPCs and I have some questions, mostly for the early game, but feel free to share as much as you know. :grin:

What combination of combat rules/commands should I look to use most of the time? I’m asking for both melee and ranged. Is it wise to give NPCs both options? Will it just be a load of noise and a waste of ammo? Are they already designed to save ammunition for, let’s say, shocker brutes, instead of unloading full-auto into a nearly dead crawling zombie?

Are there enemies or actions they prioritize(or don’t, for better or for worse) in some common scenarios that would be good to know about? Can I give an NPC a crossbow, set their pickup rules to loot the bolts and they’ll safely pick them back up without needing extra babysitting? Will they insist on a slow-reload, when they can use the shoulder strap on the crossbow, unsheathe their machete and better defend themselves? To what extent do I need to be aware of things like these?

Also, what’s a good early game weapon I can craft for an NPC that start’s with none, or something like a butcher knife. Are there any good stats or weapon properties I should look to give an NPC? How effectively can they use spears and such for reach attacks? I’m assuming a good balance of protection and encumbrance for armor is what I’m looking for on the defensive side of things.

Are there any items, tasks or things in general that I should absolutely not trust an NPC for? How about any surprisingly useful purposes?

And what’s a good, fun, balanced setting for NPC spawns? I’d like to see an NPC every so often. Maybe every 2-3, maybe 4 towns. Will dynamic spawns end up being a pain in the ass? As much fun as the game is, I don’t want to have keep adjusting values and remaking worlds and having to play it for a while, only to regret the world settings later.

I like to be as optimal as I can be while having fun and role-playing as I would in situations the Cataclysm puts me into. I’d also like to know any set-ups you guys have used with success, since I’m sure it would help me figure other things out too. ANY advice, especially for min/maxing, is GREATLY appreciated!


NPCs aren’t particular smart about using weapons: if you give an NPC a crossbow, they’ll use a crossbow, even when a hulk is pulping them. They can take advantage of quivers but don’t know how to reload them, so you periodically have to reload their quivers for them. I don’t think they understand sheathes/scabbards/holsters at all.

NPCs are mostly kind of meh in combat. They help, but a PC survivor is usually better.

NPCs excel at construction. Some of the really tedious tasks like refencing a tile’s worth of barbed wire or digging deep pits become very doable with lots of NPCs around.

The best weapon is going to depend on the NPC and your available resources. NPCs vary a lot in abilities - I’ve got a cattle mutant with ST 15, DX 13, and Unarmed 5; a “gunslinger” with ST 5, DX 5, Handguns 3, and Piercing 3; and a hunter with ST 9, DX 4, Archery 8, Rifles 5 hanging around my survivor right now. Giving the mutant a knife spear isn’t useful; giving the hunter a pimped out longbow is pretty useful.

I’d put the spawn at 0.5 to 0.7; I’m currently running 0.7 and I’ve seen 7 NPCs in 8-10 towns.


Assume your NPC interactions are going to be like talking to a computer phone customer service thing. It is not a good experience and trying to rely on them will just piss you off at the absurd nature you deal with.

Try instead to gather warriors and just allow them be a good decoy for those moments when you get overwhelmed. They get eaten and now you get their gear at a later time! YAY!


I find it’s handy to have a couple of NPCs a square or so behind me with awl pikes to multiply my damage output and prevent me getting surrounded, and have them tote some firearms too so in a pinch I can tell 'em to start shooting.
Also have a vehicle nearby, even if it’s just a non-working scooter or something, it serves as a useful “run away” command substitute, because the second you jump into/onto a vehicle, they come running to try to jump on it with you. This can get them to disengage rapidly and move in your direction, which can sometimes be hard to get them to do otherwise.


I’ve yet to be able to keep any NPC alive. I run and gun to much through towns filled to the brim with critters. I think I would be like this in real life…but I’d at least try to save people. In game, knowing they just do stupid sh!t, I lettem die…guess I’m an a$$hole in game lol


I’ve rarely had a hard time keeping NPCs alive and I’ve had survivors with NPC companions for a year in-game. Of course, my longest survivor with the longest lasting NPC equipped the NPC with heavy power armor by mid-summer, so getting punched by a hulk was no big deal.

But for most survivors, all you have to do is be cautious, keep the NPC equipped with decent gear, bail them out when they get in trouble, and make sure they don’t have stupid commands at wrong time. It’s a little micro-managing (I miss the Unreal World command that lets you send all your dogs after a single target with a single shout) but it’s not too bad.


I don’t respect NPCs enough to keep them alive, especially early game when you have to constantly repair their gear and the odd way they choose which weapon to wield. I keep two on hand for the max construction bonus but anyone else is food for the cannibalism god