Settings for a challenging game, but not crazy

After playing a bunch of times and dying, I finally got to a pretty good place. Found a ton of books, and have ready myself up to level 8 to 10 in every crafting skills. Have a solar powered mobile base, ad now found power armor and an optical cloak and can raid Labs, Bunkers and Military Outposts with impunity.

I used all the default world settings, except for the fact that I turned on static NPCs.

I am told that using the wandering Zombie settings just makes the game unplayable, but the default settings make the game too simple, I think.

What are some settings or mods that keep things challenging even after getting skilled up and equipped… or perhaps make it tougher to just get to that stage?

Hordes make the game really, really hard. I have played with hordes enabled since they were added into the game, and let me tell you, it definitely makes every level of this game more difficult, but not as impossible as you might think. With hordes enabled, you need to plan more, have more escape strategies, and be prepared to lose everything, every base, every vehicle, every weapon and every set of armor, and survive without anything guaranteed, but it’s my favorite way to play this game.

Other than that, turning the zombie spawn rate up and turning the item spawn rate down are two reasonable ways to make the game more challenging. I usually play with the item spawn rate down to about 20% vanilla.

I play with spawn rate of 5 (I played with 20 in the current stable, back before they added monster evolution and so many new and improved monsters), and it definitely makes things tougher, especially with the new(ish) grab mechanics that slow you WAY down the more you are grabbed.

the thing is, once you get a mobile base going, you only really fight zombies inside a Lab or big mall … everything else is getting run over.

hordes will make things more interesing, they are not unbeatable but withoud aid of automatic defense or followers its realy hard to battle them anyway, it takes so much time that zombies will revive faster than you can butcher, without turrets watching over your back better kill them until your critical hit do not pulp them, resurrected zombies are damaged so its easier to pulp them in fight

I found the greatest difficulty here to be finding that delicate balance between a cakewalk end-game and impossible to survive starting out. My best solution has been to choose some of the more powerful starting professions. Then add hoards, reduce item and NPC spawns, take negative traits like frail, glass jaw and slow healer, thin skinned etc. Larger cities is also a good one.

I run pretty similar settings, homophobic. (with a custom profession of my own)

I basically tweaked Scoundrel to be a little stronger in the early-game, and to have a chance to spawn in a more beneficial area.

What exactly is the end game? Its not like there is a goal to be achieved in CDDA

It’s whatever you want it to be - for example infecting the whole world with your glorious Mycus, or finding a worthy enemy that’s actually able to kill you, or doing all those silly challenges like killing a hulk with a wad of cash xD

J-9. Godhood. Base-building. Stat boost to infinity. Skill points to infinity. Deathmobile construction. Post-threshold mutations.

For me, building a randomly generated NPC army.

I’ll quote/link what I did for an end condition once (in the vehicle thread):

So, I’ve been working on an end condition - a “gather everyone still alive, get enough weapons, and blast our way out” sort of thing. In that regard, I give you the ArmoredEverybodyCarrier.

This totally open-ended freedom just means you have to create your own goals. Get a colony going, with food stores and munitions supplies to match it, create a deathmobile with so many automated turrets nothing can get near it, get rich enough that you can scrooge dive into a giant vat of cash cards. Mods add even more options as well, right now I just want to be able to take on the hellspawn in PK’s Doom mod.

If I had to distill it however, I’d say the most simplified description of the Endgame Condition in DDA is just getting to the point where you can survive in pretty much any environment and defeat any creature or monster. Even if that means becoming grotesquely deformed.

(also, hoBo lol)

I like to turn item spawn down to 50% and zombie spawn x5, but turn revivication off. If you increase zombie spawn but keep revivication on, you’re gonna have a bad time. It’s not much fun killing the same naked zombies over and over again because you can’t butcher them all. Also bear in mind that with that many zombies, most cars will be nothing but a sphere of scrap metal, and buildings with lots of inhabitants, like malls and office towers, will be reduced to rubble – and if you don’t have revivication turned off, you’ll have hordes of naked zombies wandering around, their clothes buried underneath the rubble.

You can also crank city size up. By doing that, especially with zombie spawn turned up, most of the map becomes massive, zombie-packed cities which are suicide to enter. You’ll have to pick off the edges and try not to attract more than you can handle. With most of the map now infested city instead of forest and field, driving around becomes very difficult so you can’t just wander from lab to lab, popping scientists for CBMs until you turn into Inspector Gadget.

I also like to play with 91 day seasons, for realism’s sake. In theory it should make the winter more difficult to survive, but the fact is food is so plentiful that it’s not really a problem. If you want a challenge, though, opt for a winter start and 91 day season and you’ll be scrambling to stay warm and fed.

In my current game, I took frail + glass jaw, a 4 strength… and a melee specialist. I dumped all my points into intelligence and took dragon style so I’ve become the ultimate glass cannon. With the quick trait and 0 encumbrance, it’s doable but challenging.

I keep revivification on, but yes, the naked zombie thing is a bit annoying. I with they would fix that, honestly - making containers that can actually hold specific items would have the bonus of giving a relatively easy fix for this (zombie corpses are containers holding their stuff, and when they revive, they take their stuff with them).

My settings:
Town size 4 (sometimes three. but i like medium towns)
Town density 6 ( more distance between towns can be a real problem, for example in my last sheltered start i’ve not found any towns half a days+ walk in all directions)
Item spawn 0.5 (item spawn severely limits development. less supplies, less tools, less books. Even less would mean that books are really rare and hard to find, i don’t want that)
Zombie Spawn 0.7 (to partially counteract the above, and to make items even more scarce)
Hordes On (make for an interesting early game when you cannot fight more than 1-2 normal zeds at a time)
Z-Levels On (more chaotic as of now, slightly more realistic imo)
Npcs On, static and dynamic, with static spawn at 1 and dynamic at 0.5.
Static Spawn On (unrealistic to not have resident zeds)
Dynamic Spawn On (unrealistic to not have wandering zeds)

With default skillpoints and an 8/8/8/8 char (12/12 positive trait points used), this is the right difficulty for me.
I do savescum early on though, or i would pass the early game only in 1/10 of runs. After that, mid-game and end-game are not too hard, not too easy.

What does it mean to turn “Hordes” On? I thought that was what happened when you turned “Wander” to On.

Now, I have done that, and it seems to me that even with Static set to true, Zombies are just popping out of the air.

I finally got a HumVee up and running and drove into town to run over all the zeds and finally loot the town. They kept coming and coming, they never stopped. It just isn’t possible that there were that many zeds in one average size city.

So, I am baffled. I would have thought that having Static set to True and Wander set to true would mean that zeds spawn once in any given city as the reality bubble surrounds the city and they would tend to clump up and and walk towards noise… so they do all that, but they also just seem to spawn out of thin air, which is ridiculous.

Exactly what you did, i had the impression it was a separate setting (was it ever? can’t remember)

Sounds draws them, big Z in the overmap are to be avoided, but otherwise you’d see only stragglers due to hordes. Stragglers are good for immersion - you are never completely safe.

The (statically spawned) zeds of a city are many, and the sounds of all the havoc draw more, and more and more…
You’d have better chances of you did it silently, or hit & run.

The rationale is that all the noise draws stragglers from outside the town, and the constant spawning is the only way to represent that.

Other people know horde mechanics much better than me (and they are still being worked on) but my impression was that each horde has a max spawn number. When all its zeds are dead, it ceases to exist (otherwise the number slowly gets filled up again)
The fact is that even if you kill a horde (impossible early game), another one can converge to the place if you do lots of noise.
Brute force won’t help, just because you are not powerful enough to apply the huge amounts needed. That’s by design.

If i were you, i’d either use that humvee for a hit&run (raid the local library first), or i’d go raiding at night, verrry carefuly (at night getting surrounded can happen, and even a brute can spoil your night, not to mention boomers and such)

PS. You do play the experimental, right? The stable version’s hordes must be totally outdated.
PS2. Be sure to retreat from strong horde opposition, even if it means abandoning everything. You can always return after a month, but right now (early on) you need to survive.

stable hordes are mobile zombie spawns, they have points what spawn zombies, when they run out horde disapears, if you are quiet but you attract horde they will probaly just form a large wall of flesh on edge of your reality bubble

experimental hordes are not spawns anymore, yes hordes still spawn but every zombie is horde, sometimes horde what attack your base far away from city is just 4 zombies from local maison what you quickly looted and driven away with loud vehicle, this new mechanics can be exploited to clear some places like hospitals from zombies