Too easy to find a working car

version: it is an old problem.

AFAIR in the older versions there was two types of car in the game:

  • cars with damage which made them unusable without a repair. This prevented the player to use them, repairing them was an adventure and an archivement.
  • cars far from the cities without gas. They was much easier to take, you just needed a hose and a jug full with fuel from an abandoned car in the city. Still you had to survive until you find one.

They are gradually replaced with more and more working cars. There was the lucky “like new” cars in some garages (they was rare and i like them), there was cars with leaky fuel tanks (at least it was a serious problem), etc.

Now - well, for a long time - there are cars in the cities ready to drive. They are damaged but who cares, they are drivable and serves fine as mobile base and getaway car. To find one you just have to stroll over the city and examine the cars. Most of them have faulty engine, but this doesn’t make much difference, you have to start them few times. Sometimes you can find more then one usable cars, so you can waste them on zombies or on locked gunstores.

I think cars with fatal damages should be back and usable cars should be gone, because now the game more about some luck than an adventure. Of course this means welder should be more plenty than now, because - this is my experience - they are rarer than usable security vans full with gold.

something I rather like is that often times the working cars are actually running…which atracts zoms to tear it apart and make it stop running. So if you want one of those you have to get it quick.


i havent found a working car in quite some time, through numerous restarts and numerous cities. always missing fuel, controls, seat, wheels, faulty engine that wont start, and/or not enough battery charge to start the engine.

They may be objectively easier to get running than in previous renditions of the game, i wouldnt know, im fairly new… only requiring one or two things to be fixed… but i havent found one ready-to-drive in a while

I strongly disagree with the thread’s title. The last, oh, fifteen characters or so that I’ve run in Cataclysm, I’d say maybe 1 found a car in the first five days.

I’ll admit that this is because I often start my characters in cabins or generally away from towns, but even when I find cars they almost never run, or if they run, as stated above, they’re getting chewed up by a hoard of zombies.

When I find a car that looks promising, guess what? I need a screwdriver to start it. When I find one with wheels the battery’s missing. Oh, just grab another battery, I think, but nope, no bolt turning item. Need a tire? Well, crap, my mechanics is 0.

Repairing a vehicle requires multiple tools and parts that require luck to find/ or a character that’s well established already. Finding a vehicle requires random generation. Either to find the actual vehicle, locations that might contain vehicles, or the materials required to work on a vehicle. That’s a lot of random and it’s hard to look at that as ‘easy’.

Even my recent mall start, with that huge parking lot, took me a long time to sift through all the cars to find a readily working one that wasn’t torn to pieces.

I can’t provide evidence counter to your point, exactly, but man do I disagree with you.


I find the level of vehicle availability to be fine. It’s random, but so is everything else in the game. I went through five characters, each lasting less than a month, without finding any antibiotics. Next character found 4 on the first day. Cars are the same.

My experience exactly the opposite, i almost always find a working car within few days. I use the default settings btw, i don’t know how much it is relevant. Today i started a new character, found a car in the first day and i was suprised because it slowly lost its battery charges because of a bad alternator. But even this kind of car is fine, i can explore the map and find a working one.

I think that is how it should be and that is how it worked a long ago. A working car should be a step forward in the game, an achievement. We should earn our car, but now we can just randomly found a working car without any effort.

The problem is, you can find working cars while the tools are very rare. It should be the opposite, working car should be not - or very rarely - exists but there should be tools in the garages and shops. Last time i found a welder after 91 days… in a necropolis.

In the game it looks like everyone grabbed their tools and fled from the cities while left behind their cars.

I hear what you’re saying. All I’m saying is that it’s random.

My point wasn’t that it SHOULD be easy. I agree with you, it should be difficult. In my experience it has been appropriately challenging because RNG hates me. I’m just saying you can’t call it ‘easy’.


I think there is a problem how the spawning working now. I don’t know how it is works but i think we have too many similar objects in the game and while more or less we can find anything, there is always an “unlucky item” which is somehow too rare. Last time i could not find multivitamins and after several cities and half in-game year, i looked into the save files to find the last 20.

I see and understand that, i got my own suffering from the rng god.

There gets to be a point where adjusting how “random” it is no longer actually produces randomness, but instead smooths out the distribution. A random distribution is not a smooth or even distribution.

Plus, humans are biased to notice what we percieve as flaws more often, so until someone starts collecting data on this, we’re all just blowing so much smoke. Individual computers tend to prefer certain random outcomes (since true randomness is impossible to get out of a machine), so that data will have to be gathered across multiple machines and platforms.

Well, i think there are so many items in the game, a smoothed out distribution like “randomness” would be better. But i think it is hard to do… and forced.

While i aware the biased human perceive, i think the main problem is not just that.

There are many items in the game and many of them similar to each others, they are alternatives for the same job. The problem is there are also some items which has no several alternatives (similar items for the same kind of usage), their spawn point is not common and they are in a spawning group which contains other not-their-alternatives items, so they have a very low chance to spawn. While the alternatives make many kind of items accessable, one kind of items can be frustrating rare.

My best examples are the must have welder - i always make a makeshift welder sooner - and the multivitamin which is a quest item. This last one has an alternative the gummy vitamins, but they are not good for the mission.

My saves has 74853 map files. I searched some objects in them.

  • multivitamins in 120 files. That is 1:623 and we need to find 10 of them.
  • For welder there are only 8 hits, that is 1:9356
  • For few firestarters (ligher, refillable lighter, matches) there are 1066 hits for them, it is 1:70 and we can find them without problem.

Too bad i have no idea how i could just count the city map files.

Maybe is should open a new topic about it…

See, I’ve never played a game that lasted longer than a day where I didn’t find multivitamins, and the only welders I’ve ever had, I’ve built from scratch.

I’ve had several games where it took me over a week to find a lighter or matchbook of any kind.

There are many reasons a working car might still exist. Think about backed up traffic, a survivor died while getting his things, any number of reasons. I don’t find many working cars myself, but usually I can find one that’s just outta gas which makes for a quick fix.

From what I understand the cataclysm happened very quickly with people turning into zombies (and therefore being unable to use cars) and a few remaining ones either being killed instantly or turning into the rare survivor. This explains why you probably run into 100-200 zombies for every 1 survivor. And many survivors don’t use cars. Even if they did, that’s still 100-200 cars for every survivor, so it makes no sense to have only broken cars remaining.

As it is IRL, the vast majority of cars near sidewalks and near garages are in pretty good condition and usable for hundreds of miles, with the only real obstacles being that some are low on gas and that most modern cars are impossible to “hotwire” without extensive, hours-long repair work due to computerized security systems. This is true for numerous reasons:

  1. Old, damaged cars are too expensive to keep running due to high labor costs in the USA.
  2. Old cars fail emissions tests and the government basically forces you to retire them since you can’t drive them on public roads.
  3. Old cars use more gas and this makes them no worth keeping.
  4. Parking restrictions means you won’t be able to keep an immobilized car at the sidewalk for very long and many areas have zoning laws preventing you from turning your driveway or yard into a junkyard.

IMO if they want it to be realistic AND difficult they need to change most cars to be near “like new” condition and make it impossible to “hotwire” most cars with a screwdriver, EXCEPT if it’s an older model (which should be a little more banged up than most cars, but still very driveable). This would require some sort of “key” system that takes into account the fact that modern cars use both a mechanical key system AND a chip system, both of which must work or else the car will not start.

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I know it is not realistic if there are no working cars, but i think about it as a gameplay element which has a great impact on the play, but now to get one it doesn’t need any commitment, only some luck. This is the worst for a gameplay, because it award or punish the players while they have no influence over it.

The old version did it right because it was a commitment to repair a car to make it work. But it could be the other way, player could start the game with a car next to his starting point, because - we could say - surviving without a car is much harder and an unnecessary struggle, so just give one to them.

Hm, maybe there should be some starting professions with vehicles. I know it is not implemented, but it would be good. :slight_smile:

The background lore is sketchy. It could be a few hours long event because the player had time to flee and reach the shelter. In my interpretation there was a great panic as the first monsters appeared, everyone tried to left the cities with cars, so some cars left the cities others was abandoned because their way was blocked etc.

So they should be without gas because it hard to believe a fleeing owner stopped the engine or they should be in not working conditions because the zombies bashed them.

I’m fine with a rare lucky finding “like new” cars in a garage. Even old cars would be good, they could be also louder than the new ones.

Anyway i don’t think it should be realistic, it should be a gameplay to get one, player should do some scavenging, some exploring and learn some mechanic skill to own a car. Or just give a car to the player at start, so they can skip the unnecessary lucky finding part of the game, which is the worst scenario for the gameplay. IMHO.

I think for the most part it’s a beginner thing. Welders are hard to come by, but I’m used to getting a car running however I can. A wrench and a bottle jack for wheels, hose and container for gas, etc etc. A running car is a significant benefit, but most cars can be up and running with a small amount of work. It doesn’t really bother me much if there is or isn’t a drivable car right off the bat. I don’t see drivable cars much anyways, so I think the balance is good myself, but you might have a different experience. It’s random anyways, so the best thing is to just check out the spawn rate.

I think the underlying issue here is mainly that cars are too useful and therefore considered necessary by most players.

There are things in the works to make most much less useful offroad as far as I am aware for one thing.

I feel as if base decoration for small passive mood boosts would be a little thing that could improve static base viability, if you’ve got all of that space, may as well fill it with nice things.

That and having road condition naturally degrade over time and put more wear on tires could be something that’d both make the world feel more alive, and nerf cars.

The new rot changes also allow the local environment to slowly repopulate through bird eggs, cockroaches for meat and nutrition.

The fact that even years in, driving to the overmap yonder provides as much loot as day 1 is a pretty big and immersion breaking issue too.
Having a large scale is great and all, but at least trying to simulate other survivors looting things, or just weather, wear and tear from zeds and other monsters on items and vehicles in newly generated areas would greatly rebalance the game and help with immersion and relative viability of static bases.

I think welder rarity is a bug. Or intended, maybe once in the time they decided there would be working cars but the lack of welder prevent to fix them if needed. So beginners can obtain a car fast, but fixing them is a longer term problem for everyone. It would makes sense, but this replace the car-getting achievement with a frustrating where-is-my-welder-dude? situation.

If you repair cars that’s how i like it should be, it needs some mechanical skill and few tools. But when i exploring a city, really i can find a working car almost every day. Not every one of them is good for long time (mostly fail to recharge batteries) but they are good enough to find another one.

I think car damage is hardcoded and randomized, not related to spawn point - except maybe a garage car and some security van - so it is not easy to know the chances.

Well, the thing is getting a working car is a decent achievement. The welder is for different things. Sure, it can allow you to repair the car you have, but it also unlocks the ability to design your own vehicle. That’s the way I see it anyways. I can jury-rig any vehicle to operate, but eventually I’ll want to get to the point to modify an APC or build a vehicle from scratch.