Considering this is still the early game, here’s the equipment I use:
-8 Improvised picklocks. Silent and effective; they usually won’t work but that’s why I make 8 of them. They take up no volume in one’s inventory, so these are essential for me.
-Talking Doll. Never understimate the talking doll! It’s a great distraction for zombies to mindlessly walk into! If you have a bear trap, then you can use that in harmony to the talking doll to get an easy kill.
-Makeshift Knife. The best starting weapon if I’m honest. Quick and deadly, and easily able to dispatch of a basic zombie. If you use Pentajack Silat like I do, then you can send pesky brutes reeling away and crying.
-Stone Hammer. If I run into a shocker, a stone hammer is usually the most effective and storage efficient way to take down a shocker zombie; using a knife against it will just get you zapped and killed.
-Backpack/Trenchcoat/Hoodie. I usually start with a tailoring skill of 3 or more, just so I can get this setup. Wearing this gives you the most bang-for-buck storage, warmth and protection for 1 encumberance. Sure, you can find better stuff and make survivor armour later, but I’m talking about starting setups here.
-2 Pairs of Cargo Shorts. Look. If you have a tailoring skill of 2, just do it okay.
-Wearable flashlight. Easy to wear with no encumbrance, saving inventory space. If everything goes to shit and I’m spotted, I’d at least like to know where I’m going.
As for my raiding strategy, I just raid at night and night only. Lockpick in through the door if it’s locked, take what I need, and walk out again as if nothing ever happened. Zombie in my way? Talking doll away.
I usually prioritise sporting goods stores, because they have some good stuff for your starting survivor. Gun stores are harder to get into now with their locked metal doors - good thing I bought lockpicks! Antique stores really are incredible though, they almost always have a great late game weapon such as a broadsword, rapier, morning star etc. Pawn stores can be really good, but at the same time they can be really shit. It’s always a gamble because pawn stores have alarms built into them.
To summarize, I stay quiet and out of trouble. I can clear cities with my late game badassness later; just stay safe and get what I need, and hopefully grab a combat knife. Once my character has a combat knife (or machete) I’ve ‘won’. Gallon jugs are important to, because the makeshift funnels you can make with them are an excellent source of water with all these lightning storms hitting New England recently.
Ninjitsu helps, but isn’t essential. I just tend to not attack a zombie unless I’m cornered in with it, you can easily just run away from it and make it lose vision of you again. Light Step is good but not at all essential too.