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Surviving “State of Decay: Lifeline”

A lot of my writing, these days, seems to be related to video games. It’s what gets the clicks and the coins on this site so . . .

Making a Hard Job Easier

State of Decay: Lifeline can be a tough game if you don’t plan ahead early. How tough the game is for you depends on how much you prepared before the end of the first mission. Setting up your home base, setting up outposts, and collecting supplies early goes a long way toward making the rest of the game a lot less stressful.

Everything else you could need to know about “State of Decay”

What a zombie horde looks like. The red flag represents a Structure they are about to Infest.

What a zombie horde looks like. The red flag represents a Structure they are about to Infest.

The Premise of “Lifeline”

In Lifeline you play as members of a military unit; Greyhound One. The main characters are Hawkes, Kilo, and Vince but you come across others as the game goes on, namely “Sasquatch” who is detrimental to beating one of the game’s possible endings. The story consists of two main focuses; saving people (survivors connected to the cause of the outbreak, stranded soldiers, and random civilians) and killing special zombies for Sasquatch so he can collect samples. Either of these paths can lead to beating the game. This article will try to focus on a “have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too” philosophy of doing both.

Like the main State of Decay storyline, you will need to scavenge for supplies and protect your base. Of course, you also need to take on groups of the undead, but you are a military unit and have the equipment and connections to make this task simple . . . ish. You can order supply drops rather than go out and hunt for supplies, but in my opinion that takes some of the fun out of it. Besides, when you Establish Outposts (more on that in a minute) you can find useful things in these spots. I would recommend not wasting them. Also, you might not always have enough Influence to order a supply drop, so every little item counts toward making your life easier in that regard.

Influence is the main “currency” of Lifeline. If you don’t have a high enough influence to complete the chosen action, the character will refuse to do it. The stars basically represent dollar signs, just think of it that way. Everything from ordering an airdrop full of supplies, to asking a fellow soldier to accompany you, to repairing melee weapons runs on it.

Establishing Outposts is a big step toward making your playtime, and rescuing survivors, that much less of a pain in the ass. Why is it important to do so? In the game, there are Zombie Hordes; large groups of common zeds that wander around in search of a Structure on the map to Infest. The game warns you when a Zombie Horde is Nearing A Location. You can also highlight the Horde by pressing the Back Button and hovering over the green circle that surrounds them. A red flag will appear on the map indicating what Structure the Horde is heading for. Establishing an Outpost, and setting traps there, can destroy Hordes for you without having to intercept them. Intercepting a Horde is not that hard, you can just run into them with a vehicle, but this will cause damage to that vehicle and it detracts you from the task at hand. Establishing Outposts won’t stop every Horde from causing an Infestation, but it will get most of them.

Infestations are when a Zombie Horde manages to make their destination. Dealing with an Infestation can be dangerous because a large group of zombies will attack you once you get close, and to clean out the Infestation you will need to take out one or two Special Zombies (Screamers most of the time). When rescuing survivors they can sometimes take shelter near an Infestation and cause the mission to be more trouble than it needs to be.


These are attacks on your home base, Black Friday. There are three Threat Levels from white-1, yellow-2, to red-3. When the Threat Level hits red-3 you have three minutes, to drop what you’re doing, and return to base. Sieges occur about every 30 minutes. If you select “Thin The Herd”, in the Ops Center, your soldiers will buy you more time. That extra amount of time may vary depending on how many times you get a “SNAFU” or “Excellent Work." You can take this extra time between Sieges to rescue survivors and gather supplies.

How to Prepare for a Siege

When a Siege is about to occur it’s best to start making your way back to base around Threat Level yellow-2. Once back you will have time to store any items you scavenged and set up for the coming attack. Put three thrown weapons (Hand Grenades or Molotovs) and three slots full of ammo for your chosen weapon. I recommend having an assault rifle or any semi-auto rifle equipped. There are plenty in Lifeline, especially if you follow this guide (more on that later). Whatever melee weapon you are comfortable with is just fine.

Zombie Patterns and Strategy

Zombies come from the East and North and the Siege lasts for two waves. During the second wave, special zombies will appear. Your squad members will call them out. Having base defenses like Mines and Propane Tanks are essential. Take up position on the rooftop at the Northeast end of Black Friday. You can get up there by way of one of the two ladders around the building. There is a Supply Locker up here for easy access. There’s plenty of ammo so don’t be afraid to miss shots. When zombies bust in through the gates, get back down to ground level and help your soldiers clear them out with your melee weapon. Make saving survivors your top priority when this happens. If you see the red marker, above a fallen comrade, help them first. You can repair gates by holding down the Y Button in front of them (that is if there are no zombies nearby). Once the last zed falls the siege will be over. Make sure to reset Mines and Propane Tanks after to be ready for the next one.


As you get further into the game, Sieges will get more intense. After Sasquatch’s second hunting mission start using a Grenade Launcher. You can craft 40mm Grenades at the Ammunition Shop (Workshop Upgrade), but you should still pick your shots carefully. Wait for zombies to bunch up outside of the gates before firing a shot.

First Mission

When the game begins, gun down the horde of zombies attacking you and your men. Get in the brown pickup truck (I’m not going to mention “wait for your allies to get in” throughout the rest of this guide, I figure that’s a given). Take the on-ramp to the left and drive to your base. Once you get back to base help the soldiers there fight off the Siege of zombies.

Once it’s over, press up on the D-pad to bring up the Home Page. Repair, in this order, the Landing Zone, Mess, Barracks, and Ops Center. You won’t have enough Building Materials to set up Storage. Go to the Helipad and order a Materials Drop. Now go to Perimeter Defenses and select Restock All. Go to the Ops Center options and select Tactics: Supply Lines. Your crew will look for Resources while you do the following.

Put away your RFB, 7.62 ammo, 9mm P38 Stobaugh, and 9mm ammo. Take the F45 Tactical, this will be more than enough to deal with zombies for now. Attach a Homemade Silencer and grab two MREs. Park one of the Military Pickups by the gate and the other one further down the street. Keep one space free for delivering trunk loads of Rucksacks faster (see first picture). There are six (that I know of) parked throughout the map and they take the most abuse of any other vehicle. They are the best all-rounder for speed, inventory slots, and amount of people it can carry. I recommend hoarding these at your base. Parked down the fence away from your gate (see second picture).

Check the back of the delivery truck for Medicine. Go to the warehouse, to the North, across the street from Black Friday. There should be Building Materials there. As well as the Warehouses to the North-West. Be careful not to go into the Danger Zone while searching the third Warehouse. Deliver these supplies back to your base. Set up the Supply Room, Field Medic, Field Workshop, and a Latrine. The Latrine will help prevent your troops from getting Sick.

Get in the Modern Pickup you got in the beginning and go to the on-ramp. Make a left heading North up the highway and take the first off-ramp to the right. Park your truck outside the Danforth Police Department. In here, apart from zombies, are some guns and Ammo. Once you have searched everywhere and cleared out the zeds, Establish an Outpost here. Make sure you bring everything to the Supply Locker NOW or it will despawn. Open up the Home Page and select Set Traps For Passing Hordes.

Once the Workshop has finished building set up a Generator. Then upgrade the Workshop to a Legit Workshop.

Put your Rucksacks in the back of the truck and make a right back onto the highway. Drive up the left lane until you come to a green bridge. Just before that bridge is a Gun Shop Delivery Truck. In the back should be various guns, put whatever you can’t carry in the back of your Modern Pickup. Take guns and Ammo back to Black Friday.

Upgrade the Supply Room to Condensed Supply, the Field Medic to Infirmary. Order a Materials Drop.

If you weren’t able to collect everything from the back of that gun truck, do so now. Otherwise, head north, back up the highway, and get off at the first off-ramp. This time going left, away from the Police Station. Follow the fence until you find a Satellite Uplink and a Military Pickup. Raid the nearby Minimart for supplies and Establish an Outpost here.

Deliver the supplies and items to your base, and leave the Military Pickup there in trade with the Blue Hatchback parked by the Delivery Truck. (Note: Hawkes will start to get Tired at this point.) Drive up the highway the same way you did the last couple of times. This time take the second off-ramp on the left (not the tunnel one, the open bridge off-ramp). Follow the road, sans the wreckage, all the way west toward the water. Take the Military Pickup you see here and get back on the highway, going left. Follow the highway, past the green bridge, all the way North. As it hooks around, to head South again, you should see an open door on the right near a crashed helicopter (down the street from the crash). The game will say “New Survey Point Discovered!” Park your truck and go through the door. Search and clear out the Warehouse. Next door is a Satellite Uplink, Establish an Outpost here. Next, search and clear the Pharmacy down the street, and the Gun Shop Delivery Truck just outside of that. Take all loot to the Supply Locker at the Satellite Uplink and the Rucksacks back to base.

Upgrade the Condensed Supply to Refrigerated Supply (if you have the labor for it), the Infirmary to Medical Lab, and Upgrade the Legit Workshop to Ammunition Shop.

As you drive back to base, continuing to follow the highway South, you will see a Gun Shop Delivery Truck along the way. Take what you can carry and come back for the rest later. You will also find another Military Truck on the highway too. (Note: DO NOT follow the blue arrow, it can be confusing to take THAT off-ramp by accident. If you hit the blue circle it continues the mission and you won’t be able to finish doing the following. Avoid that blue arrow and place green markers on Black Friday.)

Once you drop everything off, get in the Octo Sedan Sports Series, and drive back toward where you started the game, on that off-ramp (after grabbing the Military Pickup that I mentioned in the above paragraph. There is a Gun Shop Delivery Truck. Clean it out. Next, head North and go right at the next off-ramp. Follow the street all the way to the end to find another Gun Shop Delivery Truck. Take everything back to your base.

At this point you don’t have enough labor to upgrade anything else at Black Friday, however, you should order a Munitions Drop.

Drive back up the highway heading back toward the off-ramp you took leading to the neighborhood with the Gun Shop Delivery Van near the wreckage. Make a left into the Grocery Store parking lot and go to the Gun Shop at the far left of the Grocery Store. Clear and search all Ammo and guns. Before heading back to base, instead, go to the Minimart/Gas Station nearby. Search and clear, then Establish an Outpost here. This will make delivering the guns easier; the Rucksacks take back to base.

Rescuing Dr. Horn

Go to the marker and run over the zombies (note there’s another Military Pickup parked here). Search the nearby buildings, especially the Tavern on the corner. Once you have searched and cleared it Establish an Outpost there. Dr. Horn is hiding in one of the buildings marked with a blue question mark. When you find him drive back to base.

Go into the Home Page and select "Thin The Herd" in the Ops Center.

Abandon the Minimart Outpost up the street from the Danforth Police Station. Once you free up an Outpost Establish one in the first Warehouse on the right, off of the second Northwest off-ramp (going left). You might want to do this early, because Hordes seem to like that area.

Julene Horn

After the cut-scene drive to her house, this will be an Infestation tutorial. There is one Screamer, sometimes two. Use a gun on any zombies that surround Dr. Horn, if she dies you fail the mission. As she searches her house for the notes search anywhere you can while you wait. Only take guns and Medicine. Fill a Rucksack with whatever you find too. You’ll get a red-3 Threat Level. Get back to base. This will be your easiest Siege.

What's Next?

You should save an Outpost slot for the Artillery Site that’s part of a side quest later. You will get requests to rescue survivors and stranded soldiers. You will also be notified when Hordes are about to Infest a structure. Your base is basically upgraded at this point, keep ordering in supply drops that you need. If you have to go out and scavenge for needed items that will finish certain facilities back at base, do it. Be advised that you will lose contact and will not be able to order in supply drops for a little bit after the Siege that occurs after extracting Dr. Julene Horn.

As you go on through the game focus on rescuing Stranded Soldiers, Civilian Survivors, as well as missions called in from HQ. Ignore Supply Runs and Special Zombie Exterminations, these missions will get you supplies and Influence, but if you followed this guide so far then you have everything you need. Also switch to other soldiers (whenever you can) and equip them with light machine guns and shotguns. Also stash all ammo, MREs, and health items they are carrying. When they act like NPCs they won’t use up any of those items.

There will be a radio call about setting up Sat-Comms. The moment that conversation is over open the Home Page and do that by selecting the Radio Tower. After the next Siege (the one after extracting Dr. Horn’s ex) Vince will give you a radio call about an Artillery Site. Do his side quest and Establish an Outpost there. Having access to an Artillery Site will give you the ability to call in Barrage Strikes.

Full Video Walkthrough

After Reestablishing Contact With HQ

You’ll get a radio call informing you when the Sat-Comm is operational. Open up the Home Page and select it to continue the main “story” missions. With Sat-Comms you can now set up two more Outposts. Reestablish an Outpost at the Minimart up the street from the Danforth Police Station. For your last Outpost slot, I’ll leave the choice up to you. There’s a Drone Recon Truck at the very tippy-top part of the map (which is probably an Infestation at this point). Drone Recon basically just does the job of a Survey Spot without having to climb a long ladder and Survey the area. You could also set up an extra Outpost in the Warehouse by the Auto Mechanic (near the Grocery Store) to prevent Infestations in that neighborhood. You could put one in the Fast Food Restaurant up the street from Black Friday. Or you could take over the secondary Artillery Site/Satellite Uplinks that I mentioned earlier. This will unlock an extra type of Artillery Barrage and PMC Reinforcements. It depends on your playstyle.

With the Generator turned on you can order Long Range Supply Drops that consist of special weapons AND General Supplies at the cost of a lot of Influence. You should have over 3500 Influence if you have been following me so far. Don’t waste all of it on just that though. You can also have the Ops Center research Solar Power, but you have so much Fuel by now that it’s not really a necessity. Unless you’re one of those players that like to role play as a hippie . . .

Continue rescuing High-Value Assets, Stranded Soldiers, and Civilian Survivors. After the following Siege, you will get a radio call from a man calling himself Sasquatch. Finish rescuing whatever High-Value Asset you need to retrieve before extracting him. If you haven’t noticed already, by this point, there is a lot of downtime between Sieges. There is only one High-Value Asset and two Civilian Survivors per Siege. Use this extra time to scavenge different buildings you passed up earlier. However, once you extract Sasquatch you’ll have an extra task to do that will make your time between Sieges feel less vacant. I know said earlier to ignore Supply Run missions, but if you have the time between recruiting Soldiers and saving people. Go for it.

Around Sasquatch’s third Hunting Mission, and if things have been going good with rescuing Civilians, Vienna Cho herself will ask for help. Go get her and bring her back to Black Friday.

Rescuing Vienna Cho

Before you leave the base bring an extra slot of 5.56 or 7.62 and bring your favorite assault rifle. You’ll only be using it in case Vienna, or your ally, gets surrounded by zombies. And there will be A LOT of zombies to fight, even though you have an Outpost set up nearby at the Danforth Police Station. Make sure you bring extra MREs because you will be doing a lot of melee fighting. Once you finally fight your way up to Veinna’s hideaway take her back to base. Even if you have to run for your vehicle, which is a much better option than fighting the endless supply of zeds, just get her back to Black Friday. Rescuing Vienna Cho however will not relieve you of rescuing Civilians, and she’ll stick around even after the next Siege.

Sasquatch Missions

Getting Sasquatch is not hard but it is dangerous. There is Screamer, a horde of zombies, and usually a Feral or Juggernaut in the tunnel that he is located in. I always recommend that you bring an extra pair of hands when you leave Home Base. For everything involving Sasquatch you should use Vince. Kilo’s reloading skills are brutal and Hawkes is too valuable of a character by this point. Vince on the other hand is a good powerhouse set-up. Once you extract Sasquatch, and bring him back to base, you will be tasked with taking on special extermination missions. Completing these missions unlocks one of the ways to beat the game.

Hunting a Bloater:

Sasquatch needs you to shoot a Bloater in the head. This should be done anytime you encounter a Bloater so this shouldn’t be hard. Switch to Fawkes or Vince and equip a rifle (Hawkes’ RFB or Vince’s Tar 21 Overwatch) with a Suppressor and fill an extra Inventory slot with ammo. Go to one of the blue question marks on the map. If you come across a Bloater along the highway that will count too. Once you head shot the Bloater drive Sasquatch back to base.

Hunting a Feral:

Sasquatch wants you to slice up a Feral with an Edged Weapon. Vince already has a samurai sword. When you spot a Feral it will roar and run toward you. DO NOT let up on that X button. Keep hacking away until it is dead. Once it’s dead-head back to base.

Hunting a Screamer:

Sasquatch wants you to burn a Screamer with a Molotov. As Hawkes get a Petrol Bomb or Firebomb and go to one of the three blue question marks. (Sometimes you can find a Screamer right up the on-ramp from Black Friday). Equip a Molotov with Left or Right on the D-pad and press Right Bumper to toss it. Once it’s dead return to base.

Hunting a Juggernaut:

Sasquatch wants you to take down a Juggernaut with a melee weapon . . . And I want Sasquatch to burn a fiery death for asking that. There are various ways to take down a Big ‘Un with a melee weapon. Much like the “kill a bear with only a knife” challenge, in Red Dead Redemption, the final blows are what matter most. Bring along an Edged melee weapon. One strategy is to shoot it with a Grenade Launcher (Hand Grenades are too slow since it could come charging once it spots you). You could shoot it in the head a couple of times first. Or you can drive into it with one of your Military Pickups (if you still have some) essentially wrecking the ride but making the rest of the task easier. Remember you can hit the B button to dodge out of the way when it charges at you. With the truck ramming trick, or shooting it with a Grenade, it will only take a few hits to finish it off.

Searching For Sasquatch:

After the last Sasquatch Hunting Mission, this one will pop up. Before accepting it rescue the two Civilian Survivors first. They will most likely be the last for the rest of the game. He’ll be in the same place you met him, in the underpass tunnel. Help him fight off a few zombies (it won’t be as intense as when you first met, once the cut-scene is over, take him back to the base.

The Choice

While at base, you can tell Sasquatch you want to set off the Nuke after the next Siege. Making this choice will end the game after the next Siege.

Vienno Cho (if you’ve saved Civilians to have rescued her to your base) will ask to speak with you. She proposes disabling Sasquatch’s dead-man switch rather than nuke the city. If you go through with the disarm-nuke choice the game will go on for a couple more Sieges. You can rescue the final High-Value Asset, as well as other Civilians. However, the game will get insanely packed with zombies. Just driving down the highway will be a Horde every few minutes. It’s a good idea to abandon the Fast Food Restaurant up the street from Black Friday, and Establish Outpost in the Warehouse directly across the street from the North gate. If you really like the challenge Breakdown gives you, then just ignore my cautionary nature.

Hordes will be all over the place and during Sieges, the traps will make things safer in the general area. Don’t bother with clearing Infestations, just let the Hordes do as they wish. After the second Siege Highroad will contact you informing you of no more High-Value Assets and will give you the option to extract after the next Siege. You can choose this option in the Home Page over the Sat-Com Radio. During this final day you can still rescue Civilians before the final Siege (but their location depends on how successful that will be). Bring your A-game when leaving the base and ALWAYS have a Suppressor on your rifle if you have not been doing that already. The amount of zombies gunshots can attract is astonishing. After the next Siege, the game will be over.

Unless you want to keep going on, just keep in mind if Sasquatch dies the nuke will go off automatically.

Questions & Answers

Question: When playing State of Decay: Lifeline, how do you find civilians in order to rescue them? They do not show up on the map.

Answer: If you set your Ops Center to "Search and Rescue" it will make stranded soldiers and other High Value Assets appear on the map more frequently. Pay attention to notifications and radio call outs, then open the map and look for green icons representing rescue missions.

© 2015 Eric Seidel