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 . . .
What Is State of Decay?
Available on Xbox 360, PC, and Xbox One, State of Decay is a free-roaming zombie survival game. The game is pretty much what you would expect minus the insanity of other players killing you for your stuff. Rest easy, this is not Day Z, but if you don’t plan ahead it can get very challenging. You can find survivors to join you, exterminate hordes of zombies, sneak into various structures to scavenge for supplies, and build up a defensible home base. There is also an RPGish Skills system where you can unlock special moves once hitting a certain level.
In this article, I’m going to cover all of the important things you will need to make this easier for you. This however is not a full story walkthrough, just a checklist really. State of Decay is randomized. Therefore a solid walkthrough is not going to cut it, but I can still advise . . . right? A lot of side missions and other activities are randomized, scrounging for items and supplies can also be unpredictable. You go into a Fast Food Restaurant to gather Food, but you might end up with Medicine. You go to that Gas Station to get Fuel but you end up with Food. Like life, it does not always work out exactly as you plan it. Although certain structures do house specific supplies, so that much is for certain, Houses (and their garages called "Storage") on the other hand can be a mixed bag of anything.
As mentioned before this is a zombie game so although it will seem like everything’s quiet while searching for goods, you will have to crack some skulls. Besides droves of the undead, you also have certain special zeds to watch out for. These guys range from embarrassingly simple to dispatch, to “oh my God it’s going to rip me in half! Run!” Luckily there are over 100 different firearms and melee weapons, combined with a simple but far from basic combat system, to help you cope with the fear.
There are two DLC “expansions." The first is Breakdown and Lifeline. Breakdown is a “Sandbox” mode with no story missions. Your main goal is to gather an ever-dwindling amount of supplies to make it to the next level. With each level, the game throws more at you to increase the challenge, but also strips away any form of story progression. Lifeline on the other hand adds a new map to explore, military themes, a new storyline, a cooler Home Base system, and encourages strategic maneuvers.
Don't get me wrong I do have some tips for you on how to make Breakdown go much easier for you. And if you like a challenge, give that expansion a shot!
Making "Breakdown" Easier for You
Like the main game Breakdown's main focus is survival, but occurs in levels. You start in a random part of the map; you have to gather Survivors by doing side missions for them to earn trust (except for Level 1). Then you move into a Potential Home Site, find an RV, and gather Resources for preparing the RV for the next level.
As it goes on the game will throw more zombies at you, and change the location of Resources, Items, as well as Vehicles. You also start at different locations and will have to gather more Resources to get the RV ready to advance to the next level. Level One has one task to complete; Level Two has two, and so on. The objective is to make it to Level 12 or as far as you can. There's really no story or time limit, just a limit on how much you can take before all of your Survivors die on supply runs.
I honestly never "finished" Breakdown, but the best advice I can give you is make your community of Survivors empty their inventories into the Home Base Supply Locker. Your Influence will reset at the beginning of each level but at least you will be well-stocked.
Health and Stamina
One of the factors that make State of Decay unique is its death system. If any character dies, you get automatically transferred to another Survivor. Yeah I know what you’re thinking and I agree, but it encourages you to be more careful. Not uber I’m-scared-to-let-my-favorite-character-leave-the-base-EVER careful, but a mild amount of thinking is still required before running toward a zombie Horde with just a Frying Pan and a Revolver . . .
The Health bar is what keeps you from being dead and it will go down quite a bit as the game goes on. There are several real-world medicines that all basically do the exact same thing but with different degrees; refill your Health meter. If you get completely surrounded by zombies, and your Health depletes entirely, a “second-chance” moment will occur. Tapping the A button (on Xbox consoles) helps your character jump back to their feet. The longer you’re in this state the less overall Health you’ll have when you come out of it; giving your character a Hurt status. Stay in this state for too long and your character will be killed. Being Hurt decreases your maximum Health. Having a Medical Area/Field Medic/Infirmary back at Base is the only way to cure Hurt status.
The Stamina bar covers melee fighting, sprinting, climbing, and jumping. How much Stamina you exert depends on whatever Skills you have set up and button combos you execute. The only way to refill Stamina, apart from resting for a few seconds, is by eating a Snack/MRE. It’s a good idea to do this during combat since it refills your Stamina bar WHILE you continue fighting. If you don’t manage your Stamina your character will swing their weapon without the same effort as before. After playing as a certain character for a while they will become Tired. Like Hurt, Tired status removes a section of your overall Stamina until they get some rest. Having a Sleeping Area/Barracks/Bunk House at your Base fixes this.
You know, because zombies don’t die from shouting. The combat (if you choose to directly engage in it) comes in the form of two ways; melee and shooting. The gunplay is not perfect (not until you level the skill up) but when you are in a jam it helps thin the numbers. Each one has different stats than the others. Since this game has RPG elements I’m going to refrain from writing out statistics and mathematical combinations on the different factors that make every weapon amazing. You will find your favorites based on name alone.
I’ll leave that up to your preference, but I will say that certain characters are better off with certain classes of gun and melee. For example, I always use Heavy Weapons while playing as Marcus and Blunt Weapons while playing as Maya. As soon as you get the chance open the Home Page (by pressing up on the D-pad) and press Left or Right Bumper to highlight the star icon. This is the Skills page. Whatever character you’re playing as, and whatever weapon class you feel the most comfortable with while playing as them, should be the base weapon they specialize in. To make it official highlight the icon, press X, then Hold X after the “are you sure?” warning.
There are different combo moves that you will unlock over time with the Skills page but I’ll keep it simple by pointing out the following.
- X button: Swing melee weapon
- Y button: Kick, Push
- A button: Downward heavy swing
- B button: Dodge
Pressing these buttons in conjunction with Left Bumper during combat will make you swing your weapon harder (with X and A), roll with B, and finish off a downed zombie with Y. While playing as Marcus (and using a Heavy Weapon) pressing A to knock a zombie down (most of the time) then Left Bumper+Y is practically an instant kill move. Still don’t let this discourage you, these are just special combo moves, you can get by just as easily with mashing the X button. Anytime a zombie is knocked down press Left Bumper+Y. Just ignore the “stealth takedown” LB+Y notification. Either I’m doing something wrong (most likely) or it’s glitches.
- Hold Left Trigger: Aim
- Right Trigger: Shoot
- Left Stick Button: Switch Shoulder View, Zoom (if your firearm has an optic)
- Y button: Reload, Un-Jam (when firearm condition gets in the yellow)
- A button: Switch Fire Mode (Assault Rifle and SMG class weapons)
Sound plays a big part in the game, attaching a Suppressor is important if you plan on doing a lot of shooting (even if you’re not trying to be stealthy). Certain characters, like Maya, are crack shots. As soon as you can find an assault rifle, or mag-fed semiautomatic rifle, equip her with it. Also, I recommend using full-auto fire modes only when dealing with a Feral, charging Juggernauts, and large groups of zombies. Otherwise, keep your gun in single-shot at all times.
Vehicles and Driving
- Right Trigger: Accelerate
- Left Trigger: Brake/Reverse
- Right Stick button: Headlights
- Left Stick button: Horn
- A button: Sirens (Police Cruiser)
- X button: Open Driver Side Door
- Y button: Enter/Exit
- B button: Handbrake
If you haven’t played State of Decay in a while, you’re in for a surprise when it comes to the vehicles. Who knew that giving us the ability to place items in the back would make the game infinitely better? There are several different types of vehicles in the game; it’s hard to list them from best to worse because they all have their pros and cons. I’ll just leave this up to you to decide so that you don’t look at a Hatchback and think “Oh no! Eric said that car sucked! I refuse to use that to get back Home.” I would say the best vehicle in the main game is the Police Cruiser while the Military Pickup is the best in Lifeline and the Year One Survival Edition. It has six Inventory slots, it’s faster than a Sedan, and it’s slightly more durable than one too.
The standard Pickup Trucks (both Old and Modern) are more durable than a Police Cruiser but not as fast. Also having the ability to carry six people is not really a major need since you won’t have more than three people with you at one time. All Vehicles except for the Muscle Cars (Modern and Old) can carry up to four people. Also, Muscle cars and Hatchbacks only have four Inventory slots.
Running over Zombie Hordes is the best way to dispatch them but your vehicle will take damage after a while. Damage is location-based, so a good tactic is to back-up into a Horde to prevent your engine from taking damage. The Workshop/Machine Shop facility at your Home Base will repair vehicle damage while it’s parked in a designated Parking Spot. If you’re not sure if your facility has that ability, look for the engine icon in the Home Page.
Throughout the game, you are going to recruit Survivors. These are characters that come with various pros and cons (depending on their traits). Some also come with worthwhile skills, such as a doctor for your Medical Area, a tools expert for your Workshop, and a cook for your Kitchen. Certain Survivors also get scared, sad, or angry depending on their traits and history. They generally can bring the morale down until you deal with their little “Someone needs a talking to” side quest.
Once you have gained the trust of these characters, and you’re not on a mission, you can switch between them. When you do this I recommend equipping them with a good gun and a melee weapon that is both powerful, but not too heavy for their traits. For example, if you find a Survivor with a pistol and a 2x4, give them a Wooden Bat and a Rifle or Shotgun. Also, it’s a good idea to clear the Inventory of any Survivors you don’t use to explore or do missions with. Each time you boot up the game, they will have a bunch of Snacks and Painkillers in their Inventory. Just give them a melee weapon and a gun; they will have infinite ammo when you’re not playing as them.
The number of Survivors you can have at your Home Base depends on how many Beds you have set up. You also need a certain amount of Survivors before you can move to a new Potential Home Site. You recruit Survivors throughout the game (through neighboring Enclaves and Scavengers), but if you need a chance to try recruiting others you can call out to them, with the Home Base’s Radio facility, for 100 Influence.
How to handle C.L.E.O. Supply Drops
Types of Side Missions
Note: Not all missions listed here appear with these titles in Lifeline, but do have similar structures.
State of Decay has a storyline; in fact, it has a couple of storylines, with numerous side missions in-between. Story missions are timeless but side quests expire after a while. You will get radio calls from Lily giving you a kind of final warning when the missions will expire soon. Completing main story missions unlocks trade opportunities with different supply lockers. With enough Influence, you can “buy” weapons and supplies from these other Enclaves. Most of that is covered in my walkthrough.
- Morale Talks: Your fellow Survivors will get scared/angry/sad from time to time. At Home Base, you can straighten them out by going to the location on the map and clearing the area of undead. Sometimes, if you have safe zones set up from Outposts, you won’t have to do much and the mission will be instantly over.
- Combat Training: When you have upgraded your Skills high enough (Fighting, Shooting, Wits, etc.), Lily will contact you asking if you could train some of the other Survivors. Like Morale Talks, you lead the Survivor to a specific location; teaching them how to fight, sneak, and shoot.
- Zed Hunt: A Survivor needs your help to hunt down a special zombie. SWAT/Army Zombie, Bloater, Feral, and Juggernaut are the targets for these. I’ll go into more detail about these in the Lifeline walkthrough. For completing these missions you get Morale, Influence, and if you’re helping Neighbors you’ll also get +5 of a supply type.
- Trade Opportunity: You and another Survivor go to a location to trade Ammo for Food/Building Materials/Medicine/Fuel. You might want to ignore this mission if you have too much of whatever Supplies you’re trading Ammo for already.
- Diversion Request: Go to the location and make noise with a Distraction Device (Firecrackers/Toy Doll/Egg Timer) or beep the horn of your car a lot. These are really easy with a Police Cruiser's siren.
- Scavenger?: A Survivor from a Neighboring Base needs protection while they scrounge for items. You take them back to their Base where you’ll either get a Rucksack full of Supplies or you gain a new Survivor for YOUR Home Base. Having Marcus do these missions creates more Trust between Neighbors making them more likely to join your community later.
- Besieged: Some Neighbors need help fighting off a crap ton of zeds. Bring some extra ammo and health items. Barricade windows and fight off the hordes until the area is clear. At the end, you get Influence and Trust. Eventually, these Neighbors will join you if their Trust is high enough.
- Missing Survivor: Search the blue question marked areas until you find your guy/gal. I think these can be avoided if Survivor Morale is high, but I’m not sure.
- Ally/Stranger in Trouble: Go to the location and help fight off the zombies attacking your ally. From there they will either thank you and run off or ask for a ride back to Base.
- Seek and Destroy: You and a Survivor go to a nearby Infestation to clear it out. It’s basically just clearing out an Infestation except you get Influence and Morale points for doing so.
- Survey Request: Go to the marked Survey Point, climb to the top, and press Left Trigger to aim/zoom in. Put your crosshairs on each of the white question marks until the circular meter fills and the Survivor identifies the point of interest.
- Supply Drop: A mysterious supply drop lands in some part of the map. It has a beacon that attracts a horde’s worth of common zeds as well as one or two Special Zombies. Inside the supply drop is a cache of a random Resource, a couple Mines or Grenades, a C.L.E.O. custom firearm and melee weapon, some Snacks/MREs, and Health items. While looting the supply crate more zombies will show up, wave after wave. As well as a few Special Zeds. It’s a dangerous side mission (and if you have a follower with you the game will have them go Home before you get there). These can be difficult but if you use a Distraction Device (Firecrackers, Alarm Clock, etc.), search the container, then leave the mini-map radius it will make it easier for you.
Ignoring any of the above will cause a loss in Morale, with whatever character is covering the mission.
Resources are what keep your Survivors alive, allow you to build Facilities, and craft different items. When you find caches of supplies you can both press and hold A to put them in a Rucksack or X to “break open” the stash and collect normal Inventory items. Only break open Food and Medicine stashes (since they are so common) if your Home Base is overstocked with it. It can be useful on the go when you are out of Snacks and Health items in your Supply Locker.
- Food: This is the easiest to find Resource and the most used. If you take the time to search you can find this in a lot of places. When broken open with the X button you will find Snacks/MREs.
- Medicine: Almost as common as Food but not used by Survivors as often (unless they are Hurt). Like Food it can be found almost anywhere. When broken open with the X button you will find Health items (Painkillers, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, etc.)
- Ammo: A lesser common Resource. It is found in Gun Shops, the Police Station in Marshal, and Military Stashes. Though you can also find it in Houses like other Resources. When broken open with the X button you will find various calibers of ammunition (.22, 9mm, .40, shotgun shells, etc.)
- Building Materials: Used for building Facilities at Home Base. Can be found in Warehouses, Construction Sites, and some Houses. When broken open with the X button you will find improvised melee weapons (Lead Pipe, 2x4/with Brackets/with Nails, Rebar, etc.)
- Fuel: It was originally going to be used for Vehicles but the developers removed that feature before release (luckily that's not the case in State of Decay 2). Now it’s just used for Outpost traps, making Molotovs, and powering the Generator in the Lifeline DLC. When broken open with the X button you will find Petrol Bombs (Molotovs).
Types of Structures and Places
While scavenging in State of Decay, you will search various locations that hold specific items and Resources. If you’re looking for something particular this list may help you as a reference. Though the game’s search function is randomly generated from playthrough to playthrough you can expect to likely find the following.
- House: Different interiors with various types of items and resources. Good place to look for guns too.
- Storage: Basically a Garage or Shed, some Houses have these. Like Houses, they have just about anything, but are more likely to have Building Materials and Fuel.
- Cabin: Appear mainly in the beginning of the game. Have items but no Resources.
- Camp Site: You can find these off the beaten path. Some have Fuel, and likely to have a gun, but mainly have small items. Early in the game, some have tents. You have a great chance of finding a Large Backpack at these locations.
- Abandoned Site: Like Camp Sites but within a rundown abandoned building.
- Industrial Supply Store: A larger version of Storage but a smaller version of a Warehouse. Building Materials and Fuel can be found here.
- Construction Site: There are only three of these that I know of. You can find Building Materials and Fuel here.
- Warehouse: Best place to look for Building Materials and Fuel. The big one near The Grange can also spawn Medicine in it.
- Orchard: These only appear in the middle of the map within the large farmland area. They mainly have Food. They are distinct by how they have a stack of Resources within a cluster of low hanging trees.
- Barn: Like Fields, these only appear in the middle of the map. Barns have varying Resources but they all likely have at least one gun too.
- Field: These are like Camp Sites and Orchards. You can find a stash of Resources, and sometimes other items, but sometimes you will have to scour the ENTIRE Field before you have searched everything.
- Thicket: Like Camp Sites, these appear off the beaten path, and only have minor items. Some do have Food if you’re lucky.
- Gun Shop: Don’t get excited! There are only two of these in the game. They have Ammo but also a gun or two.
- Police Station: Only appears in the town of Marshal. It’s like the Gun Shop but you can also find Medicine here.
- Fire Department: Like the Police Station, there is only one of these in Marshal. Has Food or Medicine (or both), and a chance at finding a gun or two.
- Grocery Store: Just one in the town of Marshal. Great source of Food and also some Medicine. It's a large indoor area so a lot of zombies (including a special) could spawn in here.
- Post Office: There are only two of these. Unsurprisingly you can find a gun, or two, and a stash of Ammo.
- Tavern: Has Food Resources, but you’re also likely to find a gun and at least seven Firebombs.
- Fast Food Restaurant: Most likely to find Food but can also find Medicine.
- Trailer Park: Located in Spencer’s Mill, this place can be a little tricky to search. Sometimes the storage shed has everything, and other times you have to also check the decks of each trailer. Either way, any number of items can spawn here.
- Military Stash: These won’t appear until you unlock Fairfield, later in the game. Most have Ammo but some have Medicine. Guaranteed to find some good guns.
- Office: These appear in the town of Marshal. Like Houses, they have just about anything. When searching these you may have to enter multiple storefronts, and floors, before fully searching the building.
- Mini Mart: Food Resources and Stamina boosting items.
- Gas Station: Like the Mini Mart but more likely to find Fuel.
- Auto Mechanic: You can find Fuel here, like the Gas Station, but are also likely to find a small cache of Building Materials or Medicine. Also a good place to look for strong melee weapons.
- Donut Shop: Unsurprisingly appears next to the Police Station in Marshal. Has Food Resources.
- Auto Dealership: Has a small cache of Medicine and maybe a gun. As the name implies you can find Vehicles parked here.
- Pharmacy: Has a stash of Medicine and Health items.
- Public Restrooms: These, like Camp Sites, are random. They could have a cache of Resources or it could have minor items. Remember to search the maintenance closet in the center of the building before the stalls.
Where you decide to set up shop depends on your preferences. I’ve tested all of them and here is what I found.
Church of Ascension (pictures 1 and 2)
- Built-In Facilities: Kitchen, Bunkhouse, Watch Tower
- Parking Spaces: 1
- Facility Spots: 3 Outdoor
- Number of Outposts: 4
The default Home Base. It’s nothing exceptional compared to others, but it will do until Jacob Ritter gives you the mission that unlocks the ability to move somewhere else.
Kirkman Residence (picture 3)
- Built-In Facilities: Workshop, Kitchen, Bedroom
- Parking Spaces: 2
- Facility Spaces: 1 Indoor, 2 Outdoor, Watch Tower has to be built
- Number of Outposts: 6
Right down the street from the Church of Ascension, and it’s a slight upgrade despite it being in the same part of the map. Offers the same amount of Facility space but also has a Basic Workshop by default. However, it (like all built-in Facilities) cannot be upgraded. It does offer two extra Outposts.
McReady Farmhouse (picture 4)
- Built-In Facilities: Storage, Bunkhouse, Bedroom, Kitchen
- Parking Spaces: 3
- Facility Spaces: 1 Indoor, 2 Outdoor, Watch Tower has to be built
- Number of Outposts: 6
Uses the same interior as the Kirkman Residence but comes with a couple of adorable bear statues, one extra Parking Space, a built-in Bunkhouse and Storage rather than a Workshop. You can’t really set up a defensive bubble of Outposts because it’s way out in the middle of the map’s farmlands. This also causes you to trek further to gather anything. Although there is lots of Food in the surrounding Fields and Orchards.
The Alamo (picture 5)
- Built-In Facilities: Storage, Kitchen, Watch Tower
- Parking Spaces: 3
- Facility Spaces: 2 Indoor, 1 Outdoor
- Number of Outposts: 4
This is an upgrade compared to the Church of Ascension. You get two extra Parking Spaces, and Storage instead of a Bedroom, but it’s basically the same. It’s also in the heart of Marshal so you have a lot of options for loot nearby.
Savini Residence (picture 6)
- Built-In Facilities: Kitchen, Bedroom, Library, Watch Tower
- Parking Spaces: 3
- Facility Spaces: 3 Outdoor
- Number of Outposts: 6
Like Jacob mentions in "Home Away From Home" it has a built-in Watch Tower, there’s also a built-in Library, and space for Storage, Workshop, and Infirmary. Where you set up your Outposts can make this section of Marshal safe. Like the Kirkman Residence and McReady Farmhouse, this Home Base can seem a little cramped after a while.
Snyder Trucking Warehouse (pictures 7 and 8)
- Built-In Facilities: Storage Room, Bedroom, Machine Shop (upgraded Workshop)
- Parking Spaces: 4
- Facility Spaces: 1 Indoor, 4 Outdoor, Watch Tower has to be built
- Number of Outposts: 8
In my opinion the best location for a Home Base. You can set up five Facilities (plus a Watch Tower), it comes with a Storage Room, and Bedroom. The Machine Shop is an already upgraded Workshop that repairs Vehicles parked within the Parking Spaces. If you want to build a Munitions Shop (ability to make Ammo) you still have enough space for one The best part about this Home Base are all of the Outposts and how you can set them up. Making it Horde proof. You are also not far from Marshal and you can gather Resources very close by.
Trumbull County Fairgrounds (picture 9)
- Built-In Facilities: Storage, Kitchen, Watch Tower, Dining Area
- Parking Spaces: 5
- Facility Spaces: 1 Indoor, 4 Outdoor
- Number of Outposts: 8
This option is not available until late into the game and is only really useful if you’re looking for a change of scenery. It offers the same amount of Facility space and an extra Parking Spot. You can also make a safety bubble from Hordes in the surrounding area. The town Fairfield is not as well-stocked as Marshal or Spencer’s Mill, but there are some Houses to scavenge in. Really by the time you unlock Fairfield the game is almost over anyway. So it’s really up to how much more length you want to get out of the experience.
As you go through the game you will come across other zombies besides the common type. Apart from Armoured Zombies usually the best course of action is to just shoot them. State of Decay has dozens of different firearms to work with, in these cases, it's time to use them. Zombie Hordes appear on the map as a white icon with a red vision cone. All others appear as a big red dot (common zombies are small red dots, or white if they don't know you're there).
- Zombie Hordes: Best dealt with in a Vehicle. You will come across a lot of these as you drive along the roads of Trumbull Valley. As tempting as it is avoid running them over if you can help it. If you have to run over a Horde reverse into them to minimize engine damage.
- Armoured Zombie: A common zed wearing SWAT or Army gear. It cannot be shot (not even with a .50 Caliber). It can be blown up but it’s not worth the use of explosives (unless you’re in a Siege in Lifeline). Just attack it with a melee weapon to kill it.
- Screamer: A slow-moving, armless creature with a very loud scream. Can attract zombies in the immediate area. When clearing an Infestation these will be one of the obstacles to clear out. They can be killed with melee weapons but it’s best to shoot them in the head from a distance.
- Bloater: Another slow-moving Special Zed, but more annoying. Explodes into a toxic gas when it gets close. Should always be shot in the head to avoid releasing its gas. Its body will then become like a bloated land mine, if you get close it will still explode. The gas cloud lowers your Health and Stamina the longer you’re near it. It can also make fellow Survivors Sick. Also, avoid running them over in a Vehicle. It will become contaminated with the gas for a little bit, lowering your Health and Stamina, and making your passenger(s) Sick.
- Feral: A fast-moving pain in the god damn ass. Extremely deadly and butt pucker inducing if you come across more than one at once. If you don’t have a weapon with full-auto fire, a shotgun, or an Edged melee weapon you should be prepared to scream in frustration when your character gets ripped to shreds. That is if you don’t mash the B button like mad when the game prompts you or if there are Survivors there to help you beat this demon bitch back to hell where it belongs. Once it’s knocked to the ground remember Left Bumper+Y, very useful with these things too. They are hard to run over. Try to keep your Vehicle moving or they will pull you out of it.
- Juggernaut/Big’Un: An example of how fast food will doom the world, but also gives you an idea of how much more interesting My 600 Pound Life could be. Explosives and a Grenade Launcher are pretty useful with these things. After the explosion, it will become “winded” allowing you to fire a couple of bullets into its head, or if you’re bat-shit insane, attack it with melee strikes. Trying to run it over will stun it, like an explosion, but will also wreck the front tires of your Vehicle. When driving avoid these guys at all costs, they can also flip your ride causing your character to jump out.
© 2015 Eric Seidel
Lo11o on July 14, 2015:
good work man