Woefully wageless writer writing for writing's sake. I'm a big fan of 7 Days to Die.
About This Guide
Finding yourself stuck in the zombie apocalypse without any supplies isn't exactly a desired situation unless you've picked up 7 Days to Die by indie game developers The Fun Pimps LLC. There are many threats to survival in this realistic first-person-shooter-sandbox-survival-horror game. Among them are all the types of spitting, exploding, biting, moaning, crawling or climbing undead, the demands of food, water and shelter, and the presence of hostile enemy players that will shoot you on sight. Hopefully, by the end of this guide, you will have armed yourself with enough information to survive your first night in Hell. By no means is this the most efficient or productive way to survive. There are some guides out there for veteran players which illustrate the processes of over-night mining (which is normally impossible due to the threat of the undead hordes) or other high-utility techniques which I will not go over here, simply because this guide is meant to simulate a realistic, first-time experience for a new player.
Understanding the Interface
The four most important icons in the game are located in the bottom left of your screen. These are the statistic meters for food, water, stamina, and health. Food and water are depleted over time, or as your character engages in physical activity for an extended period. Deplete any of these four bars, and your character will be impaired. Deplete them enough or for long enough, and your character will die. All other features should be pretty standard and self-explanatory.
Be Afraid of the Dark
The worst enemy in the game is by far, darkness. Zombies run at full sprint, howling and mad, World War Z style and attack your player relentlessly at night, or in enclosed areas that are dark, such as inside buildings, basements, or attics. In contrast, during the daytime or when exposed to light from torches, campfires or other light sources, zombies are negligently weak, taking less damage to kill, moving much slower, acting less aggressively, and seldom coming in hordes outside of urban areas. One rule of thumb is to never enter any enclosed area without a light source, period. To do so is almost certain death, as zombies spawn in dark places or there may already be a horde hiding from plain sight. Getting attacked by a flash mob of zombies in a dark space is any survivalist's worst nightmare.
Go for the Classic
Attack the head. Zombies always take more damage from head-shots or even head-punches. Always attack the head. You save time, ammo, and have less chance of attracting any more visitors than say, repeatedly firing a gun. Panic is your worst enemy and blind-firing, even when set upon, is foolish and an easy way to burn through hard-scavenged supplies.
Watch the Time
Keep an eye on the clock. This is essential. It's easier than you think to lose track of time when scavenging for supplies, or killing waves of zombies. Time is taken according to the 24-hour military clock. Sunrise is at 08:00, and the sun set is at 20:00. Stay out any later than 20:00, and you have a good chance of not returning home.
Buildings, while inherently dangerous, also hold potential for weapons, ammo, nutritional supplies, or crafting materials. These are a priority to scavenge on your first day and indeed, throughout your entire time playing the game. Objects such as desks, cars, tables, cabinets, and suitcases can all be looted. The corpses of non-standard zombies, such as the Nurse or Doctor zombie, grant an increased chance of looting medical supplies or weaponry, but even regular zombies are worthy of looting for the new player. Trees can be cut down for lumber, plants can be grown and harvested, and other natural resources such as stone can be mined from the earth. Even random trash piles scattered across the wasteland can hold valuable survival gear such as shell casings and scrap metal, which can be turned into useful items. The beauty of this game is that everything has a purpose, and nothing feels superfluous. If you want to gauge how well you're going to survive, before the start of your first night, your inventory should be close to full from scavenging.
Anything you create such as a building or shelter must be structurally sound and reasonably gravitationally-bound. That means, you can't create floating buildings. Also, if zombies manage to take out the pillar, support column, or wall of a building that you're hiding in, there's a chance that it could collapse with you in it. When choosing a survival location or crafting one, be mindful of structural integrity. Be very careful when exploring new areas that look shaky or infirm, there is a chance the floor could collapse under you!
Don't underestimate the undead capability for destruction. Zombies aren't confined to banging on doors in this game -- they will tear through walls, collapse buildings, and climb ladders to reach you.
The Crafting System
The crafting system is intuitive and will help you. Play around with different recipes and combinations and see if items fit anywhere to form a new combination. If you craft an item, its recipe will be kept in your crafting interface for future reference. The game even automatically selects the required materials for you, provided you have learned or discovered the recipe. Don't be afraid to experiment! Nothing in the game is waste. You can craft something out of everything, so be aggressive in your looting. Also, anything placed in your hands or other hotbar keys will be lost upon death. They can be recovered if you can find your body. Also, when using a firearm, the ammunition for the firearm should be equipped in a hotbar as well, otherwise, you will be unable to reload your weapon. One trick to avoid total loss of hotbar items after death is to keep half of your resources in your backpack, as your backpack persists after death. For example, if I had twenty, 9 mm pistol bullets I would keep ten on my hotbar and ten in my backpack.
Items take time to craft and more sophisticated items take longer. The good thing, however, is you can craft stacks of items or single, long items during combat and through regular gameplay. Crafting continues through action.
You're likely to start the game on one of the map's many spawn points. Press M to take a look at the map and find your location. Also take a moment to note the nearby features such as towns, buildings, and terrain around you. Remember, your priorities are food, water, shelter, and weapons. While it may be tempting to run around punching zombies to death, remember that by nightfall, those zombies will be charging at you and howling for your blood. Focus on getting what you need to survive.
Start Your Gathering
If you're in a rural landscape, look around for bushes, shrubs, trees, and any wild edibles around you. If you're in an urban landscape, trash piles and cars outside of buildings are better places to look than inside one if you are unarmed. You need to collect sticks, rocks, cloth fragments, and about two tree trunks worth of wood.
Gather Small Shrubbery
Get sticks from bushes by breaking them with your fist. Pick up rocks and harvest grass. Rocks can be processed into small rocks, stone, and sharp rocks, which are used to make your first rudimentary tools. Grass is turned into plant fiber which is also used in making many items. It is also used as a component in crafting your first light source—the torch.
Rocks of all sizes are useful and convert into the same standard craftable materials, so it doesn't matter if you have different types of rock. Rocks convert into stone, which is used as a building block or to build a forge. Stone converts into small stones, which are used primarily in making crossbow bolts. Small stones convert into sharp stones, which are used for stone axes, your first melee weapon.
Killing Your First Zombie
You're likely to use sticks at some point in your zombie apocalypse survival career. It usually ends up being my first weapon.
Making Your First Weapon
Okay, enough quacking around. Now you need some form of real defense. Not much more complicated, but crafting a stone axe will be the cheapest, most readily available, and most reliable way to defend yourself until you can get a firearm. It only requires three items: a stick, a sharp stone, and plant fiber.
Chopping Down a Tree
Now take your newly made axe and test it on a tree. The lower your stamina, the less damage you do. Remember, you can repair items by combining identical items of different wear. Don't forget to pick up the wood.
Now that you have a primary melee weapon, craft your next item – a light source. Make several torches. The easiest way to do this is to use grass and a stick. You can make torches with other materials but this is generally the fastest way to start with one. You also might be lucky enough to find a flashlight in your travels. It's a great tool and doubles as a melee weapon.
You always want to keep your noise level down when engaging with zombies, particularly at night. Loud noises such as gunfire draw zombies to you – uncontrolled firing and you could get a horde on your hands. It is always better to kill with silent weapons when possible. Seeing as this is your first night surviving, that means melee for now.
Crouching will let you see whether or not an enemy is alert, hunting you, or unaware of your presence, indicated by a small eye icon in the middle of the screen. Also, new map updates feature colored markers for hostile units in close vicinity of your character.
If you're in a heavily hostile area, you can loot items while crouching for increased stealthiness, but at the cost of taking a longer time to loot.
Alright, now you're ready to explore some buildings. If you haven't already, use your map to locate a semi-urban area and move towards it. You're too ill-supplied to raid a large town, so stay away from those as they have huge zombie populations. Ideally, when you arrive at the location check and see if there are any buildings with roofs. Your best bet for survival on your first night is staying elevated off the bottom floor. Keep in mind where those are, and start raiding houses.
Breaking and Entering
Enter the houses and raid all the shelves, stoves, refrigerators, storage cabinets and the rest of it and gather your supplies. Place torches in the room you're clearing out so any zombies that attack will be slowed and easily dispatched by your club. You should continue scavenging for supplies until it gets to around 16:00 hours. Dispatch of any attackers.
End Your Supply Run
It's important to end your supply run at the right time, particularly for new players. Clearing out a building can take longer than you think, and it can be riddled with hazards that could delay your return to a safe place beyond nightfall. That's never a good case. I actively limit my supply runs to end before early evening so I can go about reinforcing my base, organizing my supplies, and potentially starting a new base somewhere. Here is my inventory at the end of a supply run.
Okay, it's 16:00. Time to find and build a shelter. If you're out of torches, craft more. You want your base really lit. Find the roof of a building, preferably with only ladder access. That way, zombies will have to go through a choke-point to get to you, which you can fortify. Also, their climbing skills are average. In my game, I'm lucky enough to find an imposingly tall tower.
Craft Your Defenses
Using my remaining hours of daylight, I craft what I need to survive and arrange my survival gear. Defenses can be made by crafting sharpened stakes out of wood. The process is illustrated below.
Create a Safe Space
I'm at the top of the tower. Originally the floor was an open hole and had fallen in, creating a very dangerous drop to the bottom of the tower. I've given it a wood platform to secure the area. I've also placed torches to stop the zombies spawning and to slow them down if they breach defenses. As you can see, I've barricaded the door with a block of wood and laid the stakes in front of the door. There are stakes on the other side as well. It's not the most formidable defense, but it'll hold them off and I am alert and ready to respond to any attacks. The main line of defense here is staying unnoticed and staying way off the ground. This means no taking crack shots at zombies walking around down there!
Don't Forget a Sleeping Bag
The most important item to craft on your first night is a sleeping bag. Hopefully, you would have collected the requisite items in your day search. The cloth fragments are usually not too hard to find and turn up anywhere from corpses to rubbish bins. You require 6 of them for each sleeping bag.
The reason your sleeping bag is so important, is because when you place one down you create a spawn point on your location, enabling you to have a regular respawn area and home. If you died without placing it down, you would spawn back where you did when you first began the game. Now that would suck in the dead of night. You can check your map to see all your spawn location.
The Waiting Game
Now, you can wait the night out. Since you usually don't have enough to do anything significant on the first night, your main duties are to watch the main source of entry of your base, keep your defenses repaired in any case of attack and eat your food/water. Luckily, the tower was too high to alert any zombies and I had a "quiet" night. I mainly stayed up paranoid, staring at the door and listening to the zombies screaming while they ran across the streets.
Well it's safe so I can eat. As you can see, the respective bars on the left corner are depleted. To eat your food, equip them in your hotbar and fire them like a weapon. Your character will perform an eating motion. Here's my food.
After several hours the sun should start to come up. After 0800 the zombies return to their usual placid selves, and overly-spawned zombies will start killing each other to reduce their numbers to day-time levels. Congratulations on surviving your first night in the zombie apocalypse...hopefully.
Samuel Franklin on August 23, 2014:
Really good run down of the game, I'm still holding out until official release, Early Access just doesn't do it for me.
Charles Mondeley (author) from Eugene, OR on April 11, 2014:
Yes, you're right.
The guide will be updated soon. In fact, I am working on it now. Thanks for the notification.
me on April 11, 2014:
This is now outdated. The blips and repair system has changed
Charles Mondeley (author) from Eugene, OR on March 04, 2014:
Donna Suthard on March 04, 2014:
Thank You!! Great Job..informative..You put a lot of work into it!!
Charles Mondeley (author) from Eugene, OR on March 04, 2014:
Thank you for the feedback, I'm a new writer here and its much appreciated. It really is a great game and the two-pack goes for cheaper than any market-price retail game out there.
I'll be writing more on this game in the coming couple of weeks as its what I'm playing through right now. Cheers.
Sarah Forester from Australia on March 04, 2014:
Still yet to start playing but based on this guide I feel like I'm missing out, great guide and Hub!