Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Play ZombiU for any length of time and this is probably the conclusion you'll come to. Even long-time first-person shooter players have to admit that, as far as difficulty goes, ZombiU raises the bar. It takes a lot of hard work to survive an entire session of ZombiU, and that's especially true if you're gutsy enough to play on Survivor mode.
What's the secret? What tantalizing detail sets the killers apart from the killed? There's no one thing, unfortunately—just a lot of little tips and tricks that will get you through post-apocalyptic London in mostly one piece. This article will cover the salient points for beating a game of ZombiU.
Know Thine Enemy
There are seven different types of zombie units you'll come across in ZombiU. Knowing what they are is key to stopping them.
- First up are plain old zombies. They're the most common type, and the easiest to kill. Most of the time you want to approach them with the Cricket Bat. A lone zombie is no big deal; a crowd of them is.
- Second are SWAT zombies. These heavily-armoured fiends are still wearing riot gear which brushes off gunfire. To beat SWAT zombies you first need to knock off their helmets, then smash in their heads. SWAT zombies cannot be beaten easily unless taken out with an explosive, so always isolate them from other zombies and fight one-on-one. The Cricket Bat is still your best weapon most of the time. Note that Molotov Cocktails won't work on them!
- Third are spitters. These annoying pests stand out thanks to the pale white aura rising off their shoulders. Spitters do just that: they spit acid at you, only reverting to normal tactics if you get close. Try to engage spitters at close range whenever you can, weaving back and forth to avoid the spit. if you're fighting a group of zombies, always take out spitters first.
- Fourth are exploding zombies. Every exploding zombie is carrying a gas tank and has a gas mask on. Be extremely careful with these guys—if you don't shoot them in the head, they will blow up. NEVER take on an exploding zombie with the Cricket Bat! Instead, try to lure them into other groups of zombies, then shoot at their bodies. You'll kill everything nearby, virtually without fail. Exploding zombies are fantastic for crowd control. Exploding zombies have the secondary virtue of killing your character without the extra viral component, so you can loot your old corpse without having to kill it with your new survivor.
- Fifth are screamers. You won't run into these guys too often, but they're made obvious thanks to their high-pitched screams that can temporarily deafen your survivor. The main reason to target screamers first is their scream, as it will bring other zombies running over to attack you. You can identify them via the pale emissions over their heads.
- Sixth are red zombies. Red zombies are exactly the same as normal zombies, only they move faster, hit a lot harder, take more damage (yes, even to the head), and are surrounded by a red aura. Always isolate red zombies, as they're a handful to kill and will murder you in no time if you get caught by one with a group of normal zombies. Fortunately, red zombies are usually found alone, and not that often. (If your character got well over a thousand points before dying, they will probably respawn as a red zombie. Have fun getting your stuff back!)
- Seventh are electrical zombies. These form the 'bosses' of ZombiU, and you'll only have to fight them twice. They teleport about their lairs and make life confusing, though you can deal with them the same way you would any other zombie—bullets to the head. The bigger problem they present is via their weird electrical emissions, which will fizzle your radar. You'll often just have to tolerate these effects until you can locate and eliminate the zombie.
Weaponry Is Crucial
You'll get Pistols, you'll get Magnums, you'll get Assault Rifles, you'll get Molotov Cocktails, you'll even get turrets a few times. Yet none of those weapons is quite so helpful as the wooden beauty you see in the picture at the top of the page: the Cricket Bat.
Your Cricket Bat is your best friend. It's quiet, it requires no ammo, it's efficient, it throws zombies back a few paces and it's always there after you die. It may be the most basic weapon in the game, but the Cricket Bat is also the best. If you're facing down a single zombie or SWAT zombie, the Cricket Bat is your weapon of choice.
Unfortunately, not all enemies play by the same rules, and zombies like to hunt in packs. When that happens you'll want a combination of strong guns and explosives, the latter particularly when you're facing a pack of undead. Let's look at the various weapon types quickly:
- Handguns are the basic firearms. They're not bad, and their ammo is plentiful, but they don't have great stopping power. Upgrade your Handguns before everything else, as you'll use them a lot. Don't expect a Handgun to work that well against a crowd, however. The exception is the Magnum, though you'll seldom find any ammo outside what you start with, as they use a different type.
- Carbines are precision, long-range rifles. If you want to peg a zombie at a distance and get a one-shot kill, use a Carbine. Like Handguns, they aren't that great in a crowd, as they have a slow reload rate even after upgrades.
- Shotguns are your premium crowd-control units. You don't get a lot of ammo, but you don't need a lot of ammo—they typically kill in one hit, especially if you aim at the head, and ESPECIALLY if you're using a Double-Barrelled Shotgun. Shotguns run out of ammo fast, so wait for enemies to get close before unloading on them for maximum efficiency.
- SMGs are the automatic equivalent of Handguns. They're not bad, but you don't get a ton of ammo for them, and by the time you find one you'll probably be accustomed to the other weapons instead. If you want an automatic weapon, try
- Assault Rifles instead. You find ammo in big bunches, and if you aim high a single burst is usually enough to take out a zombie. Just don't hold down on the trigger too long—you'll run through your clip and have little to show for it.
- Crossbows. The Crossbow is a great silent killer, and you can retrieve your arrows if you fired them wisely. Good for collecting ammo in previously-visited areas; not so great when you need to move quickly, as you're forced to pull up your aiming screen to fire. You also get very little ammo with Crossbows unless you come across lots of Survivor Zombies.
Throughout the game, you'll likely use a combination of weapons. It's wise to build up a rapport with one, two, and possibly three different kinds instead, as your survivors will quickly level up and become more effective shooters. Know when to use your guns—and when to hold back and use the Cricket Bat instead—to get through any encounter. Also be sure to upgrade your weapons constantly, as a more effective weapon will eat up less of your ammo.
You do not have unlimited ammo in ZombiU, and even if you did the racket your guns make would bring every zombie in London down on top of you. Rather than blasting through every creature you see, it pays to fight intelligently. Here are some tips for facing down variable numbers of zombies.
- When you're facing one zombie, unless it's a red zombie or exploding zombie, you should pull out your Cricket Bat and bash its head in to save on ammo. Try to trap said zombie in a corner to prevent it from flying too far backward, potentially alerting other zombies nearby to your presence.
- Facing two or three zombies with the Cricket Bat is possible, but not advised. If you are going to use the bat, find a choke point where you can strike multiple zombies at once—a barricade, perhaps, or a crawl space that will force the zombies onto their bellies. You can survive surprisingly large crowds using a well-positioned choke point. Barring that, strafing and bullets to the head are the best way to kill off more than one zombie. Assuming, of course, you aren't dealing with a crowd of five or more . . .
- . . . in which case you should try explosives. Molotov Cocktails and Flares are excellent at crowd control. Toss a Flare near a pack of zombies to bring them all to one spot, then lob the Molotov in the center to finish them off. Only SWAT zombies will survive, and for them, you can use a Grenade instead—or shoot any exploding zombies who wander in. Even if you don't have a Molotov, using a Flare to find out how many zombies are in the area can really help.
It's just as wise to know when not to fight. Unless a zombie is in your direct path, you can potentially sneak around it and avoid the hassle. Move slowly and quietly through every area so you can gauge the situation before you move in. Doing this will help you avoid hidden zombies and save a lot of grief. Which brings us to the next point:
Light Is Friend and Foe
Your flashlight isn't an option in many parts of the game. Without a flashlight you're stumbling through the dark, hoping a zombie doesn't jump out at you. Unfortunately, the flashlight also attracts attention more quickly than if you're moving through the dark. Turn off your flashlight when you're approaching crowds of zombies to slip by unnoticed, or if you want to set up an ambush without first being spotted.
At the same time, your flashlight can be great for crowd control because you can use it to lure zombies away from bigger packs. Edge up to zombies and shine the light in their faces. With luck, you'll catch your target zombie in the beam and naught else. Kill it, then repeat with the next zombie in line.
Manage Your Stores
There's more to be found in ZombiU than just weapons. You'll also find a bunch of items which can come in handy, most of them rejuvenating in nature. Medipacks, notably Large Medipacks, are by far your best friends when surviving a fight or coming back from the edge of oblivion in hostile territory, and food items aren't so bad either.
Unfortunately, your Backpack only has so much space, and even after two size upgrades it still can't fit that much stuff. You need to pack smart, only taking what you think you'll need so you still have space for items you might find along the way. The average bag should have the following, along with the requisite items in your hotkeys (Cricket Bat and flashlight):
- Your starting Handgun—you literally can't get rid of this—with some backup ammo, preferably one box
- A crowd-control gun with backup ammo (or two such guns with no backup ammo)
- Two Medipacks, preferably Large
- One, possibly two Flares
- One, possibly two explosives, either Molotov Cocktails or Grenades
Ideally, you'll go out into the field with three to five empty spots in your inventory for item grabs. Return to your Safe House often to drop off unneeded supplies, and don't be afraid to trash stuff you don't want altogether. Food you find is particularly unnecessary—either eat it on the spot when you find it or leave it behind. Food doesn't restore enough health to be much use.
This option isn't open to everyone, but any player with an Internet connection should play ZombiU online. Aside from the bragging rights for getting a high score, online play opens up the possibility of Survivor Zombies appearing in your game. These zombies, generated by the corpses of fallen survivors in other games, often carry a ton of goodies you can use to line your storage box back in the Safe House. Whenever you see a gamer tag appear on your screen, hunt down the Survivor Zombie and reap the benefits.
Beware, however! Survivor Zombies appear where they died in their own games, and though this is typically near the Safe House, it's often in danger zones filled with other zombies. The presence of one red Survivor Zombie can really change a situation. Always check your surroundings for undead backup before you move in for the kill.
Find CCTV Junction Boxes
After the first two, you don't need to find a single CCTV Junction Box. They aren't compulsory. Yet neglecting to find them is pretty dumb, as they let you know what to expect by way of general geography. They're also fantastic for quick navigating when you're dashing through the final parts of the game, and without a good map, you're running blind. This article covers the locations of the CCTV Junction Boxes in ZombiU.
The junction boxes aside, it behooves you to check out every corner of ZombiU. There are items absolutely everywhere, and you'll need a lot of weapons, ammo and restorative goods to get through the game. Frightening though it may be to search all the darkened spaces, do so—you'll get a lot more out of the game.
Watch for Symbols
There are two symbols in particular to watch out for in ZombiU. The first is this:
This tiny house is a lifesaver, as it indicates the presence of a manhole behind the door, and the manhole can lead you back to your Safe House. You should absolutely seek out every manhole in the game, both as a spot to save and as a quick way back to an area in case your previous survivor dies.
The second symbol is this:
This is the symbol of the Ravens of Dee. It points to one of two things: the presence of living quarters nearby where you can rest, save and upgrade your weapons, or a secret, code-encrypted door with goodies inside. Either way, you need to keep your eye peels for any crudely-painted ravens on the walls.
ZombiU players online may also find symbols left behind by other players, potentially warning of dangers or safe spots. Take these symbols with a grain of salt—players are sometimes liars.
This is all probably a lot to take in, and a lot of it you'll learn as you go along and lose a survivor or two. Above all else, though, there's one thing you should take away from this article, one piece of advice that you will most certainly learn at some point:
It's true. They do. Planks are terrible. Used to barricade doors, planks give you more time to escape from pursuing zombies by forcing them to bash through a door for roughly a minute. In theory, yes, this is a good idea . . .
. . . except that you can virtually always outrun zombies. You're better off just running to the next area. By stopping to nail in Planks, you risk getting swarmed. This might even prove disastrous if you get chased to a door you planked previously and have to remove the wood while zombies gnaw off your head. Barricades are annoying enough already in ZombiU; don't make more than you have to. Save the space in your Backpack for ANYTHING else.