‘State of Decay 2’ beginner’s guide: Essential tips you need to survive

Undead Labs’ State of Decay 2 might look like every other open-world zombie game at first glance, but where many of its peers focus on fast-paced and enormous battles against the undead, this title for Xbox One and PC is a deep and challenging survival game. Fail to pay attention to the needs of your ever-growing community and you’ll quickly find it in disarray, but if you focus on gathering the right materials and expanding your influence, you can master the apocalypse. Knowing your way around a gun and a baseball bat won’t hurt one bit, either. Here’s what you need to know when you start State of Decay 2.

Surviving against zombies

Upon starting up State of Decay 2 for the first time, you’ll be sent into a tutorial mission with a few survivors who must sneak and fight their way out of a zombie-infested compound. This mission will teach you the basics of melee combat, stealth, and firearms. After it’s complete, you’ll have the opportunity to establish a home base and begin recruiting other survivors for your group. Make sure you pay attention during this section and you’ll have a broad idea of what to do – and not do – when you see a zombie. Just in case you need a refresher, though, here is the gist:

If possible, kill with stealth

By holding down the B button on the Xbox One controller, you’ll crouch and move with much less noise. If you manage to sneak up behind a zombie and simultaneously hold down the RT and X buttons, you’ll instantly kill them with a knife to the head. This allows you to thin a group of zombies without alerting them all, and saves your melee weapons from unnecessary wear and tear.

Your gun is a last resort

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A well-placed headshot from a pistol can kill most zombies in State of Decay 2 in just one hit, but there are fairly few scenarios where you’re actually going to want to use one. Ammunition for firearms is quite limited, and there are several different types of weapons that each use their own caliber.

Guns are also loud. Killing one zombie with a gun will often result in two or three more discovering your position, resulting in a prolonged battle that could have been avoided if you had just used your melee weapon.

Hold your ground, but be realistic

When you do start swinging your bat, pipe, or sword, mind your character’s position relative to your enemies. You’ll automatically focus on a nearby enemy when you press the X button to start attacking, but won’t snap toward their position. If you aren’t within range, let them take a step or two before you swing. If you miss, you’ll leave them a chance to get in an attack of their own.

Once you’ve attracted some zombies’ attention, always prioritize attacking the undead trying to attack you from behind. If you’ve ever seen a zombie movie, you know they love to leap onto survivors’ backs and chomp on their neck, and this is certainly the case in State of Decay 2. Getting attacked this way can quickly take a large chunk of your health away, and it takes several seconds to shake a biter off.

Should you run low on supplies or find yourself completely overrun, your best course of action might be to run away. Provided that you have some stamina in your tank, you can often make it to a vehicle or safehouse before the zombies can surround you. If you are killed, that character is permanently dead, and your community will have to conduct missions to find a replacement. No weapon or supply cache is ever worth dying over, so don’t hesitate to run from a fight that, for whatever reason, you think you might lose.

Types of zombies

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The zombies in State of Decay 2 aren’t limited to the dumb, slow-moving undead you know from George Romero films and The Walking Dead. There are several different types of special creatures you’ll encounter in your first few hours with the game. Here is what to expect, and the strategies you should use for taking them down.

  • Screamers: Screamers appear as armless, heavily decayed zombies that will often be surrounded by several standard zombies. If they spot you, they’ll let out a high-pitched noise that will draw several more enemies to your position. Make them your first priority in any encounter, either with stealth or with a bullet if they happen to spot you.
  • Bloaters: Bloaters are larger zombies that, as their name suggests, are filled with deadly gas. Shooting one or getting too close will cause a bloater to explode, and the gas is capable of decimating your health, even if you hit them from inside a car. If you see a bloater, either keep your distance or take a shot when you’re several yards away.
  • Ferals: Ferals are among the most dangerous threats in the game. Fast-moving and capable of dealing out melee damage in a hurry, you’ll notice their four-legged run right away. While dangerous, you can easily kill one with a well-placed headshot. If a Feral hasn’t seen you yet, kill it right away to avoid wasting your supplies.
  • Juggernauts: Juggernauts are insanely powerful zombies that you’ll spot occasionally during your time exploring. Far larger and taller than any other enemy, the Juggernaut can pick you up and deal tremendous damage, but the scariest thing about them is their health: It takes several headshots to bring one down, so your best bet when you see one is usually to run. They’re also deceptively quick, so a car or an elevated structure should be your destination.
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