State of Decay 2: Beginner’s Guide | Tips To Help You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse

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State of Decay 2 is a very different game than your standard zombie open-world sandbox. It isn’t just about you. You’ll need to work together with AI allies to build a fortress and defend against the endless hordes of undead at your doorstep. There’s a much stronger survival element here — you’ll need to go on frequent supply runs to keep stocked up on food and medical supplies so your tiny society doesn’t crumble too quickly.

It’s a complicated game that follows its own set of rules, and it doesn’t always fully explain itself. There’s a lot I didn’t fully understand when I first booted up the original State of Decay, and you’ll probably be in a similar state of confusion if you’re diving straight into State of Decay 2. Whether you skipped the original or you’re a returning fan, it helps to get a fast refresher course on the latest game — the idiosyncratic features are still there, and there’s more you’ll need to know that before.

Here’s the full list of achievements for State of Decay 2, if you’re into that sort of thing.

More State of Decay 2 guides on Gameranx:

#1: Scout Your Environment

Whenever you enter a new area, you’ll want to scout the zone for stockpiles, landmarks, nests, and other important locations. To do that, find a Scouting Location — these are always high vantage points, like towers or signs, that give you a good view of the surrounding area.

  • NOTE: After scouting locations, open the map to see everything that’s available to loot. Check each building — it will show resources available at the location. That way, you can more efficiently plan your resource runs.

From these high vantages, you’ll see a series of large “?” question marks. Aim at them, and when the circle meter fills up, you’ll essentially mark these locations on your map. Resources are completely finite, there are no infinite stockpiles, so you’ll want to take note of certain important resources. Food, ammo, gas, and medical items are all important for the health of your society — and for the health of your random survivor.


#2: Hit Up Logical Locations For Resources

This is a pretty obvious tip, but it’s pretty novel to use real-world logic to survive in the zombie apocalypse. After scouting, it’s smart to raid certain buildings to get different types of resources and weapons.

  • FOOD: Restaurants and Grocery Stores
  • GUNS / AMMO: Police Stations and Military Checkpoints
  • MATERIALS: Hardware Stores, Construction Sites, Industrial Buildings
  • GAS: Gas Stations
  • MEDICAL SUPPLIES: Hospitals, Clinics, and Homes

It just makes sense! Need more construction materials? If you’ve found an unfinished house in the neighborhood, look there for loose lumber, or hit up the local tool shop / hardware store. Food is pretty common in restaurants and in houses, but did you know homes will often have medical supplies? Look in the bathroom for a medicine cabinet.

  • NOTE: If you’re really hurting for resources / new people, use the Radio! Expend some points and you’ll instantly find a new resource location on your map.

#3: Stealth (And Sound) Are Important For Survival

When you’re out on a looting run, you’ll want to stay lean and quiet. Too much noise will draw zombies to your location — and a noisy gunshot might put you in a deadlier position when a melee weapon will work just as well. Cars are also noisy, so make sure to stop your vehicle somewhere outside the search zone, then sneak into the area.

NOTE: If you stay sneaky long enough, you can level up your survivor and specialize in stealth. If you select the right upgrade path, you can move faster while stealthy, or make your actions quieter — very useful if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself while looting.

Be aware of how much noise you’re making at all times. Zombies are way better hearing than seeing you, and that’s especially dangerous at night when you’re dealing with more red-eyed killer zombies. A failed quick search will make noise, and explosions will make even more noise. Noise is indicated by a white circle on your minimap, showing you the exact range of your sounds.

NOTE: A failed quick search can actually have multiple effects. Sometimes you’ll make a slight noise, but sometimes you’ll trigger a horde attack! Your survivor will usually warn you if it looks that bad. Try gliding your finger over [LB] and only giving yourself a burst of quick search, instead of holding it down.

You can also use sound to alert zombies and draw them into a trap. If you’re afraid of a lair filled with multiple Screamers, try setting using firecrackers or a Boombox to pull them away from the building, making it easy to wipe them all out, or sneak by them.

#4: Keep Your Map Tidy And Zombie Free

Every building has a finite amount of resources you can loot. Inside a building, look in the top-left corner of your screen to see how many of each resource is still available to loot. When looting, enter every black square (room) in the area, and any remaining zombies will appear on your minimap.

  • NOTE: Libraries might seem useless, but you won’t want to miss textbooks. Libraries or bookshelves often have textbooks that allow you to upgrade your survivor.

You don’t want to just grab a few things in a building and leave. It’s much more efficient (and tidy) to completely search a building. That way, the area will become a temporary safe zone. Eventually, more zombies will move in — but it should be much easier to clear them out in the future.

Nearly infestations are also a cause of alarm in your home base. Make sure you clear as many infestations as you can to keep morale high — the more infestations there are, the more your base will be in danger of a horde attack. Those are tough to survive, so better to wipe out infestations early before they become a big problem in the future.

#5: Use Cars For Efficient Looting (And Maintain Your Ride!)

Cars have been upgraded and enhanced in State of Decay 2. You can still use them to get around quickly and safely, while also ramming zombies for some easy kills — but cars must also be maintained.

  • You can now store items in the trunk (or truck bed) of a car. Heavier vehicles can carry more stuff — and the large backpacks of resources that previously could only be carried one-at-atime can now be carried in the back of a vehicle.
    • You can even transfer heavy resource bags directly to your base inventory! Just press [RT] when parked in your base parking lot.
  • Cars are great for transporting AI (or coop) survivors with you on looting runs.
  • Cars now require gas, and can be repaired. Always carry a full gas can with you before travelling too far — you can refuel a car by interacting with the back-left corner.
    • To get a full gas canister, you’ll need a can in your base inventory, then you’ll need to interact with the storage area. There, you can fill a gas can with gas — it requires one fuel resource.
  • Once a car takes too much damage, it will start to smoke and then explode. If you want to keep your car, which is a good idea usually, you’ll want to use a repair kit. Use it on a damaged car’s engine to fix it up when the car starts to smoke.
    • It’s okay to ram a few zombies, but it’s better to avoid them entirely! Cars are expensive to fix — weapons are cheap to fix. Don’t waste your precious vehicle!

Being able to collect more large resource backpacks on a single trip is a godsend, and makes resource runs so much more efficient. Normally, when you find a large stockpile of resources, you’ll only be able to carry one pack at a time. Now you can run back to your vehicle, stash the stockpile, then go back for more.

  • NOTE: Eventually, you’ll also unlock an Auto Shop which you can use to customize cars and turn them into wrecking balls of destruction. 

#6: The Infection, And How To Deal With It

The worst part of the zombie apocalypse is getting infected. Yes, you can become a zombie — thankfully, only one type of zombie will increase your infection meter. The red-eyed zombies are faster, stronger, and deadlier than standard zombies — and the red-eyed zombies also carry the blood plague.

When they attack you, your infection meter will increase. Fill the meter up, and a timer will appear — if you don’t get a cure before the timer runs out, you’ll become a zombie. That’s an instant game over.

NOTE: If you don’t have any Plague Samples, place a survivor in the Infirmary for treatment. You won’t be able to play as them, and they’ll use multiple medical supplies a day, but it will completely stop the rise of the infection.

To successfully fight the infection, you’ll need to construct the Infirmary at your HQ. There are two ways that you can b fight the infection.

  • Blood Plague Therapy:
    • Therapy will lower your infection meter to zero when used. This requires 3 Plague Samples.
  • Blood Plague Cure:
    • The Cure will save you if you’ve been infected with the Blood Plague. Only use this if you’ve been infected and the timer to zombification has appear. This requires Infirmary 2, and 5 Plague Samples.

To get Blood Plague Samples, you’ll need to hunt red-eyed zombies found scattered throughout the map — the red-eyed zombies will especially appear at night. I recommend shooting them dead from a safe vantage point. It’s far, far better to simply cure the Blood Plague. Just wait until the timer begins — no need to cure it too quickly, when you’re bound to just get infected again.

#7: Managing Your Base | The Most Important Buildings

Before we can even get an Infirmary, we’ll need to take care of the main base. Every base has a certain amount of slots that you can use to build facilities — gardens, gun shops, auto shops, infirmaries, and lots of other useful buildings.

If you want to keep your population happy, healthy, and (relatively) safe, there are certain buildings you’ll need, every single time.

  • What You Need For Every Base:
    1. Beds – Make sure there are enough beds for everyone in your base. Make sure you have enough beds for everyone. Don’t recruit more survivors than you have beds, or you’ll hurt base morale.
    2. Infirmary – Heals and helps cure infected in your base, used to craft healing items.
    3. Workshop – A place where you can salvage or repair weapons

Along with a strong base, you’ll also want to establish extra safe zones called outposts. There are also important ways you can easily enhance your base without needing more slots or purchasing a full on facility upgrade.

NOTE: While looting, always look out for MODS. Mods are special upgrades you can install in facilities cheaply that will greatly enhance their functionality. There are mods that will increase your storage area capacity, unlock new construction options, provide power, lower crafting costs, or speed up production. If you see a mod, never leave it behind! They’re super valuable. Just make sure that you place them in your base inventory to install them.

Also, be aware of your base threat level. Construction (or having too many survivors in a single location) will increase your threat level. Every action you take in the command center, from upgrades to crafting, will generate noise. As the threat level goes up, there’s a higher chance of a horde attack. Be prepared if your threat level is too high! And don’t take too many actions all at the same time.

#8: Expanding Your Reach With Outposts

You’ll also be able to claim outposts to gain more resources, extend your radio range, and make your base safer. Each base has a limited amount of outposts — you’ll see the outposts in the top-right corner, where the radio is located.

  • To Establish An Outpost: Clear out a building and then select it. Outposts are safe zones where you can drop off resources or resupply. Outposts also infinitely collect a specific resources — food, materials, ammo, gas, and other unique types of resources can be collected by your allies assigned to the outpost.

Maintaining your base, keeping your people stocked up with ammo, food, medical supplies, and gas to power the generators is super important.

  • NOTE: Depending on how you establish an outpost, you’ll earn a steady income of passive resources — you can get extra power, material, food, or gas. Some of the best outposts provide you with the same bonuses as facilities — you can free up space in your base by establishing outposts that provide power or water. These outposts are incredibly expensive to unlock, so plan on getting them later in your campaign.

A happy populace is a more efficient populace. The more outposts you have established, you’ll have fewer zombie attacks on your base, and your radio’s total range will increase.

#9: Put All Your Survivors To Work

Along with taking care of your survivors, you also need to work them out. You can play as any of your survivors — and leveling them all up is important. Instead of using a single survivor, swap between multiple survivors so the others can rest, heal, and recover. A character with no stamina is useless. They can’t sprint, and they can’t fight zombies effectively without becoming exhausted. You don’t want to make your valuable survivors into zombie bait.

It’s important to play as all your characters too — if you level them up and equip them with more powerful weapons, they’ll be able to defend themselves better when hordes come for your base. You can only equip a character by swapping to them, then equipping items while you play as that character.

Survivors start out as Recruits, and as they earn more standing in the community, they will become Citizens, then Heroes. A Hero can be upgraded into the Leader of the Community — and depending on their stats, can provide some serious bonuses. The only way to get a Hero is to level up.

#10: Be A Good Neighbor (Or Face Their Wrath)

There are other human settlements in the area, and they aren’t always friendly. You’ll want to expand your radio range so you can get into contact with these communities, and staying on their good side is a smart option. If they turn against you, you’ll have armed human enemies at your doorstep in no time.

You can earn influence by responding to requests from your neighbors. Sometimes it’s helping a lost survivor, or bringing the community a resource they desperately need. You don’t have to respond to every request on the radio, but you’ll want to do enough to make your helpful intentions clear.

NOTE: Beware of armed survivors! Always bring a gun with you if you’re meeting humans in a mission. They might become hostile, and if they’re armed with guns and you’re not, it won’t end well for anyone. Go for headshots and stay in cover — bullets can kill you and your AI followers very, very quickly.

Always prioritize your safety over your allies, though. They won’t always turn against you for ignoring them. Sometimes they’ll simply leave the map, freeing up one of the bases so your team can move in on their old territory. It’s expand or die in State of Decay 2, after all.