A guide to Character Building within Project Zomboid – specifically for unmodded gameplay.
This was made with the intention of helping newer players learn how to create a fairly balanced character, and so will be written fairly simply. It will include: a walkthrough of character building mechanics (the point system, positive and negative traits and occupations with pictures) and an example of a ‘Park Ranger’ build.
Welcome to an in-depth, and fairly simple guide to Character Building!
I’ve made this with newer players in mind, so it’s going to cover a lot of the basics that more experienced players probably won’t need to read – there’s also going to be a collection of character builds that I personally find interesting or fun to use so feel free to give those a try!
I hope that you enjoy, and if you find anything wrong or see any errors, let me know!
What’s there to know about Character Building?
Everything! Character Building is one of the most important aspects when starting out your game, and learning how to create a well balanced one can be hard, especially when you have very little experience. Now, what goes into creating the perfect character?
I’ll be going over each of these points, so don’t worry if you’ve no idea what any of this means!
When loading up the Character Creation Menu, you’ll see something that looks a little like the imagine on the left. You’ll find all available Occupations to the left, and Traits, split between positive and negative, in the middle. You’ll also be able to view what you’ve picked on the right, and your skills below that.
If you look at the bottom right of the Creation Menu – and to the left here – you can see that you’ve got ‘Points to Spend’, in this case 8. Here, you’re able to see what Traits you can and cannot afford, because everything costs something! The ‘better’ the Trait or Occupation, the more it will cost. For example, below you’ll be able to see that the ‘Speed Demon’ Trait costs merely 1 point, making it a very cheap Trait.
As it’s such a cheap option, it has relatively little impact on the game, though for someone who focus’ on cars, it may be useful!
You must be wondering by now that if you’ve only got 8 points to begin with, how are you going to have an Occupation and multiple Traits? Well, to gain points, you must take on Negative Traits! This is where it can become hard to create a well balanced character. You need to choose your Traits wisely and think on what matters to you the most. Almost all Positive Traits have a Negative antithesis, like ‘Speed Demon’! With ‘Sunday Driver’ you drive much slower than usual, and identically, it only costs 1 point.
Like it suggests, your Occupation is what your Character did for work before the Apocalypse broke out. There are several to choose from – including Unemployed. Each Occupation provides you with something different, from an extra, job locked Trait (like Veteran, which comes with the Trait ‘Desensitised’) to additional skills.
As you can see, the Fire Officer Occupation 1 additional skill point to: Axe, Fitness, Sprinting, and Strength, making it an idea Occupation for someone who wishes to focus on combat! It’s up to you what you’d like your character to have been or done, but do note that they each cost a different amount of points.
Well that’s it for the basics of Character Building! I hope that was easy to follow, and made a good amount of sense – in the next section, I’m going to show you a simple and effective build that I regularly play as, as well as the reasons I chose each Trait.
A Park Ranger Build
The ‘Park Ranger’ Occupation is a personal favourite of mine, it’s incredibly versatile, allowing for faster movement through forests and woodland areas as well as adding 1 skill point to Axe and Carpentry, and 2 skill points to Foraging and Trapping. While it does have many benefits, it does cost a large amount of points – 12 to be exact. This means you must add either numerous lower ranking Negative Traits, or one higher ranking Trait, such as ‘Very Underweight’ which is worth +10 points, though takes 2 points from Fitness. Below, you’ll see my personal build for a Park Ranger broken down into Positive and Negative Traits.
- Outdoorsman (Not affected by harsh weather conditions)
- First Aider (+1 First Aid)
- Former Scout (+1 First Aid +1 Foraging)
- Hiker (+1 Foraging +1 Trapping)
- Organised (Increased container inventory capacity)
- Stout (Extra knockback from melee weapons. Increased carrying weight. +2 Strength)
- Very Underweight (Low Strength, low Endurance and prone to injury. -2 Fitness)
- Thin-skinned (Increased chances of scratches, lacerations or bites breaking the skin)
- Slow Healer (Recovers slowly from injures and illness)
- Slow Learner (Decreased XP gains)
- Prone to Illness (More prone to disease. Faster rate of Zombification)
Personally, I find this build balanced enough to continue to a later stage, and geared towards my personal play style of woodland survival rather than head-on combat. The ‘Outdoorsman’ Trait suits survival outside, especially travelling during any rainy periods and for winter, additional focus on the First Aid skill helps combat ‘Thin Skinned’, as my character is prone to injuring themselves often.
It’s important to match your Traits and to think about the way you wish to play. Enjoy taking down herds? Traits like ‘Brawler’, ‘Strong’ and ‘Baseball Player’ are all Strength and combat focused and so may be of use to you! Want to be stealthy? Try the ‘Burglar’ Occupation to have a lower chance of setting off house and car alarms whilst being able to hotwire vehicles – ‘Runner’, ‘Inconspicuous’ and ‘Lucky’ (only effective in singleplayer) would be great alongside that!