Sooner or later, your survivor will get into a sticky situation and find themselves used as a zombie chew toy. Maybe the helicopter caught you by surprise, maybe you got stung by a house alarm with terrible timing, or maybe you got ambushed by one of those infamous stealth zombies. However it happened, the zombies have taken their pound of flesh, and you’re wondering what to do next. Simply put, the solution isn’t great.
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What to do when bitten in Project Zomboid
I won’t sugarcoat it – you’re in a bad position if you’ve been bitten. There’s a 100% chance of contracting the Knox Virus, the cause of the walking dead, through a bite. You’ve just received that gift from one generous zombie, and you’re already well on your way to joining the horde. In short, your character’s done for, but that doesn’t mean your game has to be, too. Once your character dies, you’ll have the option to continue using a new survivor, making use of the bases and gear your old character managed to secure.
Your first port of call is to get yourself somewhere safe and dress your bite wound. If you don’t have any bandages at hand, rip up any clothes you’ve got and use those makeshift bandages to staunch the bleeding. The last thing you want is to bleed to death before you have a chance to do anything else.
Once you’ve stopped imminent death, you need to prepare for when your character kicks the bucket later on. Normally, you’d disinfect your wound, but disinfecting a bite isn’t going to help you. The virus is already circulating within you, and no amount of disinfectant is going to help that. Save your other meds for a future survivor, rather than wasting them on a lost cause.
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How you handle the situation from here is largely up to you. Once your character dies, they will become a zombie, no questions asked, so you need to make sure your gear can make its way into the hands of a future survivor. There are two ways to do this – stashing your loot or imprisoning your character.
Stashing your character’s gear
Once your infected character dies, they’ll become a part of the horde and start shambling around with the rest of the infected crew. Anything on them will stay there, including clothes, backpacks, weapons, and so on. If you want to make sure your loot doesn’t wander off with your infected character, you need to stash it somewhere safe. If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to be bitten near your base or a safehouse, you could simply make your way back there and offload everything you’ve got. Afterward, simply take a walk out into the wild and enjoy your last moments as a human – there aren’t many left.
If, however, you’re well away from anywhere safe, you’ve got to find a somewhat secure location to use as a dead drop. The zombies won’t nab your stuff once it’s deposited, so you could just chuck your gear in the nearest bush or next to a tree. Problem is, you can’t mark it on your map, as your next survivor will start with a clean slate, so you should leave your stuff somewhere it is easily found. Using a landmark in one of the major towns is a good idea, like the chapel in Muldraugh or the school in Rosewood.
Ideally, you should balance easily accessed locations with low-population areas. Otherwise, your next survivor is liable to get chomped while trying to pick up your gear. This makes farms a pretty good call, as are buildings on the fringes of town. In a pinch, you can do a suicide run, throwing your stuff in a good but busy location and using your character to bait the horde away. They’ll likely die, but hey, they’re a dead man walking anyway. Your next survivor can waltz into a zombie-free area and collect your old gear thanks to the noble sacrifice of their predecessor.
Meeting an old friend
The other way you can gather your stuff is by paying your old survivor a visit – and freeing them from the shambling curse. You can choose to let your old friend roam free, leading to some pretty interesting emergent encounters. You’d be surprised at how far zombies can wander, and where those guys can end up, given enough time. You might well lose a survivor up in Riverside only to find them chilling out miles away in the Ranger Station. It can be a welcome sight to behold, provided they don’t spell the end for your new survivor.
If you’d rather limit where your soon-to-be zombie can wander, you can entomb them somewhere they’d have a hard time escaping. Putting your bite victim in a windowless room and boarding up the entrances is usually enough to get the job done. That said, they can still break open doors if given an incentive. If your bitten character has a load of good loot, you might want to trap them in a room in a multi-story building and smash the stairs. They probably won’t break out, and no other zombies can make it to them to help out. Of course, the better you entrap your infected survivor, the harder it will be to reach them later.
Whatever you decide to do, act fast – that bite starts a race against time, and your survivor’s condition will only get worse. If you don’t use your time well, your survivor will die before you get a chance to prepare.
How to prevent bites in Project Zomboid
Knowing what to do when you’re bitten is useful, but knowing how to avoid a bite is better. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can lower the risk of a bite, but there’s no way to guarantee safety in Project Zomboid.
The first tip is obvious, but one worth mentioning – be cautious and thorough. There isn’t much you can do when you’re swarmed, but I’d say the most common preventable bite happens when you drop your guard. When you enter a building, you should check every room, identify multiple exits, and assume zombies lurk behind every corner and every door. In doing so, you minimize the risk of getting a neck bite from a ninja zombie, something that has ended many a survivor.
Next up is clothing. Each item of clothing offers some protection against bites and scratches, and can easily save your life. Putting on helmets, jackets, and thick trousers will protect most of your body, but these defenses can be worn down quite quickly. Strong clothing with a bit more durability, like a fireman suit, can help, but developing the tailoring skill is even better. This lets you patch up damaged clothing, and even reinforce it with additional layers. Despite being well-armored, you can still be overwhelmed, but this will drastically lower your chances of getting bit during small engagements.
How to know if your character is infected
Although bites are a guaranteed infection, not all wounds are created equal. Some have a low chance of transmitting the Knox Virus, others are fairly high. You should know how to spot the infection before condemning your survivor to death.
If you’ve sustained a scratch or a laceration from a zombie, there’s a chance your character has been infected. Scratches are fairly common injuries, but only have a 7% chance of transmitting the Knox Virus. Lacerations are substantially rarer and damaging, carrying both heavy blood loss and a 25% chance of infection. The question is, how do you know if you’ve just received a death sentence?
If a zombie-related injury has transmitted the Knox Virus, the first signs of infection should show within roughly 24 hours. You’re looking for two moodles specifically – Anxious and Queasy. When you see this combination of moodles recently after a zombie-related injury, you’ve almost certainly been infected. Another dead giveaway is that your health will start to decrease, speeding up as time goes on. You can’t stop this from happening, and your death is close at hand.
However, if 24 hours go by and you haven’t spotted these two moodles, you’re probably alright. You might want to give it another 24 hours just to be safe, but if by then you haven’t seen anything, you’re definitely in the clear. Even still, you’ll want to treat your wound and let it heal to avoid picking up any other non-zombie-related infections. If you want to learn how to treat wounds and prevent infections in Project Zomboid, check out our guide on first aid.