When playing through Project Zomboid for the first time, you will likely already know from mass media that it might not be a good idea to get near the walking dead that surround the deserted map. However, this rule cannot always be followed as the game’s zombie AI is quite good at rooting out the player wherever they decide to hunker down.
While most of my time in Project Zomboid is spent cowering in some random house, blinds closed and frying pan in hand, some braver players like to adventure out into open spaces with the hopes of finding something new, better gear to help with their character’s survival. Of course, there is also the human need for food that you can’t really hide from.
All of this eventually results in the player entering some kind of market or warehouse hoping to get their hands on some much-needed antibiotics after they inevitably walk on glass with bare feet or something stupid like that.
Eventually, though, all your luck will run out. When traipsing through a perfectly safe and secure office building, a door will burst open, and before you have time to react, one of the undead will get its blood-cacked hands on your character, scratching and even possibly biting your character.
This is a death sentence in most zombie media out there today; however, Project Zomboid handles the whole thing a little differently, ensuring to keep their players on high alert for a prolonged period, but we’ll be getting into this later.
So, with all this in mind, in this Project Zomboid Bitten guide we’ll look at the moments immediately before and stretching out after your first possible deadly encounter with one of the undead.
You Messed Up
Well, the inevitable has happened, you got a little bit cocky with your cool new armor set and assault rifle combo, and the gaming gods decided that you needed a little humbling in the form of a zombie bite.
Whether the player is attacked and bitten by one zombie or multiple walkers, you are 100% guaranteed to contract the Knox virus, the horrible disease that has turned the world into a horror film. Despite this, the players will not necessarily die immediately after contracting the virus. If you manage to get some distance between yourself and the enemy that has torn you asunder with its chompers, you will be able to survive for some time, allowing you to put your affairs in order.
Deciphering the Sickness Chain
Like any good survival game, Project Zomboid ensures that the player can die from anything related to zombies. In this vein, the developers also made it possible for the player to contract the virus via other zombie-based scuffles; whether this is a slight scratch or a terrible laceration when fighting the undead, your fate could be sealed.
The cool but also annoying thing about PZ at this point is that you simply cannot always tell whether this scratch or laceration spells curtains for your character; you will need to wait a while to see if you have sadly contracted the Knox virus.
Unlike a bite, these injuries do not always result in infection, but it can still happen. While the game does not come right out and tell you whether you are infected or not, there are signs. Project Zomboid works with a mechanic called Moodles. Essentially, these Moodles are indicators of the player’s emotional and physical well-being when progressing through the game – status indicators, if you will. These Moodles work in chains, progressing in severity with a section for each type of ailment.
First of all, if your character possibly contracted the Knox virus, the first Moodle that will pop up is ‘queasy.’ If you have no other ailments or infections, this is not a good sign and almost guarantees that you are well on your way to becoming a shuffling member of the new world order.
Although, if you manage to survive the next 24 hours, bandage up and disinfect your wounds, and do not receive any sickness chain alerts, you will most likely be in the clear and can stop preemptively crying over the death of your favorite pixel art character. If you think you are infected, then you need to follow these next steps.
As mentioned, after you’ve been bitten, the player will need to work fast to keep themselves going for a while. If you don’t immediately address the bite by bandaging it in some fashion, you will bleed out in no time and be of zero use to anyone. Therefore, using some medical-grade bandages or the tattered remnants of some old t-shirt, patch that sucker up before doing anything else.
Now that this is taken care of, the player will need to get themselves set up to help their next character out when the time inevitably comes. Essentially, your main concern at this point will be holding onto all of the loot you have worked so hard to obtain by this point for another survivor character in the future.
The one you are currently playing with will die, so it’s best to use the least amount of supplies possible on this character in their final hours/days until the inevitable happens. One key thing to note here is that a zombie bite is unlike any other type of cut or infection in the game; using disinfectant will do nothing to prolong your lifespan or assuage the virus; you are already toast, no point in using up that precious disinfectant.
So, how do you ensure that your new survivor will be able to get their hands on this set of gear and much-needed supplies? Well, you pretty much have two certain options.
It is important to know that when a player character dies and turns into a zombie, whatever the character has on them at the time will stay on that body. Therefore, if the player collapses and succumbs to the virus while out and about, this character will join the horde, and those items will effectively be lost forever unless you get very lucky later on.
To prevent this horribly annoying scenario, some of the more experienced horror/survival game players on PC have taken to immediately storing their gear somewhere safe after a bite. Whether you trust yourself to make it back to your base in time or not, the decision of where to store said loot would be yours.
One of the good things about this game (outside of multiplayer) is that there are no other players or NPCs that can come around and pilfer your hard-earned possessions. Therefore, if you find yourself in a real pickle, you can always just throw all your gear on the floor or beside an old tree without fear of the stuff being looted by the time you make it back. While this method is pretty idiot-proof and easy to do before the infection takes over, you do run the risk of not being able to locate the drop zone again once you have respawned somewhere else on the map.
Therefore, in an ideal world, your drop zone will have two important qualities. The first is that it is somewhere you can easily navigate to after your new character spawns, somewhere you can get to without much effort, and that you know inside and out. This will cut out any possibility of getting lost or stumbling across an unneeded combat event while scarcely equipped.
Next, you will also need the location to be pretty secure and free of zombies. Anywhere that you are sure will not become the zombie version of Glastonbury will probably do, but for the inexperienced players amongst you, the least amount of aggravation you can come up against when barely equipped, the better.
The second method for ensuring you get your own stuff back is to lock your newly bitten character in some room or house, ensuring that they cannot get out when you die and they emerge as a full-blown zombie, operating out of your control. I cannot stress how important it is to find somewhere that there is no chance for that husk to escape from.
There are a couple of tried and tested methods of doing this that the community still swears by to this day. Firstly, and most easily accessible for most playthroughs, you can lock your character away in some trusted but secure building with a windowless room in it. Once inside, barricade the door from the inside. Most of the time, the player character turned zombie will remain in this location for a prolonged period of time before the AI even thinks about ripping open this blockade, especially if the player doesn’t spend any real-time walking around the nearby area, giving them a reason to escape.
The second and most foolproof method for those of you lucky enough to have a backup plan already in place is making your way to some form of an apartment block and trapping your character on the uppermost floor. Once you are upstairs, you can destroy the stairs behind you, preventing the future zombie from getting away and other zombies from joining its party. After the stairs are destroyed, you can double up by barricading yourself in another windowless room.
Of course, the only issue with this method is that the further you go to entrap and ensure your gear stays on this zombie, the harder it will be for your new character to gain access to them, especially if you spawn nearby and haven’t had time to loot a little bit.
Dealing with the zombified version of your old self will be no different than dispatching any other zombie in the game; however, if you have any respect for your past life, maybe make it a quick death.
Preventing the Bite
Now that you understand just how difficult life can be whenever you start getting into altercations with your average horde of zombies, you might want to consider taking a few steps to limit the possibility of your favorite Project Zomboid character getting it, quite literally, in the neck.
Keep Your Distance
One of the best ways to prevent any form of injury in this game is by avoiding the zombies altogether. Project Zomboid is not a game where a player can expect to run into a pack of zombies headfirst and expect to make it out alive like Days Gone, The Forest, or even DayZ. Unlike these games, your character is perpetually plagued by the realities of being human and will, therefore, suffer from the inability to take on anything more than one or two combatants at a time.
This could involve you doing your due diligence before entering any large buildings or ones with presumably tight corridors or rolling into every situation with an escape plan.
One of the best ways to prevent getting bitten when you inevitably slip up or get jumped by a number of zombies. If the player gets their hands on good gear such as helmets, thick trousers, and other similar items, they might get out of a situation relatively unscathed.
Yes, you read that right; these items of clothing increase your chance of managing to evade the killer bite when confronted with these enemies. Increasing your tailoring skill is the best way to ensure your clothing is of top-notch quality every time you summon the courage to go outside. With this skill, the player will be able to patch up already good clothing as well as add layers of protection to these items. This skill can easily save your bacon repeatedly, should the gaming gods be on your side.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can you cure yourself once bitten in Project Zomboid?
Answer: There is no way to cure yourself once bitten in Project Zomboid, and if you are bitten, you will definitely contract the Knox virus, resulting in your character’s inevitable death in the hours following.
Question: Is Project Zomboid for PC gamers only?
Answer: Sadly for Xbox and PlayStation 5 gamers around the world, Project Zomboid is only available for PC gamers currently. However, thanks to the low-level graphics of this game, you will not need a high-level PC to run this game – you can easily run it on a PC worth far less than a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
Question: Why is Project Zomboid suddenly so popular?
Answer: Thanks to the new multiplayer update, this survival horror game that has been a massive hit with avid fans of the genre has skyrocketed in popularity. Also, as a knock-on effect, this multiplayer mod has influenced streamers and YouTube content creators to play the game, boosting the game’s popularity.
While writing this guide, I reflected on a lot of my mistakes in previous Project Zomboid games. I soon realized that I was making more mistakes than someone with my amount of hours in the game should be making and was depending on sheer luck and some decent pieces of clothing to help me survive these altercations.
However, through writing, I have discovered ways to tweak my gameplay and prevent myself from losing countless hours of character progression to silly mistakes that eventually lead to being bitten.
I hope that you found this guide as helpful to read as I did writing it and learned something about the mechanics behind Project Zomboid’s infection system. With this in mind, I look forward to seeing you again soon and wish you luck on your journey through the zombie-infested world.