State of Decay: Beginner’s Survival Guide

Table of Contents

  • Your Survivor – Getting Started
  • Zombies – Freaks & Hordes
  • Base Management – How to Keep it Safe & Morale High
  • Upgrading Skills – Becoming a True Survivor
  • Scavenging Materials – Where to Look & How to Keep it Coming
  • Side-Quest Tips – Managing Infestations, Hordes & Freaks

  • Your Survivor – Getting Started

    Welcome to State of Decay, a very unique zombie survival sim on XBLA. Before becoming a badass, your survivors will start off pretty frail. Don’t worry, they get better.

    The game starts with Marcus and Ed. Marcus is the first, but soon you’ll find Maya – a soldier equipped with a good rifle.

    Progressing through State of Decay, you’ll come into contact with many survivors and other enclaves (small communities) that you can help or trade with. Don’t worry, none of the enclaves are hostile, even the military.

    Survivors have several skills the denote how good they are at different things; Cardio, Wits, Fighting, Shooting, Powerhouse, and Leadership.

    Not every survivor has powerhouse or leadership, and others will appear with useless skills. Ed, for instance starts with a 7-star “Reality Show Trivia” skill. Totally useless. Check out every survivor, sometimes they’ll appear with a unique skill that does gives them a bonus.

    To check out your skills, open the menu with [Up] on the D-Pad, then switch to the star sub-menu. Here, you can view every skill and what benefits are available to unlock.

    Eventually, leveling up skills will unlock new abilities. Check them by pressing [A] with the skill selected. Later, after earning 4-stars with shooting or fighting, you’ll be able to specialize in a weapon type.

    Upgrading the powerhouse stat will also unlock special fighting moves. Learn more about skills and unlockable abilities in the skills section further in this guide.

    -Using Weapons-

    Survivors can equip two weapons, and several useable items. Melee weapons are your standard tools that come in three varieties; blunt, edged, and heavy.

    Each has a slightly different effect. Blunt weapons are basic, effective clubs. Edged weapons can quickly slice off limbs and heads, but they’re prone to breaking faster if your fighting skill is low.

    Heavy weapons are slower but more powerful, just like you’d expect. Many heavy weapons seem to overlap with edged or blunt weapons, so check your equipment menu to learn exactly what type of weapon it is.

    Guns can also be equipped, and are used only when holding down the [Left Trigger] to aim.

    Ranged and melee weapons are both susceptible to wear. They’ll eventually break after too much use. When a weapon is damaged, a yellow icon silhouette of your weapon will appear above the mini-map.

    Place damaged weapons in your base’s stockpile. If you have a workshop, the weapon will be repaired over night – learn more about workshops and stockpiles in the base section of this guide.

    To the right of the mini-map, your survivor should show their useable item. You can equip food, medicine, explosives, mines, or distraction devices here.

    Medicine will increase your health – if it’s below max, pain-killers will boost it up and heal slightly more over time. That isn’t true of stamina items.

    Distraction items include; firecrackers, alarms, and talking dolls. These are either thrown or placed on the ground with a timer. Zombies will be drawn in and gather around the device. This is a good way to draw hordes away from you and destroy them all with firebombs or grenades.

    Each survivor has a weight limit. Be sure to stay under their limit – don’t equip large backpacks to characters will low weight limits.

    Often, a heavy item, weapon, or gun has a lighter counterpart that is just as good. Melee weapons and guns do not have wildly different strengths – it’s all based on the survivor’s skill.

    -Fighting Tips-

    Starting the game with just a stick makes fighting zombies difficult. Standard swings aren’t your only attacks, as a survivor there are multiple moves Marcus can pull off right from the start.

    The basic buttons for fighting are [X] for attacks, [Y] for pushes, shoves, or kicks, and [B] to dodge. Tap [B] while moving to dodge in different directions.

    The basic attacks are your bread and butter, but always remember that each attack chips away at the status of your weapon. Hold [LB+X] and stand still to perform an over-head power-attack. While sprinting, you’ll perform a leap-attack.

    If you have stamina to spare, kicks will do just fine. Holding [LB+Y] while shove zombies away, if you’re sprinting the survivor will perform a full jump-kick, instantly knocking a zombie on its back.

    Always watch for stunned zombies. If a zombie is on its knees, on its back, or leaning against a wall it is vulnerable for an instant kill. Hold [LB+Y] to instantly kill a stunned zombie.

    Instant-kills are very effective. They don’t hurt your weapon’s durability, and give your survivor invincibility while he performs the animation.

    Sneaking is important. One things to always be aware of is that zombies are watching and listening. Loud noises will attract them to your location. Gunshots especially. Use guns as a last resort, or equip home-made silencers.

    Cars are also noisy. Running, knocking down doors, breaking windows, or searching for items in stashes quickly will all attract zombies to your location.

    Survival is all about staying patient, sneaking, and fighting effectively.

    Before going out, it’s recommended to equip your survivor with these items at all times; a repaired melee weapon, a repaired gun, at least one extra magazine’s worth of ammo, 2-3 health items, and 2-3 stamina items.

    Bring firecrackers or any noise-makers while searching houses. These are easy to use, and quickly create a distraction if you’re overwhelmed.


    Using weapons, sprinting, shoving or climbing all deplete stamina. Stamina is a very important, and you’ll want to monitor it carefully.

    The Cardio skill dictates your survivor’s stamina. It’s only raised by sprinting, and some characters have special attributes that lets them increase their Cardio level faster. Building the Training Area in the base will also unlock options to speed up your Cardio XP gain.

    Before going into a fight, eat a snack. Your stamina will continue to quickly recover for a short amount of time. Sports drinks also work well. This way, your survivor won’t get tired during a long fight.

    Using a single survivor for too long will make them enter a “tired” state. They’ll lose 25% of their stamina at the first tired level, then lose another 25% and so on if you continue to use them.

    Playing through the campaign, eventually the player will unlock a special inspirational radio command that will fully increase your survivor’s maximum stamina back to it’s normal level.

    Taking too much damage can also lead to your survivor taking on a “hurt” state, where their maximum health will be lower. This doesn’t happen often if you’re in control, but it can happen often to your other survivors while they complete field missions on their own at the base.

    It can happen, but it doesn’t happen often – other AI base survivors can become “tired” even if you aren’t playing as them, but, it rarely happens.

    Survivors can only be cured of the “hurt” or “tired” state if you have enough beds for sleeping, and a medical area. Upgraded medical areas give a greater chance of curing your hurt survivors.

    -Survivor Swapping-

    Survivors can only be swapped if they’re a “Friend”. Open the menu to look at all the different survivors currently in your group.

    There’s a trust icon in the top right corner – by completing side-quests for them or for the base at large, you can increase their trust until they become a “friend”.

    Friends can be swapped and played as, leaving your previous survivor to rest and complete missions on his own.

    Completing missions to kill special zombies will increase trust with the survivor at that mission. The survivor that appears to give side-quests is always random.

    If there’s a problem at the base, such as a fight, the survivor is afraid, needs training, or is mad, a special icon will appear where you can take them outside for a talking to. These missions will also increase trust.

    Whenever going out to rescue survivors in trouble that want to join your group, at least one of the new survivors will always be a playable friend.

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    3 Comments on State of Decay: Beginner’s Survival Guide


    On June 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Juggernaut zombie is cake. Hit it with a bomb and it’s down and out.


    On November 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    What about the trade missions?


    On December 10, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Reflexes > Powerhouse

    Some people prefer powerhouse and the 4 snacks in one slot is useful, but he reflex kick that downs any z for an easy kill is insanely useful.