Have You Played… 7 Days To Die?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

This is one of those survival games that gnawed away at the top seller list in Steam for ages. For a long time, I couldn’t understand it. I watched the videos and scoffed at the raggedy character models, the basic textures, the lumpy landscapes. Another Minecraft clone. Then I was conscripted to actually write about the thing. I soon ended up knee deep in zombies, swinging a bat at their heads, running low on ammo, before eventually escaping from my homely cabin (now in ruins) down the snowy roads. What do you know, I thought, it’s good.

It’s a zombie game, I know. But it does zombies correctly. In the game I played (you can change the difficulty and settings of each world you create) the zombies were the classic shamblers. Romero meatbags. It meant that by the time I got used to the game’s crafting systems and building mechanics, I was often able to ignore the plodding corpses. When I went for a scavenging trip, I simply walked around them, not wanting to waste time, energy or bullets on the creeps.

But I would also get cocky. I wouldn’t build enough traps at night, or I would underestimate the possibility of a swarm. Or I would just assume that I had more bullets in the cupboard, when actually that cupboard had been destroyed, along with its contents, three days ago. It was just like every zombie movie I’ve enjoyed. It understood the biggest rule of zombie fiction – a zombie is never as dangerous as a single human being’s mistake.

7 Days To Die applies just the right amount of pressure on you as a survivor. You build up your supplies, get yourself holed up in a good base, and start to slowly become more confident amid the ruins of the apocalypse. You think: today I’ll gather clay, and tomorrow I’ll go hunting. Then, out of nowhere, the game will fire a horde at you and see how well you can weather the storm. And that’s when you’ll realise that you forgot to plant the mines.

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  1. Danarchist says:

    I have spent faaaar too much time on this game, even recently. Over the weekend I joined my younger brother and his friend on night 42 of their map and it was absurd. There was a screamer stuck in a hole somewhere and we got hit by wave after wave. At the end I was swinging a claw hammer because everything else was exhausted.
    Then before I left I snuck into the back of their massive cement base and decorated the back wall with a statement about their love for each other.
    This game is fun solo, but it really opens up with you have one or two buddies to team up with. Its one of those games that creates stories you repeat to each other even when playing other games.

  2. CartonofMilk says:

    My favorite survival game out there. Because it does it better than any i’ve played so far especially now that you an die of heat or cold. And i’m not that big a fan of zombies (in fact part of me wishes the game would have hostile human npcs instead of zombies,make this your regular post apocalyptic world, no zombies) My main issue with the game would be the draw distance, the engine isnt great but the environment would look a lot nice if you could see further ahead.

    The only reason ive stopped playing it again is my drive died and i lost everything in my single player game and that was the second time i was building the exact same base (i used to play on servers but those frequently got wiped)

    TBH though there’s an easy mode to never having to worry about feral. Just build your base really deep into the ground and they’ll never find you. Well…as long as you make it back to your base on time. This is something i truly appreciate though, the fact you always have to be keeping an eye out on the day and time. I remember one or two looting excursions when i got back to safety only about 10 seconds before feral night. It can get pretty tense.

    My best memory of this game remains when me and my brother ill advisedly decided to sit out a feral night in a city, in a movie theater. Top floor, i covered a door, he covered the other. The zombies plowed through 3 floors of locked door and also walls. eventually they got to us by about 2am and then we had to aim true for the rest of the night. we survived but every second was tense, every zombie that made it to us got that close to killing us…and then in the morning died trying to go down to street level from the rooftop.

    • arcanine says:

      Draw distance is being worked on, the blog is quite fun to follow even when not playing:
      link to joelhuenink.tumblr.com

      • p2mc28 says:

        Was going to say the same thing. The video I saw of Joel/madmole showing off the new draw distance looked beautiful. I’ve especially loved the fact that once they got the new distance in, they realized how flat the world is, and have since been building more mountains and such (in the Navezgane pre-built world – the random gen is fine I’m sure).

        Work is also being done on NPC characters. They’ve been pulled out of the next alpha release since they don’t want to release human NPCs with zombie AI – they think that would be awful. But Traitor Joe (shop NPC) will be in!

  3. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I own it, and I’ve tried to get into it twice. Both times I bounced off it hard. My experiences were essentially long voyages through vast swathes of empty wasteland, with zombies evenly distributed every four steps or so. There’s no chance to stop and catch your breath, and even if there were, there’s not much to look at while you do it. Dated graphics don’t do it any favors either.

    When I read reviews and stories from the game I’m almost convinced that I was playing something else, because they don’t sound like my experience in the least. But there it is in my steam library, so… I dunno. YMMV, I guess.

    • Tycow says:

      Word for word, exactly my experience.

      I cannot see what everyone is raving about (despite trying repeatedly). :(

      • Danarchist says:

        The first time I tried it was solo and i was confused and frustrated in no time. Recently they have added some “tutorial” quests to the beginning of the game to help people understand the mechanics. The most important thing I learned early on was to build about a hundred arrows and a bow, it makes the zombies easier to deal with at the start.

        Really, just finding a good place to setup an early camp helps a ton. I spent an hour or two at work watching youtube videos to understand the game. Ya the graphics are not great, but it is no where near as shallow as allot of the survival games these days so I tolerate them.

      • DraconisGold says:

        I just dropped $60 for the PC version of “No Man’s Sky”. It is a beautiful game. It also is very frustrating and somewhat boring (IMO). I will still keep playing it to see if it gets any better.

        I bought “7 Days to Die” during the Steam Summer Sale for $10 or $15. Let’s just say I think I got MUCH more bang for my buck buying 7DTD. :-) I really LOVE this game. See my comment below…

  4. DraconisGold says:

    Have I played it? Have I Played IT? I have put many many hours in at this point. It is the game I started streaming on Twitch! First I played solo. Then my daughter and I started playing a multiplayer with my machine as the server. Now we are playing with three other people. I even recently purchased a server instance for it. We only do PVE but I understand many people love the PVP aspect as well (though it is not my thing).

    I bought it during the Steam Summer Sale because I had put it on my wish list at some point. When I first started the game and saw the graphics I wasn’t sure I would like it but the gameplay hooked me. There IS a bit of a learning curve which is why I started the Twitch thing and a YouTube channel with tips for the starting player.

    If you wants tips, check out my channel on twitch: DraconisGold
    or on YouTube, check for the same user.

    • DraconisGold says:

      P.S. I also have a “7 Days To Die” tribute/parody song on YouTube called “Blood Moon Rising”. Be sure to check that out as well. :-)

  5. spleendamage says:

    Wait, are we doing retrospectives on games which are still in Early access? That seems a bit odd.

  6. Blackrook says:

    Love it – one of my favourite games in many years, been playing for over 2 years while its been in early access, and still keep coming back.

    Each update brings new features and improvements – the graphics are getting better gradually but the underlying freedom to play and build as you like due to the voxel blocks (Grown up minecraft) is what makes this game great fun.

    Set up your own dedicated server with friends, and its a killer coop game.

  7. Jakkar says:

    Help me out with this one, someone?

    I’ve very nearly purchased this more times than I now recall, but every time something about the presentation and the developers themselves really put me off. First time I checked it out their old logo, with the disturbingly innocent giggle of a baby playing over ‘The Fun Pimps’ title being bitten away in cartoonish chunks… It made me curious as to who the hell would choose to advertise their studio using such an incongruous mash as calling themselves ‘pimps’ in this era of… Well, toxic forum-warfare over issues of gender, sex, exploitation and inequality. And the baby giggling noises.

    Anyway, found they had a bit of a reputation, a few developer comments that seemed quite… Gamergate… And noted a lot of female zombies with gigantic breasts and skimpy tank tops among their promotional screenshots.

    It all just made me not feel like throwing money at them, basically.

    I do love a good bit of zombie survival though, so the temptation remains.

    Do the developers deserve the money, does the game deserve the time? For reference, I tend to play heavily modded sandbox games for high realism – STALKER, Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, Minecraft, for example, with far stricter and more complex systems for combat and sustenance.

    Grateful for anyone who might weigh in on game quality and dev ethics.

    • Danarchist says:

      It’s a video game. If it offends you on an emotional level do not play it. If the developers name offends you do not play it. If you are offended by things in general there is a site called “reddit” where you can find empathy.

      They continue to develop the game and it improves incrementally, but not quickly. There are major bugs that will drive you absolutely nuts, like minibikes that take a ton of effort to build disappearing for no reason. For whatever reason however it is an incredibly addictive game and I tend to tolerate the annoyance as the price of entry. I can honestly say I have never noticed a female zombies bust size. Because its a zombie and half its face is gone, removing all sexuality. Also its a video game. Its made of pixels.

      • Jakkar says:

        … please grow up a bit. Let’s keep things friendly here, RPS is a good place. One of the few. I just recall a lot of early screenshots had ultra-sexualised dead ladies all over them – like, to the exclusion of any normal human females, there were only cheerleader/nurse zombies with gigantic comedy-level breasts and hourglass figures. I don’t really roll necrophilic, so I’m just a little bit perturbed by a game that appears/appeared to feature that kind of.. Design or aesthetic focus.

        It also suggests the developers have a mental age of around thirteen if their immediate or only concept of ‘female’ is a cartoon stripper.

        That would all be a pretty speculative pile of nonsense if they weren’t also called ‘The Fun Pimps’, and prone to making idiotic misogynistic comments on social media.

        If those suspicions turned out to be accurate, I’d rather throw rocks at them than money.

        And yet, zombies. If only there were a cheap deal running on it..

        • Danarchist says:

          You’re right, the maturity level of a game company and the acceptable average breast size of a zombie are important issues and should be treated with the maturity these pressing social issues deserve! I rescind my previous snarky comments

        • aepervius says:

          The zombie stripper and zombie cheerleader is a quasi a trope of itself. See “incongruously dressed zombie”. That you recognized it as a childish attempt at sexuality by a young male tells more about you immediately jumping to conclusion, rather than true knowledge of the genre. You know, sometimes there is something a little bit deeper than the surface , if you try to think about it instead of getting huffy and immediately jumping to the conclusion they did it to attract people with titties.

          • Jakkar says:

            I don’t think they’re trying to attract players, I think that’s just how the developers see the world. Female zombies are an afterthought, and applying thought to ‘what should female zombies look like’ gave them the answer ‘boobs lol’.

            They’re called ‘The Fun Pimps’. Really :D

    • DeadlyAccurate says:

      I think the devs show some sexist tendencies in their comments and portrayals of their female characters, but they have improved lately. Their female avatars no longer wear thongs, and they have new female zombies that are more appropriately dressed.

      I do feel 7D2D is the best survival sandbox game on the market (maybe tied with ARK, depending on your preference for zombies versus dinosaurs), and I feel comfortable now recommending it.

  8. KastaRules says:

    Unfortunately yes.

  9. OmNomNom says:

    I thoroughly recommend this mod – link to 7daystodie.com
    makes the game a lot more balanced (and challenging), extends the late game and fixes issues.

  10. DobloDobsy says:

    312 hours and counting! Consistently enjoyable survival experience, especially with friends and updates keep making it better. Just think they need to sort the melee combat out because the ranged combat is great.