Project Zomboid adds vehicles and goes the extra mile

Project Zomboid

The Indie Stone’s Project Zomboid has been in early access since before early access was a thing. This ambitious zombie survival sandbox has been steadily growing for seven years now, and today it got one of its largest and most game-changing updates yet. Build 39 adds vehicles to the zombopocalypse for the first time, and while that may not sound too amazing on paper the entire game has been effectively rebuilt to support them.

The cars themselves are a pretty impressive piece of design by themselves, simulating just about every aspect of the vehicle, within reason. Does the car have the windows rolled up? Better protected against zombies, but you can smash them and jump in to try and hotwire if you need to. You can find keys in houses, on bodies near cars or in other appropriate locations. Fuel needs to be gathered, repairs need to be done, and the Mechanic skill comes into its own by letting you strip just about every component from a vehicle.

Have a look in this video from Twitch streamer “Mark_exe”:

Once you’re on the road you can fiddle with the radio, lock or unlock the doors, use the headlights, adjust the heating and just about everything else you’d expect via a large radial menu. Damage to cars is very granular too, and you can find procedurally generated crash sites, which – according to Indie Stone-endorsed YouTuber EXE above – are a great source of spare parts. Driving changes the entire dynamic of the game, and as such, the game itself has been reworked to take this into account.

Among the many changes in this update, the world map has grown significantly, adding large stretches of farmland, open road, campsites and assorted other locations. To allow for this expansion, the engine has been overhauled to allow it to handle and stream much larger environments. The full change-log is enormous, but you can find it here. Among the rest of the changes are further expansions to the mod scripting system, new craftable structures to allow for vehicle storage and radio ranges have been extended to compensate for the larger map.

Just about all the parts are present and correct here for running your own little village. The only feature that I can’t see in the patch notes is whether NPCs have the ability to drive – I doubt it at present – but it’s something I’d love to see in later builds. It’s heartening to see Project Zomboid still trucking along, supported as much by its fans as its core developers. Given how big this update was, I’m almost hoping this game stays in early access forever. Just imagine how much more stuff they’ll have added by 2020!

Project Zomboid is available via Steam, Humble and GOG for £10/$15, although the Steam version does have Workshop support for easier modding.


  1. Amstrad says:

    I’m always bothered by post-apoc settings where people are getting gas directly from the pump. Those pumps run on electricity, no electric, no gas. You’d have to siphon it from the underground tank in some other way.

    • lemmy101 says:

      actually in Zomboid once the power goes out you need to rig up the petrol station to a generator to get gas out the pumps.

    • KFee says:

      smartass! :p

    • GunFox says:

      Gasoline also goes bad pretty quick. It is why gas stablizer is necessary for vehicles that sit for a season. Granted you have some time before gas goes bad, but around the one year mark, you are gonna have some unhappy engines.

      Zomboid generally starts right on the heels of the apocalypse, so it wouldn’t need to worry about it, but other post apoc settings would.

      • try2bcool69 says:

        Maybe we can pretend that they never started putting that ethanol garbage in the gas and therefore it would last for many years.

        Yes kiddos, gas didn’t used to spoil.

    • pookie191 says:

      Not to mention petrol has a life span of about 12 months

  2. edwardoka says:

    Erm, NPCs? Unless this is a joke, Zomboid is notorious for not having any NPCs after the initial heavily scripted tech demo.

    (It’s still an excellent game, though. I’ll be getting back into it shortly.)

  3. inkstain says:

    The only feature that I can’t see in the patch notes is whether NPCs have the ability to drive – I doubt it at present – but it’s something I’d love to see in later builds

    I am confused. There are no NPCs in Project Zomboid, except as a mod.

  4. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I really don’t know how to say this without sounding snarky, but… early access is more than seven years old.

  5. racccoon says:

    Bloody good job by the developer some nice work. :) coding is not easy.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Mikemcn says:

    I bought and played a bunch of this in 2011. The fact that it’s still unfinished is a mixture of fantastic and terrible.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I don’t understand how it’s physically possible. Are they really selling enough copies for three people (I think) to scrape by? It seems unlikely for a pretty obscure game, though looking at the Steam review numbers maybe they did somehow find a niche.

      • wonderingmonster says:

        I haven’t followed development in quite a while, but I think they have day jobs.

      • Talksintext says:

        What I heard was they pulled in a ridiculous amount of money from the early kickstarter and sales, and have since been running a very lean crew. So costs have been very low and they’ve been just whittling down their cash reserves for many years, with the trickle of new sales helping them stay afloat. A few years ago they posted that they had “money for several years of development in hand” still, something to that extent. I’m sure it’s starting to get low. Hopefully they can make some real progress before they run out. After cars, there’s really only a few things left to tick off:

        – animations (supposedly far along)
        – NPCs (development hell)
        – far larger map (not sure what’s going on with that, they’ve been working on larger cities for years and all we get are a few small towns and farms like in this update)

      • JB says:

        The team’s a lot bigger than it used to be. As is the scope of the game.

        Also the car stuff is great, lots of fun and detail.

  7. Mmmslash says:

    I feel obliged to say that Cataclysm: DDA has had these features for a very long time, and many more.

    • kingskin says:

      Great if you enjoy 40 year old graphics. Or you can update it to 30 years old graphics with a tileset. Was fine 25 years ago. I just cannot face these graphics anymore, no matter the depth.

      • Mmmslash says:

        Depth is an understatement. It’s the Atlantic Ocean of the genre. It’s Dwarf Fortress levels of depth. It’s Space Station 13 levels of depth.

    • JB says:

      Can I play CDDA with my friends?

  8. kulik says:

    Project Zomboid is for me a huge wasted opportunity. The tech demo denoted a short but intense story-like game experience. Just day or two on a small but dense map with lots of drama and interesting NPC interactions before being overrun. Instead they got carried away and got lost in the feature-creep, huge but empty uninteresting maps, farming, fishing, building, i.e. BOREDOM. Yeah, and now we have cars to drive from one uninteresting place to another uninteresting place.

    • DudeshootMankill says:

      This. I so agree. I bought zomboid in the beginning of early access and i feel they’ve missed the mark and gone overboard with feature creep.

      Cant deny i’ve had some fun times in multiplayer though.

  9. Chris says:

    Great work! A feature that we didn’t ask for rather than a feature we have been asking for for years (NPCs). [/sarcasm]

    • pizzerizgud says:

      What are you talking about, cars were one of the first things asked to be implemented into this game. People have been asking for cars just as much as people have been asking for npcs.

    • necurbanapauperem says:

      Some people asked for it. Those people should have kept quiet until the NPCs were done. Having kept up to date on this since the first Alpha, my impression was they were willing to work on basically anything else other than the NPC’s. After a couple of years I eventually had to decide to play just about anything else but Zomboid. Which will continue until, you guessed it, they do the bloody NPC’s!
      “Hey guys, I know you all wanted player crafted doors..” NO. PUT. THE. NPCS. IN.

  10. Kitano1314 says:

    After all these years I’ve really started to hate the theme music, that repetitive note at the beginning and that bloody woman that starts moaning like wohhoohhooohh send me on a rampage before ive even started raiding the fridge!

  11. zorkolot says:

    In some ways I feel including modern conveniences, like cars, goes against the Zombie Apocalypse genre. In this game we are supposed to go back to the basics- boil our own water, grow our own crops, build our own shelter, scavenge for finite supplies from surrounding structures. It would have been more interesting to include alternate transport like water rafts/canoe, handcar for rail, bicycle, or foot scooter. These things require thinking a little more outside the box and don’t need electricity or fuel to run.

    • SirFinbar says:

      I agree that alternate methods of transportation would be interesting, but getting a car together and scavenging for fuel and parts does fit the concept of using what finite resources society has left behind after the apocalypse.

      I suppose there is an urban/rural divide, and it is usually the imperative of the characters to escape the dangerous city centre and head out into the countryside (where things turn out to be less safe than hoped!)

  12. Ashraven says:

    Did a double take when the article mentioned NPCs. Thought the devs finally added them at some point and I missed the news.

    Sadly seems to be a mistake by the article author. Meh.

    Add NPCs > I’ll play again.
    Add anything else > Don’t care.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>