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!