Project Zomboid Difficulty Guide – Apocalypse and Survivor Differences

You've got red on you.

There are no traditional difficulty settings in Project Zomboid, but you can still tweak your experience with different game modes. Whether you’re looking for a challenge that leans heavily on survival or prefer to just completely customize how the world or zombies behave, there is an option for everyone. This guide explains everything to know about Project Zomboid difficulty settings, as well as the differences between Apocalypse and Survivor modes.

Differences Between Apocalypse and Survivor – Project Zomboid

Every time you create a new game, you’re given the option to choose between four playstyles: Apocalypse, Survivor, Builder and Custom Sandbox.

Project Zomboid Difficulty 1

The main two are Apocalypse and Survivor. The first is focused on stealth, and there is an expected short lifespan. Combat should be avoided as much as possible as well. In summary, think of it as “hard mode” difficulty. This is a bit confusing considering it’s the top option, so beware of choosing it if you’re only a beginner.

Survivor is more of a middle ground. Combat is a bit easier to handle, and while I’d still encourage for you to flee instead of fight, you can expect a longer lifespan overall. This playstyle is based on a previously existing mode in Project Zomboid called Survival.

Some of the specific advantages of playing Survivor in Project Zomboid are as follows:

  • There is a lower chance of getting automatically bitten if you’re attacked from behind
  • It takes more than three zombies to knock your player to the ground
  • You can hit several zombies at once with the swing of your weapon

Between the two, Survivor is fairly balanced, especially if you’re still learning the ropes. It won’t hold your hand, but that’s okay — losing several characters is a tough yet fruitful way to understand how the game works.

Once You’ve Done a Few Runs, Give Sandbox a Try

Custom Sandbox has a sheer amount of options to tweak Project Zomboid to your liking. It can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out, but once you’ve experienced a few Survivor runs, this should be the next step.

Project Zomboid Difficulty 2
“First time?”

Anything from the zombie population and the areas they inhabit, to weather, loot rarity and even the presence of vehicles can be customized. It will likely take you some time to see through all the options, but you really don’t need to customize all of them to make a big impact on runs.

You May Also Like:

For example, if you head over to Advanced Zombie Options, you’ll see the Respawn Hours option. If you bump this down to zero, zombies won’t respawn anymore. This helps to add a sense of progress to the world, as well as making your life easier.

Project Zomboid Difficulty 3

How to tweak Project Zomboid is up to you, but options such as increasing the loot you encounter or decreasing the frequency of finding locked houses can give you enough leverage to continue learning about the game without losing early on. Ultimately, the Builder playstyle may provide for a more chill experience instead.