Tweaking Settings for Success

Brother and I have continued our 7 Days to Die game much to both of our surprise. After the first session I concluded that there was enough new things added over the years that I could see myself playing it for a few more hours. That was more than a month ago and I’m still looking forward to every session.

Something that’s helped form that stickiness for me are the game settings that we’ve tweaked:

  • 24 Hour Cylce: 120 minutes
  • Player Block Damage: 200%
  • Drop on Death: Backpack Only
  • Blood Moon Count: 16 Enemies

You could say this makes things much easier but I say it makes things more playable.

I like the exploration aspect of 7 Days way more than I like the horde nights. I know, I know…the horde nights are, like, the namesake of the game but mowing down hordes of zombies with traps doesn’t do as much for me as going out there and finding cool stuff. Making the 24 hour cycle twice as long adds more time for the funs stuff and doesn’t make preparing for horde nights feel a chore. There’s more time to explore, complete quests, get level ups, and find loot while also leaving the 7th day open to prepare for the horde. We did double the amount of zombies that can spawn per player to compensate for the extra time.

The longer days add their own challenge in the way of food and water. The game days are twice as long so there’s a need for a bigger food supply to keep up with the extra exploration and fighting. We’ve found ourselves in many situations where we desperately scramble to find something edible before one of us die. We’re going to start a farm to try to eliminate those situations.

Longer days also makes getting through a week of in game time take a while. We average maybe a day and a half per session about once a week. As a result, we just saw our first horde night at the end of November.

Our horde night base minutes before the sun went down.

Increasing Player Block Damage to 200% is a nice quality of life improvement. There are a number of safes and locked chests that contain some nice loot but in the absense of lockpicks the only way to open them is by hitting them with a pick axe. High durability and slow stamina regen leads to a lot of waiting around to open these things so we decided to up the block damage. It still takes time to open high durability chests but it’s much more reasonable.

Our final tweak was dropping only your backpack on death. That way we can keep our most important items or weapons on the hotbar and have something to defend ourselves with as we run back to get the rest of our stuff.

On top of our changes, there a couple additions to the game which has made the whole experience better. First up are Bicycles. Back in the day (way back in 2017), we had one mode of transportation, the Minibike, and we liked it. Until it got randomly got stuck in the ground and you may or may not have been able to dig it out of the ground….

Enter the Bicycle: a marvel of post-apocalyptic engineering that can either be crafted or obtained from completing the Tier 1 quest reward.. It doesn’t need gas, it’s faster than running, and if you sprint it consumes a moderate amount of stamina. And the best part? It has yet to get stuck in the ground. There are a few other vehicles that have been added over the years. Right now we’re working towards crafting motorcylces as soon as we can craft or find enough forged steel. There’s also a 4×4 truck and a Gyrocopter waiting at the tail end of the Grease Monkey skill line.

Then there’s the Trader quests. I vaguely remember traders from our previous games. I don’t think we used them much and I think they weren’t easy to find. Now traders serve as quest hubs and a general store to bolster your supplies. The quests aren’t complicated they come in a variety of fetch, clear, and treasure hunt style. There are some quests that can only be completed at night which involve turning on a bunch of generators in a building and fighting off zombies. those are pretty fun.

Alright, the bicycle got stuck in a fence once but it came right out after I dismounted.

The quests help give a bit of direction on what to do with your day when your not scrounging around for food and supplies. The traders dole out some nice rewards to for completing them. The rewards very, sometimes all of the reward options are junk and sometimes you get a new tool or weapon you aren’t able to craft yet. After completing a certain number of quests a new tier is unlocked which garners better rewards. We just unlocked tier 3 quests last week.

7 Days to Die: Mostly the Same but a Little Bit Different

7 Days to Die one of my most played games on Steam clocking in at just shy of 160 hour. My friend group and I played this into the ground for a few months in 2017. It was my first Zombie survival game and the first survival sandbox I’d played at a time when those were just starting to fall out of favor. By the time I had racked up 150 hours I felt like I had seen and done everything I wanted to and shelved it for years to come. Since then, I’ve played it two more times. Once for a few hours in 2020 and once more earlier this week.

My feelings in 2020 were much the same. There was nothing that was really new in the game even after 3 more years of being in “alpha”. The core mechanics were still the same and most of the new things were locked behind later game skills and resources. Since our saves have long since been wiped starting a new one didn’t do much for me. I was done after a few hours and felt indifferent to the experience.

Recently, Brother started playing it again on his own and asked if I wanted to play. Again, I felt indifferent towards the game but figured I could play it once more and see how another two years of “alpha” had gone. I spawned in to the new game and was met with the same tutorial I’d done a few times already. Punch plants, make a bed, punch more plants, make some clothes, punch a tree and some rocks and make a tool…the survival sandbox equivalent of “Use WASD to move.

Once that wass over and I met up with Brother I was pleasantly surprised to see that things had actually changed. For one, the small city we found ourselves in had a lot of buildings I’d never seen before. The residential area also had some new houses I’d never been in either. Right away, the game was feeling a little less stale.

There was a trader within 100 meters of us which offered some gear and quests to complete. They’re basic, fetch an item from a location, clear out a location of zombies, and find buried treasure, but they offer a a different play stlye from systematically exploring and looting every building. The rewards aren’t to shabby either. All quests reward some tokens that can be used at the trader to buy things and some quests even reward you with skill books, weapon mods, and other useful items.

Digging for buried treasure.

So far, guns seem to be easier to get. The pipe guns seem to be a new low tier gun that fire regular ammunition. I remember having tons of ammo in the past but guns being difficult to acquire. Things seem a bit more balanced now in that regard, I now have a pipe rifle and anywhere from 10-30 rounds at any given time. Melee seems to still be the most efficient style of combat for the early game but the gun comes in handy in some sticky situations.

This is our base, I’m not sure what it’s suppose to be but it sure looks sturdy!

After running some quests and gathering up a few materials we started looking for a place to set up a base. I came across a very sturdy looking industrial building. I’m not exactly sure what it is but the entrance is high off the ground and accessible by a ladder. There’s enough space for every thing we need right now and it’s close to the trader.

Setting down roots and starting to build up the base has left me feeling more attached to the game than I was in 2020. I can see at least a few more sessions in the future. I’m hesitant to say 7 Days to Die will make it in to the main game rotation but I can see the possibility. There’s a certain nostalgia factor for sure but there’s also enough that’s new right off the bat that makes me want to poke around for a few more hours.

A Full Fireteam

Aliens: Fireteam Elite has been dominating my co-op gaming time as of late. Last week, Supertoast joined us in the Xenomorph culling fun. Let me tell you, that third person absolutely helps missions go smoother.

Up until last week Brother and I were running missions with the two of us plus an AI companion. The AI isn’t bad, their actually a great shot and seem to be able to heal themselves indefinately but they have a tendency to run into the middle of enemies. Unsuprisingly, that’s not a good thing to do in most situations. We could have done the matchmaking with randoms but the AI seemed like it might be more reliable.

Flamethrowers: good for killing Xenomorphs bad for seeing anything

An actual human third person on the team helps immensely. We told SuperToast that as long as he didn’t run into hordes of enemies he was already doing a better job than the bot. SuperToast chose to play the Technician class which round out Brother’s Demolisher and my Doc classes nicely. The Technician gets can deploy charge coils which slow down enemies as well as a free turret. The turret seems to have unlimited ammo and is on a 15 second cooldown if it’s destroyed. That’s awesome, considering how much we were relying on consumable turrets to help us get past big waves. Less money spent on consumables means more money spent on unlocking weapons and perks.

In order to get Toast caught up we had to run all of the Priority One and Giants in the Earth campaign missions again. I noticed two things as we retread old ground. The first is the overall structure of the missions. Each mission follows a similar pattern: run to the objective, defend against a wave, find an item or two, run to the next objective and repeat. I would think this would get boring but it’s not, atleast not yet. You kind of know what to expect as you hit each mission beat and are a little better prepared for the fight as you get more familiar with the mission. I’m assuming this will be invaluable when we try the missions on higher difficulties. The missions also push you towards the next objective by constantly spawning enemies if you stick around too long. This forces a nice pace where you need to decide if you want to stick around to heal and risk losing more health and ammo to new enemies or push on and heal/ setup later near the new objective.

The second is that challenge cards keep old missions fresh. At first I was skeptical of the Challenge Card system. These are cards you get for completing missions or Tactical Opportunities (Dailies) that grant a multiplier to credits and xp at the end of a mission in exchange for a debuff of some sort. These can be anything from disabling consumable items, only letting you reload when your clip is empty, or my personal favorite, you have a chance of knocking over teammates if you run in to them. The challenge cards make each mission play just a bit differently that it’s not boring running it multiple times. Plus those sweet, sweet, rewards really help.

As a group we were able to finish the last mission in Giants in the Earth on standard. This mission was giving Brother and I trouble on our own. The last room spawns a bunch of Heavey Synths and if you don’t take them down quickly enough they overwhelm you. With three people focus firing on them, and an extra free turret to deal with the little guys, we took them down quick enough that this mission was a breeze on standard.

We’re now halfway through the campaign missions. I have confidence that with three people we’ll be able to complete the rest of the game on standard without having re-run missions to level up.