So you’ve spent the last 45 minutes trying to find last few zombies in a level 5 “Clear” quest, but can’t seem to locate them. It seems like the mission is bugged out, but you’re hesitant to abandon it and lose all that progress. That’s because you approached the quest with a wrong mindset, and this guide will help you have a much easier and quicker time with these quests going forward.
Other 7 Days to Die Guides:
- 7 Days to Die Achievement Guide
- 7 Days to Die Cheat Codes
- 7 Days to Die How to Fix Your FPS (+/- 60 FPS)
Before we begin
I’ve long avoided writing guides for 7 days to die for several reasons – I haven’t played that long, I’m bad at structuring guides, and overall I’m a dingus. However, the most important one is this:
7d keeps getting re-worked, its core mechanics re-built, making all prior community knowledge worthless. As such, anything I write will eventually join the vast legions of ancient obsolete scriptures that talk of old builds of the game.
As of writing this, we are on Alpha 18.4. I will not be updating this guide when future updates roll in; 7d is not my only game, and I can’t be bothered to rewrite this ♥♥♥♥ every time they rebuild the game’s core concepts.
In reality, this guide doesn’t need to be long. The approach can be explained in a single paragraph, and it is – see TL:DR. If you want a full explanation, examples, and a few rules to go by, read the rest of it.
Why are these quests counter-intuitive?
Firstly, I’ll explain what I mean when I say that your preconceptions are wrong. I’ll start by saying that it’s not your fault; the he core game design’s philosophy and the Clear quest design simply clash with one-another. What do I mean by that?
7 Days to Die core game design
At its core, 7d is a sandbox building/crafting RPG. It’s an open and fully destructible world, offering you many ways to interact with it:
- You can get a parkour skill that enables you to jump 2-blocks high
- You can destroy walls and barricades
- You can bring lockpicks to bypass locked doors
- You can bring a stack of wooden frames and minecraft-tower your way to the top of the building
Overall, it’s freedom of approach. You can do whatever you want, and the game seems to reward you most of the time. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this specific quest type. Why?
Clear quest design
Clear offers the challenge of killing a huge group of zombies in a single POI. Seems like fun, and it is. However, imagine you are tasked with designing this quest, and have to tackle the following challenges:
1) Too many enemies will slow the game to a crawl and lag up the server
2) Triggering one enemy will trigger all enemies within the building
2.1) The building can collapse because all the zombies are active and destroying it at the same time
2.2) The player can be easily overwhelmed by dealing with too much at once
2.3) The player won’t be able to explore the POI because they’ll be constantly fighting and retreating until the swarm of enemies is depleted
The devs decided on a simple solution. Each POI is broken down into small areas with scripted events. As soon as the player enters the area, a bunch of zombies spawn in it. This means that while the player is fighting a group of zombies, the rest of the POI is vacant and doesn’t have any zombies at all. As soon as the player clears an area, they can explore it a bit, loot it, and move onto the next area. This is repeated until all of the areas within the POI have been triggered, and all the zombies have been killed. This approach solves all the aforementioned problems.
However, this raises a new problem; one of navigation. How do you make sure that the player visits every area in a house and spawns every single enemy needed for the quest? It’s a large 3D structure with several floors, and multiple rooms per floor. Sometimes there’s multiple staircases, and sometimes there’s opportunity for the player to make their own vertical paths. Sometimes rooms and balconies don’t look special enough to visit. This leaves plenty of opportunities for the player to miss an area and therefore fail to trigger zombie spawns. Then once they’ve reached the end of the POI, they end up having to revisit old parts of the house, hoping to locate the area that they missed on the first pass.
This is where level design comes into play, and contradictions in gameplay occur. Against the nature of 7d’s core design, the POIs are designed to be linear. The level design of each POI tends to guide you around the entire POI and force you to see it entirely. Certain doors are locked, hallways barricaded with spike traps, hindering your progress, while certain walls are blown open and ladders are strangely placed as if to help you move forward. On occasion you might even see a torch or active light – this is placed with the intention of drawing your attention and guiding you down the intended path.
Core design is open-world, free-form, and liberating. Clear quests are linear, restrictive, and rely on scripted events. Obvious contradiction. However, because Clear quests exist within a destructible world, the player instinctively exercises their power of destruction and freedom, and this is detrimental to the experience.
Follow the intended path
You’ve entered a POI. It has many things; enemies, loot, obstacles, etc. Instinctively you might break through a barricade to save some time. In reality, by doing so you may have skipped a scripted event that was going to trigger enemies to spawn, and you’ll later be scratching your head trying to find the last few enemies in the POI.
As an example, here’s a screenshot from a youtuber called YouAlwaysWin:
He came from the right side, over the elevator platform, and in the screenshot he is fighting zombies. The way forward is past the barricades, where the zombies are coming from. Now, imagine you’re the one playing. What do you do after you’ve killed the zombies and looted the immediate area?
- If you have Parkour 3, you can jump over the barricades.
- If you have an axe, sledge, shotgun or patience, you can break down the barricade and move forward.
- If you have lockpicks, you can go back across the platform and there will be a locked door in the corner.
These are choices that an open world sandbox offers you. However, because this is quest follows a linear level design, all of the above choices are wrong.
The correct choice is to jump out of the open window on the left, onto a platform that connects to another open window behind the barricade. This will trigger an event that spawns some vultures which you need to kill. These vultures do not spawn if you break through the barricade or lockpick the door. If you do not spawn these vultures, you will not complete the quest, and you’ll be wandering around the POI until you give up or stumble into this area by chance.
How are you supposed to know that this window is the intended path? A few simple rules:
Rules to follow
1) Pretend that the world is indestructible
Each of these levels (POIs) was designed in such a way that you can navigate them without ever having to break a single barricade or door. You just need zombie killing options, and basic platforming skills. Imagine if you don’t have any axe, pickaxe, or sledgehammer; would you punch your way through that locked door, or look around to see if there’s another way in?
2) Pretend that you don’t have any perks
Parkour 3 gives you the ability to jump over 2 blocks in height. This enables you to jump over some barricades that you wouldn’t be able to if you were perkless. Not sure if any other perks like this exist, but imagine that you don’t have any perks and don’t jump over barricades that couldn’t without perks.
3) Follow the path of least resistance
This means that ignore the shortest path, and follow the path that does not require you to interact with the world to get through. Is the door locked? Leave it. Is the door unlocked? Check it out. Is the path blocked with spikes or barbed wire? Look for a way around it. Is that a ladder? Try climbing it.
4) Ignore inaccessible but intriguing areas
These levels are designed in interesting ways, and they sometimes loop around. You might see a ladder, fenced off by some railings, and it’s an impossible jump. However, this is not always the case
5) Hints and things to look for
The devs know that navigating these POIs in a linear way isn’t something that people instinctively do, so they leave hints and attempts to grab your attention. Here’s what to look for:
- Windows that are completely broken and don’t have window frames
- Torches or other light sources that seem out of place
- Big holes in walls
- Piles of boxes or other junk to make it possible to climb to a higher area
- Very slightly protruding ledges that serve as jump puzzles (usually elevator shafts)
- Wall-mounted vine trellis can be used as a ladder.
Here’s the short of it. All POIs are designed to be a linear experience. Even though you can create a shortcut by breaking a locked door or barricade, don’t do it. Look for the intended path that the level designer built for you. If you create shortcuts yourself, you’ll skip some scripted events and end up backtracking several times trying to locate the room of zombies that you missed.