One of the most surprising things about Project Zomboid is how genuinely frightening it can be, despite the outwardly friendly visuals. Developer The Indie Stone is planning on making things quite a bit scarier, however – with some upcoming changes to the survival game’s underlying technology, soon we’ll be faced with exploring subterranean levels like basements and sewers. And they’re going to be very, very dark.
Project Zomboid Build 42 is still a ways off, and will “appear a sizable amount of time after Build 41 is fully wrapped,” the devs explain in the latest update post. That update, as we’ve already learned, will include some major changes to the Project Zomboid engine. Briefly, those include a new rendering pipeline that will improve performance as new ‘chunks’ of environment are streamed into the game, a new lighting system that allows light to “naturally leak through doors and windows” to improve the atmospherics, and a removal of the existing eight-storey cap – the updated engine will support up to 32 levels in each chunk.
Crucially, those new levels can be above or below ground level.
Put all that together, and you may have already deduced that basements, sub basements, and/or sewers were on the way. You’d have been right if you did, because that seems to be exactly what The Indie Stone has in mind. Check out this video:
The plan now is to use a system that draws from a set of crafted basement and subfloor layouts whenever someone heads down a flight of stairs from ground level. Most of the time, you’d be wandering into a simple one-room basement, with some lootable containers and other stuff laying around. Bring a flashlight (sorry, a torch) with you though, because thanks to that new lighting system, it’ll be very dark down there.
However, on rare occasions you might also find the entrance to an elaborate underground tunnel system – bunker complexes or other such secret structures could be included at random. You’d never know, and this random system would mean that every playthrough held new surprises.
None of that is set in stone just yet. The Indie Stone says it’s also considering building explorable sewer locations for the Louisville area. With 32 levels of vertical space to explore, there’s a lot of possibilities.
Build 42, as we’ve already seen, will also be increasing the size of Project Zomboid’s map by quite a bit. Further down the road we can look forward to NPCs with complex and dynamic backstories when Build 43 arrives.