7 Days to Die has been in Early Access for almost 8 years. Is this zombie survival game worth playing today?
7 Days to Die
7 Days to Die is a survival zombie game that was released as an Early Access title in December 2013. It is part of the huge surge of early access survival games that also came out in the same year such as Rust, Don’t Starve, and The Forest. Survival games as Early Access titles had started to become a trend in 2013, and it lasted for a couple of years.
Most of the games I mentioned earlier have actually had their full release a few years ago. Unfortunately, that is not the case for 7 Days to Die. By the time this video is released, it is on its Alpha 19.6 version, and based on my research, they launch big updates once a year, while incremental bug fixes of that update come occasionally. It means Alpha 20 may come in before the year ends, and I might make another follow-up video or article for it.
I actually bought this 7 years ago, and I only started playing it a few weeks ago, because I did not really like how the visual was when it first came out. My friends and I set up a server and we played a lot of it for the past weeks, and it was just so much fun. I also played solo with mods just to test things out on my own.
Thus, this is my impression of my journey in 7 Days to Die Alpha 19.6. Quick note, this is the PC version as the console version has not been updated for a very long time.
To start the impression, I am going to say that the community is very much alive. You can hop in on a lot of public servers and enjoy playing it, or you can set up your own server locally or rent a dedicated server online if you and your friends want to play without strangers. Of course, you can also play solo if you want.
The world can either be pre-generated or developer-created, in which the latter is for the best newbie experience. You can generate your own world, which takes some time, and from what I have seen, it is like 50/50 on how good it will be, and there are multiple times that roads may not make sense, and even the good seeds you can find online do have that issue as well.
On my first solo run, which I am doing right now when I was writing this impression, I looked for the name of the best seeds that you can play on. You can easily google that but so far, I have enjoyed that experience since it’s a fresh new world to explore.
However, I spent more time playing with my friends when we set up a server, and it is easy since there are a lot of tutorials on the internet. We have hosted in Google Cloud, and it works wonders especially with the ping since we always get less than 50ms.
There is some sort of customization in creating your server such as how much XP gain you are going to get, blood moon threat duration, will you drop everything if you get killed, and many more. You can easily change it before you start the server for experimentation.
You can also customize your character, which is surprisingly pretty in-depth, and you can create something that looks good or hideous, it is up to you. I enjoyed scaring my friends since my character looks like a zombie in the dark with his green skin, and running in the dark can be scary.
Once the world is created, you will spawn randomly in the world, most likely in the Forest Biome since this is the safest biome in the game. There will be a quick tutorial on how to craft the basic items, and that’s it. Everything you do here is all up to you, a true sandbox experience.
The first few in-game weeks are probably the most exciting phase of 7 Days to Die. You explore the world as it is, you meet the first trader where you can do jobs for rewards, and after doing a number of jobs, they will give you a special job to find another trader. In a sense, this is how they encourage you to check other biomes, as there are other traders out there in your world as well.
Moreover, there is also a leveling system in the game for progression. Anything you do in the game like killing a zombie, digging, cutting wood, etc. will earn you experience points (XP).
Once you level up, you can assign a point to a perk that you like. There are 5 main attributes: Perception, Strength, Fortitude, Agility, and Intellect. Each attribute has multiple perks so if you play in multiplayer with friends, it is better to focus on a build like the medic, the tank, or the miner. On the other hand, if you play solo, it is recommended to be good at most things, but not all. It depends on your playstyle. I really like that there are so many perks to choose from, so you are not going to get tied by one build every time you start from scratch.
7 Days to Die utilizes a feature called Gamestage. This calculates your progress in the game, and in return, will adjust the game mechanics like how good the loots that you will find in your surroundings, how many hordes will attack you, or which zombies will spawn around you. I remember the first time I encountered a Screamer, and I was shocked to see it was running in daylight while screaming towards me. Sad to say, I screamed as well.
The gamestage also adjusts Blood Moon horde. Blood Moon is a significant threat in the game as it will spawn horde after horde in a span of hours in the game. You cannot escape the zombies as they will pinpoint you even if you are on stealth. As a default, it will start every 7th night, and that is where the name of the game came from, and it gets harder and harder every 7 days to defend. This is a good game feature to test the players how well they can defend and if their loots or automated defenses can save them from the upcoming horde. You can disable it if you want the Walking Dead vibes, but I recommend you keep it on especially on your first run.
When we played in our server, we always looked forward to fighting the horde that it made the server so laggy by the 8th Blood Moon event, and they eventually destroyed our base and we just kept dying. It was so sad, yet so funny at the same time how they did it as well. These zombies can dig too so your underground base is bound to get destroyed as well.
To counter that threat, you must do some base building, and this game has it too. You can craft items that are for building like wood frames, cement, and many more. You can also upgrade them to be better and have more health. This forces you to do some mining and gathering of items before the invasion. Alternatively, you can buy these things from a trader as well, but that could be expensive. Surprisingly, you can even paint walls and even dye your weapons in this game.
After the first three in-game weeks, I think you probably saw like 60% of the whole game as it is. It is not a bad thing, since one day is like 1 hour in real-time in default settings. The remaining 40% is probably exploring other biomes, and there is always the looming threat of the Blood Moon event. It kind of prevents you to fully explore other parts of the map, and instead forces you to focus your time on building your defense before the last day of the week.
If it is your first time playing especially with friends, it is kind of fun to see how long your team would last in the game. On the other hand, if this is your 2nd or 3rd playthrough, it is exciting to do some role-playing if you play solo like no blood moon threat, every zombie is running, and just create your own story until you die.
Another good thing about this game is that the modding scene is very active as well. However, since this is an early access title, the mods on the previous version will not work in the latest version most of the time, so modders have to keep updating their mods to work every time a big update is launched.
I tried some lightweight mods like more spawned zombies in the vanilla version, and it made the game much more exciting. There are full conversion mods that change the whole gameplay like Romero Mod, which makes 7 Days to Die play like a Romero movie. That is fantastic, and I will probably try that next time.
Those are my impression of the game, and now I would like to talk about what lacks about it and what needs to be improved.
I guess the only major feature that lacks in this game is the AI NPC as they will make the world more alive in my opinion. Hostile, neutral, or friendly AI would make the single-player experience much more fun. Imagine hiring mercenaries to help you defend your base during a Blood Moon event, or a random bandit attack just to steal or destroy your stuff. There are mods that add NPCs in the current version of the game right now, but if it is implemented natively, it will be a gamechanger.
The random world generation feature also needs some improvement. Broken roads or floating assets can be found around the generated world. It definitely needs work, but it is serviceable as of now. As for Navezgane, I guess it needs more smaller towns between the biomes, since I always found myself staring blankly at the barren road until I reach my next mission or the next trader.
As for the lore in the game, there is almost nothing of sort regarding it. You can find some notes here and there, but it is mostly just side quests. I would not mind if the story came last in their development, but it would be nice to have journals from previous house owners on how they survived and eventually succumbed to the zombies. The first time I played the game with my friends, we coincidentally created our first base in the Grace farm POI, and behold how surprised we were to find that there was a huge pig in the basement. The funniest thing was that when the first blood moon happened, we lacked the tools to defend ourselves and eventually went down there anyway. Suffice to say, all of us died that night.
Hitbox also needs to be improved especially on multiplayer, it needs to be refined since there are many times that attacks will not connect, which is annoying. Zombies can hit you even if you are far away from them already. I mostly noticed this on multiplayer, and I did not see this issue on single-player mode.
Zombies need more variation, and their AI is too smart especially if they are locked onto you. They always find the weakest portion of the defense or building, and their pathfinding is just too accurate for a zombie.
Traders need to have more job variation. Currently, there are only three, which are Fetch, Clear, and Buried Supplies. These three seem to encompass everything that you can do in the game but with rewards. How about adding jobs like defend the trader’s fort from zombies or even bandits once they are added to the game. I think that would be nice, right?
Spawn more zombies in Vanilla is another improvement that I can suggest. One of the mods I tried is to increase it two times, and it works great. Maybe add a slider on how many zombies can spawn around your vicinity.
Lastly, performance improvement. I mean the game is smooth if you have a decent PC or laptop, but it gets worse over time. Some people suggested not to plant trees or at least cut them down quickly once they are fully grown. When we played in multiplayer, I believed it started in the 4th week that we had some performance issues during Blood moon with the amounts of zombies it is spawning. However, we did increase the spawn rate by 25% so that may have been one of the causes why it was so laggy.
This is basically what 7 Days to Die is, it is a fun zombie survival game. The foundation of a good game is already there. However, there are plenty of improvements that could be done, and I think they are focusing more on releasing new gameplay features rather than improving what they have already released before, hence, why we are stuck in this limbo.
The mods for this game are amazing as well. I highly recommend you to try them, especially the ones that will give more gameplay dynamic to make everything fresh again.
7 Days to Die is a very good buy even at 33% off if you are planning to play multiplayer from the start, but if you are going to exclusively play solo, I would say wait until 50% off before purchasing the game. Based on the previous prices, it always goes down 66% off the price if it is on sale anyway, so grab it with a couple of friends.
So that’s it! Let us know what you think of this game in the comment section. Do you love it or hate it?