Project Zomboid to get new lighting system, improved NPCs and carpentry

Project Zomboid developers, The Indie Stone have enjoyed more than two months of development time in which nothing has caught fire or exploded. A robbery in October wiped out weeks of progress, but the team is back on track and have been teasing some new features that players can expect to arrive in upcoming updates, including a new lighting engine and new ways to interact with Zomboid's NPCs. Also, carpentry!

Carpentry is a surprisingly useful skill in a zombie apocalypse, it seems. The video above shows how you'll be able to construct entire structures, letting you create your own zombie-proof fortress. Developer, Lemmy points out that crafting defences in-game will be much harder than the video suggests, but it's a good way of showing what's possible with the upgraded engine tech.

Lighting has also been overhauled ahead of the next update. According to a recent blog post on the Project Zomboid site , players will still be able to use the old tile-based lighting system if they like, but the new look means softer shadows and an even darker tone. "Find yourself in an unlit alleyway or in the woods and you'll be in trouble. Unless armed with a flashlight, survivors will need to stick to lit areas to have any hope of seeing where they are going," say the devs.

Lighting will be affected by lunar cycles and weather. If there's a full moon out, you'll be able to see further without the aid of a flashlight. Torches will be more important than ever with the new lighting tech in place, and occasional power plant outages mean you won't be able to rely on electric lighting all the time.

NPC AI has also been improved, and you'll be able to interact with them via a new radial menu. You'll be able to ask them to join your team, give them orders and ultimately trade. Keeping them on your side will be important. New tone controls will give you different moods that you'll be able to adopt when talking to people. Become too angry or scared, and the friendlier ones won't be available.

Your character will eventually have personality traits that will decide how quickly he calms down when enraged. The devs say that "this will make booze (if you're a happy drunk), reading materials and soon to be reintegrated cigarettes a much prized commodity in keeping you alive if you have a short fuse."

There's no date for the next update, but it looks as though there are pretty major upgrades going on in Zomboid land. Beyond the next update, The Indie Stone are working on implementing much requested saving and map traversal features, female characters and fresh dialogue.

You can buy project Zomboid now for £4.99 and get access to the latest version. That version will update with every new release from the Indie Stone, too. The story of Project Zomboid's development so far is pretty spectacular, check out our Project Zomboid Special Report for an overview.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.