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State of Decay 2 is a Wide-Open Sandbox Zombie Apocalypse survival simulator and the sequel to the original State of Decay. Published by Microsoft, it was released on May 22nd, 2018 for Xbox One and Windows 10 (only on Windows 10 store and supports XBOX Play Anywhere which means that the same account logged in can be used to play the game on XBOX One, because of being a Microsoft first-party game).
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Compared to the first game in the series, State of Decay 2 has much more emphasis on being an open-world sandbox. Unlike the first game, there isn't really an overarching plot or main single-player campaign, instead focusing on more free-form gameplay similar to the original game's Breakdown DLC game mode. The game also features up to 4-player co-op gameplay.

The game saw a free Updated Re-release for owners called the Juggernaut Edition in March 13, 2020 including a new area, remastered graphics for the Xbox One X and PC, as well as new gameplay modes and all of the DLC. The Juggernaut Edition also marks the first time the game is available on the PC outside of the Microsoft Windows 10 store (it's available on Steam and other digital distribution sites). The Heartland DLC and Homecoming DLC were released for free on July 19, 2019 and September 1, 2021 respectively. The former added the Trumbull Valley map as an extended story-based mission, while the latter made the map available as a regular region — and expanding the map to include all of the locations from the previous game — and with special scripted missions.

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State of Decay 2 contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: At the end of the original game, the original Trumbull Valley Survivors had to flee the valley and try to get to Danforth because they found out the local water reservoir was clogged with hundreds of Black Plague-infested zombie corpses, which would quickly make the valley uninhabitable. In Heartland and Homecoming this is never mentioned and the people in the valley are doing just fine.
  • After the End: This game picks up roughly eighteen months after the first, during which society has collapsed and America, and probably the whole world, has been overrun by the undead. What few pockets of humanity that are left are just barely managing the hang on.
  • The Alcoholic: One survivor group are drunkards, and want to build a still.
    Survivor: Hey, a beer in the morning is the best way to survive the apocalypse, don't you think?
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  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: CLEO is actually an experimental AI that became damaged, and the entire plotline of 2 is getting "her" head on straight.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Not only are there periodic sieges (see below), but zombies will constantly be getting in your base, no matter what you do. Expect at least one zombie hopping the wall every 30 seconds, and they will always zero in on the active character. This is incredibly irritating, as your base is thus no sanctuary and you'll very often be attacked while you are navigating menus. The HAVEN protocol from CLEO can make this a non-issue.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Red Talon. Lieutenant Meredeth's broadcasts are uplifting, patriotic Rousing Speech, but their leader Teresa West also briefly discusses "getting rid of" "troublemakers" from survivor communities, and there are claims from other survivors that Red Talon is running forced labor camps, notably Camp Erie. Meredeth denies it, as does Sasquatch, but Sasquatch also notes if they were, it would be necessary given the situation the country is in. Meanwhile, Sanchez on the Trumbull Valley map will be cagey about why he left Red Talon, and hints they were doing things he did not approve of.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: Quite a few things have been added to make the game simpler from the first.
    • Anything in a vehicle's storage can be instantly transported to the community locker so long as the vehicle is parked at a base parking lot. The original game also allowed for this, but only for rucksacks, forcing you to still tediously transfer items and weapons to the locker yourself.
      • At launch items needed to be manually transferred from backpack to the trunk before clicking the right trigger to transfer to base. A later patch now allows direct transfer from backpack to base as long as the character is looking in the trunk and the vehicle is parked in the base parking lot.
    • Influence is no longer required to remove items from the locker and items you don't want/need can be destroyed straight from the locker, rather than having to put them in the player's inventory first.
    • There is now a visible numerical score telling the player what exactly the base and individual survivor morale is and why. This way you know what specifically you need to work on to increase morale for everyone.
    • Suppressors no longer have limited uses, but instead increase the wear and tear on the firearm they are attached to, the level of which is dependent on their quality (Handmade suppressors will wear the gun out faster than a Professional or Advanced suppressor will).
    • Equipped melee weapons and guns have their own dedicated inventory slots and no longer take up room in your backpack.
    • Vehicles can not be permanently destroyed in this version. Even if one is rendered badly damaged and undriveable, it will never despawn, and anything in its trunk is safe.
    • Initially, dropping an outpost refunded your influence, but as of Patch 3.0 there is now a 40% penalty to returned influence. You still get 60% back, so there is a reduced penalty for posting and dropping.
    • Ferals and Juggernauts are still dangerous, but Ferals no longer have an instant kill attack. Juggernauts however, can still instant kill you if your health is gone and they grab you.
    • Is your map all but exhausted, and you're still not close to beating the game? No problem — you can simply move to a fresh map with a radio command. This does reset the Blood Plague and Leader quests, but you keep all of your resources, survivors and items.
    • Added via a recent patch: when you mark a Survivor for exile, they will teleport in front of you. This removed the very, very frustrating ritual of having to find out where they were at in the base to finish the job.
    • Using the radio command to "Locate Resources" actually generates the resource if it's no longer available naturally; normally, it'll just point the player to the appropriate storefront. In the previous game, it would only locate a remaining rucksack in an unlooted location — once they were all gone, they were gone forever. But for 35 (or more, depending on difficulty level) influence the game will stick a fresh rucksack in one of the indicated locations. Thus, resources will never run out.
    • Survivors you're not using stay at home and any resource gathering they do is off screen. No more having to go rescue missing survivors or bogged down supply runners every ten minutes.
    • Added with Patch 10: You will be warned 10-15 minutes before an Enclave is giving up on waiting for your help on a quest (and turning hostile or leaving). Previously, you had no warning at all.
    • The simulation now only runs while you're actually playing the game and is based upon in-game time rather than real time. No more loading up your game to find your community in utter shambles because you haven't been able to play in awhile.
  • Anyone Can Die: Similar to the first game, any of your characters can die and the game will just keep going. That is, unless you run out of survivors completely. Then it's game over. Even in the more plot-focused Heartland campaign, any of your survivors including your two starting characters can die at any time.
  • Ascended Extra: Red Talon existed in Lifeline as a radio support option. By 2, they've become one of two surviving factions that have replaced the U.S. government in helping survivors. Red Talon Lieutenant Meredeth makes periodic radio broadcasts, encouraging survivors and providing advice. Hell, you were once able to recruit an entire community of them via a glitch which is now patched! However it is still possible to recruit a few through legitimate means.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Just like the last game, burst and automatic firing modes will just pointlessly waste your ammunition. Unless you are unloading on a plague heart or a Juggernaut, one bullet (of any kind) to the head kills anything else in the game, making even a short burst ridiculous overkill. On any difficulty higher than Normal, human enemies do resist headshots, so full auto weapons are somewhat useful against them, but they're usually very rare.
    • Revolver cartridges such as .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum fall into this category thanks to their placement among other ammo types. They do more damage than standard pistol cartridges, sure, but the fact that most zombies already die to a single headshot regardless of caliber means that doing more damage is just a waste. Revolvers also cannot be silenced (with a few rare event-limited exceptions from the Bounty Broker). Combine that with the relatively rare ammo and rare gun spawns means that most players are bound to leave their revolvers sitting in storage for the better part of the game. With the patch adding the ability for survivors to carry a sidearm and a long arm, revolvers do have some utility as a backup weapon to help with Juggernauts if they're using a lower caliber rifle like the Prepper's 10/22. The game has also introduced cowboy weapons (lever-action rifles of full-length and pistol size) which use magnum ammo and can be silenced, however they're also event-limited Bounty Broker weapons.
    • .50BMG weapons are among the most powerful weapons in the game, but the ammo for them is very rare. They're pretty much overkill for anything that isn't a Juggernaut, or a last ditch weapon for a Plague Heart. They are very useful, however, when wielded by a Survivor not controlled by the player.
    • The Lumber Mill in the Providence Ridge map is a shining example of this. Having 5 large slots to play with and the ability to create materials on demand sounds useful - but the lack of small outdoor slots means that, unless you can build a Sniper Tower, you have no way of lowering threat and will be facing large zombie invasions constantly.
    • Bloater Gas weapons do massive damage against humans, but have no effect against zombies. On regular difficulty, they're pretty pointless since fights against hostile humans are quite rare and easily resolved with headshots. However, on Harder Than Hard difficulty, headshots don't instantly kill enemy humans, making Bloater Gas weaponry somewhat more useful as enemy humans can actually take quite a lot of damage and can recover if they're not executed quickly when knocked down.
  • Big Good:
    • Lily Ritter is this for the Network and, to a lesser extent, Red Talon. She's seemingly able to defuse the conflict between the two basically just by asking them to stop competing and start working together.
    • CLEO is a more mysterious one. No one knows her true identity, origins, or motives, but everyone loves the periodic supply drops she provides. Heartland appears to subvert this, as it seems CLEO is somehow involved with the Blood Plague as an experiment. However, unlocking her HAVEN protocol in Homecoming gives your base the ultimate defense against zombies.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: How a survivor usually kills a Juggernaut.
  • Bland-Name Product: The board games in the lounge when installed include Humans Are Terrible and West To Oregon.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Firecrackers are cheap to make, a mere 10 parts for three (or more with special base bonuses), but they will save an overmatched player thanks to the Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! zombies who will instantly run to where the firecrackers are. They are also extremely handy in clearing infestations, luring zombies out into the open for some Car Fu or just plain gunfire — and they won't be distracted by gunfire because they're not as loud as the firecrackers. There's a tiny chance they'll be set aflame, too. The only downside is they don't distract special zombies. Unfortunately, noisemakers become almost worthless in Nightmare mode, as even regular zombies will ignore them for the tasty snack that is you.
    • Dodging behind a zombie, grabbing them, then insta-killing them. This is more fiddly than just straight up bashing them your main melee weapon, but doing the insta-kill doesn't wear down the durability of your close combat weapon, is a guaranteed kill, and gives a moment of invulnerability while still giving fighting experience.
    • The Builder legacy bonus in New Game+. The Sheriff and Warlord bonuses (periodic weapon and item drops) are nice, but always having power and water at your base can save you base and outpost slots.
    • Close Combat is not terribly effective for crowd control, but when you max it, you can take down zombies quickly with a flurry of attacks — and it you will ALWAYS have a working close combat weapon that never needs repairs.
    • Blunt Weapons do not kill as quickly as Bladed... however, their knockdown capability is impressive and allows you to instantly execute downed zombies. Plus, they can stun-lock ferals, allowing you to execute the feral with one button press. On top of that, they are very durable. It may not be as flashy as Bladed, but it's more versatile.
    • An upgraded medical facility doesn't do anything particularly exciting, but it will automatically heal characters and remove Blood Plague progression. You can essentially ignore the whole Blood Plague element at that point.
    • .22LR ammunition. By far the most common ammo type in the game, .22LR will be a resource in which most survivors will have no trouble expending even in the most tight of resource famines. Finding .22LR weapons is also not a difficult task and will often spawn either with traders or in gun shops in which there is usually one per town. Since all common zombies and even most special zombies can be killed with a single shot of any bullet, equipping a survivor with a .22LR pistol and some ammo is never a bad idea for armament during regular resource runs or general scavenging.
    • Crossbows are very common drops with reusable, easily crafted ammunition. They're often completely silent which is something that .22LR weapons can't boast even with suppressors. That said, they're often limited to a single bolt capacity and long reload times in between shots so they're best used for non-aggressive situations or picking off special zombies from afar.
    • The Compact Cars aren't very cool-looking and aren't durable. But they do have an amazing eight cargo slots, great pickup and a small size (making it less likely to get stuck on terrain and harder for zombies to grab on).
    • The stealth upgrade for the wits skill. All it does is make your actions, from searching and opening doors, quieter. On higher difficulties this is invaluable as sneaking is preferable, if not outright necessary, to fighting.
    • The Gunslinger upgrade for the weapons skill, especially on higher levels. Being able to quickly headshot ferals, screamers and bloaters is invaluable, especially if playing with a gamepad.
  • Break the Cutie: When one of your survivors kills one of their first humans, they question what they’ve done with horror. They get used to it eventually.
  • Broken Bridge: The updated Trumball Valley map has these, making the town of Farfield and the camping area near Mount Tanner inaccessible. Lampshaded when one of the characters notes the Valley is smaller than she expected. They're repaired in the Homecoming DLC.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Lily Ritter and Sasquatch are back, working for the Network and Red Talon respectively. The Network is itself what the Trumball Valley survivor's group eventually grew into. Lily's statement that the other original founders of The Network (Pastor Will, Marcus, Ed, Maya, Jacob, and Alan) "aren't all around anymore" may imply that some or even all of the other Trumball Valley survivors died in between games. This is likely to avoid Cutting Off the Branches given that Anyone Can Die in the original game; also Will and Alan were scripted to die no matter what.
    • CLEO returns in the Daybreak DLC, periodically dropping air strikes on hordes or providing resupplies.
    • The Heartland DLC sees the return of Ray Santos and Mickey Wilkerson.
    • The Homecoming DLC sees IzzBee joining Dr. Hoffman, with Mickey working for her.
    • Two of the Heroes from the original game's Breakdown DLC (the Mercenary and the Rebel) return as Red Talon operatives in the Daybreak DLC mode.
  • Cannibal Clan: Played straight. Later in the game you come across a group of people doing rather suspicious things and keep giving you “free food.” However once you learn about a survivor who tells you this news of survivors trying to kill and eat her, you tell her of “friends” nearby who can help but you bring her back to said group’s base! They then betray you to try kill you for food. These are apparently the same group Twain mentions on the radio in one random instance. Damn.
  • Car Fu: An effective way of dealing with zombies — unless you're in Nightmare mode, as they will damage your car, and car repair is now difficult.
  • Colossus Climb: When a Juggernaut's health is low enough, a Survivor can execute it by climbing on it and repeatedly stab it in the neck.
  • Conspiracy Theorist:
    • Twain, the primary voice of The Network on the radio, is heavily anti-government and seems to be one of these. He believes in a number of conspiracy theories, some of which are proven to be true (i.e. Project Osiris), and some of which seem unlikely (he implies the Blood Plague and its cure were deliberately created by the government to control the populace through controlled distribution of said cure, which seems disproven by the tutorial of the game).
    • In Heartland, IzzBee speculates CLEO is being operated by the government and that the government has ulterior motives for not aiding survivors.
  • Cosmic Deadline: While Heartland mostly re-creates Trumbull Valley map, there are several obvious development skimps. For instance, you cannot go to the second floor of any two-story residential house, and the northeast quadrant (with the fairgrounds) is blocked off completely.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: In the updated Trumball Valley map in Homecoming, the mostly intact skyline of Danforth is visible from the valley exit. This seems to indicate the city wasn't nuked back in Lifeline.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Juggernauts can take over three dozen headshots from a basic 9mm weapon before being stunned, allowing you to perform a finishing move on them. They can even survive several headshots from a .50 anti-materiel rifle.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • If you manage to keep any of the four starting survivors from the tutorial mission alive until the end of the game, they will have unique dialogue near the end after you defeat the Blood Plague.
    • In a New Game+, if a character who did their Aunt's .22 Prepper mission still has the .22 Prepper, they will instead practice shooting 25 zombies with it and commenting how awesome the gun their Aunt left them is. If you lost the rifle, the mission will have them buying the gun for almost no Reputation before doing the aforementioned quest.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The Prepper's 10/22 rifle can be obtained via a random personal sidequest for one of your survivors, who wants to locate their prepper aunt. It has an astonishing 50-round drum magazine, an impressive semi-auto rate of fire, comes fitted with a homemade silencer and can be fitted with an advanced silencer to get rid of the weapon decay penalty, uses the incredibly cheap and easy to make .22 lr ammo, and can still kill anything in the game except Juggernauts and armored zombies with a single headshot. The sidequest to get the rifle can pop up as early as immediately after the end of the tutorial. It can also rarely be acquired from Network agents.
    • Completing Mickey's questline in Homecoming will get you the 7.62 equivalent of the Prepper, with an advanced suppressor as well. Mickey's questline is one of the easier missions of Trumbull Valley, too.
    • If you know where to look for them, the special weapons caches can drop some very nice equipment, like a grenade launcher or AK-47 with a 150 round magazine. With these, you can then easily clear out plague hearts, which drop even more upgraded equipment.
    • One of the first missions is to get a Plague Sample. The quest giver warns you that getting them by destroying a Plague Heart is dangerous, but Hearts usually have an advanced weapon inside them for your troubles.
  • Foreshadowing: In the Homecoming DLC, The Ray Santos Legacy story arc begins "All Good Things". It's a not so subtle hint Ray won't be much around much longer, as the Complete-the-Quote Title is "... Must Come to An End."
  • Fragile Speedster:
    • Hostile humans are this. They're just as fast and capable of dodging as your survivors, but a single headshot will bring them down. That said, if you try to melee them you'll find they're able to take an astonishing number of crowbar hits to the face. They upgrade to Lightning Bruiser status on higher difficulties, especially Nightmare or Lethal, as they have massive health pools and can no longer be killed with one headshot — and being in a vehicle just makes you an easier target. Thankfully, fighting them is very rare.
    • Ferals are fast and strike with rapid, very damaging attacks, but can be taken out with a single headshot. Plague Ferals have an armored dome over their head that needs to be shot off before you can headshot them, however.
  • Gainax Ending: The ending to Heartland. You've destroyed the last Plague Wall! What do you find inside but a mysterious CLEO module? When Dr. Hoffman hacks into it, it ominously activates the "HAVEN" protocols and thanks you for your participation in this "experiment". The Homecoming DLC continues the story with the now-inert Plague Walls on the map, the CLEO module gone, and one special survivor, Tressie, investigating just what happened.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Outside of the tutorial missions, the game has no real overarching plot, focusing more on being an open-world sandbox experience with occasional random side-quests, with your only primary goals being destroying the 10 plague hearts and establishing your endgame leader legacy. What passes for a story in the game is told via periodic radio broadcasts from The Network and Red Talon detailing the state of the country and a growing conflict between the two groups.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Following the Homecoming update, screamers will now shatter the windows of any nearby houses or vehicles when they emit their ear-piercing howl.
  • Hand Cannon: Pistols that use .44 magnum rounds (i.e. the Desert Eagle or S&W M29 revolver) deal high damage and have the same ability to penetrate multiple enemies that rifle-caliber longarms have. The downside is that .44 magnum weaponry cannot be silenced.
  • Happy Ending Override: Returning to Jurassic Junction with IzzBee in Homecoming shows the location is completely trashed and overrun with zombies, and IzzBee can't get over whatever happened after the events of Heartland.
  • Heel Realization/The Atoner: Mickey admits in the Homecoming DLC is family is kinda terrible, and he's done some awful things, and wants no part of that legacy anymore.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted. Night in this game is just as dark as you'd expect in rural areas with no electrical lighting. One of the benefits of having electric power to your base is it will be lit up at night.
  • I Lied: In one optional Sheriff side mission, you must retrieve a rucksack of stolen meds for a group. You have the choice of either killing the thieves outright or negotiate peace. Should you choose option B, they seemingly let you and the other group member from the friendly group go scot free with meds. Then, the moment you step out of the building... They betray you and kill the friendly enclave member following you and (possible if you have terrible gear at hand) you.
  • In Medias Res: A non-tutorial game in which the player picks three survivors will have them banter about dealing with the Blood Plague and specials, showing they've had their adventures and are deciding to settle down and hole up in the selected town rather than Walk the Earth.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • At max level the Powerhouse skill lets you execute zombies without needing to stun them first; this allows you to pretty much insta-kill anything short of a Feral or Juggernaut with a single button press. The Juggernaut Edition changes this so it only works with Heavy weapons, however, the Bladed and Close Combat weapon specializations are also given insta-kills at max level (Blunt weapon specialization does not have an insta-kill, but does give a special move that knocks down multiple zombies at once).
    • If you're lucky enough to roll a character with both the Scouting specialization in their Wits slot and the Weapon Handling specialization in their Firearms slot, the 25% bonus to firearm durability from both skills will stack, letting your character blaze away with firearms with significantly reduced degradation.
    • In Heartland, The Plague Buster grenade is a major game changer. It instantly annihilates any Screamer or Plague Zombie in the area of effect. Two of them will kill a feral, and even the mighty Juggernaut will be at deaths door for two hits. Once you have a good supply, the heavy freaks are little more than an annoyance.
      • Best yet, it's harmless to humans. So any time you're swarmed, throwing one at your feet will instantly slaughter the normal zeds and set the freaks reeling.
    • Red Talon base equipment are the best bang-for-your buck upgrades available. The Red Talon watchtower has the most danger reduction of all watchtowers you can construct, the officer's quarters provides two beds, a latrine, and skill boosters, and the Red Talon workshop is equal to a level 3 workshop, but comes with its own power supply and provides +1 material per day. Best of all, they cost nothing to construct. The downside is they can only be acquired with presige grinded in Daybreak.
    • A combination of skills can give a Survivor the ability to run indefinitely without ever getting tired unless carrying a rucksack or heavy equipment — and infinite Sneaking, too.
  • Killed Off for Real: In the Homecoming Update, numerous characters from Heartland unfortunately fall into this category. Those that are confirmed dead (or die later as the DLC progresses) are Malik, Nat, and Ray Santos. Excluding Reba, Diane, Mickey, IzzBee, Chavez, and Doctor Hoffman, the rest of the Heartland characters’ fates remain shrouded in mystery.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Before Update 28, players could ransack a group's enclave (then sell them back their property).
  • Left Hanging: Word of God says the Blood Plague and black fever from the first game are two separate diseases and the story won't be following up on the black fever angle.
  • The Load: One random sidequest involves a group of 3 unprepared and poorly equipped survivors who, like many survivor groups, ask you repeatedly for supplies. They're armed only with knives and your fellow group members will comment that they seem useless and that giving them resources is a waste. They'll eventually ask to join your group; if you accept, you'll learn they have terrible traits that cripple their combat abilities (often unable to advance beyond the first couple of levels for assorted combat skills). If you're lucky they at least might have some non-combat abilities that you're looking for (such as mechanical skill or gardening). They are, however, perfect for Cannon Fodder and Suicide Missions.
  • Lured into a Trap: Occasionally, a survivor group offering trade are actually setting up an ambush, and will attempt to kill you as soon as you arrive.
  • Mad Scientist: In Homecoming, Dr. Hoffman's faction are the Mad Scientists.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • The Close Combat specialization. It's a lot harder to fight with your emergency weapon than a bladed weapon, blunt weapon, or heavy weapon, but if you max out the Close Combat specialization you get the ability to instantly kill zombies with the press of a button. Unlike the similar ability granted by the maxed out Powerhouse or Swordplay specializations, the Close Combat specialization has considerably more I-frames, so zombies can't attack you during the animation.
    • Of all the vehicles, the Miragra gets the biggest upgrade, going from a four seater with only 4 trunk space, with average stats across the board to the Witchita ES, increasing its track space to an impressive 7, with armor that gives its durability a major boost, while improving acceleration, making it the best versatile upgraded vehicle.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: A particularly annoying example, as other outposts will always look to you to help them. There can be ten other survivor groups and they never think of asking the others, and blame you for not helping them, regardless of circumstance.
  • Master of All: Red Talon operatives have special unique specializations that give them the best benefits of ALL FOUR specialization choices. I.E., their fighting specialization, Heroism, gives them the best elements of the Close Combat, Swordplay, Striking, and Endurance specializations. This makes Red Talon operatives by far the best survivors you can recruit into your community. However, doing so requires a lot of grinding in the Daybreak DLC to earn enough Red Talon currency to afford them. To keep them from being too overpowered, all Red Talon operatives also have a "Red Talon" trait that makes them increase in Standing more slowly so they can't jump straight to Hero or Leadership status.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Unlike the first game, State of Decay 2 features combat against hostile survivors (although such fights are relatively rare), resulting in 3-way battles between you and your teammates, enemy survivors, and the zombies. Sometimes players will use Zombait to sic zombies on enemies, and toss in a firebomb after both sides are in full battle.
  • Mercy Kill: In the tutorial, the player is introduced to the shooting mechanics by putting down a blood plague zombie who the doctor was unable to save. In the main game, a player can choose to kill someone who has been infected by the blood plague if they don't have the ingredients for the cure.
    • In Homecoming, after completing the Mickey Wilkerson storyline, Ray Santos will eventually succumb to his cancer several days later. Ray asked Mickey to make sure he wouldn’t turn and Mickey mercifully killed him.
  • New Game+: Once you've completed a legacy story, the game starts over while allowing you to bring three leveled-up survivors from a previous game and two legacy bonuses.
    • Note that, unlike Breakdown, you do NOT keep your supply locker items when you start a new game. You only bring over the items carried by the three survivors.
  • No Fair Cheating: Turning off the game when your character is dead will not save them: when you log back on, they will be dead.
    • However, if you turn off the game and reload, all zombies surrounding your character will be gone — but all quests will be reset as well. However, the level of Blood Plague the character(s) have remains, meaning if they were gang-tackled by plague zombies, they may turn anyway if they're not near a cure.
    • Blocking base entrances with vehicles (to keep zombies out) won't work, either. The vehicles will be bumped back (damaging them in the process) when an NPC opens the door.
  • No FEMA Response: Zig-zagged. There were Army camps to help refugees, but they've been abandoned by the time the tutorial survivors reach one. The government appears to have straight up fled, leaving Red Talon and the Network to pick up the pieces and help remaining survivors.
  • Not the Intended Use: You can honk your car horn to attract more zombies to you. This can serve in two unintended ways, the first being a a makeshift radar, because alerted zombies appear on your minimap, while unalerted ones do not. The other is horde smashing, be it in wandering packs or infestations, although this may turn your car into The Alleged Car afterwards.
    • According to Word of God, this is the intended use, because another use is to draw zombies away from other survivors in co-op — or attract them to hostile humans. In fact, the cars have different levels of horns. The ambulance, for one, can attract zombies from longer away.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Zig-zagged. Survivors frequently refer to the hordes of the undead as zombies, but also have different nicknames for them, like "creepers" or "brainless" or "deadheads."
  • Obvious Beta:
    • The game was released with a prolific amount of bugs, from characters getting stuck in walls to touching a Juggernaut causing the HUD to disappear. What's very telling is that there's a radio command that exists to help the player get unstuck which maddeningly doesn't exist in co-op. Get stuck in co-op? Better quit and restart, losing your progress towards rewards.
    • A 20GB patch was released in June 2018. Opinions vary on whether this was 20GB worth of bug fixes, or a bug-fixed version of the whole game.
    • Microsoft has admitted that 2 is one, and that they purchased Undead Labs specifically to make 3 which they say will be the full-featured version.
    • While most of the more glaring bugs have been fixed by the Juggernaut Edition in the main game, the Heartland campaign is still a buggy mess; issues include spawning in the middle of a zombie horde instead of safely back at base when continuing the game, vehicles parked in your parking spaces being teleported to random points on the map, vehicles exploding and flying off into space with all your valuable loot inside when you try to repair them, and random crashes in the middle of major missions which completely resets the mission back from the beginning without refunding all the ammo you spend doing the mission.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: This zombie apocalypse is of the "hell is full" type where everyone revives as a zombie regardless of how they died, barring a headshot. The "blood plague" is just another disease on top of the zombies everyone has to deal with; normal zombie bites are not infectious and do not hurt you more than a regular human biting you (which can take out a chunk of flesh, but still).
  • Plot Armor: Almost none in a game where Anyone Can Die, but there are some rare exceptions, especially in Homecoming. Characters like Ray, IzzBee, Dr. Hoffman, and other plot relevant characters can be completely wrecked by Blood Juggernauts, but they'll at worst be limping from Blood Plague (which won't kill them.)
  • Private Military Contractors: Red Talon. Notably, if you recruit a Red Talon soldier, they're called a "contractor".
  • Queer Romance: Completing Mickey's questline reveals his brother Eli and Lily's brother Jacob were romantically involved; they were killed during the opening of the zombie apocalypse. Mickey says that if there was anyone who could have resolved the tensions between the Wilkersons and Ritters, it was Eli, who was the White Sheep of the family.
  • Rage Quit: Thanks to the Rogue Like nature of the game that saves the game constantly, quitting the game before a member can die is a tactic.
  • Random Number God: The game tries to avoid having illogical scenarios, but sometimes it'll have the farmhouse where Ray Santos in Homecoming DLC was staying have a Plague Heart. "Something happened" indeed.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Plague zombies' eyes glow red. It's especially noticeable at night. Just to mess with you, the area near Plague Hearts has glowing bits in the air to make some lights wander around that look like zombie eyes in the dark.
  • The Remnant:
    • Some survivor enclaves are made up of U.S. Army soldiers who got left behind when the government fled. A group of 3 ex-soldiers can join your survivor group as part of one of the game's potential random sidequests.
    • "Osiris Command" is apparently what's left of the U.S. Military; their primary concern at the moment seems to be making sure the President and other VIPs are able to ride out the apocalypse safely, rather than doing anything to help the scattered survivor communities. They also seem to consider Red Talon to be a Renegade Splinter Faction and ignore communications from them.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Zombies and humans can only be killed by destroying their brains. If you down a human without doing so, they'll reanimate a few seconds later as a zombie. Also, hostile human NPCs use the same "second-wind" mechanic as your player characters, so unless you kill them with a headshot you need to execute them quickly while they're knocked down on the group, or else they'll just recover with most of their health restored.
  • The Reveal: Homecoming reveals finally what the acronym CLEO stands for (long a source of speculation among fans). It stands for Computerized Logistics for Executive Operations and is an experimental advanced artificial intelligence (AI) developed by the US military and housed in a network of orbital satellites. When society began to collapse, the CLEO AI was tasked with automated logistics and resupplies for the military while it tried to contain the outbreak. However when the military was overwhelmed and splintered, CLEO went dormant until certain people were able to access and utilize it's resupply functions. 18 months into the apocalypse the satellite network that housed CLEO began to decay, putting it's mission in jeopardy and leading to survivors in Trumbull Valley doing whatever possible to salvage the AI and it's logistics functions.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Revolvers have been somewhat improved from the first game. While they still cannot be suppressed, they won't jam or break, unlike automatics which wear out and have to be repaired after a few magazines worth of gunfire.
    • An experimental silenced revolver is available as part of the "Trumball Valley Pack" from the Bounty Hunter quest giver. It holds 8 rounds of .22 ammo and like all revolvers has infinite durability; the only drawback is that the cylinder does not swing out (which is part of what allows it to be silenced) so you have to reload it one chamber at a time.
  • Serial Killer: A crossbow-wielding maniac will sometimes show up and murder neutral or hostile survivor enclaves. When confronting them, you can either drive them out of town, fight them, or even have a small chance of recruiting them to your community.
  • The Sheriff: One of the possible leaders for your community is this. Their legacy is built upon bringing law and order back to society, which culminates in a fight with a band of renegade survivors preying on neighboring enclaves.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Humans and ferals will go down quickly with one blast from a shotgun. Update 19 gave them numerous buffs, such as guaranteed dismemberment or headshots within 20 meters, reliable kills within 5, and much less noise so you don't attract another horde while you wipe out the first one.
    • It gets even better with the Sharpshooter perk: the cloud of buckshot goes through anything it hits. With good timing, you can decimate 5-8 incoming zombies with one shot.
  • Shout-Out: Building a trade depot nets you the Achievement "Who Run Bartertown?"
  • The Siege: Like in Lifeline, your base will be periodically attacked by zombies. The frequency and intensity of the attacks is based on how much noise your base makes, with higher tier base facilities and larger populations creating more noise.
    • The Daybreak DLC is one long, intense siege mission.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: The Action Movie survivor thinks he's in one, so he spouts lines from action films (as seen in Shout Outs).
  • Stepford Smiler: The Achievement "Throw Your Love Around" (getting a 100 morale on Dread difficulty or harder) features a Survivor smiling as if Happiness Is Mandatory.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Averted. As all characters (other than the tutorial's starting characters) are randomly generated, it's quite common for a parent and child or siblings to look nothing like each other, and often be from entirely different ethnic groups. One random sidequest in which a pair of brothers joins your community at least lampshades this by noting that they're step-brothers.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: All three new maps are quite similar to Trumbull Valley from the first game, being rural areas in the shadow of a large mountain. The layout of the foothills map (the first choice when asked which map you want) in particular is extremely similar to Trumbull Valley.
  • Thrill Seeker: The Action Movie survivor acts like the entire game is one big Army of Darkness scenario, wanting fast cars, weapons, and taking on special zombies.
  • Time Management Game: A key element. You cannot take every mission that comes in due to sheer volume, so you need to choose which is more important. You must constantly be on the move:
    • If you don't seek out the traders, you'll likely never get the higher end weapons and base improvements.
    • If you ignore other Enclaves, they may leave the valley, or even turn hostile.
    • If you ignore personal missions for your own survivors, they will get angry and make the base morale drop.
    • If you ignore the Scattered Survivor missions, you will miss out on recruits and easy resources.
    • If you don't periodically clear out Infestations, they spread and your base morale will suffer tremendously.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Team members with the Warlord aspiration are this, being ruthless and having few qualms about killing other humans to survive.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The special zombies are significantly more dangerous this time around. The Feral is better at dodging and attacking, the Bloater is sneakier and its gas does more damage to both health and stamina, the Juggernaut is..well The Juggernaut, and the Screamer is better at drawing in zombies.
    • Your own survivors to an extent. when you first meet and recruit them, they are potentially not the best fighters. Once you max them out however, they become badass undead killing machines after singlehandely disposing of hundreds of zombies. Not to mention, that’s on their own!
      • It bears mentioning that NPC Survivors in your community almost never are killed while controlled by the AI... which is quite a change from the original, where they'd get killed all the time while under AI control.
    • In Heartland, all of the zombies are far more dangerous:
      • The regular zombies can now climb. You are no longer safe jumping on top of a platform.
      • The Ferals now take four shots to the head to take down, not one.
      • Screamers don't just attract zombies like before, they now spawn them in the immediate area, including specials.
      • Bloaters' area of affect is increased and the health penalties for breathing Bloater Gas has increased quite a bit.
      • Juggernauts were tough before but now they are nigh invulnerable: double the hitpoints, a plague cloud area of affect attack, and they no longer run into walls.
  • The Topic of Cancer: Ray Santos reveals in the Homecoming DLC he's dying of cancer, and doesn't want Lily to know about it.
  • The Virus: The Blood Plague, carried by the plague zombies and presumably created by the plague hearts that infest the map. Getting hit or bit by a plague zombie causes a survivor's infection meter to increase and if it fills up completely they will be infected. After three real time hours, that survivor will then die and turn into a zombie. With samples gathered from dead zombies and hearts, the player can craft the cure. Or, as mentioned above, simply Mercy Kill the infected survivor.
  • Unexplained Recovery: More to Unexplained Reconstruction. The bridges to Fairfield was destroyed prior to Heartland but in Homecoming, which takes place after the the former, the western bridge has been restored with a military portable bridge to allow access along with a makeshift wooden bridge set up as an alternate crossing further down the river. The bridge to Mount Tanner has been repaired as well, allowing for easier vehicle access than before.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Late into the game, an enclave threatens you for supplies because you’re “hogging” them. Even if you’re generous, they still continue to threaten you. Which leads to the final offer, the leader asks you to GIVE UP YOUR HOME BASE! Talk about being a major douche. You can either A, give up your base and move or B,kill those ungrateful bastards. What do you think you’d choose? If you've supplied your group well, it becomes a case of Mugging the Monster, as it turns into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Villains Do The Dirty Work: If you manage to turn a survivor enclave hostile (such as by repeatedly refusing to help them), and opt not to fight them immediately, they won't stay on the map for too long. Eventually they'll get wiped out either by zombies or the Crossbow Serial Killer.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Not every survivor in your community has the same agenda. People who qualify for the "Builder" leadership are often at loggerheads for you pursuing Sherriff missions that prioritize helping other people, for example (Traders less so since they like having allies). Sherriff missions in particular also often have you helping out one enclave over another which may make one like you less. And Warlords are just generally opposed to helping out anyone who isn't part of your tribe, putting them at odds with both Sheriffs and Traders. Some members of your community may get frustrated and leave if you don't address their concerns at least some of the time.
  • Wham Shot: In Heartland, what lies behind the last Plague Wall is a CLEO module, the biomass that forms them growing out of it.
  • Where It All Began: Heartland returns to Trumbull Valley from the first game. Homecoming opens Trumbull Valley as a regular region.
  • World Half Full: The world's continued taking hits since the first game. The U.S. government is gone, having straight up abandoned the survivors or itself succumbed to the hordes. The special zombies are more dangerous, working cars (a survival tool) are now something of a rarity, and the fuel to run them is now a resource when previously it was too plentiful to track. The blood plague's upstaged the black fever, which is something of a mixed bag: blood plague's a constant risk whereas the fever was a lurking killer, but blood plague can be treated reliably by communities that can afford it, and even comes with a handy timer to stop you from guessing when to shoot your comrade in the head, but if you can't eat the cost you need to stick your neck out for the materials and risk contracting the blood plague.

    Yet lasting positive change is possible for the first time: the campaign mode is about carving out a place to stay, whereas the best you could do in 1's equivalent Breakdown mode was to keep running. Humans have almost completely lost the joke skills that represented being specced for a normal life instead of facing death daily, and while that carries implications, are much better at staying on top of things. Increased trading, making base maintenance less demanding, and the fact that radio recon now spawns resources instead of locating them take some of the fun out of things, but also mean humans are no longer stuck running on fumes of the old world, doomed to decline once the scavenging runs out. Best of all, the player's group is no longer cut off from the world: there are factions on the airwaves from beyond the few square miles of the map, surviving and helping others to survive although one's implied to run forced labor camps. Legacy bonuses come in the form of new settlements helping to establish more. The player's likely as ever to be messily dismembered, but it now seems like a given that humanity'll survive.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • It's unclear what happened to the rest of Greyhound One or Vienna Cho from Lifeline. Though, given Sasquatch now runs with Red Talon rather than the Army, we may be able to guess.
    • When you exile a survivor from your community, unless you follow them and cause them to get killed or they have uncured blood plague and are going to turn, they are never seen or heard of again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A Sheriff or Warlord who chooses Murder Is the Best Solution will get an earful from the more peaceful Survivors.
  • Your Head Asplode: When CLEO is installed and the HAVEN protocols are activated, it makes zombie heads explode when they're too close to your base.
  • Zerg Rush: As usual for zombies, one or two are no problem for even a newbie. However, once they start attacking in groups, things can get out of hand in a hurry.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Duh.

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