Developer The Indie Stone has announced future update plans for Project Zomboid in 2022 and beyond. The game has come a long way since first launching back in late 2013 on Steam. While Build 41 took an unusually long time to release due to large chunks of code being reworked, they say future patches will be much faster. They will focus heavily on NPCs, balancing, expanding the tech tree, and perhaps a few other things, like hunting and animals. Naturally, a lot of talks are still going on to decide how everything will proceed.
The developer’s news post on Steam also says they will be dividing work into multiple teams at this point. One will focus on NPCs, which many players have complained about. Beyond adding human NPCs, they also want to flesh out the tech tree and crafting system a lot more to improve the currently lacking late-game experience. They want players to be able to play on the same world much longer and create longer survival stories, rather than restarting a lot. They also released an old proof-of-concept video relating to NPCs:
“(This is a fairly old internal video, created as a working proof-of-concept of various aspects of our NPC tech. It’s also not necessarily canonically accurate anymore. It was built to echo our earliest tech demo, but this might not be the start point we take with narrative in future, even if the characters would still be familiar.)”
Builds 42 and 43
The first release of note in the future Project Zomboid update plans is Build 42. This update is planned to mainly focus on balancing existing tech and beginning to expand the Project Zomboid tech tree. Game mechanics like traits, skills, and professions are particularly of note here. This also includes the medical system and
“areas of the game that have been neglected or suffered some degradation during the years of development since they were introduced”.
They also mention other things like loot balancing, or ‘free points’ exploits that can be abused during character creation.
Meanwhile, build 43 will focus on the NPCs. Not surprisingly, what will be included in this build has not been finalized yet. Some ideas mentioned in the news post include NPCs the player can join up with, NPC animals, or even the reintroduction of the story mode. They say they have a lot of tech already in the works, but make no promises on what will or won’t come into the game:
“We’ve got a LOT of NPC code, lots of cool systems, from Rimworld style priority and jobs system, personality systems, procedural story event systems, combat systems, autonomous survival behaviours, advanced group behaviour systems, vehicle driving systems, and a whole bunch more. While nothing could be described as 100% complete, the vast majority of the hard work has been done, is functional and is extremely cool.”
They say some of these ideas will also take extra time to be reintroduced into the game as a result of changes made in Build 41. They will also need to be made multiplayer compatible as well. The developer says these things will come into the game in stages, not all at once.