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Project Zomboid Best Traits: Which positive and negative traits should you choose?

Balance is key

Hardcore zombie survival game Project Zomboid has seen a surge in popularity over the holiday season thanks to the release of the animation overhaul with Build 41 - as if shambling through the most wonderful time of the year in current circumstances wasn’t difficult enough.

However, to make your task just that little bit easier you can enlist the help of Project Zomboid’s best traits when you create your character.

In its effort to create as deep a role-playing experience as possible, Project Zomboid includes a dizzying array of both positive traits and negative traits. These can either help you create a relatable character who acts more like yourself, or you can choose a grab-bag of the best traits to bring together all the most useful qualities you would need in a post-zombie survival situation.

Of course, Project Zomboid wouldn’t be a very good survival sandbox if there were just a few incredibly overpowered traits, so some of these will come down to personal preference. However, we’ll at least be able to give you a steer on what might come in handy during your adventure.

We’ll first go into how traits work and how the points they’ve been assigned affect their usefulness, then go over the best traits in Project Zomboid.

How do the best traits work in Project Zomboid?

Traits can be used in a few different ways in Project Zomboid.

First, if you’re extra hardcore, you can use negative traits as an additional difficulty modifier, giving your character more hurdles to overcome in their effort to survive in a hostile world.

This is because you need to have a positive balance of points to spend before you can start the game with your character.

So, you can either play with a neutral character who has no positives or negatives, a character with just negatives as a challenge run, or you can try to balance positive and negative traits as either a role-play or for strategy.

What are the best traits in Project Zomboid?

Positive Traits

  • Dextrous - 2 points

As you scavenge for supplies and loot around the world, you’re going to be interacting with inventory objects a huge amount. This cheap, quality-of-life focussed positive trait will quickly add up to a lot of time saved in the long term, which you can then spend doing more useful things.

  • Lucky - 4 points

In that same vein, in a game where you do a lot of looting, a large passive buff to your chances of finding good stuff is a big win.

This is exactly what Lucky does, giving you a decent increase in the amount of rare loot you scavenge from all sources.

  • Fast Learner - 6 points

One of the main things that will get you killed in a zombie survival situation is inexperience and underpreparedness.

Despite being a big point investment, Fast Learner gives you a chunky buff to all experience gains outside of the physical skills Fitness and Strength.

This gives you a more powerful, and therefore more likely to survive, character much more quickly, and is therefore a great pick.

  • Wakeful - 2 points

Wakeful is a really cheap and useful trait which gives your character more hours in the day to complete tasks, raise the skills, or generally do cool stuff.

This also has the added benefit of helping you to stave off drowsiness for longer, so you don’t get caught out with a debuff in a sticky situation.

  • Athletic/Strong - 10 points

If you want to focus more on exploring during your early runs, consider making a big investment in either Athletic or Strong.

Athletic boosts your base Fitness and movement speed so you can duck and weave around zombies with ease.

While Strong increases your muscular capability and melee damage.

If you’re the kind to slip in and out of situations as quickly as possible, take Athletic. If you’re the kind to stand and fight, take Strong.

Negative Traits

  • Weak Stomach - 3 points

As long as you diligently stock up on food and steer clear of the rotten stuff, you can quite easily never see the ill effects of Weak Stomach when you add it to your character.

  • Underweight - 6 points

Some traits in Project Zomboid can’t be picked at the same time, however, you can pick both Underweight and Fit, which seem to cancel each other out.

Under the hood though, Underweight - which can be removed altogether by getting your weight up to 75 - reduces your Fitness by 1, while Fit boosts Fitness by 2.

This means you can snag an easy bonus to Fitness until you can boost it even further by bringing your weight back up. Or you could just pick Underweight as 6 points to spend elsewhere.

  • Overweight - 6 points

Similar to the previous trait, but from the other direction. If you’re happy to take a hit to your movement speed, you can grab 6 points for a debuff that can be removed later.

  • Slow Healer - 6 points

If you’re careful, you should have enough resources stashed at your base to be able to sleep off and recuperate most injuries - if you even get them that often. The mass of points you get for taking this trait are worth the extra resting time.

  • Prone to Illness - 4 points

Colds and other illnesses can be quite easily avoided through normal play, so if you’re wary of your surrounding conditions and play around this trait, you will barely ever encounter the negative effects.

  • Smoker - 4 points

Cigarettes are plentiful and the points you get for taking this trait outweigh that one extra thing to think about when looting. Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.

  • Slow Reader - 2 points

If you need a couple extra points to take you over the top, then Slow Reader is a minor quality-of-life nerf that doesn’t have too much of an impact on your character’s progression.

It doesn’t bar you from taking Fast Learner either, so you can still level up skills quickly despite the debuff.

About the Author

James Billcliffe avatar

James Billcliffe

Guides Editor

James suffers so you don't have to. Whether it's raging so hard at Sekiro that he bit his own hand, or confronting a 20-year fear of zombies to complete Resident Evil 2 eight times, he creates guides and reviews for the biggest blockbuster games.

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