Traits and Occupations Tier List I made with intention to help newer players and for general convenience matters.
This Tier List is supposed to serve as a quick and convenient source of information on Traits and Occupations.
- Order of placements in each tier matters. First in S-tier is better than the last.
- There’s a solid focus on early game in this ranking. Majority of players rarely play into the late game, most deaths happen early into the run. People experienced enough to survive into the late game usually die due to complacency.
- Tempo is also an important factor. I disagree with “you can max your strength and fitness eventually” rhetoric. Factually this is correct, but very few people actually achieve this on practice because it takes too long and it’s boring. Also having max fitness or strength early has much more value and impact compared to having it in the late game.
- I’m not getting into builds and combinations territory because I want to incentivize players to create them themselves (one of the most fun things in PZ), nonetheless, this guide will have some notable examples.
- This tier list is about shambler zombies. Sprinters are not considered in this tier list due to them being the most challenging version of zeds vanilla game can provide. Surviving with sprinters has completely different meta. Sprinters are brutal and not recommended to newer players.
- As one wise man said: “killing zombies is defining the current meta and is the most effective way of surviving.” – with which I agree. Surviving by stealth and foraging is less effective. Avoiding zombies might be cool at first, but it’s not really practical and definitely less effective compared to fighting all zombies face to face.
- Multiplayer is considered as a team play, with an idea of spreading roles (so you don’t need to be good at everything yourself as in Singleplayer) and with consideration for PVP related threats. Being a doctor in SP outside of roleplay is useless, but not so useless in MP due to PVP injuries and also because other tasks can be done by other players.
- Most stat increasing traits are better in multiplayer due to their experience gain boost. You can’t fast forward time in multiplayer, hence gaining XP without traits becomes an absolute hell.
- Reworked foraging became good again after all the recent buffs and it’s affected by pretty much every trait and occupation in the game. Foraging based survival is a viable strategy, but it’s not as effective compared to looting towns still, better serves you as an additional tool. I feel like foraging requires more testing and it’s own separate guide.
Singleplayer = SP
Multiplayer = MP
I also heavily advise to use this mod, it provides you with clearer information on what traits actually do:
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2685168362 – [steamcommunity.com]
RU version of this guide / Русская версия гайда: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2738197123 – [steamcommunity.com]
Singleplayer – Positive Traits
S – Athletic, Strong, Fast Learner, Wakeful, Lucky
A – Fit, Stout, Gymnast, Keen Hearing, Cat’s Eyes, Handy
B – Organized, Dextrous, Brave, Amateur Mechanic
C – Speed Demon, Brawler, Baseball Player, Hunter, Outdoorsman
D – Sewer, Fast Reader, Graceful, Herbalist, Gardener, Hiker, Angler, Light Eater
F – Thick Skinned, Cook, Fast Healer, Runner, Adrenaline Junkie, Former Scout, First Aider, Nutritionist, Inconspicuous, Iron Gut, Resilient, Eagle Eyed, Low Thirst
Singleplayer – Negative Traits
S – Conspicuous, High Thirst, Prone to Illness, Weak Stomach, Short Sighted, Pacifist, Smoker
A – Underweight, Thin-skinned, Slow Healer, Slow Reader
B – Clumsy, Claustrophobic, Cowardly, Very Underweight
C – Feeble, Out of Shape, Overweight, Disorganized, Hard of Hearing
D – Hearty Appetite, Agoraphobic, Weak, Unfit, Sunday Driver, Restless Sleeper, Hemophobic, Slow Learner, Unlucky
F – All Thumbs, Obese, Asthmatic, Sleepyhead, Deaf, Illiterate
Singleplayer – Occupations
S – Unemployed, Fire Officer
A – Burglar, Repairman, Lumberjack
B – Carpenter, Construction Worker, Park Ranger
C – Veteran, Mechanic, Police Officer, Security Officer
D – Farmer, Fitness Instructor, Metalworker, Engineer, Fisherman
F – Chef, Burger Flipper, Electrician, Nurse, Doctor
Multiplayer – Positive Traits
S – Athletic, Strong, Fast Reader, Dextrous, Fast Learner, Wakeful
A – Fit, Stout, Gymnast, Keen Hearing, Cat’s Eyes, Handy, Sewer
B – Amateur Mechanic, Brawler, Baseball Player, Gardener, Brave
C – Speed Demon, Organized, Hunter, Herbalist, Outdoorsman, First Aider, Cook
D – Graceful, Hiker, Angler, Light Eater, Fast Healer
F – Thick Skinned, Former Scout, Runner, Adrenaline Junkie, Nutritionist, Inconspicuous, Iron Gut, Resilient, Eagle Eyed, Low Thirst
Multiplayer – Negative Traits
S – Conspicuous, High Thirst, Sunday Driver, Prone to Illness, Weak Stomach, Short Sighed, Pacifist
A – Smoker, Underweight, Thin-skinned, Slow Healer
B – Clumsy, Disorganized, Claustrophobic, Cowardly, Very Underweight
C – Hard of Hearing, Overweight, Slow Learner
D – Hearty Appetite, Agoraphobic, Hemophobic, Feeble, Out of Shape, Illiterate
F – All Thumbs, Obese, Weak, Unfit, Asthmatic, Restless Sleeper, Deaf, Slow Reader, Sleepyhead
Multiplayer – Occupations
S – Unemployed, Fire Officer
A – Burglar, Repairman, Lumberjack, Carpenter, Construction Worker
B – Farmer, Police Officer, Park Ranger, Mechanic
C – Veteran, Nurse, Doctor, Burger Flipper, Metalworker
D – Chef, Fitness Instructor, Fisherman, Engineer, Electrician
F – Security Guard
Explaining – Positive Traits
Adrenaline Junkie – good synergy with Agoraphobic, Cowardly and Hemophobic, but you can outwalk fast shamblers, so it’s meh.
Amateur Mechanic – cars are OP, good in combination with Engineer/Electrician for early hotwiring.
Angler – leveling up fishing is fine with books. Fishing is not that essential both early and late into the game.
Athletic – faster attack speed, movement speed, stamina regeneration and slower fatigue gain. Also leveling up fitness is a nightmare.
Baseball Player – just a long blunt boost, it’s fine.
Brave – 30% less panic generation. Even 5 zombies can max out your panic (5.2% lower crit chance and 30% less damage). Good, but it gets less valuable with each day until day 150 at which your panic generation is at it’s lowest.
Brawler – you shouldn’t main two different weapon types, but this trait is the only one that allows you to maximize some weapon skills, having a backup weapon skill doesn’t hurt much.
Cat’s Eyes – 20% better night vision. Great to see threats at night/dark places.
Cooking – cooking is really easy to learn and not that essential for survival.
Dextrous – saves you plenty of time, but not as good in SP because you can skip time. Yoinking a backpack from a zombie before the horde gets you is great though. A must-have in MP.
Eagle Eyed – vision buff is unnoticeable and prevents you from picking Short Sighed, very bad for practically 8 points.
Fast Healer – don’t incentivize yourself getting wounds because you heal faster. Learn to avoid getting them in the first place, you’ll get zombie infection eventually and the wounds themselves are not that bad. A bit more relevant when doing active PVP though.
Fast Learner – experience boost to everything except strength and fitness, this trait will serve you until you’ve maxed out all the skills in the game (that’s a really long time). A bit worse in MP if your squad shares jobs.
Fast Reader – viable in SP if you’re planning on getting maximum out of TV shows (you’ll need to read appropriate skill books in time), otherwise just fast forward time. A must-have in MP.
First Aider – first aid is useless in SP. A bit more relevant in MP if you get many PVP injuries.
Fit – budget version of Athletic. Good, but you should maximize fitness, so not good enough.
Former Scout – first aid is bad, foraging is meh, for 6 points this trait is bad.
Gardener – learning farming in SP is fine, but not that essential early on.
Graceful – a must-have for stealth builds, though stealth is a waste of time against shamblers. Either fight them or
Gymnast – lightfooted helps with stealth which is meh, so it’s 5 points for nimble, but it’s totally worth.
Handy – little carpentry boost, considering additional construction health there won’t be random hordes of zombies coming to your base late into the game, so no real need for more durable constructions in SP. Maintenance is great though.
Herbalist – the only way to find medicinal herbs (lemon grass can be found without the trait). Not worthless, but pretty niche.
Hiker – for early “living in the nature” type of runs focused on foraging, otherwise pretty bad bonuses.
Hunter – magazine recipes and sneaking are really meh, short blade is the worst weapon type in the game, aiming is nice, but this trait is not really worth 8 points.
Inconspicuous – while 50% chance of not getting SEEN by a zombie sounds great,
If you need stealth – sneak from behind if possible. Also this trait prevents you from taking Conspicuous, so you’re practically paying 8 points for a really questionable stealth boost.
Iron Gut – you shouldn’t eat rotten/dangerous food even with this trait, there’s still a risk of dying. Not only that, but with this trait you can’t use Weak Stomach, so it’s 6 points for questionable defence against stuff you shouldn’t eat in the first place.
Keen Hearing – you now see zombies behind you from double the range. Substantial bonus, but even with my average reaction I’m able to turn around in time without this trait.
Light Eater – an okay -25% bonus, but there’s plenty of food in PZ even with worst food rarity settings. This won’t save you if you’re starving all the time.
Low Thirst – if for some reason you’re dying from thirst in a world with infinite and easily accessible water (even when water goes off) this trait still won’t save you, because you’re doing something horribly wrong. Not only that, but you also can’t take High Thirst, which is the freest points of them all. Effectively waste of 12 points for 50% thirst reduction. Just carry a bottle of water, I beg you.
Lucky – 10% higher chance of finding rare loot like axes, machetes, sledgehammers, antique stoves, katanas and also improves repair chances. Lucky proves worthy early into the game, but it’s true impact is noticeable with time.
Nutritionist – 4 points for information with a real niche use, not worth it at all.
Organized – more space in backpacks is great and having more in other containers is fine. Not as great if you focus on cars/carpentry containers early. Less relevant in MP, more people, more backpacks, more cars, also you need just one person with Organized to organize your containers.
Outdoorsman – 99% scratch/laceration chance reduction while moving through trees is meh, just use “walk to” option and your character won’t go through them at all if possible, 90% lower chance of catching cold is real great during winter, but very few people survive up to winter. If you’re capable to survive until winter you should be capable of wearing insulating and warm clothing, but this trait is still great at what it does.
Resilient – Outdoorsman provides a 35% higher resistance to catching cold, resistance to sickness is cool, but there’s plenty of tools to prevent colds. 25% slower zombification is a meme, you’re dead anyway. Also you can’t take Prone to Illness with this trait, so it’s 8 points for a really questionable resistance to a niche character status.
Runner – just outwalk shamblers, why are you running?
Sewer – high level leather patches on clothes are OP. – [reddit.com] Though, it is definitely not an early game skill. Also high defence clothes are relevant in MP trading and learning skills is so much slower there due to lack of fast forwarding.
Speed Demon – better acceleration, easier to get out of situations like getting stuck inside a horde, but your car makes more sound. It’s nice if you have points to spare.
Stout – budget version of Strong. Good, but you should maximize strength, so not good enough.
Strong – leveling up strength is a nightmare, 40% melee damage increase is great, additional carry weight is awesome.
Thick Skinned – not only patches on clothing provide you with way more defence anyway, but defence this trait provides you with is pretty low. Not worth 8 points.
Wakeful – you need 30% less sleep and you also gain less fatigue, especially valuable in the beginning, but it gets less relevant with time. Many servers disable sleep, but if you have sleep – it’s a must for everyone to take.
Explaining – Negative Traits
Agoraphobic – less manageable compared to Claustrophobic, fighting indoors is a terrible idea too, you’ll need way more beta blockers which are not abundant.
All Thumbs – Dextrous is 50% transfer speed increase, this trait is a 300% decrease. Really bad even with fast forwarding in SP.
Asthmatic – permanent 30% endurance loss for swinging and 40% for running. Just no.
Claustrophobic – manageable by luring zombies outside of buildings to fight, using beta blockers before fighting/sleeping inside houses and placing your bed in a really big place like living room/warehouse so you still can sleep there. Nothing wrong with luring zombies, but beta blockers can be RNG early on, moving most good beds requires some carpentry skill. A bit too much of a chore for 4 points if you ask me.
Clumsy – 20% step sound radius same as with conspicuous is a positive, you should aggro and fight all the zombies. 10% chance to trip if you’re running/sprinting over fences or into zombies is easily avoidable. Just stop and hold E before vault jumping over fences, it’s that easy. And you shouldn’t ram zombies in the first place.
Conspicuous – best “negative” trait unless you’re doing stealth. Not only it helps you aggro zombies so you can get rid of them, but it also gifts you 4 points. If you’re stealthing with shamblers – you’re doing something wrong.
Cowardly – panic generation lowers with time, but even fighting 3~ zombies early into the game will max out your panic with this trait (max panic is 5.2% less crit chance and 30% decreased melee damage). With beta blockers it’s manageable, but those additional hits to finish off few zombies can make a difference between clearing them out and start taking new zombies out or just running away because it’s too dangerous now ruining your plans. It’s fine, but reward is just 2 points.
Deaf – free points for actual deaf players, otherwise not worth the risk and you’re also missing on great sound design of Zomboid. Can be viable in MP if you don’t leave the base and don’t mind having no sounds.
Disorganized – 30% less container capacity sucks, but if you get a car and salvage/carpentry storage it’s manageable. Better in MP because people still can utilize that storage space better than you.
Feeble – losing 2 strength is not good, can be okayish if you’re going for 5 strength max, but that’s a questionable strategy.
Hard of Hearing – more vulnerable to shamblers sneaking up, overall worse perception. Not end of the world, but even shamblers can surprise you now.
Hearty Appetite – food is usually not a problem in PZ, real issue with this trait is managing your weight. You’ll need low calorie food so you don’t get fat and that can be tricky.
Hemophobic – you won’t be able to fight zombies properly without permanent panic, getting clear clothes all the time can be a nightmarish chore. Beta blockers are not common too. Better with Smoker because smoking negates panic, otherwise not worth a pick.
High Thirst – just turn on “automatically drink water when thirsty” and you’ll automatically and instantly drink from any water container you carry without any animation or action interruption. Single water bottle will be enough to satisfy your thirst for at least 8~ hours. Unless you somehow can’t find a single water carrying container – this is free points.
Illiterate – “how is this worse than Deaf” you might ask. With Deaf you’re missing on radio and you’ll need to use your eyes way more often for awareness. With Illiterate you can’t read skill books and magazines, so say bye-bye to easy boredom/stress reduction, XP multipliers, generators, various recipes or tinkering with vehicles. Can be viable in MP if you’re the brawn of your squad and all you need is your strength, fitness and weapon skills.
Obese – even worse negatives compared to Overweight, now at 60% endurance regeneration penalty, can’t pick positive fitness traits too. Not worth.
Out of Shape – losing 2 fitness and inability to pick positive fitness traits is pretty bad even considering you can train it back.
Overweight – same negatives as Underweight, but you trade 20% less melee damage for 30% slower endurance regeneration and you can’t pick any positive fitness related traits, which is much worse. Also losing weight is harder than gaining it.
Pacifist – doesn’t reduce your weapon damage, only lowers your XP gain with weapons by 25%. Partially overridden by Fast Learner (leaving you with a 2.5% penalty) and fully by any other trait that increases weapon skill and their XP gains accordingly.
Prone to Illness – slower zombification is a meme because we’re already dead and catching a cold is not that easy. Be dry, wear insulating/wind resistant clothing and you’ll never catch a cold. Free points.
Restless Sleeper – can’t fully recover your fatigue, you can wait 30 minutes before going to sleep again if you’re above 30% fatigue (read a book in the meanwhile), but this trait provides a huge handicap that is not worth in my opinion.
Short Sighted – no noticeable difference in sight, which to me screams “free points”.
Sleepyhead – not only you need 30% more sleep, but it also increases fatigue gain. Really bad.
Slow Healer – everyone can get a laceration one day. Getting a hand wound early on (hands have a higher probability of getting injured due to how PZ works) will hinder you less efficient both as a fighter and a survivor overall. It’s free points until you get hurt, then it’s constant agony of “come on, get healed already”. Good trait, but incentives careful playstyle.
Slow Learner – viable if you only care about fitness and strength experience, otherwise it’s a noticeable handicap, pick Fast Learner instead. Not as bad in MP if you spread jobs.
Slow Reader – in SP you can just fast forward time, though you won’t be able to read books in time for TV shows with this trait surely skipping most of the XP value. Very bad in MP.
Smoker – you’ll need to smoke every 3.5 hours unless you want to be stuck with anxious and later agitated mood. Both make you go unhappy faster and agitated lowers your melee damage by 10%. On the positive note, it helps you with decreasing stress and unhappiness, serving as a counter to traits like Hemophobic. Can be a great tool, but definitely not a trait you’ll forget about.
Sunday Driver – ever wanted your car to get stuck in a few zombies and have snail driving speeds just for 1 point? Then it’s your choice. Free point in MP if you don’t drive.
Thin-skinned – increased chance of getting a wound is not that big, so it’s relatively free points.
Underweight – while 20% less melee damage, 10% chance to trip while running/sprinting fences/zombies and a 15% chance to fail a tall fence climb sounds bad, it takes literally a few days of high calorie diet to hit 75 weight to remove this trait (and negatives above). -1 fitness will remain though, the only real negative of this trait.
Unfit – I’d imagine losing 4 fitness is even worse than losing 2 fitness.
Unlucky – doesn’t make a crucial difference in a short run, but getting less rare stuff definitely sucks. Remember all the “can’t find a single sledgehammer” situations? That’s probably because you don’t run Lucky.
Very Underweight – almost double the negatives compared to Underweight, though you also take a bit more fall damage (not really noticeable), also you can’t take Athletic with this trait and it’s -2 fitness and leveling up fitness is a nightmare.
Weak – just don’t, 10 points are not worth having 40% less melee damage, less carrying capacity and overall being weaker.
Weak Stomach – basically it guarantees you’ll get sick from eating rotten/poisonous food, which you shouldn’t eat in the first place, because even with Iron Gut you still can die.
Explaining – Occupations
Burger Flipper – avoid picking in SP, but in the sense of MP you spend 6 less points compared to Chef, you don’t really lose anything useful. Good if you don’t need max boost to cooking, but still want to focus on it.
Burglar – hotwiring is great because cars are one of the most broken tools you have in Zomboid and getting one early can’t be underappreciated, 2 to nimble and lightfooted is awesome too, issue lies within the fact you can get to hotwiring in less than 3-4~ in-game days, sneaking is not that good to pick and who the hell opens windows anyway when you can smash them? It is definitely worth 6 points, but if you’re planning to focus on cars you could instead go for Amateur Mechanic + Engineer occupation. For 3 additional points not only you’ll have hotwiring from the get-go same as Burglar, but you’ll end up with experience boosting stats for mechanics which is good and electrical which is meh, but better than nothing.
Carpenter – best boost to carpentry which makes your long term survival easier. Short blunt is a great bonus.
Chef – there’s no need to sacrifice 4 points so you can focus on cooking in SP and while maintainence bonus is cool, short blade is pretty meh. Knowing few cooking recipes early on is useless.
Construction Worker – cool bonus to carpentry and best pick to focus on short blunt, which is a great weapon type.
Doctor – first aid is practically useless in SP, also short blade tends to be one of the worst weapon types to focus on. Better in MP, due to PVP being present first aid actually becomes relevant.
Electrician – pretty bad on itself, there’s no way you’ll need to focus this hard on electrical. It’s nice to have if all the other major professions are already taken and there’s no need for more farmers or carpenters, but otherwise it’s meh.
Engineer – the aerosol bomb, flame trap and pipe bomb are your Engineer exclusive cool unique tools of zed destruction, but in reality they’re not worth it. It’s okay if you want some electrical XP boost combined with carpentry.
Farmer – it’s fine if you’re going really early into farming, though I would argue there’s no real need for that in SP. In MP it’s a bit better if you’re dedicated farmer that is going to feed your squad.
Fire Officer – if strength, fitness and axe bonuses are not enough to convince one (sprinting bonus is meh though), Fire Officer also doesn’t cost points. Not only that, but this is also the only occupation in the game that allows you to start with Military Boots and Firefighter Pants. Military Boots are great due to the fact they have a stomping power of 250% (for example sneakers are only 180%), but they’re also really durable and provide best defence stats across all boots in the game. Stomping is unironically one of the best early game weapons. Why hope for RNG with finding weapons when you’ll be equipped with a solid weapon from the start? The only downside is that stomping can’t be used to kite hordes, but you shouldn’t focus on stomping for THAT long. Firefighter Pants have best defence stats across pants, but they will also slow you down, so be wary of that. And it also fits perfectly with Strong and Athletic maximizing your stats from the start not needing to worry about these ten thousands of experience points you probably never going to get.
Fitness Instructor – +3 fitness is good, but you better get Athletic for +4 fitness, because other stats of this occupation are pretty irrelevant.
Fisherman – there’s plenty of tools to level this stat and you don’t really need to level fishing fast anyway.
Lumberjack – Lumberjack provides relatively similiar bonuses compared to Firefighter Officer, but it lacks fitness, on the other note it doesn’t provide you with a meh bonus like sprinting and you get an additional point into axe. On itself this occupation is great. Axe is a decent weapon type, 25% increased wood and zombie chopping speed is nice, strength is always useful. Lumberjack feels less versatile than Fire Officer though and inability to properly max fitness + strength hurts.
Mechanic – great occupation to focus on cars early, though you’ll still need lvl 1 electrical to start hotwiring.
Metalworker – metalworking is not totally worthless, but currently there’s not much use for it, hence there’s no real reason to focus on it this hard. A bit better im MP if you already have a carpentry specialist.
Nurse – terrible in SP for the same reasons as Doctor, 1 less point in first aid compared to Doctor, but nimble as a secondary bonus is a much better stat compared to short blade. A better fit for battle action medic, but not a huge difference. Go for Doctor if you’re going to heavily focus on first aid and need 25% additional experience.
Park Ranger – provides you with almost everything you’ll need to survive in the wild early on, but foraging is less effective compared to town looting, so it’s just okay.
Police Officer – best occupation if you’re going to focus on firearms. Firearms can be great, but there are better methods to deal with many zeds at once. In MP PVP aiming and reloading become more relevant. Nimble is great to have too.
Repairman – short blunt is great, carpentry bonus is good. Best pick if you’re going to focus on spears, which are considered to be one of the best weapon types in the game by many. There’s no better way to increase spear skill, so +2 to maintenance and carpentry is the best we’re gonna get because spears break quite fast.
Security Guard – lightfooted is good but sprinting is pretty meh. Night Owl trait on the other hand provided by this occupation is a solid bonus, combined with Wakeful you need unhealthy amount of sleep to lower your fatigue (like 6~ hours, it depends). You’ll need to set up your alarm though. Unlike Wakeful, I won’t say it’s a must to take and managing it in MP is terrible, not everyone wants to take both Security Guard + Wakeful.
Unemployed – what can be better than 8 free points? This occupation provides best versatility in creating your character. Great choice for new players.
Veteran – only reason to go for Veteran if you really need Desensitized (prevents panic generation), otherwise just pick Police Officer because aiming and reloading bonuses are better there. 8 points for Desensitized is okay if you really need it, but keep in mind that panic generation lowers with time and this trait gets less relevant. Aiming and reloading bonuses are cool, but you’re not going to shoot much early on.
This Steam guide is the result of more than 50 hours of tedious testing, painstaking work with text, images and studying what people across different platforms think.
Still, I will probably miss stuff or will be straight up wrong about some things, but I genuinely tried to be as objective and constructive as possible.
Just keep in mind this Tier List is not a dogma.
Critique is welcome, I’m eager to learn something new myself.
Remember to be constructive and polite, I neither have interest nor time for opinion fights, but I’m all open up for new perspectives and ideas.
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