PUBG Zombies is a bit of an oddity. Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene’s original vision of a Battle Royale spawned from his desire to speed up the combat-focused parts of DayZ — a game ostensibly about surviving a zombie apocalypse. To make his vision a reality, he removed the zombies (and made dozens of other tweaks). It’s ironic, then, that so many players find themselves drawn to a PUBG mode which adds the shuffling undead back into the game.
Of course, there’s a twist here. The zombies in PUBG Zombies are controlled by players, not AI, and they drop alongside the humans. If you’re a human, you have to kill all the zombies — and there’s a lot of them. If you’re a zombie, you simply have to kill the humans. The mode itself started as a bit of a hack — though not the bad kind — and has grown into something of a phenomenon itself.
How To Play ‘PUBG’ Zombies
Getting into a game of Zombies is super easy, although it relies on there being a custom game available.
All you need to do, when at the main menu for PUBG, is click Custom Games and sort by Zombies in the filter. You should be able to see any available Zombies games — click on one from the list and you’re off and running.
Bear in mind, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get to play as a human. It’s actually one of the problems with the mode in the eyes of Twitch streamer Stabbies, a PUBG Partner and the OCE region’s pre-eminent PUBG shoutcaster. Stabbies runs Customs games for Oceanic players on the regular, changing the rules of PUBG to create wildly varied game experiences. Modes like Demo Derby — where players only have cars — and Western War — where participants are limited to Win 94s and Revolvers — are extremely popular. But Stabbies has a firm rule against running Zombies as a mode.
“It’s fun, but it’s pretty boring if you’re a zombie,” Stabbies explained. “The rhythm of the game is thrown. In a regular game a lot of people drop down, gather loot and then all converge into a circle. But for Zombies that rhythm is ruined. You can’t loot as a zombie, it’s hard to communicate with other zombies and it’s generally not a lot of fun if you land near the survivors early and can’t form a giant horde with [your undead teammates].”
How To Play As A Zombie
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play Zombies, by any means. If you’re all about those brains, there’s a bunch of fun to be had. You just have to work for it. If you’re playing on the Zombies team, press Ctrl-T until it says “Voice Chat Unmuted” so you can hear your teammates. Try to get them to land somewhere central — School or Pecado are good options on each map. Zombies can’t use vehicles, so the closer to the middle of the map you are, the less time you’ll have to spend travelling to get into the circle.
If there are vehicles — the host can turn them off, but probably won’t — punch out the tyres by crouching next to them and hitting. It’s something to do, but it also restricts the Human player’s options when they come near.
You’ll probably have to make your own fun for a little while. The humans probably won’t come close until they absolutely have to — when the circle forces them to. Try to follow crates if you can — when you’re unarmed any weapon is powerful, but an M249 is more powerful than most.
When they come close, remember your strength is in numbers. While some of the zombies are bee-lining straight at the humans, see if you can predict where they’re going to run next and try to cut them off. If they manage to knock you, try to find a space where your teammates can get you back up — just like you would in regular PUBG.
Most importantly, have fun. You’re a zombie, just a cell in a larger organism. Victory comes when the humans die, regardless of whether or not you are the one who gets the kills — all the cells win when the organism wins.
How To Play As A Human
Right off the bat, you should know that as it currently works you’re unlikely to get to play as a Human in a Zombies mode custom game. Generally the lobby host will set it up so that they can control who plays on the human side — although very rarely you’ll find some true open lobbies. As custom game controls become more robust, hosts will ideally be able to assign people to certain teams for doing well as zombies and other things.
If you do manage to play as a Human, there’s a few things to keep in mind! Don’t carry too many heals, first of all. Once you start to really get hit by the swarm of zombies, your opportunities to stop will be near non-existent, so you’re really just wasting space carrying every First Aid Kit you can find. Instead, grab every bit of ammo you can. In regular PUBG, any of the other 96-99 players on the map could kill your enemies for you, but in Zombies only your squad can stop the Zombies menace.
Even if you think you got enough ammo, you probably didn’t. That moment when you realise you have to ration your ammunition — that you’ve been wasting it on speculative pot shots from a distance — that’s when the panic sets in.
When the swarm is upon you, be sure to juke as if your life depends on it — because it basically does. You can throw a few zombies off if you about face and run back at them for a few moments before continuing on your way. If you unequip your weapons until you’re going to use them, you run faster (which is also good to know for when you’re chasing the circle in regular PUBG).
The other key thing to do when playing as a Human is to realise that you’re only going to have fun if the Zombies are having fun. If you go in with the idea of victory as your key goal, and you play it like you’re chasing a chicken dinner, you’ll find the Zombies are more reluctant to return for another game. If you restrict yourself and your crew to only using vehicles for transport, or to not wearing armour, or ditching the 8x scopes, the zombies won’t feel like they’re completely out of options.
“You almost have to role-play it,” Stabbies said about playing as a Human. As a PUBG Partner he’s able to set up a Zombies Custom match, and the games we played together as humans were populated in seconds. “You don’t want it to be boring for the zombies [players] so you have to hold back. Everyone can have a good time [that way].”
The games he set up restricted us to just the Western War weapons, with the addition of sniper rifles. The only Automatic weapons available were the VSS, the Glock and anything we might get out of a crate — although Zombies flocked to the crates every time.
In our games, we didn’t finish zombies off until the last few circles, essentially rewarding the cheeky players who tried to attack us early with a second chance. We hopped out of our vehicles to fight, we ran for our lives when we had to, and it was obvious we were never going to win. But the Zombies seemed to have fun, and even though we didn’t win, so did we.
One other thing worth doing is turning off ReShade — which you’ll have on if you followed our guide. Something about the normal palette of colours in PUBG lends itself very well to the Zombie apocalypse. You can also fiddle with ReShade settings in-game to make things a bit more apocalyptic if you want — although make sure you save your settings for when you return to the regular game!
PUBG Zombies can be fun, but it requires a certain attitude from all involved. When everyone is in that mindset, it’s chaotic and terrifying — but for now those experiences can be few and far between. Fortunately there are dozens of other Custom Games happening at any time — maybe you’re better off checking those out instead! If you’re in OCE, try out Stabbies stream – he plays a heap of other games as well.