7 Days to Die: 12 Big Changes Coming in Alpha 21

Details around Alpha 21 are finally here.

It’s finally here (kind of.) The Fun Pimps have finally released the Alpha 21 version of 7 Days to Die (in an unstable experimental build.) While players wait for the full, stable release of this massive update, there are likely a lot of questions weighing on our reader’s minds about what new features will be added and what old features will be changed.

While we can’t cover everything in detail here, we can offer a quick overview of the biggest functional changes coming to the game.

Here are 12 things you need to know about 7 Days to Die’s ongoing Alpha 21 release.

  1. Infestation Quests
  2. Locations and Danger Levels
  3. Loot and Containers
  4. Weapons and Aiming
  5. Brand New Style
  6. GORE!!!
  7. Performance Enhancements
  8. Multiplayer Changes
  9. Water and Survival
  10. New Crafting Skills
  11. Doors and Demolition
  12. Vehicle Changes

1. Infestation Quests

Infestation Quests

Your first thought on the addition of so-called “Infestation” quests is likely the same as ours. Isn’t that just another name for the “clear location” quests requiring players to kill all the zombies in a specific point of interest? The answer is: kinda. While the objectives of these new quests are still to clear all the infected enemies from a location, there are a few key differences.

Namely: numbers. Infestation quests have significantly more enemies than a standard clear quest and are, therefore, always one tier higher than their counterpart quests. For the additional trouble, however, these missions also reward players with a shiny loot box typically found in the location’s treasure room alongside normal chests, if it has one. It is a great way to challenge yourself and earn some valuable loot.

2. Locations and Danger Levels

Locations and Danger Levels

In addition to the already massive map boasted by 7 Days to Die, Alpha 21 will be adding a ton of new points of interest, including mines, industrial buildings, a prison, and more alongside regular residences. Moreover, many of these locations will be tied to quests, adding more variety to trader missions and an even more fleshed-out world to explore.

Alongside these new locations is a new danger system. This system displays the name of a location or biome (if it has one) on the player’s HUD with a number of colored skulls. These skulls dictate the expected danger a player will face should they choose to explore that location, with red skulls representing a point of interest’s danger level and orange skulls representing a biome’s inherent danger. This can help new players avoid dangerous locales until they are ready to face them and can direct well-equipped players to better loot.

3. Loot and Containers

Loot and Containers

Though certainly not a groundbreaking series of additions, the changes coming to containers and loot are worthwhile quality-of-life improvements we are glad to see. Something players might not notice immediately is the lack of certain junk items, such as empty bottles and cans. While this alteration will somewhat shift the balance of forging, it will encourage players to mine for their base resources rather than scavenge for them.

Additionally and more importantly, loot containers are undergoing a massive overhaul. Specifically, flimsy containers such as bird’s nests and garbage bags will now disappear after being looted. What’s more, items like dressers and shelves will now look different after looting them. Drawers will be pulled out, and shelves will be emptied of their contents, helping players identify which containers they’ve already searched while also increasing the immersion and satisfaction that comes with looting a point of interest.

4. Weapons and Aiming

Weapons and Aiming

Most weapons in the game will be undergoing several tune-ups and quality improvements, such as model updates and new sound effects. One alteration that players might not be happy about is the integration of stamina into aiming. Aiming down the sights of most weapons now costs stamina, requiring players to have proper amounts of energy in order to steady their aim. This increases the importance of hip-fire abilities and hinders run-and-gun combat.

No weapon has gotten a more thorough overhaul than the spear, however. Spears can no longer be thrown, instead including a power attack like every other melee weapon. While this does reduce the weapon class’s versatility, we feel it was a good move on the part of the developers. Who would want to throw their precious, resource-intensive, fully-modded melee weapon and risk losing it?

5. Brand New Style

Brand New Style

Alpha 21 is bringing a ton of new props and blocks into the game, including rusted vehicles, paintings and posters, containers, windows, carpets, and much more. At first glance, it may not seem like much has changed. But it doesn’t take much wandering around to notice a drastic change in the overall style of the game’s environment.

With these new props come a plethora of world-building and storytelling elements from which players can infer some new information about the Navezgane outbreak and the world of 7D2D. These inclusions give us hope that we may soon see more fleshed-out lore regarding Navezgane and the outbreak.

In addition to props, a brand-new lighting filter has been implemented to give objects more defined shadows as well as increase the effect light has on the overall environment. Light will shift as it filters through permeable objects, diffuse when penetrating cloudy glass, and create dark areas when blocked by solid walls. Overall, the world looks more real and defined.

6. GORE!!!

GORE!!!

Fans of modern advancements in gore physics will be excited about this one, but those with weaker stomachs might want to reconsider. With Alpha 21 comes a massive overhaul to the gore system with many new and nasty ways to kill and dismember zombies. Of course, the standard head pop is still present, but now there are lots more variations on dismembering and damaging hits that increase the uniqueness of weapons and make kills much more satisfying.

Blades and axes can decapitate enemies, clubs, and hammers can cave in skulls, and spears can split a zombie’s head in half in one of the most visceral animations we’ve witnessed in recent games. These variations make combat a more brutal and engaging experience that isn’t for the faint of heart.

7. Performance Enhancements

Performance Enhancements

Of course, with such a big update comes a big improvement in the game’s performance and functionality. Players with less powerful processors will be happy to hear that the game now prioritizes the activities of entities close to the player to better process what’s happening on screen. That means less lag, fewer crashes, and an overall better experience when facing large numbers of enemies and exploring large maps.

On top of that, the game requires less available memory overall. It implements an improved AI pathing system that allows enemies to track targets better and more quickly find their way around obstacles. Players who previously relied on the rather unintelligent AI will be surprised when zombie dogs chase them up a stack of boxes at high speeds, so be prepared.

8. Multiplayer Changes

Multiplayer Changes

Multiplayer gameplay has several upcoming overhauls and quality-of-life improvements. Specifically, the previous web control panel is being swapped out for a web dashboard. This provides web-based APIs for interacting with server tasks and allows the automation of many more of these tasks by allowing for the independent defining of API tokens. The new dashboard is also highly configurable.

Another great feature being integrated for multiplayer is support for Mumble’s positional audio system. That’s right; you will now be able to tell the distance and the relative position of both ally and enemy players by the direction, volume, and clarity of their voice audio. It’s also possible now to set the time frame for chunk reset, helping to ensure that players don’t lose their carefully constructed base or hard-won vehicle because they wandered too far away.

9. Water and Survival

Water and Survival

Without empty water jars to refill, players are probably wondering how they are supposed to make enough water to keep themselves hydrated. The answer lies mostly with the new Dew Collector workbench. This item produces water, jar, and all, at a rate of about 3 units per day.

Of course, it’s still possible for players to loot murky or clean water from coolers, fridges, vending machines, and other containers as they could before. The main difference is that empty jars won’t clog up your inventory. However, this reduces the overall immersion factor and the usefulness of smelting glass.

10. New Crafting Skills

New Crafting Skills

Probably the most obvious change coming in Alpha 21 is the introduction of a new crafting skill system. This system will drastically change the way players craft equipment of all kinds. Essentially, the system presents the player with a specified “crafting skill” for most craftable items such as weapons, tools, armor, electronic components, vehicles, and even Workbenches themselves. As these skills increase, players will be able to craft higher-quality items and gain access to new recipes.

Increasing these crafting skills relies heavily on a player’s ability to locate skill books. Players can increase their chances of looting a particular kind of skill book by investing skill points in a respective perk. Additionally, items of higher quality will require more materials and time to produce, but players can still choose to craft lower-quality items if they desire.

This change allows players to eventually craft advanced vehicles, electronics, workbenches, and more without spending precious perk points on attributes they don’t normally use to acquire a recipe.

11. Doors and Demolition

Doors and Demolition

Among the new construction components included in A21 are the long-awaited double doors. These and other door and window types allow players much more creative freedom with the way they build their base and add lots more variety to points of interest. There are now also closets that can be opened and hidden inside, meaning both players and zombies have a new stealth element to contend with.

Additionally, and this is one of our favorite changes, the cracks and holes that appear on the surface of damaged doors can no longer block bullets or melee attacks. This means that players can finally shoot zombies through a damaged door without destroying the door itself. Of course, that also means some enemies can fit through the damaged doors, return the favor, and strike players who get too close.

12. Vehicle Changes

Vehicle Changes

In addition to a comprehensive visual overhaul of existing vehicles, A21 makes early vehicles more accessible, allowing players to craft a standard Bicycle with no perks or additional skills. Vehicles now create sparks and deal much more damage when ramming into blocks and can dismember enemies on impact as well.

On the flip side, vehicles also take more damage when impacting a solid object. Not only that, but repair kits now restore a fixed amount of durability rather than fully restoring a vehicle. This makes repairs a more important and more regular part of vehicle maintenance.

Final thoughts on Alpha 21

Alpha 21 is shaping up to be one of the largest updates in the history of 7 Days to Die and will likely reshape a big portion of the game to be more like its final product. There’s no telling if 7D2D will ever truly release, but the continued addition of such massive content patches keeps us interested and the game improving.

We couldn’t fit everything the new update offers into this article, and there is still much to discuss. Check out the Official Release Notes for a full list of what’s coming in Alpha 21.

Aaron Van Dyck's avatar

About Aaron Van Dyck

Aaron Van Dyck is a thriller novelist with a passion for survival games and exploration. He started writing at the age of 13 and has always been drawn to the sense of self-reliance and freedom found in open worlds. An avid urban explorer and RPG enthusiast, he enjoys dungeon crawling and has a particular love for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Far Cry 5, and Cataclysm: DDA. He's also a fan of shooters and action games with immersive stories and unique monsters to encounter.

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