The Zomboid mod scene is currently in full bloom, and so is our Mod Spotlight thanks to our writer friend @Pat_Bren_Writer! This month, Patrick has chosen to take a look at the numerous and diverse mods of Planetalgol.
Spend any time looking in the PZ Steam workshop and you’ll almost immediately come across the work of Planetalgol, who has an incredible 119 (!) mods listed at the time of writing.
Activate several of his mods at random and you’ll find yourself firing your flare gun at sprinting zombies, flinging smoke grenades you have attached to your military webbing, and sheltering from toxic fog in a secret, zombie infested base.
But where to start? How do you prioritise with such a horde of mods bearing down on you? Thankfully, Mod Spotlight is here to help! We’ve been in touch with the author himself to highlight some of his best mods to get you settled into the strange and wonderful world that is Planetalgol.
The first line of this mod’s description reads “WARNING: DO NOT USE THIS MOD!!!” which just about sums it up. If you thought PZ’s basic zombies were hard to kill, wait until you’re trying to out-sprint sprinting ones suddenly bursting from a horde of their slower brethren, being chewed on by walking skeletons, dodging fire zombies and ones whose sounds attract nearby fellow undead. DO NOT USE THIS MOD!
Regular survivors may have noticed a strange facility at the end of a series of winding mud roads to the southwest. We’ll let you come to your own conclusions as to the purpose of this base, but Planetalgol’s mod adds an entirely new layer to the base – literally!
Find the elevator and you can head down to the underground level where a twisting maze of medical rooms, construction sites, and who knows what else horror awaits. A true end game challenge for PZ veterans.
A lot deeper than it first appears, ZREs adds military rations and their components to PZ. Unpack rations to find base foods to make new meals, or pack rations together into boxes for efficient storage. This is a mod for the long term survivor.
Definitely for the action-oriented survivor, this compilation mod adds a variety of new weapons to PZ, along with new clothing and gear to hold them in. A flare gun, incendiary grenades, a knuckleduster and landmines are some of the new tools you can play with. Just don’t forget to use the new gun cleaning kits before a big firefight.
These two separate but related mods increase the tension of searching containers throughout the world. Worse Searching, inspired by Escape from Tarkov, hides the contents of a container until they are searched through a timed action. Even Worse Looting goes a step further by adding locked containers and their keys to the world.
A you-get-what-it-says-on-the-tin mod, this makes PZ’s beautiful pure white fog turn green and deadly. Make sure you have your gas mask to hand if you venture out, and for an even greater challenge, rain can be made toxic too.
After somehow surviving all of that, we headed to Planetalgol’s safehouse to ask him a few more questions about his many mods.
Who are you in real life?
“I’m an older punk rock/metal dude. My earliest memories are from when I lived on a First Nations reservation in the Canadian bush country where you had to get flown in and out by floatplanes. I’ve been a cook in fine dining, a construction foreman, and a bartender/bouncer at an illegal underground bar, among other things.”
How did you first discover PZ? Why do you like it?
“I think it was a friend of mine, a film professor and big Romero fan, who first told me about PZ, back when the zombies looked like weird green aliens. A couple of years ago I had spare time to fill, looked it up again and got hooked by multiplayer.”
“I played on Ambiguous Amphibian’s server, which has no PVP safety or player names displayed. I found the combination of trying to avoid getting killed by other players, and the trash and corpse strewn post apocalyptic environment to be magical.”
“My preference has always been for really punishing hardcore games, all the way back to Nethack through to Dark Souls, and PZ just totally slotted into that for me.”
You are a very prolific modder – 119 are listed on the workshop. Do you have many more in the works? Why do you think you have this rapid-fire approach?
“Currently there are actually 128 mods of mine on the workshop. However that includes a couple of private test mods, and does not count several mods I haven’t uploaded that “work” but I don’t feel are ready to upload. So the number is closer to 200 overall.”
“My rapid-fire approach probably has a lot to do with my pandemic lockdown situation more than anything else. As well, the majority of the mods are really simple affairs that don’t require much time or effort to wrap up.”
What do you consider your best mods? Are they also your most popular ones?
“Best is hard to pin down. Best for increasing the base game difficulty without radically changing the gameplay would be Worse Searching and Even Worse looting. Best for being weird, wild and hardcore ruthless would be Terror Zeds. Best for providing hardcore, endgame level challenge content would be Lab Complex Alpha.”
“Worse Searching and Even Worse Looting are surprisingly popular, but my most popular mods tend to be my most shallow ones that just add new tactical toys to play with!”
How did you get into PZ modding? Did you have experience modding other games previously?
“Initially I got into modding to make custom content for my MP server and just kept on going. The majority of my stuff is designed with using it on my, super ruthlessly ridiculously player-adversarial hardcore hellhole server in mind.”
“Previously I extensively DMed weirdo oldschool Dungeons & Dragons, and dabbled in some writing for it and some other indie RPG stuff, and that has a big influence on my approach.”
What are your general principles for PZ mods? Do you think things should be made harder, easier, more realistic etc?
“A fair amount of my stuff has the goal of making the game harder, and a lot of my mods that could make the game easier, such as tactical gear stuff, are made with the intent of using them with other mods that make the game harder. For example, some of my grenade mods would make PZ easier when used with vanilla zombies, but if you look at those mods in the context of using them with Terror Zeds they don’t seem so overpowered.”
“Almost all of my mods are made with the goal of using them for my super ridiculous hellhole server. Worse Searching, Even Worse Looting, and Worse Vehicle Condition were made with the idea of complicating and slowing down the initial player looting rush and the smart rascals clean out towns in a matter of hours.”
“A lot of other creators’ mods make the game easier and, although that’s not my bag, I think it’s great that those options are being generated for people who want that out of the game.”
Other than your own, which mods do you enjoy?
“It’s hard to get into this without leaving anyone out by accident! I have a lot of respect for the usual big names, Fenris Wolf/ORGM, Filibuster, Paw Low, SoulFilcher and Snake.” [EDIT: Snake’s awesome mod repository can be found here!]
“Eerie Country is my favourite map mod. It wonderfully captures horror movie vibes and I find it such a pleasure to play in. The Scrap Weapons/Guns and Armor mods are something I find really charming and fun. A guy called Madman Andre has been quietly releasing a lot of great food/”realism” mods.”
“Oh, and Nocturnal Zombies! That mod is an absolute treat and the gold standard for enhancing zombies in a multiplayer environment.”
“Oh lordy, I have so much stuff on my backburners right now. I’m working on Apocalypse Machines that adds more post-apocalypse style vehicles and wrecks to the game, as well as a suite of mods that add shipping containers, animal corpses, hidden caches etc. and multiplayer stuff for faction and base raiding play. I’m also making a Mars base map/total conversion, as well as more endgame/raid dungeon style map content in the vein of Lab Complex Alpha.”
“But my dream is to properly mod in monsters when animals are released and make a game like PZ crossed with Escape From Tarkov, but it’s an insane irrational monster apocalypse like Stephen King’s The Mist. Alligators, mutant dinosaurs, zombie alligators, zombie mutant dinosaurs, off-brand Terminators, Lovecraft knockoffs. I can’t wait!”
Thanks to Planetalgol for taking time to answer these questions in such great depth. Next month Pat will be digging into one of the most exciting user maps currently available – so stay tuned!“