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Zombie Escape, as the name implies, is a mod where you escape from zombies.
The gameplay is a simple start-to-finish race between spawn and the final holdout, where the map makes up a reason to kill players that have not yet escaped (as most maps have a simple story). After setup (the survivors' headstart), two players are chosen as the alpha zombies, incredibly resilient players with huge health pools (often referred to as simply alphas). The goal of an alpha is to kill all the runners without getting killed themselves. Runners, when infected, will turn into zombies. Zombies, similarly to alphas, have an enormous health pool compared to their living counterparts. They only receive half health, however, as they are expendable and can respawn an unlimited amount of times.
There are two ways to finish the round: One is to get through the race, holding out at places that require you to wait (mostly doors opening and vehicles waiting to move), and the second is to kill the Alphas. The latter is much harder due to the large amount of health alphas have, and as such should be only focused on as a secondary goal.
A list of changes that affect gameplay:
- There is no standard gameplay objective, the round ends when either all players are on RED team, or RED team's alphas are killed.
- Infinite ammo, no weapons run out of ammunition but still have to reload.
- Players on the BLU team have a cross permanently above their head, only visible to the RED team.
- When killed, BLU team members are automatically assigned to the RED team.
- RED team members automatically have their class's Voodoo-Cursed Soul Equipped.
- Players on the RED team have an increased amount of health and take an increased amount of knockback.
- Any weapons with projectiles that do not function as there primary fire, such as the Sandman's baseball, have had them removed.
- Scouts are no longer able to double jump, and thus require the Atomizer to gain an extra jump.
- Engineers do not drain metal under any circumstance, except when shooting with the Widowmaker.
- Engineers can only build Combat Mini-Sentry Guns, regardless of what melee weapon they are using. There can also be only four or five Mini-Sentry Guns deployed at one time, depending on the map.
- Scouts and Demomen have a limit of only 6 at a time (for both) for survivors.
Classes are all diverse in their playstyle and offer a wide variety of outcomes when using them. Classes can best be summarised as push, midline, and support.
Push classes are classes that are at the front lines, furthest away from the zombies, activating objectives and setting up camp to lock down areas.
The push classes are the Soldier, Pyro, Medic, and Sniper; though, the Demoman does fall into this category when playing as the Demoknight, which is the most popular way to play Demoman in this mod, as sticky traps are not viable.
Midline classes are classes that don't have the staying power to be on the backline supporting the team, but shouldn't, or can't, be away from the front line for too long.
The midline classes are the Heavy (his speed, or lack thereof, makes it unwise to be on the backlines, but his Shotgun can force enemies backward), Demoman, and Spy (due to the fact that the zombies can see cloaked players, and as such would have little reason to be on the backline to attempt a flank).
Support classes are classes that have a consistent and powerful way to cut off the advances of zombies.
The support classes are the Scout and Engineer.
The Scout makes use of his Scattergun and ability to escape at high speed even in reverse. He can get ahead of his allies to activate map triggers when needed, but for the most part, he uses his Scattergun to knockback zombies and cut off key locations when other classes would not be able too. Map knowledge plays a big role in playing him well, as his playstyle revolves heavily around protecting the support and midline from harm.
The Engineer makes use of well-placed Sentry Guns and Dispensers to block off zombie escape routes as well as use his Shotgun to keep enemies at bay. His Sentry Gun proves excellent at ground control when it comes to holdouts and chokepoints, as it can allow for that area to be less watched for entry. This is primarily used to defend flanks during a long wait.
Due to the linear layout of most maps, Engineer players are able to lock down many paths by placing a Dispenser properly, thus allowing the team to quickly outdistance the zombies. Dispensers should be upgraded in areas where survivors will need to wait and defend, while Dispensers should be placed and left alone to construct by themselves in tight areas where survivors are on the run.
It is wise to run several classes with high knockback to keep zombies out of holdouts while everyone else escapes; this is most often done with Heavy.
It is highly advised for classes to not edge while defending chokepoints, except for Demomen and Spies, who can both take more than one hit. Edging refers to when one or more players stand on the edge of a platform, making it easy for zombies to infect them.
The overwhelming majority of maps are not original to Team Fortress 2; almost all of them are were designed for, and thus imported from, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
These maps contain only one stage; regardless of which team wins, the map will be repeated upon round end.
- ze_potc_v3_4_s4_tf2: A map based off of Pirates of the Caribbean (hence the POTC in the map file). Survivors must make it to the ship and keep zombies off in order to win.
- ze_lotr_mount_doom_s2_tf2: A map based off Lord of the Rings. Aside from the usual defending of chokepoints and advancing, one survivor must find the titular ring (usually a Scout), where, at the end of the map, they must sacrifice themselves by jumping into the Mount Doom volcano, much like the scene where Frodo Baggins destroys the ring. If the survivor with the ring is unable to sacrifice themselves, then a Scout can serve as a substitute.
- ze_space_stationzz_tf2: A map taking place inside a space station. Survivors must gradually advance to one of three ships to escape a nuclear explosion which instantly kills anyone in its radius; two large ships, and one smaller flyer.
- zm_atix_helicopter_tf2: A map taking place inside a city. At the start of each round, survivors must defend various chokepoints across the city for three minutes before a helicopter arrives to take them to a nuclear bunker; afterwards, a nuclear explosion will occur, and anyone not hiding in the bunker will be killed.
- ze_atix_panic: Similar to zm_atix_helicopter, this map takes place in a building on the roof large skyscraper in a city. Survivors will have to defend themselves in multiple rooms, barricading the entrances with multiple props (mainly vending machines and couches) before a set of doors open up, leading to the roof. Survivors will need to defend one last time before a helicopter arrives and takes them to a neighboring building. Once the helicopter lands, a nuclear explosion will occur and kill anyone remaining in the first skyscraper.
- ze_portal_story_v3_2: A map based off of the Portal games in Aperture Laboratories. Survivors will need to defend multiple choke points, waiting for certain entrances to open up. Survivors will need to defend a standard testing room, before heading into an elevator which will go to one of four rooms which survivors must also defend, being another testing room, an open space, a sewer, or an area with 4 large pistons and a stairwell. After traveling in a tube, survivors will need to defend a large bridge before heading to GLaDOS, who is the boss of the map.
These maps contain multiple stages. To progress to the next stage, humans must survive to the end and complete their goal; if zombies win, the stage must be repeated. These maps usually have bosses at the end of certain stages. Some multi-stage maps have the same stage be repeated on gradually harder difficulties each time the survivors win, with minor differences; others have the survivors advance to a brand new area of the map upon completing the previous area.
- ze_minecraft_adventure_s0_tf2: A map made in and based off of Minecraft, containing four stages. Across these four stages, survivors trek through the overworld, the Nether, an abandoned castle, and a cave leading to an Ender Portal that takes survivors and zombies to the End. At the end of stage 2, survivors must fight a Ghast; in stage 4, survivors must fight the Ender dragon in the End, then make their way back into the overworld and through an underground library where they will fight Herobrine.
- ze_bowser_in_the_fire_sea_v1b_tf2: A map designed to resemble Bowser in the Fire Sea, the second Bowser level of Super Mario 64, containing four stages. In the first stage, the survivors' goal is to simply make it to the portal leading to Bowser; in every stage after, they must fight Bowser, then make their way back to a color lift to escape. In the final stage, after defeating a more powerful Bowser, the survivors must make their way back to the bottom of the stage, which is now crumbling and falling apart, where they will escape on a color lift and fight Bowser for a final time.
- ze_shroomforest_v5_9_tf2: A map taking place inside a mushroom-filled forest, where players are the size of ants, containing six stages. In the first stage, survivors travel through a dense forest, fighting a giant butterfly atop a giant sunflower at the end; in the second stage, survivors explore a giant wooden house, where they must fight a giant Pikachu at the end. In the third stage, survivors enter and make their way through Hell, fighting Satan at the end before escaping. The remaining three stages are harder versions of the previous stages, with modified chokepoints and harder bosses.
- ze_bathroom_v4_2s_tf2: A two-stage map taking place instead a giant bathroom. In the first stage, survivors enter the bathroom through a sewer pipe and exit through the toilet, making their way through the bathroom and ultimately into the bathtub, where they must fight a giant rubber duck. In the second stage, survivors advance beyond the bathtub and eventually find themselves inside a giant shower, fighting a giant cubed sponge.