Zombie Survival

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This article is about the custom game mode. For other uses, please see Zombie (Disambiguation).
The official logo of Zombie Survival used in most ZS maps made from 2017 onwards.

Zombie Survival is an unofficial game mode for Team Fortress 2 (not to be confused with any variant of Zombie Fortress) that is also sometimes called "Medic VS Engineer". The game mode has no officially recognized SourceMod plugin, requiring server owners to create and balance the game mode to their own liking. There are two opposing teams: the Survivors (RED Engineers) and the Zombies (BLU Medics). BLU's goal is to kill all the Survivors. RED's objective is for at least one Survivor to be alive after (usually) 7 minutes of gameplay. If all Survivors die before the end of the round, the Zombies win; otherwise, the Survivors win. When a Survivor is killed, they are immediately switched to the Zombie team, while killed Zombies simply respawn 5 seconds later. Zombie Survival was popularised by Muselk, a previous TF2 YouTuber, but remained a basic and unchanged game mode until early 2017. This wiki mainly documents the Rushy Servers version of Zombie Survival, for it is more technically complex than other versions, with special additions such as bonus rounds, Juggernauts and weapon balances.

In Zombie Survival, Survivors lack the ability to build Sentry Guns, and Zombies are restricted to melee only; however, both teams have access to global perks to help balance the classes. Zombies gain the most perks, including longer melee attack range, a double jump in which the second jump's height increases during the last 2 minutes of a round, and a speed boost also during the last 2 minutes. Survivors remain mostly vanilla, unless there are two or less of them alive, upon which these Engineers will gain a permanent Buff Banner effect. Random critical hits are permanently disabled in Zombie Survival.

During a 30 second (or 1 minute) setup time, the Survivors are given the opportunity to safely build Dispensers and Teleporters as barricades, methods of escape or tools for killing (in the case of Teleporters) in an area they wish to fortify without the presence of the Zombies. The Zombies are frozen within their spawn (within which they are ÜberCharged) until setup time is over. Survivors can continue to build outside of setup time, though the horde of Zombies can make building difficult and dangerous.

Gameplay demonstration

Special additions

Bonus rounds

Bonus rounds commonly happen on the last round of a map. Each bonus can have varying effects on Survivors, Zombies or both. Server statistics are disabled for the duration of a bonus round, preventing biased data from being saved. Bonuses fall into one of four categories: Silly, Gameplay (makes a significant change to the base game), Engineer (makes the game more difficult for Zombies), and Medic (makes the game more difficult for Survivors). Some common bonus rounds include:

  • Curious Feeling: All players are given tiny heads. The name of this bonus round is a reference to the Medic voice line when experiencing the Whammy fate.
  • Early Outbreak: Zombies are unfrozen immediately, and are given a speed boost for the first 10 seconds after they have been released.
  • Melee Battle: Survivors are stripped down to their melee weapons, but are given guaranteed critical hits so long as they are not being healed by a Dispenser.
  • No Dispensers: Survivors can only build Teleporters, but they get passive health and metal regeneration to compensate.
  • Quadruple Jump: Zombies can jump four times in a row instead of only twice.
  • Rancho Reign: One Engineer is designated to be the King (tinted yellow) and is given passive health and metal regeneration, as well as permanent mini-crits. However, if the King dies the Survivors automatically lose.
  • Sentries Allowed: Survivors are now able to build Sentry Guns, but they cannot fire and cannot be upgraded. Essentially, the Sentry Guns become extra barricades or distractions, and should not be regarded as having a higher priority over Dispensers.
  • Terrorist Town: An Engineer is selected to be the Terrorist (suicide bomber), and must blend in with other Survivors before they explode shortly after the end of setup time. The name of this bonus round is a homage to the Garry's Mod game mode "Trouble in Terrorist Town".
  • The Classic: A bonus round where the waists of the Zombies' models are stretched, in order to mimic the visual style of Muselk's later Zombie Survival videos.
  • Vocal Deaths: An Internet meme related bonus round where player deaths and building destructions emit sound clips.


Juggernauts are an optional feature for Zombie Survival much like bonus rounds. They are Zombies that are tinted green, and only two Medics are selected to have this power. If one disconnects, another will replace them. Juggernauts can't do much on their own, merely having a small speed boost and health regeneration increase. However, while these green Zombies are close to other Medics, non-Juggernauts can inherit the health regeneration increase so long as they are within the Juggernaut's range. This makes Juggernauts the perfect tool for leading Zombie rushes.

ZS maps

A picture of the "spawn lockout" feature exclusive to Zombie Survival Steel.

Maps with the prefix "zs_" are built specifically for use on Zombie Survival servers (not to be confused with other similar prefixes). These maps usually need the help of server game mode logic in order to run properly. ZS maps range from optimisations of existing Valve or community maps (buffing or nerfing of defensible spots, moving of health and ammo packs, etc.) to completely new experiences, but they are always subject to heavy rebalancing to ensure the maps are suitable for the game mode. Usually, a secret area or function is placed within these maps in order to peak player interest, and in the case of optimisations, unreachable areas of the original map may be opened up.


Telefragging and stair-trapping

Telefragging is a method of quickly eliminating Zombies, and is most effective in narrow areas where Medics must step on a Teleporter exit in order to reach a Dispenser barricade. In order for a proper telefrag to be set up, a Teleporter exit is placed directly in front of a Dispenser, and the associated Teleporter entrance is placed within a non-intrusive and close-by area (but not directly behind the Dispenser, this prevents Engineers from using it as cover). In less narrow areas, Medics can easily destroy telefrags by crouching some distance away from the Teleporter exit and attacking it directly. Engineers using the telefrag also open themselves to being killed by the Spinal Tap taunt or suffering a regular death (most prominently for the Engineer that built the Dispenser, since they cannot walk through it).

An example of stair-trapping.

Stair-trapping is a usage of Teleporters prominently used in Zombie Survival and can be performed on most sloped surfaces. By placing a teleporter at the bottom or top of a slope, as close to the middle of the slope as allowed, the increment from the floor up to the teleporter may be so great that a jump is required. Stair-trapping is useful for temporarily denying Zombies access to a defense at the top of a slope. A stair-trap can also be part of a telefrag.


"Rushing" is a term used to describe the grouping up and simultaneous attacking of Zombies, in order to completely overthrow an otherwise impenetrable Survivor defense. The leader of a rush is usually the person that requests one, unless Engineers get too close to the group and participating Medics are forced to intervene on their own. It is important to have a microphone for voice chat or know how to effectively use team chat in order to command a rush, since players of Zombie Survival often do not listen to calls for Medic.

Weapon balances

Originally, the Engineer and Medic arsenals were untouched aside from the Eureka Effect and the Short Circuit (secondary fire disabled only) in mid-2017. This long period saw the establishment of a meta playstyle: Survivors exclusively using the Widowmaker or Shotgun, Pistol and Gunslinger, and Zombies using the Bonesaw, Ubersaw or Amputator only. This changed on July the 28th, 2018, when the first batch of weapon balances were introduced to Zombie Survival, spanning the Frontier Justice, Pomson 6000, Rescue Ranger, Short Circuit, Ubersaw, Vita-Saw and the stock Wrench.

Class Weapon Balances Notes
Leaderboard class engineer.png
Item icon Shotgun.png


Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Shotgun, while part of the meta, is considered second to the Widowmaker due to its need to reload after firing. It is typically used by Survivors that prefer to roam the map rather than camp in a defensible area.

Item icon Frontier Justice.png

Frontier Justice

Pictogram plus.png 100% faster reload speed
Pictogram plus.png 3 extra reserve ammo

Pictogram info.png Balanced on July 28, 2018
The Frontier Justice was originally a straight downgrade from the Shotgun, sporting half the clip size, 3 less total ammo and an inability to gain revenge criticals due to the lack of Sentry Guns within the game mode. This has been rectified with the Frontier Justice's increased reload speed and reserve ammo. While the stock primary benefits from its 6-shot burst fire, the Frontier Justice is able to produce more sustained fire. It is now just as useful and as used as the Shotgun.

Item icon Widowmaker.png


Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Widowmaker is hailed as the penultimate primary weapon, since its use of metal instead of ammo means that it will not need to reload while near a Dispenser and hitting targets. It is commonly used by Survivors that wish to defend a single area with their buildings.

Item icon Pomson 6000.png

Pomson 6000

Pictogram plus.png 80% faster firing speed

Pictogram info.png Balanced on July 28, 2018
The Pomson 6000 was the most underused primary weapon due to the large delay between shots and slow-travelling projectiles, making aiming very difficult. Post-balance, the Pomson can be fired more quickly allowing Survivors to easily overwhelm Zombies with a stream of high-knockback shots, but the Pomson's projectiles are blocked by teammates, making it an unfavorable weapon in cramped spots.

Item icon Rescue Ranger.png

Rescue Ranger

Pictogram plus.png 50% larger clip size

Pictogram info.png Balanced on July 28, 2018
The Rescue Ranger used to be underused as a result of Survivors preferring more leeway in ammunition when shooting. The changes bring it on par with other weapons, although it still requires more guesswork to aim. As a projectile weapon, it suffers very little damage falloff. Its ability to fire bolts through teammates makes it a useful tool to fight and heal buildings in situations where body blocking is common.

Item icon Panic Attack.png

Panic Attack

Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

Before the Jungle Inferno Update, the Panic Attack was a balanced alternative to the Shotgun and Widowmaker, thereby also being part of the meta. However, the update removed the weapon's unique shooting mechanic, and replaced it with sub-par non-unique attributes that caused the weapon to be discredited. A major balance is planned for this weapon.

Item icon Pistol.png

and its reskins

Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Pistol is the meta secondary in the Engineer's arsenal, due to there being no alternatives before the first major weapon balances were published. By default, it continues to be the most reliable secondary, and the most used because it is stock.

Item icon Wrangler.png

and its reskins

Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Wrangler is useless in nearly all rounds of Zombie Survival and should never be used. Its only ability arises during the Sentries Allowed bonus round, in which it can shield Sentry Guns from incoming damage. However, the amount of damage absorbed by the shield tends to be minuscule. A major balance is planned for this weapon.

Item icon Short Circuit.png

Short Circuit

Pictogram plus.png 50% damage increase
Pictogram minus.png Secondary fire disabled

Pictogram info.png Balanced in mid-2017, updated on July 28, 2018
The Short Circuit was nerfed initially due to its secondary fire, which gave Survivors an unfair advantage due to the alt-fire passing through Dispensers. Even after the Jungle Inferno Update, this function is still overpowered. The weapon has since been updated in Zombie Survival to make it viable without relying on the secondary fire, bringing its primary fire damage output closer to that of the stock Pistol.

Item icon Wrench.png

and its reskins

Pictogram plus.png 10% faster swing speed

Pictogram info.png Balanced on July 28, 2018
The stock Wrench is a generally under-performing weapon, even after its swing speed buff. The reason for this barely noticeable balance is that it is not obvious to players of Zombie Survival how Engineers using this melee behave. The usefulness and associated behavior a weapon has are essential for determining how they should be balanced, and the stock Wrench does not have a clear identity yet.

Item icon Gunslinger.png


Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Gunslinger is the most used melee in the Engineer's arsenal, and overshadows every other melee with its impressive bonus 25 health and third-hit-guaranteed-crit, making it the one and only meta melee for Survivors. The Gunslinger can even partially bypass the loss of critical hits during the Melee Battle bonus round. The no random critical hits downside is negated since random crits are disabled, and the Mini-Sentry (when available for use) is just as effective as a normal Sentry Gun.

Item icon Southern Hospitality.png

Southern Hospitality

Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Southern Hospitality does not provide a Survivor with a health or crit boost, but it does deny any Medic it hits from healing back lost health for a short time. Similarly to the Gunslinger, its downsides are nullified. Even so, this weapon should be used sparingly.

Item icon Jag.png


Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Jag is the least used Survivor melee weapon. Engineers that equip it use its fast construction time to their advantage, but the weapon suffers in the heat of battle, unable to repair buildings effectively and having low damage per second. A major balance is planned for this weapon.

Item icon Eureka Effect.png

Eureka Effect

Pictogram minus.png Teleport has 1.5 second delay

Pictogram info.png Balanced in mid-2017
The Eureka Effect is most commonly used to build Teleporters without much metal and teleport away from danger instantaneously, however the melee has had a troubled history. It has been and is regularly abused by griefers in order to kill teammates by teleporting them into danger, and also to escape damage themselves. This has resulted in the teleport ability being locked behind a delay, which resets if the player tries to teleport again before the delay has passed.

Leaderboard class medic.png
Item icon Bonesaw.png

and its reskins

Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Bonesaw is the most well-rounded Zombie weapon, as well as the most accessible. It deals the standard amount of damage per second, has no downsides, and thus is part of the Zombie meta.

Item icon Ubersaw.png


Pictogram plus.png 10 health gained on hit

Pictogram info.png Balanced on July 28, 2018
The Ubersaw does not deal as much damage per second as the stock melee, but is useful because of its Spinal Tap taunt, which can stun and kill Engineers instantly if positioned correctly. Additionally, it now provides health to a Zombie attacking a Survivor directly.

Item icon Vita-Saw.png


Pictogram plus.png 10% damage increase vs. buildings
Pictogram minus.png 10 less health on wearer
Pictogram info.png Automatically overheals wearer to a maximum of 150 health if they are a Juggernaut

Pictogram info.png Balanced on July 28, 2018
The Vita-Saw used to be an undesirable melee because it gave Zombies 10 less health with no upsides. Post-balance, the Vita-Saw brings a Medic's health down to 130 in exchange for dealing more damage to buildings, so it is a practical choice in situations where Survivors may struggle to see over their own buildings.

Item icon Amputator.png


Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Amputator is a special case in that it is able to heal fellow Medics within a radius. This melee is extremely useful when accompanied by a horde of Zombies, as the horde can shelter those using the Amputator whilst attacking Survivors, thus continually regenerating the horde's health, making for a partially damage-resistant rush.

Item icon Solemn Vow.png

Solemn Vow

Pictogram info.png No balances apply to this weapon

The Solemn Vow is the least used Zombie melee overall since weapon balances became a reality. It is used by Medics that, more often than not, have become too used to the weapon's upside of seeing enemy health to use anything else.

External links