Project Zomboid official artwork without logo

Despite its numerous advances over the years, some of Project Zomboid's systems and features are currently still in a placeholder state - they work, but only just. The best example of this is the entire Electrical skill as not only is there very little to do with it, but actually increasing your skill level is such a monumentally grindy task that most people probably haven't even explored what little content there is.

Thankfully, it looks like the upcoming Update 42 will be changing all of this for the better. First and foremost, the entire crafting system will be getting overhauled in an effort to make a unified and expansive system that will be able to work with anything from simple crafting stations to complex machines and appliances. This will also bring with it a rework of every single crafting skill as the new system will allow for more customizable recipes and a greater degree of complexity, both of which will be needed if you're planning to make a functioning post-apocalyptic society.

While the exact details behind all of the changes are still shrouded in mystery, the Project Zomboid team has now revealed some of their plans for the Electrical/Engineering skill, and so far things are looking quite impressive! The best comparison would be Minecraft's Redstone update and all of the wondrous things that allowed players to create.

Basically, the new system revolves around the concept of components. A 'power input' component would provide power to the machine, while the 'storage' and 'crafting' components would allow it to automatically create a certain recipe using the available resources. This new system is going to be highly modular so you'll not only be able to use different types of components (for example different types of power sources) in one machine, but also entirely different components in order to create something completely new.

Project Zomboid screenshot of the juice maker machine in Update 42

Juice anyone?

The example the developers gave was the process of creating a burglar alarm. As you would expect, in order to create a basic one you would need a speaker component, a power source and a motion sensor. However, you could also take that speaker component, wire it up to a switch in your base, and use that as a way to create distractions or simply lure zombies from one area to another. Or if you want to keep things as quiet as possible, you could take out the speaker component and instead wire up the aforementioned burglar alarm to lights across your base that would serve as a silent alarm.

Needless to say, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg as the system can be expanded to much, much more complex machines. Best of all, the various components have been designed to be moddable from the very start, so even if the base version ends up being somewhat limited, there's almost assuredly going to be a mod that will open things up and let players get really creative.

Rather than babble on, allow me to give you a glimpse at what some of this looks like in action. Have a gander, though do be warned that this is still a work in progress and thus very unfinished:

As for the expected release date for Update 42, I'm afraid nothing has been announced just yet. Personally, I doubt it'll be arriving this year given the sheer scope of the changes, but I certainly wouldn't complain about a Christmas miracle! Whatever the case may be, I'll make sure to let you know once we get some more information.

Until then you can read a little bit more about Project Zomboid's future, as well as the crafting system improvements, over at the official website. Enjoy!