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Cataclysm: Bright Nights

New player guide

Your first character

Runs can end abruptly. Starting as a default survivor in the evac shelter will allow you to learn the game in a fairly stress-free environment. It has solar and a battery so little effort is needed to install an oven or fridge. You can utilize the woods for your food and water, and train up your skills before you go into town. A wooden spear or some form of ranged attack are fairly safe ways of taking out starter zombies. You can be entirely self sufficient via the woods but you are on a race to keep up with monster evolution. The guns in an average gun store will suffice if you can survive and get into one. When you run into somewhere you can’t access, a pickaxe or jackhammer can destroy concrete and metal walls and doors, and a hacksaw can cut the bars off windows. Managing stamina is important in combat. You run out, you will probably die, especially as a new player.


You can work your way through fabrication to smithing medieval equipment, as a melee character it will be important. Finding a library in town will let you find the necessary books to read your way to this skill level but you’ll need the book no matter what for recipes. When zombies are little threat either via firearm or melee combat, you will want to look into training other skills, finding a working vehicle, and preparing to loot places of greater danger and reward.

finding CBM’s or mutagens

CBM’s will require an autodoc (unless the manual installation mod is active), and to successfully install you need high first aid, computers, and electronics. Manual installation requires mechanics instead of computers. Some zombies will have CBM’s on them, and dissection with a scalpel and high first aid will yield these. Without saying too much of the mutation system, you will want to loot labs to pursue this route. Turrets are extremely dangerous and can end a run quickly, but that is not all you will find. Unless you have a science ID, you’ll be hacking or using brute force to get in.

Auto actions

Auto actions allows you to minimize keystrokes.

Auto pickup

you can set casings and shotgun hulls to auto pickup. It’s important to utilize auto pickup properly such as weight and volume limits and alongside safe mode to avoid picking up in combat.

Auto pulping

Auto pulping lets you do pulping in combat without pressing smash (s) after every kill.

Auto forage

Auto forage is great for living off the lands but remember to disable it when traveling, and

Auto mining

Auto mining will let you repetitively move into terrain to mine it. Auto mining is dangerous, you may accidentally walk into walls you don’t want to mine or if you use a pickaxe as a weapon you can very likely destroy your base unintentionally.

The Zone manager

The Zone manager (Y) allows you to set sorting zones to auto-sort your loot, deconstruct terrain or vehicles automatically, construction blueprints, or farm fish and chop trees. It is a powerful tool for minimizing keystrokes.

Zone activities

Using (O) your character can do zone activities once you have at least one zone.


You need at least one unsorted loot zone to begin sorting things on the ground. You can set an entire house to be an unsorted loot zone and they can overlap. You can use zones on vehicle storage tiles but they can’t be multiple tiles, and even sort into your vehicle. You ONLY sort within unsorted loot zones, not within your inventory. You however use free inventory space to sort loot, so keep your bags clear.

Tips & common questions

  1. You can use TAB while in your inventory for selecting an entire category. I.E. using multidrop with d to drop all food at once.
  2. Rebinding keys can improve your ergonomics significantly, especially if you play with WASD.
  3. Use Safe mode. You can ignore monsters and If it bothers you too much then set proximity distance to something reasonable. Safe mod will save you.
  4. If you want to change crafting range, skill training speed, or experimental 3D vision, you can find it in options under the Debug category.