In Zero City, you were hand-picked by the remaining survivors to become a beacon of hope that will lead them to safety. However, while you’re the one calling the shots most of the time, it’s your citizens that will actually carry out your orders. In this sense, while you’re the metaphorical brain of the remaining human resistance, your citizens are your limbs that do your will in the hopes of a brighter tomorrow.

In other words, your inhabitants in Zero City are essential. They’re almost as important as you, considering that if you don’t take care of them, they won’t perform optimally. Your character proficiencies, star levels, role distribution, training, and equipment will all play a pivotal role in your characters’ lives. By optimizing your efforts in all these areas, you will be able to obtain the best possible results in any endeavor. In other words, if you take care of your friends, they’ll take care of you in return.

However, working with your inhabitants in this game is not self-explanatory. For veteran gamers, some of the most fundamental aspects of character upkeep will be evident from the start. Meanwhile, specific optimizations, while crucial, are beyond the scope of the basic tutorial and will require digging into to learn about them. Luckily, for those who don’t want to waste any time, we’ve created this guide where you can learn everything about the inhabitants in Zero City.

Recruiting New Inhabitants

First thing’s first; we can’t talk about optimizing your inhabitants before actually teaching you how to recruit new characters.

During the first part of the game, you’ll receive new recruits knocking on your doorstep at numerous points. These events are scripted and aren’t caused by any of your actions; they’re simply a way to get you started on your way towards becoming a powerful commander. To recruit new characters, you must first upgrade your Command Center to level 3 to unlock the Living Room.

Once you’ve obtained access to this essential chamber, you can start mixing and matching your current inhabitants to create babies that share the skill level of their progenitors. Case in point, by assigning two inhabitants in the living room, they’ll become romantically involved and will conceive a baby. The new inhabitant will inherit their parents’ traits and will have a slight chance of being born with a higher skill ceiling than both of them.

For example, if you use two 3-star inhabitants as parents, the resulting baby will have a chance of being born with four stars. But what do these stars mean and why is it better to have more of them?

Character Attributes

The main reason why you want to have characters with as many stars as possible is that every star increases a character’s proficiency cap by 20 levels. In this sense, a character with three stars, like the ones that you get in the beginning, is limited to a maximum proficiency level of 60 for all their skills. Meanwhile, a character with five stars, the best in the game currently, will have a maximum proficiency level of 100 and will be able to become much stronger than most.

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The idea when it comes to your characters is to have as many of four and five stars as possible, and progressively discard the 3-star units as you collect stronger ones. You can always dismiss any of your inhabitants by clicking on them, then on the button beside their names, and finally on “Banish Dweller.”

At first, every character has three main proficiencies: Fighting, Cooking, and Accounting. These parameters influence their effectiveness at their corresponding tasks. For instance, people with a high cooking stat, when assigned to the Dining Hall, will produce lots of additional food. Meanwhile, those with an excellent Accounting stat will generate more money per hour when working in the Print Shop.

You may also boost the production of any character by equipping them with appropriate gear. Cooking clothing for cooks, typography suits for accountants, and the corresponding accessories for each will significantly increase their efficiency at their respective tasks.

Once you increase your Command Center to level five, you’ll gain access to the Kitchen and Accounting Office rooms. These chambers function like the Gym, but for your cooking and accounting skills, respectively. By having your dwellers work in these rooms, they will train their skills and become better at their respective task. As you continue to upgrade your shelter, you’ll unlock new training facilities for other vital skills such as researching, carpentry, and metallurgy.

Happiness and Production

The idea of delegating tasks to the appropriate dwellers is to optimize your production. After all, if you have a citizen with ten levels in cooking, you wouldn’t assign them to the Print Shop. However, aside from the individual strengths of your dwellers, there is another way to improve your productivity, one that doesn’t have to do with gear or proficiencies.

The happiness gauge, located on the top right corner is an indicator of the overall satisfaction of the dwellers that inhabit your shelter. You might not think much of it at first since it’s mostly capped out while you’re completing the initial missions. However, as you advance in the game and progress slows down, you’ll notice that your happiness will decrease.

By keeping a favorable happiness level, you can speed up the production in your shelter by up to 5%, which is considerable when you’re reaching the advanced stages of the game. Furthermore, if you decide to invest a bit of money in the premium perks, this bonus can go up to a whopping 20%.

There are many ways to increase happiness; the most common being clicking on the thought bubbles that periodically pop up above your inhabitants. These thought bubbles give a little bit of joy and, while they won’t really help to increase your happiness level, they’ll help to maintain it, so it doesn’t decrease as fast. Be sure to click on them whenever they appear.

However, if you really want to increase your happiness, you’ll have to win battles on the map. Every encounter you win will increase your happiness quite a bit. Giving birth to a baby provides a considerable happiness boost to your shelter. Similarly, every time a dweller increases their level in a skill, you’ll receive happiness. These are the most common ways to grow and maintain your happiness levels in your shelter. While there are other methods to achieve this feat, they are less common or may give less happiness.

The secret to having a productive shelter is to progressively increase the proficiency of your characters as new rooms become available. As you obtain higher-level dwellers, you will be able to improve their skills beyond that of a regular character, and your shelter will become much more productive.

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